Friday, September 9, 2011

Giving Due Honor When They Do Not Deserve It

I came across this passage today while skimming through a book I plan to read:
The submissiveness of a wife to her husband is the appropriate form of honor that she pays him. She offers it just as she would offer it to Christ. In respecting her husband, she respects Christ -- that is, she respects who he is in Christ. It is frequently argued that she owes him nothing if he is not fulfilling the special command issued to husbands: love your wives. This attitude produces a permanent stand-off.  As long as she refuses to submit on the ground that he does not earn her respect, the husband, by the same logic, may refuse her his love, since she does not submit and therefore does not deserve it. Each has been given a particular command and a particular strength with which to meet the other more than halfway. In the case of the wife, her strength is what Peter calls an "...imperishable ornament, a gentle, quiet spirit..." There is no calculating the power of such submission. It is even possible that an unbelieving husband will be won over without a word said when he sees the "chaste and reverent behavior" of his wife.
Is it possible to pay honor, like toll or taxes, to a cruel, abusive, unbelieving man? If everything in her recoils from her husband's injustice or hatred? If she fears suffering or other frightening consequences? The grace of God has proved through the centuries to be sufficient for countless "impossible" human circumstances. She may, through that grace, pay honor and respect to him as to the Lord, certain that although it is unmerited by and apparently lost on her husband, it is not lost on Christ. And Christ may draw the husband to faith because of her reverent behavior. Faith, not fear, should govern her. Try God! I would say. [Emphasis mine.]
Found in Discipline: The Glad Surrender by Elisabeth Elliot (Old Tappan, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1982), pp. 88, 89.