Marriage Police

By Boone Leigh

Many times in our marriages, especially when things are not going so well, we forget what our job is. If we come from a biblical worldview (Christian) then we know what the Bible says about what we are supposed to do in marriage. Ephesians 5:22 and 25 state clearly that wives are to submit to their husbands and that husbands are to love their wives. The difficulty that many couples run into is not what the Bible says, but how do I apply clear commands. When things get tough in our marriages, then we have the tendency to become the marriage police. In other words, we begin to think that our job is to make sure that our spouse does their job. Then, if they do their job in a way that we think is sufficient, we will reward them by doing our job. A wife might say, “If my husband were to love me as Christ loves the church, then I would gladly respect him,” and the husband might say “If my wife were to show me the respect I want then I would easily love her.”  We become managers and enforcers of our spouse’s responsibilities (marriage police) rather than taking our responsibilities to heart.  Husbands, we are commanded in Ephesians 5:25 to “ … love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”  Wives are commanded in Ephesians 5:22 to “… submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.”  Nowhere does the divinely inspired Apostle Paul add “If your spouse doesn’t do their job, then you don’t have to do your job.”

A basic rule of marriage is this. “Your job is your job, even if your spouse never does their job.”  Let God deal with your spouse, for He will deal with His servant in His time.  Your job is to love your spouse, for this is what God has called you to do, and what you promised to do when you said “I do.”  When we speak of loving our spouse, we are not just talking about having warm and fuzzy feelings about them (though we are for that).  Pastor and author Tim Keller talks about the husband’s and wife’s duties in Ephesians 5 in his book The Meaning of Marriage.  He states that “Emotions can’t be commanded, only actions, so it is actions that Paul is commanding. He doesn’t care how they [husbands] feel on a given day or at a given moment – They must love their wives” (Keller, 2011, p. 110). 

The same, of course, applies to wives as well as husbands. Your job is to glorify God by loving your spouse, even if your spouse does not fully do their part.  God will hold you responsible for doing what He has commanded you to do, not for making your spouse do what they are supposed to do.  Jesus says in John 14:15 “If you love me, you will keep my Commands.”

If you are in a challenging marriage, and you need some assistance sorting out these truths, reach out for help. If you are in an abusive marriage, reach out immediately, for it will be impossible to address these commands while in that dangerous scenario. 

Keller,T., (2011)  The Meaning of Marriage, New York, New York: Penguin Group (USA) 

Boone Leigh graduated from NC State University with a BS in Biology. He graduated with a Masters of Divinity from Reformed Theological Seminary in 2001 and a Masters in Professional Counseling from Liberty University in 2012.  Boone served in Florida as a youth pastor and pastoral intern, and then served as a solo pastor to a church in Huntington, WV. Boone has been providing pastoral counseling for the past twelve plus years working with children, teens, adults, singles and couples. He loves to help people with the struggles they are having by pointing them first to the ultimate answer, which is Jesus Christ. He has been married for 12 years to the love of his life and has two daughters. Boone is licensed in both North Carolina and South Carolina.



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