Do you actually see yourself standing before your loving Lord and saying to Him, “Jesus, I could not obey your command to me because my spouse didn’t obey your command to them”?
I have had people say that because in Ephesians 5:33a God first commands the husband to love his wife and then in Ephesians 5:33b God commands the wife to respect her husband, then a wife need only respect her husband AFTER he first loves her. They argue that the husband must move first because he is mentioned first.
Do you believe this?
If you do, then please answer this question based on the same kind of logic. In the overall passage on marriage in Ephesians 5:22-33, God begins the section to wives, not to husbands (Ephesians 5:22-24) He first commands the wives to submit, and only after that does he instruct husbands to love (Ephesians 5:25-31). So, do husbands not have to love their wives until and unless wives submit to them?
Do some of you need to be humbly honest? Are you looking for any reason you can to demand that your spouse move first? Truth be told, are you looking for a way to ignore God’s command to you by claiming you are mentioned second in the text or context of Scripture?
Are you for real?
Are you refusing to put on love or respect toward your spouse in obedience to God because you claim your spouse fails to FIRST love and respect you? In effect, are you a poor, helpless victim who cannot trust and obey God because your spouse fails to be who you require them to be? Do you actually see yourself standing before your loving Lord and saying to Him, “Jesus, I could not obey your command to me because my spouse didn’t obey your command to them”?
Will you seek to claim that you were a victim of your spouse’s bad behavior, which is why you became hostile and contemptuous? Will you claim that you were justified in disobeying God’s command to you in Ephesians 5:33? Do you think God sees you as a victim or someone who has the power to move first in obedience to His command to you?
I am not suggesting your spouse will respond to your love or respect, or that you can cause them to be a loving or respectful person in response to you. I am only saying you are free to obey God’s command to love and respect, and move first in doing so. Your spouse cannot make you into a hostile and contemptuous human being. In your heart, you can obey Ephesians 5:33 regardless of your spouse.
So, if you are asking, “Who moves first?” the answer is, “You do.”