Rodney Dangerfield, the comedian, said "That's not a lady, that's my wife!" Although said in jest, that statement shows a total disregard for the person he was pledged to love and respect, if he in truth felt that way. We'll give him the benefit of the doubt. Dangerfield probably really respected his wife. Do you respect yours?
First off God is no respector of persons! Romans 2: 10 "But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: 11 For there is no respect of persons with God.". This is a statement that God places all races in the same esteem. He died for all mankind. There's nothing that any person can do to gain favor from God! Peter made the same observation in Acts 10 in regard to the nations and Paul reiterated in Ephesians 6 regarding free men and those in bondage.
1 Peter 1:17 says And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:". We all have the same balanced scales used to judge our righteousness. God won't "put his finger on the scales of justice" so to speak because he favors me nor you!
Does God's lack of respect for nationality, race, civil status or work mean that each of us are not to respect others? You know the answer to that! Just as God has grace for all without regard to the person's attributes, we are to have grace for others as well. You say "We're not talking about grace... we're talking about respect!"
Old Testament Scripture tells judges to not respect position or power in judgement (Proverbs 24:23) and we're not to respect a person just because they're wealthy (Proverbs 28:20), but the only place we are to respect are the priests of God (Lamentations 4:16). Nowhere does the Bible say that we are to respect people! Likewise, the synonymn "honor" is used only one time and that is in reference with not honoring the rich!
We need to look elsewhere for "respect". The Bible may not say that we respect others, but it sure has many verses which display respect!
Genesis 2:24 (ESV) "Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. " What makes a wife? Is it a legal certificate which obligates a person to become one flesh? Historically, pagans have taken wives because the woman was selected to carry the children of the husband. Jews and Christians have taken wives in holy ceremonies with no formal document. Even up into the 1800s people have been married by "banns" where they stood up in church and declared their desire to be married, and if no one objected, they became husband and wife. A blessing was most often given by the preacher. The marriage was documented in church records, but it was likely that no civil records were ever created!
Hence, a document does not make a marriage! If you're shacking up with a member of the opposite sex and have relations, like it or not, you have chosen a spouse, not only in God's eyes, but take a look at "common law" marriage. If you try to leave without sharing property after so many years, you're obligated to share common property. From a Scriptural perspective here's what Jesus said to the woman at the well:
John 4:17 (KJV) 17 "The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: 18 For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly."
Apparently this woman had had five previous sexual relationships which qualified as a "marriage". These were not marriages performed in a holy ceremony, but marriages consecrated in iniquity. They were sinful relationships Jesus considered to be marriage! This is the state of matrimony today!
Marriage is likened unto Christ's relationship to the church. It is intuitively obvious that the church must love and respect the deity they worship. My conclusion is that men are to love their wives and respect them in their position. You are one flesh and no man hateth himself. You are to treat the female half of you just as royally as you treat yourself!
This thought is exponded upon and reinforced by this verse:
Ephesians 5:25 "Husbands, love your wives, 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. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. "
Scripture sets standards for the relationship between the husband and wife in marriage. Respect the wife just as you desire respect for yourself. Love your wife just as you want to be loved! All this love is to be as Christ sanctified it to be. Marriage is set apart as a special relationship between two people just as Christ and his people have a special relationship. Hence, "love" implies "honor" and "respect". In fact you may have pledged in your wedding vows to "Love, honor and cherish" your mate! Do you do that?
Statistics show that marriages are on the wane? Why? People are failing to respect the sanctity of marriage because they fail to respect Christ and what he did for us! In effect not only are two people fornicating when they have extramartial sex, but are committing adultery when they have a faux marriage, which God recognizes, but they don't themselves!
Commitment! People jsut aren't commited to God. Not that a person doesn't believe in God, but they want to "have it my way". They want the proverbial "cake, but eat it too"! They "want the milk without buying the cow" to put it crudely. Neither show respect, most often lack of respect on the man's part, for if a man fulfill his obligation as a man a woman will be respected enough that he waill desire her as a wife!
Paul says "it's better to marry than to burn!" in 1 Corinthinas 7:9. Man is to take a mate because he desires her. To change that lust to honor, marriage is the recourse! It's a man's obligation to honor God and he mocks God by failing to marry the one he is bedding!
Commitment! Men are not interested in a committed relationship with God, but neither with a woman. A commitment is a heartfelt pledge. Men neither pledge to love, honor and obey Christ nor the woman with whom they're having a relationship. A cancer in man's relationship with God is a cancer on man's relationship with a woman! That cancer spreads. When a man beds a woman outside the sanctity or marriage, that shows no respect for the woman. When a woman allows a man to know her in a sexual manner, that woman shows no respect for herself nor for the man! If she respected the man, she would acknowledge to him that he fails to respect her!
As with all things of God marriage has become extraneous. Living together is in vogue. Likewise Christ has become extraneous and living in rebellion to Him is in vogue.
Woman, are you holding out for a man to ask you to marry? You men, are you hoping that woman will agree to be your wife? The pathway to marriage is not by iniquity, but by love, honor and respect! There is a man out there who will provide that. There is a woman out there who will love that. The relationship you're trapped in is an obstacle to God providing your soulmate. Get out of the way of God and let Him provide. Exercise faith! Pray! You don't like being alone? It's better to be alone than burn!