Things have changed with digital camaras and the ability to print our pictures at home or send them to Walgreen’s online. But it wasn’t very many years ago when you took your pictures to Walgreens or some other such place and left them to be developed, to return in a couple of days to pick them up. While it certainly didn’t happen often there were times when you picked them up only to get into the car and open the package to be completely surpised at what you saw. You didn’t have a clue who the people were and sometimes were thankful that you didn’t. It was by that kind of receiving of the wrong pictures that someone opened their pictures to find pictures of children being sexually abused and the cluprit had little enough judgment to put his own picture in with them, so the person turned the whole thing over to the police and they caught the guilty person and he is now spending his time in prison.
Those wrong pictures don’t happen so much now, but there is another kind of wrong pictures that happens all the time. In working with married couples who are having problems one of the common things I see is that one or both of them have a completely distorted view of what a good marriage should look like. When you begin to explore what they think ought to be the case in marriage they have formed their mental pictures of healthy married life from what they saw growing up, see on TV or what they have heard sometimes in church.
If one’s mental pictures of marriage are that the husband is the big boss and his wife is supposed to serve him, obey his every command and wish, work to provide for the family and take care of the children, while keeping the house spotless, then that is what they will try to create in the marriage. Sometimes, sadly both the husband and wife have that same distorted view of a good marriage and she works herself into exastion trying to fulfill that picture so she and her husband will believe that she is a good wife. Often the husband has that view and his wife sees things in an entirely different light. Sometimes the wife starts in the marriage trying to fulfill his image and then becomes aware that this isn’t healthy or realistic and begins to change. Often when she begins to change he becomes more and more frustrated thinking she isn’t being a good wife.
Distorted mental pictures will cause one to look at the Bible and see what they have already concieved of as the right way as being real. It is amazing how we can read Scriptures on marriage like Ephesians 5:21-33. Many men love to pull out the section “Wives submit to your husbands in everything. As Christ is head of the church, husbands are the head of the wife and as the church is subject to Christ let the wives be subject to their own husbands in everything.” Now I don’t want to cut those words from the Bible. But everything in the Bible needs to be looked at in light of what comes before it and what comes after it. What comes before these words in Ephesians 5? “Submitting yourselves to one another in the fear of God.” There was an overall statement that we all submit to one another and then the application was made to wives submitting to their husbands.
Well, what comes after the verses on wives submitting? “Husbands love your wives like Christ loved the church and gave himself for it that he might sanctify and cleanse it by the washing of water by the word that he might present it unto himself as a glorious church without spot or blemish or anything of the sort. Husbands love your wives as your own body. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own body but nourishes and cherishes it. So ought a husband to love his wife.”
Think about loving a wife like Christ loved the church. He gave himself for the church. He didn’t come down to earth to demand that we submit to him without doing anything himself. He loved the church so much that he willingly took on our sins and took the punishment for our sins on the cross so we could be saved.
What image do you have when you think of a husband nourishing and cherishing his wife? If that isn’t the picture of tender loving care, of kindness and consideration and providing for her the protection and attention she needs I don’t know how he could have said it to make it plain to us.
The right picture of a marriage is of husbands and wives submitting to each other and no one demanding their own way all the time. It is of tender love and care that puts the other persons needs ahead of your own. It is of looking for ways to bring joy and blessing into the life of your partner. It is providing for your children the picture of people who love each other all the time and treat one another with respect in words and actions.
Wives should be able to tell their daugters, “I hope you grow up to marry a man just like your dad” and husbands ought to be able to tell their sons, “I hope you grow up to marry a woman just like your mom.” When the marriage is healthy it still isn’t perfect. But it paints the mental picture of love and care that can only be a blessing from God.
Everyone needs to check their mental pictures of a good marriage once in a while. It may well be that we’ve picked up the wrong pictures.