Infowarrior brings up a really interesting comment in Jesus and the Church is husbands and wives.
Would you say this would be an appropriate disciplinary measure should any one of the spouses sin:
15“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18
Whether the husband fails to love his wife as Christ loves his church or the wife rebels against her husband’s headship?
My answer is yes.
However, the reasoning is interesting and always brings everything back to God’s truth. First, let’s start by analyzing the situation here.
Jesus’ comment was specifically about general (ekklesia / Church) matters in that instance. We have instances of when Jesus speaks specifically of divorce/adultery in Matthew, Mark and Luke. Mark and Luke record no exceptions for dissolution of marriage. Matthew confirms only infidelity as a reason. Paul in 1 Corinthians 7 permits remarriage from abandonment. However, we know God’s heart:
Malachi 2:16 For [a]I hate [b]divorce,” says the Lord, the God of Israel, “and [c]him who covers his garment with [d]wrong,” says the Lord of hosts. “So take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously.”
Those specific instances are like Paul’s exhortations to general believers and to husbands and wives — submission of the wife to the husband supercedes that of submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. I wrote extensively on this in is there mutual submission or not.
In John 17, Jesus prays to the Father that even as they are One that the Church be the redemptive power of God to bring all believers as one. This is part of the New Covenant whereby the indwelling nature of the Holy Spirit in concert with Christians is able to make the Church one as the bride of Christ.
However, marriage as an institution is already perfect as it unites the two as one fully. It was created before the fall. As Jesus states in Matthew:
Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” He answered, “Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.” They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?” He said to them, “For your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.” (Matt. 19:3–8; cf. Mark 10:2–9; Luke 16:18)
Divorce was only allowed under the old covenant due to hardness of heart; however, that is not the way it was created to be and the way it should exist. Thus, excommuncation via divorce of the wife in regard to Matthew 18 is impermissible because of the specific stipulations of Jesus in regard to marriage and also in regard to how marriage as an institution was created.
However, what should a husband to a disobedient wife since he is not permitted to divorce his wife? How are Christians supposed to treat Gentiles and tax collectors? Jesus has words for that as well:
Matthew 5: 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may [ap]be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 Therefore [aq]you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
All in the all, the Scriptures are remarkable consistent with the same prescriptions with no stipulations in Ephesians 5:
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church [q]in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. 28 So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; 29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, 30 because we are members of His body. 31 For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.
Husbands have the command to love their wives, even if they are enemies under their own roofs.
Wives to husbands
Wives have a similar prescription for unbelieving husbands outlined in 1 Coritniahsn 7 and 1 Peter 3.
1 Corinthians 7:12 But to the rest I say, not the Lord, that if any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he must not [f]divorce her. 13 And a woman who has an unbelieving husband, and he consents to live with her, she must not [g]send her husband away. 14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through [h]her believing husband; for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy. 15 Yet if the unbelieving one leaves, let him leave; the brother or the sister is not under bondage in such cases, but God has called [i]us [j]to peace. 16 For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife?
1 Peter 3:1 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, 2 as they observe your chaste and [a]respectful behavior. 3 Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; 4 but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. 5 For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands; 6 just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right [b]without being frightened by any fear.
The great thing about being a Christian is that we get to love. If it’s an obligation where you feel like you have to love then pray to Him for grace, mercy, compassion, patience/endurance, and faith. You should want those who are closest to you follow Christ!
Love your spouse, even if they are acting like an enemy.