“In the same way, husbands should love their wives as they love their own bodies. The man who loves his wife loves himself. No one ever hates his own body, but feeds and takes care of it. And that is what Christ does for the church...”---Ephesians 5:28-29 (NCV)
OK, now THIS is one that I tend to battle with from time to time. Basically because of what the underlined part of the verse says. I mean, seems to me, by looking at the questionable way many people treat their temple (I Corinthians 6:19), that HATING THEIR OWN BODY IS EXACTLY WHAT THEY ARE DOING. Really now, can you “love your own body” and smoke cigarettes? Can you love your own body and drink yourself into a drunken stupor? Can you love your own body while leaving yourself sleep deprived by hanging out in seedy clubs with seedy men (and woman) or hanging out all night with Internet pornography (or reading erotica)? Can you love your own body by gorging yourself on junk food or emotionally responding with any food? Can you love your own body and not go to the doctor/dentist regularly? Can you love your own body and not take vitamins, drink water, exercise...nurture and nourish yourself? And then, the Holy Spirit led me to the definition of the word, “hate”:
Hate: to dislike intensely or passionately; feel extreme aversion for or extreme hostility toward; detest
What I am saying is that no man who loves me hates his own body. If you reverence me, because you are made in my image (Genesis 1:26-27), you will begin to reverence yourself. Reverence leads one to love.
Ahhhh, I get it better now. I mean, the truth (John 8:32) is that if you are even in the Bible enough to come upon this verse (2 Timothy 3:16), then that must mean that you are looking for, or God has led you to, some revelation knowledge about your self-worth. Until now, you may not have realized that certain things that you are doing is a sign of self-hatred...but they are. In this context, when the Word is speaking on “love”, it's referring to “to need or require; benefit greatly from”. We should all feel like we need, require and greatly benefit from our bodies. But you see, here's the catch: If we did and/or when we come to a place where we really do, WE WILL SHOW IT. I need my skin, so I will moisturize it. I need my eyes, so I will give them a break off of this thing (I do actually take breaks...crazy, but true). I need my heart and so I won't let just anyone or anything enter into it. (Proverbs 4:23)
I liken it to a relationship that a child has with its parent. When you are young, you don't know how to care for yourself and so you need extra instruction. Oh, but there comes a time (or at least should), when you start bathing YOURSELF, feeding YOURSELF, TAKING CARE OF YOURSELF. In the spirit realm, it's no different. I Corinthians 13:11 (NKJV) says, “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” Childish things are immature things. Childish things are silly things. Childish things are WEAK (minded) things. I Corinthians 8:7 speaks of one way that we can defile the very thing that we are supposed to love: ourselves. It's when our conscience is weak...not strong...liable to yield, break, or collapse under pressure or strain...fragile...frail. Oh, but there are other ways that we can reflect weakness. This is one time when the ladies will get their “ponder on that” thought, first.
Women: OK, ladies. Sorry, but as my mother says, “Surgery hurts, but it cures.” 2 Timothy 3:2-7 (AMP) states, “For people will be lovers of self and [utterly] self-centered, lovers of money and aroused by an inordinate [greedy] desire for wealth, proud and arrogant and contemptuous boasters. They will be abusive (blasphemous, scoffing), disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy and profane. [They will be] without natural [human] affection (callous and inhuman), relentless (admitting of no truce or appeasement); [they will be] slanderers (false accusers, troublemakers), intemperate and loose in morals and conduct, uncontrolled and fierce, haters of good. [They will be] treacherous [betrayers], rash, [and] inflated with self-conceit. [They will be] lovers of sensual pleasures and vain amusements more than and rather than lovers of God.
For [although] they hold a form of piety (true religion), they deny and reject and are strangers to the power of it [their conduct belies the genuineness of their profession]. Avoid [all] such people [turn away from them]. For among them are those who worm their way into homes and captivate silly and weak-natured and spiritually dwarfed women, loaded down with [the burden of their] sins [and easily] swayed and led away by various evil desires and seductive impulses. [These weak women will listen to anybody who will teach them]; they are forever inquiring and getting information, but are never able to arrive at a recognition and knowledge of the Truth.”
Ladies, there's actually not too much to say after that. Bottom line, if you love yourself...if you REALLY love yourself, greedy men...proud men...UNGRATEFUL MEN...abusive men (of your mind/body or spirit) will not be attractive to you. Why? Because, by being in association with them, you are not benefiting greatly by knowing them. THEY ARE DOING NOTHING FOR YOUR TEMPLE.
So what if they go to church...are the pastor's son...went to private school? I love how the Word says that many people may hold a FORM of true religion (James 1:26-27), but they don't understand the POWER of it. In other words, what has the man who has your attention actually accomplished by claiming to have relationship with God? Do you see his life progressing in a positive manner? If not, you need to watch out for that dude. Women who love their bodies are drawn to men who talk to their eyes and not their breasts. Women who love their bodies can be on the phone rather than driving to his house (or coming back from it) at all hours of the night. Women who love their own bodies will not let a man treat her any old kind of way. It's WEAK WOMEN who do that....it's silly women who do that...it's childish women who do that. AND CHILDREN ARE NOT READY FOR MARRIAGE.
Ladies, if you are seeking God about where your husband is and you are not loving yourself (because you can only love another when you understand what it means to love yourself---Matthew 22:38-40), I am confident in telling you that you don't see him because you're not ready for him. A husband is many things, but a father and a savior he is not. I will leave that right there and move on to the fellas.
Men: The man who loves his wife loves himself...a man who loves his own body feeds and takes care of it. OK, I'm gonna put it right on out there. About 60% of my relationships involved me taking care of a man. I paid for the dates. I bought and cooked the food. I remembered the special days in the relationship. Yeah, I was a weak-minded chick. But, the other revelation is that, regardless of what the men may have said, the Bible tells us not to love in word or tongue but deed and truth. (I John 3:18) You can TELL me anything. It's your ACTIONS that should impress me (and my Father).
Even during the time of “mate seeking”, you should be in the mentality of courting me in the sense that if you want me to believe that you can take care of me, YOU SHOULD BE SHOWING IT. Only a fool (or weak-minded woman) would hire someone for a job without an interview. Why would I want to be your wife and trust you to pay the rent---no, actually your credit needs to be good enough to pay the MORTGAGE---when you can't even afford dinner and a movie? Why would I trust you to make the “final decisions” in the home, when I'm the one planning everything all of the time? (One of the most attractive traits on ANY MAN is forethought and foresight. Love me enough to think ahead.)
As a man, and especially as a man of God, if you are pursuing me (Proverbs 18:22) or my personal favorite, God has brought me to you as you are awakening from your spiritual slumber (Genesis 2:21-22), AS A MAN WHO LOVES HIMSELF AND WANTS TO LOVE ME, there should be an innate and automatic desire to want to take care of me; to feed and nourish me, spiritually/relationally/physically/emotionally. There are so many references in the Bible to a man loving his wife as Christ loved the Church. I have learned the oh, so hard way that a man has to know Christ and respect him before he can even begin to grasp the comparison between the sacrifices that Christ made for us...and the sacrifices a man should be willing to make for his bride.
That said, brothas, if you are not in the position to take care of a woman, don't pursue her. If the desire is there, it would delight God (Psalm 37:4) if you would humble yourself enough to ask him to prepare you, first (in humility comes elevation---Luke 14:11). A big part of that is getting your own habits, fetishes, baggage out of the way. STDs (Spiritually Transmitted Diseases) tend to be contagious. Love WOMANKIND enough, as the weaker vessel (I Peter 3:7), to not infect us with your garbage. Clean up, first. (James 4:8) If she's yours...if she's yours under God's will and blessing, she's not going anywhere. What GOD DOES lasts forever, remember? (Ecclesiastes 3:14)
And so, as we end this chapter, my advice to both the men and the women is to spend some real time in the Word grasping just what Christ did for the Church. It's some pretty amazing, self-sacrificing, unconditional stuff. For the men, in reading it, you should gain a greater clarity on “if” and “who” the one is...if she is worth doing all of that. And for the ladies, it should set a standard. He can't “sacrifice” some time to see you? Then you shouldn't “sacrifice” your emotions worrying out it. :-)
Let the Church that Christ died for say, “AMEN”.
©Shellie R. Warren/2009