Marital needs, marital wants and maturity

I brought up this topic in the previous post on service is not submission.

2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is [h]inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for [i]training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

If we believe that the Scriptures are God-inspired, then we should expect that they lay out the various requirements for roles and responsibilities in particular relationship situations (not simply marriage, but using marriage as an example). Therefore, the Scriptures tell us what are needs and everything else that is left out, by elimination, are wants.

Also, it’s easy to get needs confused with wants. The Scripture defines the requirements of the marriage relationship. For example, for the wife the marital needs are leadership, provision (clothing, food), sex, and honor as a coheir in Christ from the husband. For the husband, submission, respect, chaste and respectful behavior, gentle and quiet spirit, and sex from the wife. Beyond that are solely wants. If you don’t get what you want, you shouldn’t be angry if you don’t get it. Yes, things like Bible studies and prayer together are good, but they are also wants. They aren’t requirements. It may be one way a husband can lead, but he may choose to do it a different way.

In speaking about the marital relationship, the Scripture delineate the bare necessities — the needs — in various passages which I alluded to above: Eph 5, Col 3, Tit 2, 1 Pet 3, 1 Cor 7, 1 Cor 11, and so on. These are the things that are required of each spouse that glorify God on earth.

The subversion to marital roles and responsibilities reminiscent of egalitarians and complementarians are to their own shame. Their perversion is due to idolatrous focus on the culture, women, feelings, or anything other than the Lord.

The necessities, after all, are only necessities. Most of Paul’s epistles and writings of Peter, John, and the apostles to the early Church contain many warnings about walking astray. Living a Christian life is so much more than avoiding walking astray. Indeed, we can infer, from the commands of Jesus, that we are to walk far beyond bare necessities: “Love one another, as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”

1 Timothy 1:8 But we know that the Law is good, if one uses it lawfully, 9 realizing the fact that law is not made for a righteous person, but for those who are lawless and rebellious, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers 10 [f]and [g]immoral men [h]and homosexuals [i]and kidnappers [j]and liars [k]and perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound teaching, 11 according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, with which I have been entrusted.

The Law of Moses, after all, is for lawbreakers not for the righteous. Following the Law is good, but we are not made to simply follow the law. Similarly, many of the commands of the New Testament are simply New Laws. They point us in the right direction, but simply following them won’t lead us to the fullness of Christ.

Ephesians 3:16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the [m]saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. 20 Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, 21 to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations [n]forever and ever. Amen.

If we have to be constantly reminded to live a fruitful Christian life, according to the various commands of the New Testament, then are we not simply newborn babes that require liquid sustenance rather than solid food?

1 Corinthians 3:And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ. 2 I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, 3 for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking [a]like mere men?

Hebrews 5:11 Concerning [g]him we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. 12 For though [h]by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the [i]elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.

Indeed, it is the babes in the faith and the deceived yet seeking that require the commands of the New Testament. This is most of the people that you see in the Churches today. They need the liquid milk in order to re-calibrate their consciences toward righteousness according to what glorifies God here on earth.

But to those of us who know better and have aligned our conscience to the word of Truth, we have a greater responsibility to live and to act like one who is neither ignorant or foolish.

Ephesians 4:11 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the [d]saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the [e]knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature [f]which belongs to the fullness of Christ. 14 [g]As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness [h]in deceitful scheming; 15 but [i]speaking the truth in love, [j]we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together [k]by what every joint supplies, according to the [l]proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.

Rather, we are to walk into maturity, through exercising our spiritual gifts and learning to grow in the positions we are placed at for the season. To walk into an example of Christ’s love for those inside the Church and to those outside the Church. Indeed, those inside the Church that are deceived may need it more desperately than those outside.

Addendum: Ephesians 1-4 is so good for exploring what maturity in the faith looks like. Ephesians 5-6 are commands because those in the Church at Ephesus were still babes in the faith.

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