Honor In Marriage
Doug and I said our wedding vows on July 15th, 1989. Yes, we’ve been married for over 30 years. In our vows, we spoke the words “I do” in response to these questions: “Do you pledge to share your life openly with her/him and to speak the truth to her/him in love? (I do.) Will you comfort her/him, honor her/him and keep her/him, in sickness and in health, in sorrow and in joy, so long as you both shall live?” We both said “I do” and we both can still say “I do”. Honor in marriage has not been at the forefront of our mind over these years, but honor in marriage has been a slow, underlying current that has provided support and momentum in our pursuit of each other and of God. Yes, we pursue each other, even now. Let’s talk about Honor and why it’s important.
What is Honor?
Honor – it’s a noble-sounding word and a time-tested virtue. A combination of respect, esteem, praise, admiration and recognition, honor was the key part of the historic Knight’s Code of Chivalry and the Samurai Bushido. The concept and practice of honor are found throughout the Bible. What is honor and who should receive it?
When we honor someone, we recognize and affirm their worth or their position. Honor can be given with joy or out of duty, but it’s clear from scripture that honor is a normal part of the Christian life:
- Exodus 20:12 tells us to honor our parents
- Romans 12:10 urges us to outdo one another in giving honor
- Romans 13:7 tells us to give honor where it is due
- 1 Peter 2:17 says to honor everyone, including the emperor
- 1 Peter 3:7 reminds husbands to treat their wives with honor
- 1 Timothy 1:17 lifts up the Lord as worthy of glory and honor forever
- 1 Timothy 5:17 says that elders are worthy of double honor
Honor Beyond Feelings
Honoring others may require some grit, especially if the person doesn’t seem worthy of honor. Since the Bible tells Christians to honor the emperor in 1 Peter 2:17, it’s clear that we need to honor all kinds of people — even those who haven’t earned our respect. Sometimes, we simply honor a person because of his or her position.
Honor Her, Honor Him
The word honor is included in some traditional wedding vows for both the bride and the groom:
Will you love…comfort…honor and protect…and, forsaking all others, be faithful as long as you both shall live? [x]
What does honor look like and why is it important in a marriage?
Here is one example of honor in our marriage: Because Preaching is a very important part of Doug’s life and he does it every Sunday, I do my best to limit distractions for him on Sunday mornings. No flirting! It’s hard sometimes. I like to flirt with my hubby and he likes it when I flirt with him, but Sunday mornings are off-limits because he has to be able to prepare his heart and mind to be a vessel of God to deliver His word. It requires some sacrifice but I believe that God honors the attempts. One way that Doug honors me in marriage is that he doesn’t use me or our marriage as an example from the pulpit without my permission first. This is sometimes a sacrifice for him. We may have a fitting story or example, but he honors me by keeping his promise that he would never use a story about me or us without talking to me first after having seen a pastor degrade his wife from the pulpit. It was so sad. We “swim in the fishbowl” together and purposefully. This brings honor to our marriage.
Simply put, honor is important in marriage because it builds trust. Trust is a cornerstone of any relationship.
In a previous blog post, we discussed that a husband craves respect from his wife, and a wife seeks to be loved by her husband. When a husband feels honored, he probably feels respected, too. And, when a wife feels honored, she most likely feels loved. But honor takes love & respect up a notch because it comes with some self-sacrifice or humility. You are able to show love and respect without self-sacrifice or humility but to show honor takes more effort.
The Greek word for honor in scripture is timê, and it packs several meanings:
- To hold in estimation and respect
- To revere and treat as precious
- To manifest consideration towards
- To treat graciously
- To show deference
Honor in Their Language
Husbands and wives see and experience honor differently. I may keep a dry eye throughout a war movie, but my husband is moved to tears by honor displayed in a battle scene.
A wife may feel honored when her husband listens attentively, asks for her opinion, or helps out around the home. A husband may feel honored when his wife commends him in front of others, speaks respectfully or gives him space.
To be honored is as sweet as praise, and as welcome as a sincere compliment. But we all like to receive honor in different ways. Being publicly honored may embarrass some of us, while others enjoy praise in the spotlight.
Watch for unique ways to honor your spouse! In the next post, we will have some more ideas…