THE MARRIED WIDOW
By W. G. Guy
The term, married widow, initially sounds like an oxymoron; words that give a conflicting description. How can a woman be married and also be a widow at the same time? Unfortunately this describes the plight of a lot of married women these days. To understand this all-to-common situation we need to look at the word widow as it is defined in the New Testament of the Holy Bible.
The word widow comes from the Greek word that means deficiency; lacking a husband - literally or figuratively. This word is most commonly recognized by its narrow usage that describes a wife whose husband had died. But there is actually a broader meaning to this word as the Greek definition puts it. When used literally, as it customarily is, the word widow means husbandless; implying her husband is deceased - thus she is without a husband. However, it is the broader or figurative use of the word that helps us to recognize the unhealthy marriages many couples have today.
The married widow is a woman who has a deficiency in her relationship with her husband. It is as if she did not have a husband - thus, she is a married widow; without a husband. Such a wife is deficient; she is lacking the proper and meaningful relationship that God intended a loving husband to provide for his wife. She is a widow indeed - figuratively!
Today we have many married women who live without a real husband; women whose husbands are alive, but these poor wives have to live as though they have no husband. Their husbands are not being true husbands. Thus they live husbandless; they have a deficiency; they are married widows because these women have to live out their marriage without a true loving, caring, cherishing husband. Such women have husbands who treat them with disrespect; treat them as chattel property; consider them as an expense or liability; consider them a tenant of their home who simply exists to serve him; or other such demeaning conditions.
A married widow is married to a man that is not fulfilling the role of a true husband to her. For non-believers in the Lord Jesus Christ this condition may not be surprising. The reason is that the non-believing, non-Christian, husband DOES NOT have the LOVE of God in him! However for a Christian husband, one who is supposed to have the Love of God in him, this absolute failure of a proper marital relationship is actually an affront to God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ!
Ephesians 5:25 - "husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church and gave himself for it".
Can God be pleased with a supposedly Christian man who in effect leaves his wife husbandless? These kinds of men actually live with their wives, but do not love them as Christ loves the church and devotes himself to cherishing, nurturing, caring and making that relationship blossom with his presence and goodness. I'm not describing men whose profession or other circumstance takes them physically away for extended periods of time. Those who are away can still make their wives feel loved and cherished even in their absence. I'm describing the husbands who are physically present in the home but are, for all practical purposes, materially absent.
Too many Christian wives live as widows with their Christian husbands because the husbands do not cherish their wives as they should. There are two basic reasons causing Christian husbands to not have a proper love for their wives - leaving them as widows; these two reasons are SELFISHNESS and PRIDE. (Selfishness and pride are also the root causes of sin and are the open door that the enemy comes through with his temptations - but that is another topic.)
Selfishness is SELF-LOVE. A husband full of self-love wants and keeps the best for himself and will not share what is considered precious to him. He may give tokens out of a sense of duty, but there is no real caring, sharing and cherishing of the wife in their relationship. Such a husband is motivated to provide, protect, please, comfort and reward his own SELF. Selfishness is all about getting. Selfishness is the opposite of Love, because love is giving!
Pride shows up when a husband cannot admit or recognize when he is wrong about something. Pride will get very upset and enraged when a wife identifies a fault, failure or mistake in the husband and brings it to his attention. Pride cannot take correction and rebels against any effort on the wife to identify a problem, failure or weakness.
In the proper marriage relationship, both the husband and wife must loose each other in each other; that is, each self must die out and be a willing sharing partner with the other for the others benefit. This fulfills the Biblical definition of Love as presented by our Lord Jesus Christ.
John 15:13 - "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."
To summarize, Love is desiring the best for the other even at one's own expense.
Husbands are REQUIRED to LOVE their wives in the same context that Christ loved the church and gave himself for it - (Ephesians 5:25). Anything short is a marital failure for the Christian husband. (It seems that some “Christian” husbands have a long way to go).
A real Christian husband, a true man of God, allows God's Love to flow through him to his wife. If he can't show God's love to his wife, how is he going to show God's love to others as God commands - (John 15:12 & 17; 1 John 47-21).
Those husbands who have made their wives widows are also husbands that are unfaithful! Unfaithful, not as in having an adulterous affair with another woman, but unfaithful in giving their wives their due devotion, attention, loving care, comfort, and all the love that is due them.
Ephesians 5:28-29 - "So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church."
Wives should get at least equal attention as the husband gives himself; making the wife his equal, not subservient. Loving your wife as your self means to love and treat her as your equal! … but with a special cherishing as a weaker vessel.
Some Christian husbands who have made their wives widows behave as dictators or demigods over their wives. They quote the Bible verses how wives are to submit to their husbands.
Ephesians 5:22-23 - "Wives, submit yourselves unto you own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church:..."
These same husbands ignore verse 25 that commands husbands to love their wives which is required first and foremost. If the husband really loves his wife she will feel secure in that love relationship and will eagerly submit herself to him. Love is his responsibility and submission is her response to his love. Her submission must be earned by his love for her; submission can't be demanded. Submission demanded by a husband is a result of his selfishness and SELF love; such is a trait of ungodliness and NOT Christ-likeness.
What is a Christian wife to do when she finds herself deficient of a husband – being a married widow? She is to cling to the one who really loves her, cherishes and cares for her. Her help, hope and strength comes from the one who watches over the widow:
Psalm 68:5 - In acknowledging God, scripture says He is: A father of the fatherless, and a judge (one who makes determinations for or on behalf ) of the widows....".
Psalm 146:9 - "The Lord preserveth the strangers; he relieveth the fatherless and widow....".
Jeremiah 49:11 - "....and let thy widows trust in me".
CONCLUSION: Husbands, don't make your wives widows, at least not while you're alive!
Christian husbands are to be to their wives as Christ is to the church. What a difference this makes in a marriage. Just look at what the God kind of love (charity or cherishing) does and does not do:
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (NIV) - "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking (selfish), it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails."
Husbands, do you have this kind of love for your wife? You should if you are a child of God - a Christian husband !