The Need for Respect in Marriage
Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to live there for a while because the famine was severe. As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, “I know what a beautiful woman you are. When the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me but will let you live. Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you.” When Abram came to Egypt, the Egyptians saw that Sarai was a very beautiful woman. And when Pharaoh’s officials saw her, they praised her to Pharaoh, and she was taken into his palace. He treated Abram well for her sake, and Abram acquired sheep and cattle, male and female donkeys, male and female servants, and camels. But the Lord inflicted serious diseases on Pharaoh and his household because of Abram’s wife Sarai. 18 So Pharaoh summoned Abram. “What have you done to me?” he said. “Why didn’t you tell me she was your wife? 19 Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ so that I took her to be my wife? Now then, here is your wife. Take her and go!”
~ Genesis 12:10-19 (NIV)
Life can present a married couple with tough choices. Do you take the promotion at work if it means traveling with business associates who have no scruples? Do you keep having lunches with your friend of the opposite sex if it makes your spouse uncomfortable? The list goes on.
So it was with Abram and Sarai. Famine in the land put them into crisis: move or die of starvation. So the couple relocated to Egypt to find food. But Abram made some poor choices there. Sarai was so beautiful that she was sure to attract the attention of Egyptian rulers who wouldn’t hesitate to kill Abram to get his wife. So Abram told his wife to say she was his sister. After all, it was partly true; Sarai was his half sister (see Genesis 20:12). And Abram did need to survive for the covenant promises of God to come true, right?
According to the prevailing pattern for women in that era, Sarai had no say about the arrangement. But how do you think she felt about a husband who feared more for his own skin than for hers? Could you trust your spouse after being misrepresented as someone you’re not? That kind of betrayal can drive a wedge between a couple that only widens over time.
In the movie Love Story, Oliver tells his girlfriend, Jennifer, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” Maybe that’s what Abram thought after telling a lie about his wife. Sure enough, the Egyptians praised her to Pharaoh, and Sarai was taken into Pharaoh’s palace. But God rescued Sarai out of that difficult situation by afflicting Pharaoh and his family with such serious diseases that Sarai was sent back to her husband—and Abram even got to keep the livestock and servants he had acquired in the process.
One problem with never saying you’re sorry after wronging your spouse is that you are then inclined to repeat your behavior. That’s exactly what happened. Some years later, Abram once more passed off his wife as his sister, this time to Abimelek, the king of Gerar (see Genesis 20). And years after that, Abram and Sarai’s son, Isaac, did the same thing with his wife, Rebekah (see Genesis 26). So one wrong left unresolved between a couple only succeeded in perpetuating the abuse, threatening the very calling of Abram to be the father of many nations.
The poor choices that Abram made affected his marriage and his future. A Christian married couple can learn from Abram’s life that choices have long-lasting ramifications. To deal with poor choices, own up to any misuse or disrespect of each other. Deal openly and quickly with the sin; come clean with each other and the Lord, and ask each other and God for forgiveness. Then resolve not to repeat the offense.
Dear Heavenly Father, You have called us to love and respect our spouses. We pray that you would help us to love and respect at all times. Transform our character and ingrain in us the desire to bless our spouses through respect. May our speech be seasoned with it and may our actions reflect it, especially in those critical times when we may be at odds with our spouses. May your Holy Spirit direct our every way, encouraging us to do the right things even if it is a challenge in the moment. We also pray that our spouses would strive to love and respect us as their companion, lover and friend. Help our marriages to reflect all that you have called us to as a spouse in Jesus name, Amen.In Jesus,
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Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Devotion taken from NIV Couples’ Devotional Bible.
The poor choices that we make can affect our marriage and future.