4 Reasons to Show Unconditional Respect to a Husband, Part 1

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Is unconditional respect a Biblical idea? Yes. 1 Peter 3:12 states,

“In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.”

The husband is disobedient to the Word. He is either an unbeliever or a carnal believer living contrary to Christ and God’s Word.

In facing off with a disobedient husband, every wife encounters the call of God to put on unconditional respect.

But questions arise in her heart:

Will I or will I not do what Peter instructs? After all, why should I?

Peter lived 2000 years ago, what does he know? He doesn’t know my husband.

My husband has not earned my respect and does not deserve it!

Who in their right mind believes in the silly idea of unconditional respect?

Everyone believes respect must be earned, not given.

Well I want you to read about the way one wife applied the principle of unconditional respect. It is totally unfair to the wife, but is the path to be followed when bad things happen in the marriage.

A wife writes,

“My husband and I will have been married a year...Both God loving people, the first year has been challenging but mostly great. We have been reading Love and Respect and it has helped us both so much.

One night while reading, I prayed for God to help me with unconditional respect as this is something I have never been taught. I prayed for God to give me situations to show unconditional respect to my husband.

The next day my husband sat me down and told me he had looked at pornography. I was completely crushed. Somehow I sat calmly and listened, I had a peace over me that was shocking.

I listened as he poured out his heart in sorrow. I was able to share that of course I was extremely hurt and very mad, but I knew I had to answer to God and that I would still offer him respect because that's what God called us to do.

I myself am shocked by my response. We are still working and healing. This is one of the hardest things we have ever faced together, but I can see as I offer the unconditional respect, my husband is loving me through my hurt and pain. I know God is going to bring complete healing to our marriage...I am thankful for this teaching through love and respect.”

Unconditional respect does not mean she respects her husband’s viewing of pornography. This is wicked sin to God and to every woman. These women ought to be infuriated not only with their husbands, but with the women in the porn industry. These women are making money off the appetites of our sons.

What unconditional respect means is that this difficult situation staring her in the face cannot turn her into a bitter and contemptuous woman. In other words, she can show her husband disgust and disdain--as countless women would tell her to do and then leave her husband--but that only ends the relationship.

That’s comparable to a husband showing hate and hostility toward his wife who took them $45,000 in debt due to her shopaholic enslavement, or is bulimic and having an emotional affair with a co-worker.

His hate won’t motivate or help his wife any more than a wife’s contempt will motivate and help her husband.

In today’s culture, we tend to empathize with a woman’s vulnerabilities whereas a man who gives into his visual orientation toward nudity is verbally crucified with contempt. Even so, her disdain won’t change him, even though he deserves her wrath.

In this wife’s case, her unconditional respect actually motivated her husband to face himself and make his confession. As painful as his confession proved to be, her earlier respectful treatment of him triggered his confession. She touched his heart so deeply that he become 100% truthful with her in order to walk in integrity in their marriage from that moment forth.

Of course, her “good” marriage turned bad so it is too easy to overlook the power of what transpired and why it transpired. Truth is, her husband is now working on bringing healing, and he is loving her through her hurt and pain.

Is this fair to her? Of course not, but we are not talking about fair.

How sad that some women who read this scream, “Kill the bum. Hang him! Divorce him.”

Because they see the injustice, they believe the remedy is divorce.

Because they do not sin in this area, and because their sins have been reduced to eating disorders instead of sinful gluttony, PMS and a chemical imbalance instead of a sinful outburst of anger (Galatians 5:20), and a caring interest in the private lives of others instead of sinful gossip, they show no empathy to the struggle every one of their sons will encounter.

I hope their daughters-in-law give more grace.

Males of today have different struggles and receive little to no grace, whereas the struggles of many women have been categorized as explainable and deserving of compassion.  

I can tell you this, we never bring about necessary change through hostility and contempt. It never works.

Mouthing off all day long about how rotten the other person is because we don’t commit their sins is a nice way to feel good about ourselves. But I say to the hostile husband, “You have no idea the internal struggles your wife faces. I do not sanction her behavior, but neither do I sanction your unloving heart.”

In an equal fashion, I say to the contemptuous wife, “You have no idea the internal struggles your husband faces. I do not approve for one second his sinful choices, but neither do I give a thumbs up to your disrespectful heart in direct disobedience to Ephesians 5:33 and 1 Peter 3:1,2.”

So, what do wives need to understand about unconditional respect?

Good question, and one that I will cover in Part 2 of this series tomorrow. Stay tuned to hear 4 specific reasons to show unconditional respect to a husband!

-Dr. E