To Honor, Day 5
Editor’s Note: I’m running behind today and so I’m going to quote from some of my previous posts and from other materials on the topic of a woman’s design, honor, and respect.
“I will love, honor, and cherish you as long as we both shall live.” Often these words are included in wedding vows but what does that actually mean? What does it mean to honor my husband?
To honor is to respect
I find it curious that the Message version of Ephesians 5:33 says, “…each wife is to honor her husband,” but most other versions use the word respect. A man won’t feel honored if you don’t respect him.
Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary says this about honor,
“To honor someone…is to give weight or to grant a person a position of respect and even authority in one’s life…While honor is an internal attitude of respect, courtesy, and reverence, it should be accompanied by appropriate attention or even obedience. Honor without such action is incomplete; it is lip service ( Isa 29:13 ).”
Your attitude of respect, your attentive service to your husband’s needs, and your submission to your husband’s leadership all play a part in giving value to your husband’s role in your life.
To honor is embrace womanhood
This one may sound a little odd, but look at what John Piper, theologian, pastor, and author, writes, “God’s original design for woman’s role – sinless woman, full of love, in her joyful, responsive support for man’s leadership.”
Wait a minute! Sinless? I can’t be sinless! Yet Eve was created in perfection, without sin. Can you imagine what Adam and Eve’s relationship was like before the Fall? They were perfect. Their bodies became one, and they touched the depth of each other’s soul. They didn’t have to worry about fighting or money or bumping their shins on the dresser on the way to the bed. Everything was perfect.
God’s design for us is His original design – to be holy, blameless, pure, and without sin. We are to daily strive to be more and more like our perfect Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Honor for your husband (or husband-to-be) is to fulfill the unique design and role God created you for.
“God created Eve as the crown of creation. Woman was created to be “ezer kenegdo.” The English language does a poor job of translating this Hebrew term. It is often translated “help-meet,” but even this is a poor substitute.
John and Stacie Eldredge in Captivating: Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul write, ”Why are these translations so incredibly wimpy, boring, flat…disappointing?” If you’re not married, do you find yourself longing to be married? If you are married, does it sound like you’ll spend the rest of your life serving a man? Is this confusing?
“What little girl dances through the house singing, ‘One day I shall be a help meet?’ Companion? A dog can be a companion. Helper? Sounds like Hamburger Helper. (Hebrew scholar Robert) Alter…translates it ‘sustainer beside him.’ The word ezer is used only twenty other places in the entire Old Testament…every other instance…is God himself, when you need him to come through for you desperately (Eldredges).”
The Eldredges point out that in almost all of these occurrences of the word ezer are life and death situations. Deuteronomy 33: 26,29 says, “Blessed are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the Lord? He is your shield and helper and your glorious sword.” Psalm 20:1-2 says, “May the Lord answer you when you are in distress…may he send you help.” God is our “sustainer beside him,” by our side because we desperately need Him.
Eve was created because she is “desperately needed” (Eldredges).
You were created with purpose – to glorify and enjoy God, and to reflect and radiate His beauty and glory.
You were designed to be a co-heir of the kingdom, a joint ruler over the earth with man.
You were designed for relationship – a powerful, intimate relationship with God, and then…a reflection of this relationship with the man you marry.“
You were created to love your husband in a way that no one else on this earth ever could – to reflect God’s unconditional love, care, and devotion for us.
You are a beauty, designed to bring joy to your husband by affirming him as a man, not just through physical intimacy but through emotional nourishment and spiritual uplifting.
To honor is to submit
Piper also writes, “Biblical submission for the wife is the divine calling to honor and affirm her husband’s leadership…”
“Often we look at the Ephesians 5 passage with discomfort.
Me? Submissive? Me? Under the headship of my husband? Ouch. Sounds difficult and painful and degrading. But read what it says to the husbands
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.” (Ephesians 5:25-28)
Ladies, this is a position of honor – to be loved unconditionally and sacrificially, to be made holy, clean, and pure, to be led spiritually because he cares about your salvation and spiritual growth, to be presented as radiant – shining like a star before the Lord, being protected/provided for, to receive as much tenderhearted care as he would give himself. If that’s not honor, I don’t know what is!
Now our husbands won’t be perfect. Our husbands will fail. But doesn’t the mere fact that this is what our husbands are to do for us make you want to honor, respect, love, and serve him?“
To honor is to protect and strengthen
“Eve was designed to be “ezer k’enegdo.” The term ezer is actually taken from an ancient Hebrew word “azar.”According to Strong’s Hebrew Lexicon, `azar aw-zar means “to surround, i.e. protect or aid:–help, succour.”
The word ezer appears 21 times in the Hebrew Scriptures, typically in reference to “believers who were in grave danger! They needed a special kind of help. They needed to be surrounded with protection. They needed the One who gives assistance in a time of great danger. They needed an ezer.” (Hem of His Garment)
“Biblical scholar David Freedman offers the Hebrew word (ezer) from two roots: to rescue-to save and to be strong.” (Hem of His Garment)
Woman was uniquely designed because of a serious problem. She was designed to be a help to her husband, to meet his needs, to give comfort in times of difficulty and distress, and to surround him with strength. Something I love doing is surrounding my husband with my arms and giving him a great big hug. Adam sometimes explicitly asks for a hug because he needs to feel my love, and he needs me to help strengthen him. And I am fulfilling my role as an ezer when I do so.
God has designed woman to be a pillar of strength. Proverbs 31 talks about a godly woman – a capable, intelligent, and virtuous woman. In verse 25 it says, “She is clothed with strength and dignity.” We weren’t designed to be wimpy wallflowers, serving under our husbands as their personal slaves. We are women of purpose. We are women of strength.
The word k’enegdo is a bit more tricky. Biblical scholar David Freedman suggests that k’enegdo means “equal, fit, or appropriate.” Think of Woman as the mirror of Man, just as man and woman are the mirror image of God. She is exactly corresponding to Man. She compliments him, perfects him, and fits perfectly to him and his needs. A beautiful picture of this is illustrated in a quote from Reverend Matthew Henry: “The Woman came from a Man’s rib, not from his feet to be walked on, not from his head to be superior, but from the side to be equal. Under the arm to be protected, and next to the heart to be loved.”
God gave woman a position of glory and honor when he designed her as a help-meet, an ezer k’enegdo.
Something I find curiously ironic is that my husband’s name Adam means “man” and my name Hannah means “grace from God.” Woman is a beautiful picture of God’s grace to man. Through woman, the Savior, Jesus Christ was born into the world. Through woman, life continues. God gave man a gift when he created a woman, a precious gift with unique attributes and a unique role and purpose. “
1 Corinthians 13:4 says, “Love does not dishonor others…” I challenge you, brides-to-be, to carefully consider the meaning of the words you will speak in your vows, especially on the subject of honor and respect. Love without honor or respect leaves a man feeling unloved. He perceives love through the way you respect and honor him physically, emotionally, relationally, and spiritually. For those of you who are already married, I challenge you to consider what it means to honor your husband daily, and how you can continue to grow in this area of your life. Honor your husband (or husband-to-be) by respecting him, embracing womanhood, submitting to his leadership, and protecting and strengthening him.
This is Day 5 of the ½ marathon blogging challenge from the CMBA. For the first 13 days in October, you will get a nonstop taste of my writing. To see the official rules, click here. To see other CMBA bloggers’ posts, click here.
I’d love to hear from you…
What are your thoughts on this subject? Do you agree? Why or why not? How do you show honor to your husband/fiance? How can we, married ladies, encourage single ladies to prepare for the “honor” part of marriage?
- Posted in: 1 Corinthians 13 ♦ CMBA 1/2 Marathon Blog Challenge ♦ Dating/Engaged Women ♦ Femininity and Womanhood ♦ Honoring One Another ♦ Respect ♦ Spiritual Leadership ♦ Submission ♦ The Ephesians 5 Passage
- Tagged: 1 Corinthians 13, Ezer Kenegdo, God's Design for Woman, Honor, Husbands & Wives, Protecting Your Marriage, Respect, Strengthening Your Marriage, Submission, Unconditional Love, Wedding Vows, Womanhood