Post Title: Nourishing and Cherishing
"I've something a bit different to share with you that is always timely, interesting, and challenging. For a deeper dive into this subject, I commend to you my audio seminar, In His Image: Biblical Insights Into Love, Marriage and the Family."
Before closing our teaching time, let's review some essential ideas.
First, the kind of romantic love that is extolled and sold in movies, music, magazines, and books is an enormous deception. It creates illusions and false expectations of what love should be. Although authentic love may include romantic love, it is not the basis for biblical marriage.
Second, authentic self-love is based on seeing yourself as Christ sees you. You can extend love to others from that sense of self-acceptance. When we have a proper sense of self-love—that which is biblical, healthy, and restorative—we can freely and fully love another.
Third, the Bible teaches and pictures a radically different view of love. God commands it, which introduces an important lesson. You cannot command passions or emotions, but you can command your will. The exercise of the will leads to conduct. Appropriate conduct fosters positive emotions.
In doing acts of love, we are taught how to love.
Fourth, romance and affection—built on everyday acts of love—are highly desirable as part of a larger cluster within the marriage relationship. Why? Because marriage, first and foremost, is a covenant of mutually interdependent, not codependent, partners. Therefore, manifestations of affection, tenderness, and sexual expression are an important and fulfilling part of marriage.
A Hebrew word that points to the biblical idea of romance is yichud, from the word yadah (to know) and echad (oneness). The marriage covenant has three partners: a husband, a wife, and God. Only when God is part of the union do men and women come into their fullness. Yichud speaks of the sacredness of marriage. It speaks of a balanced, mutual relationship and a simple but enduring kind of love.
But yichud also speaks of deep affection and the intimacy of sex. One of the five blessings pronounced over a Jewish couple at their wedding is that the bride and groom may rejoice as friends and lovers. Adam and Eve were more than just lovers. They were friends. And this is the ideal of biblical love in the covenant of marriage, namely that you are both friends and lovers.
Yichud is the balance of reason and romance; of discipline and spontaneity; of dreams and realism; of both individuality and unity.
Even as I teach on this subject, I am deeply challenged. Don't think for a minute I am the ideal mate, embodying all these things. I have enough problems without adding hypocrisy to the list. [laughter] God's Word reveals his plan for us, his holy design. Yes, it brings conviction, but it also inspires my heart to love more intentionally each day. I pray it does so for you as well.
Paul writes in Ephesians 5: 25, Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, which suggests the principle I previously pointed out to you. If you don't have healthy self-esteem originating from a relationship with God through Messiah Jesus, if you are not operating out of that internal center where Christ reigns supreme, then you cannot love another or receive love from another in a complete way.
Although I am speaking now to husbands, the implications for wives are also clear.
In verse 29, Paul uses two important words, translated in the NIV as to feed and care (vs.29). I much prefer the English Standard Version, For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church because we are members of his body. Husbands, this is the ideal. We are called to nourish and cherish our wives.
The Greek root of the word nourish means "to bring." Because of the prefix, the meaning is "to bring out." It is the ability to bring out something of value from deep within, to let it emerge, and to encourage its development. What a beautiful picture.
We see it again in Eph 6:4, Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Bring them up is the same language; to nourish, to bring out the beauty, the value, and the unique personhood God has invested in them. If true for your children, how much more crucial is it to nourish your wife who gave them life?
The Greek word for cherish in Eph 5:29 is peculiar because it is only used twice in the NT. The other occurrence is in 1 Thess 2:7, But we were gentle among you like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. Paul cherished the believers in Thessalonica, like a mother who tenderly cares for her infant. The word means to warm or to heat. It evokes the image of a mother hen sitting on her eggs or brooding over her chicks to provide them warmth and protection.
We are called to provide emotional warmth, physical warmth, and spiritual warmth to our mates. Men, if we are to nourish and cherish our wives, then I suggest it would take these three forms: affection, affirmation, and acceptance.
One of the tremendous corroding influences of marriage is indifference and apathy.
The capacity to adapt is vital to our survival in this world; we are very adept at adapting. But this very capacity becomes a hindrance in a marriage because we get to a point where we have adapted to one another so well that we know them. (More to the point, assume we know all there is to know about them). We institutionalize the marriage leading to boredom. Mae West famously quipped, "Marriage is a great institution, but I'm not ready for an institution."
We need to show acceptance of our wives as people with all kingdom rights and privileges. We must know them in their personhood and affirm them for who they are, not just who we want them to be. They are so important as a person that God's own Son came to regenerate them and bring them into wholeness. We must nourish and cherish our wives with affection, affirmation, and acceptance.
We men—of whom Christ is to be the head—are also to be the leaders, the head for our wives. So we must be like Christ and extend affection, affirmation, and acceptance to those we love. In that, God will be well pleased, and love, both biblical and romantic, will be fused in a more perfect union.
And in the power of His Spirit, we can and will love as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
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This study is from a professionally produced transcription of the audio recording. It was edited for readability by the team at JC Studies.
Dwight A. Pryor (1945-2011) was a gifted Bible teacher of exceptional clarity and depth who earned the friendship and admiration of both Christian and Jewish scholars—in the United States and Israel—as well as the respect and appreciation of followers of Jesus around the world. His expertise in the language, literature, and culture of Israel during the life and time of Jesus and the early church yield insights that nourish every area of faith and practice.
Dwight founded JC Studies in 1984 to edify the people of God. Click here to explore over fifty of his audio and video seminars.