A KEY TO ABUNDANT LIVING HUSBANDS - Love Your Wives!
Selmer L Hegvold
The Director of the Visiting Program here at the Headquarters Church gives in this article a clear-cut definition of a heartbreaking and present problem in God's Church world-wide... and gives God's plain and practical solution in concrete action YOU CAN TAKE! The father of eight children, a husband for twenty-one years, and an Elder in God's Church, Mr. Hegvold writes with both concern and authority!
LOVE not VITAL! So says the chairman of an Irish marriage guidance council, Wilfred Brennan, in a declaration before a Church of Ireland group recently. This "authority" on marriage on the Isle of Eire proceeded to say, "Romantic love is not essential for a good marriage; neither are wealth and education. What counts most are loyalty and having a place of one's own." However, the absolute AUTHORITY on love, marriage and happiness charged, "Husbands, LOVE your wives!" (Eph. 5:25). Hollywood and the TV writers say your marriage cannot be happy without the real bond of love. Yet, do they know the way to a full, rich and abundant life? What is the right and the wrong of modern marriage? Should you, the husband, fabricate the movieland type of romantic aura around all of your daily relationship with your wife? Or should you he the strong, silent-type mate who cows your wife into a submissive, slave-like obedience to your every whim? What is the happy balance for your home life? Do you know?
World's Education — Not the Answer!
A true Christian has proved God exists; that the Bible is the inspired Word of God; that God is working out a purpose here below! He looks to the Bible as the BLUEPRINT for working out that purpose. He yields willingly and wholeheartedly to the will of this SUPREME GOD! Modern educators do not believe in God!!! Hence, modem education is not the answer! Evolution denies God! Evolution is the basis of the world's educational institutions! It is IMPOSSIBLE for evolutionists to understand marriage! The vast majority of the teachers, doctors, psychiatrists, and marriage counselors are God-denying evolutionists. This is society! You — and the people about you — are the product of such educational doctrines. Your marriage is at stake! Further than this — and more shockingly realistic is the terrifically unbelievable impact of another medium of false education which has engulfed you! Nearly every billboard, every display window and every paper or magazine plays up — most attractively — the romantic angle in advertising. "This," they say, "is the way to real romance — to ecstatic LOVE!" The universal understanding of romance stems straight out of the motion picture production centers of the world!! TV and the movies, in vivid motion — and color — realistically depict romantic love! You live and thrill vicariously in a never-never-land of make-believe! Are these writers wise to the meaning of love?
Here in God's Church
Details of tragic divorce and remarriage problems and wretched marriages have consumed literally thousands of hours of painful counseling. Innumerable counselings among you brethren have brought to light the serious impact that false indoctrination and satanic deception has had on the very Work of God. It is heart-rending to have to witness at close hand the desperate struggle many are forced to go through to salvage a union that has degenerated into abject misery. A great part of the ministry is taken up with marriage counseling and family relations and many are the nights that have been spent bringing husband and wife to mutually see their responsibilities and their faults. These are the problems that erupt into the lap of local pastors. Yet how many others lack the nerve to air their grievances, and continue on in a hopeless mire of animosities and disagreements? The evidence in lack of spiritual fruits, the deplorable lack of drive to accomplish prayer and study indicates how widespread this problem really is. Too often God's ministers are called in only as a LAST RESORT — frequenty too late to effect a beneficial reversal of trend. Grief and heartache are tragic in any individual, but the most unfortunate recipients of adult mistakes in marriage are the children. Aside from the dread, and sense of insecurity these little ones suffer, is the long-range result of disrespect for authority and a totally warped personality. These are life-long blights that remain to plague society. Today many of our own college students are struggling to overcome these scars in their personalities, the product of upside down or strained family relations. With God's merciful help it can be done. But how much better it would be if our homes, our families could recognize early the symptoms of gross misunderstandings? How much more effective servants of God will your children become if they have been reared in an atmosphere of real love and companionship? Recognition, NOW, of the wrong concepts of love, of marriage, and of basic rights can change enormously your concept of God's purpose for you in the days ahead. Let's clear our hearts and minds of prejudices and false concepts and understand!
Is Romance, Love?
Publicity agents splash colorful pictures and articles across the pages of magazines and newspapers with full details of the private lives of filmland celebrities. These, they say, are blissfully happy marriages. Time disproves the fallacy of such high-sounding claims! In time, pictures of these same "happy couples" appear in the same news media together with lurid stories of marital spats — of divorce battles — and in some, not too rare cases — of murder and suicide!! Does movieland have the answer? Is romance REAL love? What is romance? Webster defines "romance": "1. A species of tale... 2. Any fictitious and wonderful tale... 3. A romantically adventurous act or experience. 4. A dreamy, imaginative habit of mind tending to dwell on the picturesquely unusual as a girl full of romance. 5. A fictitious tale; a falsehood." Had you realized? Is this LOVE? "An adventurous act or experience"? "A fictitious tale" or "falsehood"? Is your relationship with your wife to be based on that concept? Most are! Is yours?
What Is Love?
Here is the question that should be in the minds of all who contemplate marriage. Few really know. Because so few know, trouble lies ahead! Satan has a false concept of love! He is confused and he has confused and darkened human minds! The present generation is the most confused of any generation that has ever existed!! Satan, the Deceiver, has been at work! (Rev. 12:9). One beautiful movie actress, declared to be an authority on marriage and men (after three marriages in twenty years), in effect admitted that "being a movie star has nothing to do with... knowing how to act or being a happy, fulfilled person!" She has passionately portrayed, in a totally false light in movie after movie, her version of love! She, and others like her, have tutored you in the art of romance — not LOVE! The result has been false indoctrination! Look at the fruits — three marriages on the rocks!! "By their fruits you shall know them" (Mat. 7:20). God warns, "They be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch" (Mat. 15:14). What is love? Webster defines "love": "A feeling of strong personal attachment induced by sympathetic understanding, or by ties of kinship; ardent affection." Only deep concern and desire to help and protect, to nourish and care for another individual could fulfill that definition. God says of love, "Perfect love casteth out fear" (I John 4:18) and, "He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love" (I John 4:8) and again, "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments" (I John 5:3). Paul was a man of God, full of wisdom and authority. He said, "This love of which I speak is slow to lose patience — it looks for a way of being constructive. It is not possessive; it is neither anxious to impress, nor does it cherish inflated ideas of its own importance." Could these be the words your wife would speak to others concerning your love toward her? "Love has good manners and does not pursue selfish advantage. It is not touchy. It does not compile statistics of evil, or gloat over the wickedness of other people" (I Cor. 13:4-8, Phillips translation). Can you truthfully say you meet these requirements? Do you have this LOVE — not the pseudo-romantic love — for your wife?
Marriage is a stern responsibility. A famous marriage counselor in New York City has stated, "The greatest need for marriage preparation today is due largely to our changed cultural attitudes." Yes! Cultural attitudes certainly have undergone a drastic change in just less than one-half century! Woman suffrage is almost universal. Woman has been elevated by society to the level of equality with man. This has been man's, not God's doing! This is called culture! God has a name for it — ABOMINATION!! God certainly does hold the women responsible, and they will have to answer for the results — and are presently doing so! At the same time God holds you responsible! You have failed your office as a husband! Untold suffering, great perversions and inequalities have resulted. Women have supposedly freed themselves from untenable (even sadistic) shackles as a direct result of man's failure. Yet they have not freed themselves — but only left themselves more vulnerable to heartache and distress than before! All have become confused! "The way that seemeth right" (Prov. 14:12) is the wrong — the confused — way! Responsibility lies heavily upon you! Are you a man? Are you helping your wife to be a woman? The masculine, natural leadership from creation — faithfully carrying out God's purpose here below — would have made it unnecessary for womankind to entertain any thought of usurping man's place in their relationship. You as a husband have slipped from that right pattern established by Christ! The children of God make up the Church of God. Christ loves each of these children more than any human in the Church can. This is not a romantic love! This is all-fulfilling love! — outgoing, cherishing, never selfish. However, Christ's Work has always been far more than just that of providing love and sustenance for His Church. He rules the universe! He has multiple tasks! Nevertheless — , He has never forsaken one in favor of the other. He has not forsaken His children! Christ has perfect balance in everything. You need that balance desperately!
Your first requirement in order to qualify for salvation is to care for those of your own house. Many have just not comprehended! Have you qualified for the office of a bishop? Whether or not you are ever ordained to the office — you should he qualifying now! Paul, under inspiration, wrote, "This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work." (Try substituting the pronoun I for bishop!!) "A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous." These are only common-sense requirements of basic Christian character. "One that ruleth well his own house." One who directs, by leading or showing the way. Not a bullying, suppressive iron on those under you! — but in keeping with all of the precepts of God. "Having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the Church of God?) Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil." This requires maturity; it requires LOVE! "Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil." The deacons too! "Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience" (I Tim. 3:1-9). Bishop, deacon or husband; it ALL applies to YOU!! The principles of these requirements are binding on YOU in order for you to qualify for the Kingdom of God! If your greatest fault has been failure to qualify for marriage, it is not too late! Paul emphasized the necessity of preparation for an office in God's Work, "And let these also first be proved; THEN let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless" (verse lo). He established the basis for m y officeholder, be it bishop, deacon or husband. Paul adds sternly, "But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is WORSE THAN AN INFIDEL!" (I Tim. 5:8).
Happiness — Love Are Fruits of TEAMWORK
With right relationships established, with wife and children well-provided fur aid happy, you will be basically prepared and grounded for the great Work of God. Only then can God use you fully in His Work! How else can you be proved? The way you direct and manage your home, the way real binding love radiates from your loved ones determines how well-prepared you are for any greater responsibilities beyond your immediate family. God has said, "It is not good that the man should be alone!" Man is incomplete without the woman. He needs someone particularly fitted to be a companion, to love and cherish, to HELP him — not to usurp authority over him! How many times have you thought, "It would just be best if we could separate and go our own ways"? Banish that thought! It was not from God. Never lose sight of the over-all purpose of the marriage relationship. Remember, it was God who instituted marriage. Everywhere He illustrates that the way to the happy, the full, the rich and abundant life is strait, it is narrow, and few are able to find it. To be able to love your wife properly, the way God commands you to do, will take hard, but highly rewarding, work, If your motive has been a wrong, selfish, self-centered desire for self-gratification, you have forgotten, or more probably, never understood the multiple role of your wife. Your wife is to be your helpmeet, to be your companion, to bear your children, to share your burdens and happiness, as well as the physical pleasures of marriage in sexual enjoyment and fulfillment. Your wife is extremely important in God's eyes. He commanded both of you, "Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it!" (Gen. 1:28) — to master the other creatures of the earth. This requires full co-operation between husband and wife. "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be [become] one flesh" (Gen. 2:24). God intended you and your wife should come to become one in everything — a single, efficient, working unit! This is not accomplished overnight! It takes time, and it takes work. Ideal happiness is reached only when both of you know the other so well there is a mutual sharing of deep love, and a feeling and awareness of thoughts, moods and desires of the other. Threaded through all of this is the mind of God in each through the indwelling of His Holy Spirit, "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 2:5). Your every thought must be brought under control, "And bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ" (II Cor. 10:5).
Tongue in Action
Has your tongue plunged you into a world of woe? God says the tongue is the most offending member of your body! How many times have you wished you had controlled your tongue? How many heartaches has your tongue been responsible for? "The tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature!" (James 3:5, 6). Has this been true in your life? God created your nature. Your nature responds to the tugs of your heart. "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh!" (Mat. 12:34). You can say you are sorry, but the damage has already been done.' "For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body" (James 3:2). Not only can this do irreparable damage to your potential happiness in marriage, but it can also store up condemnation before God — all of which will have to be bitterly, and deeply REPENTED OF! Christ warned, "But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned" (Mat. 12:36, 37).
Most wives complain about a lack of communication with their husbands. If your wife is to effectively assist you in every phase of your life, she needs the facts. How else can she offer sound counseling advice? How else can she share your anxieties over business and family problems? She wants to share these responsibilities with you, and she should. You retain the authority, to take or reject her advice — but talk things over. Perhaps many of you are afraid your wives will have better ideas and solutions than you do — so you avoid the responsibility of having to think constructively with your wife by remaining aloof in your "authority"! You have missed much, and have made many mistakes if you have not confided to your wife your hopes, your desires, your doubts and your problems. It is time to change! Don't cheat yourself! (I Pet. 3:7); become heirs together — give honor to your wife! A powerful way of communication with your wife is through joint prayer to God in the privacy of your own room. Have you e m. heard your wife pray? How can you say you are carefully instructing her if you have never been with her on your knees together in supplication? Her quiet, feminine approach in prayer to her God is an inspiring thing to hear! She will very often bring up matters about which you had never given thought. She will inspire you. At the same time she will hear your masculine approach in prayer, and the bond of love and respect will be greatly strengthened.
God's Way Is Way of Love
Can you come to really love your wife? It's time to examine yourself! The lack of real love between husbands and wives is too apparent. The truth of the matter is, you have been robbing yourself, your wife, your family! God! Just as withholding tithes is robbing God (Mal. 3:8), just as David's sin against Uriah and Bathsheba was a sin against God Himself (PS. 51:4), you also are robbing — sinning against — your Creator! "If you keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in His love. These things have I spoken unto you, THAT MY JOY MIGHT REMAIN IN YOU! and that your JOY MIGHT BE FULL!" (John 15:10, 11). The powerful, majestic God of the universe is a God of love! "He that loveth not knoweth not God; for GOD IS LOVE!" (I John 4:8). Yes, you are defrauding Him of His right to share with you your married love! Examine yourself! Your salvation is at stake! Christ said, "This is my commandment, That ye love one another, AS I HAVE LOVED YOU. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man LAY DOWN HIS LIFE FOR HIS FRIENDS" (John 15:12, 13). Christ gave His life for you! How much should you be willing to overcome that your wife might also have the help she so desperately needs to be ready to enter the very family of God? Without that help she may well fall by the wayside; God will have one less (your wife) to add to His wonderful family, and you will be responsible! A terrible thought! You may be sacrificing your opportunity to joyously enter God's own family! All because you have been unwilling to lay down your life for your wife — for one who has shared the trials and pleasures of years! In your case it may not be easy — but it will be rewarding!
Love Is a Growing Thing
Two people in love expect to reach great heights on their wedding day. Marriage to them means the smoothing out of differences miraculously. The emotional pitch is high through the marriage ceremony, and then the reality of marriage responsibilities strikes home hard. The great romantic bubble bursts. Disillusionment rears its ugly head. The expected surge of real love did not materialize! Puzzled, hurt, the great fear grows that a great mistake has been made. Love, like character, is a growing thing. People are not born with it. Neither does one stumble across it accidentally in the course of daily living. Love needs to be developed. It needs to be nourished. Ignorance of this fact has brought about many separations, many divorces! This is the consequence of ill-advised counseling, and it has reached gigantic proportions in the world today. With proper vision, forethought, consideration, understanding and prayer your marriage need not go the way of the world. In fact, God commands you to have JOY — not to leave your wife, but to have joy in the wife of your youth! (Eccles. 9:9).
Don't Be TOO BUSY!
Your time, your effort, your energy, your thoughts are your life. These are what you are to lay down for your wife — "as Christ also loved the Church, and gave HIMSELF FOR IT" (Eph. 5:25). Become ONE — a life together, MUTUALLY GIVEN TO CHRIST! Set yourself diligently to show consideration to the wife of your youth. Begin now by going to a private place of prayer — beseech God to forgive you for your callousness and weaknesses. Ask Him to give you His great gift of love — love first of all toward Him, then toward your wife. Give thanks for preserving your marriage, for giving you a wife that has stuck with you through thick and thin in the face of every lack of appreciation and love. Set yourself to learn, belatedly perhaps, HER likes and dislikes in order that you might begin to shower upon her tokens of your growing respect and concern for her welfare. Read the article on "How to Have a Happy Marriage " by Mr. Garner Ted Armstrong, and the other articles concerning marriage that are available. It will take time, but time that brings great rewards. Read together — especially if your wife is converted! LOVE IS VITAL! Don't delay to correct the many mistakes you have made which, if continued, could cost you your salvation! Don't continue to blind yourself with the false counselings of pseudo-authorities. Turn to the REAL AUTHORITY — to GOD — Who alone can help you to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. He alone can grant you knowledge, wealth, loyalty to Him and to your wife — and the VITAL INGREDIENT lacking in so many — MARRIED LOVE!!