Rev. Stewart Speaks!
By the Rev. Lakeya Stewart
“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;…” This is a quote from the first clause of Ephesians 5:25. All too often, husbands are demanding of the respect they deserve while withholding the love they are commanded to show [their wives]. Wives are prized individuals that should be cherished and cared for like the most pristine piece of silver. This sounds really good…until the wife begins to nag or the husband is not pleased with how the wife cleans the home….where do we go from here?
The expectations spouses have for each other should be discussed prior to marriage. My husband and I benefited from marriage counseling before we said, “I Do.” The reality is that we all enter relationships with baggage. Some of our baggage is like carry-on luggage that is light and can be easily discarded if necessary. Others of us have baggage more like the heavy-duty suitcases we use to travel out of the country with. This luggage that we tote around is often filled with those situations from our past that we hang onto for some reason. Both men and women just can’t seem to let them go. It’s like those too little clothes that we keep in our closest in hopes that we will return to that smaller size one day. Some things just have to go.
For too often, religion has been used to taint one’s understanding of marriage. Well, let me clarify. I remember hearing people talk about the purpose of getting married solely being to raise children. Yes, we are commanded to “be fruitful and to multiply;” however, Ephesians 5:33 after a discussion on marriage states, “Nevertheless, let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.” Here we have it… the Bible does say more about marriage then replenishing the earth! Children are indeed blessings; however, if spouses are having a difficult time loving each other, bringing children into chaotic homes is a sure recipe for psychologically damaged children.
Uh oh… psychologically damaged children? Is there such thing? Yes, there is. Having served as Youth Minister here and abroad, doing so both formally and informally for the past six or seven years, I have seen how damaged some of our youth are today. The reality is that our sometimes broken children grow into psychologically damaged adults and eventually psychologically impaired spouses. This is often how we get the independent African American female who fears being a doormat and the African American male struggling to prove his authority and manhood. This is also true for many others, regardless of race, ethnicity or culture but, I speak from my cultural context as an African American.
So, what happens when the man that desires respect marries the woman who fears being used as a doormat? Life happens. African American males often look to the media, old buddies, and pastors for advice on how to be a husband and a father. All too often, these people haven’t done so well with this whole marriage thing themselves. Christian males seeking to please God, will at some point take a look at scripture for themselves. Upon this review, men find that they are often challenged by what they read. They wonder, “How am I supposed to love THAT woman?” You know…the one who nags all of time…the one who can’t stand for her husband to open the car door for her because she fears others will view her as not having an identity outside of “her man”… You know…the one who deals with rejection due to the absence of her father. The one who is hurting…..
Jesus tells husbands in Ephesians 5:25 to “love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.” Mark Driscoll in the book “Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship,” and “Life Together” said in a chapter about men and marriage that “Success-and- Status Stewart [a man with the wrong view of marriage] believes being a man is about what you have and do rather than who you are and how you serve (page 45).” (The Rev. Stewart’s emphasis)
Driscoll’s analysis of the “Success- and Status Stewart” characterizes many African American males today. Men often find pleasure in purchasing their wives the latest fashion, cars and homes without regard for the woman’s desires and feelings. This often leaves women feeling unloved, undervalued and unappreciated. Men sometimes display the love for their wives in ways that their wives are unaware of. It’s like when my courageous husband, Daniel, attempted to purchase a cheese burger in France using English when everyone spoke French. He really did try to convey his order to the server, but it somehow didn’t translate. They had no idea what he really wanted. He needed the assistance of my French skills combined with his courageous spirit as a duo for our order to be completed. So it is with marriage. Wives need to assist their husbands with this communication thing. Husbands need a helper, and Wives need a head and a leader who is going to rightly prioritize the needs of the family: emotionally, materialistically, and spiritually.
In closing, the responsibility of a husband is great. God desires that husbands love their wives unconditionally just as He loves the church. The church both locally and universally is filled with hurting people and we should be able to go to the church for comfort. Wives are often hurting and are in need of husbands who love…not just when the house is cleaned, dinner is ready, and in intimacy.… Wives need to be loved wholly and unconditionally.
For questions or further correspondence concerning future topics or speaking engagements, please email at RevStewartSpeaks@outlook.com.
The Rev. Lakeya Stewart attended Berea College and the Lexington Theological Seminary in Kentucky and earned a double major B.A. degree in Sociology and in African & African American Studies as well as the Master of Divinity Degree. Lakeya is currently pursuing the Doctor of Ministry Degree from Regent University.