Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Extraordinary Beauty of Loving without Needing

I will often begin a talk with husbands or wives at various marriage conferences with the statement, "The best marriages are those where a husband and wife love each other, but don't need each other." Most of the time after saying this, couples look at me with a "deer-in-the-headlights" expression. I can see the wheels turning as they try to grasp what's been said. Usually speakers at marriage conferences say the opposite. The typical marriage speaker will tell wives that they are to expect their basic human needs to be met by their husband, and husbands that they should expect their wives to meet their basic needs. Then a list of the wife's needs is given to the husband, and a list of the husband's needs is given to the wife. Couples often leave average marriage conferences with both huge expectations and even greater burdens to do for their mate what God never designed us to do, to be the source of one's identity through the meeting of each other's spiritual, psychological, emotional and physical needs.  

I can prove from Scripture that God never designed a spouse to be the person on whom one depends for basic needs. At first, such a concept might seem strange. But follow the logic. We innately know, and the Bible affirms, that the basic needs of all human beings, both men and women, are (1). the need to connect with others (love or social belonging), (2). the need for respect (significance) and (3). the need to protect ( security). 

God designed us to have these basic needs met by Him, not our spouses. My basic needs are to be met by union with Christ, not the union I have with my mate. Let me prove it:

"My God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory" (Philippians 4:19).

It is not "your husband" (or "your wife") who shall supply all your needs. The Bible reveals that Jesus gave much practical comfort to His disciples, both men and women (see Luke 8:1-3). Christ explicitly said that those who receive Him as Savior and Lord are not to worry about their future. He, their King, has everything under His control.  He, not your spouse, will provide for all your needs. See Matthew 6:25-34 as an example of Christ's teaching on this subject. Any spouse who looks to a mate to provide basic needs is substituting that mate for Christ.

"At the resurrection, people will neither marry nor be given in marriage" (Matthew 22:30).

These are the words of Jesus. The resurrection is that time when God raises believers in Christ from the dead to live forever on the earth where the curse has been reversed. This is what Jesus meant when He said, "The meek will inherit the earth" (Matthew 5:5). When the redeemed earth is given to us as an inheritance, the city that Christ has been preparing for His people (see John 14:1-4, Hebrews 11:10, and Revelation 20) will descend from heaven and unite with this redeemed earth. This is the day that "all of creation is groaning for" (Romans 8:22).

Note to wives: Contrary to what Muslims, Mormons and other radical patriarchal advocates say, no woman will ever have her identity associated with a man for eternity. 

Jesus will give each of us "a new name" (see Revelation 2:17).  Names in Scripture represent a "change in identity or character." In heaven, you will "unfold the riches of His grace" and see all that He has prepared for you. Your worth, significance, identity and value will be found in Him. In your marriage here and now, you are to reflect your growing understanding of who you are in Christ as you love your mate the way Christ loves you. Jesus doesn't need you, but He sure does love you.

Any religion on this earth that refuses to assist women to find their basic needs met in Jesus Christ, any religion that refrains from pointing women to the King of Kings and encourages them to revel in the riches of being "wed to Christ," and any religion that somehow tries to make a woman think she needs her husband (spiritually, emotionally, or materially) is a religion that is not based on the infallible Scriptures or the truth of God's Kingdom. On the other hand, those Christian women who have been set free from the bondage of believing that they need their husbands to meet their basic needs, and then simply love their husbands from the overflow of  resting in the love and provisions of Christ, will find a slice of heaven in their homes.

"What causes quarrels and fightings among you? Don't they come from a battle over desires within you? You want something but don't get it. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God" (James 4:1-2).

Angry quarrels, scornful fights, and other efforts to control and manipulate your spouse arise from a desire to have your basic needs met by your mate rather than by your God. God never designed your husband to take His place in your life. Christ alone is your Source of real and lasting love, personal and abiding significance, and unqualified daily security.

"Seek first the Kingdom of God," Jesus said. The Kingdom of God is best defined as God's reign in your life through Jesus Christ. His Kingdom is within you (Luke 17:21). One day His Kingdom will be all around you, but until then, His reign is within. For this reason, you don't need your husband to be a certain way. You may want certain things from your husband, and of course, there is nothing wrong with asking; but you don't need him to be a certain way. Why? Because every need you have is designed to be met by God.


"Why does the Bible speak of a man and a woman becoming 'one flesh' in marriage if marriage is not designed to be permanent and marriage is not the place that a man or woman is to receive his or her identity?"

Answer: Marriage is a picture of the union that a man and a woman individually have with Christ. One should never replace the reality with the picture. When you embrace and kiss the picture to the exclusion of what the picture represents, you become an unhealthy Christian. For example, if I pick my wife up from the airport after a long absence,  run toward her to greet her, and then suddenly stop, ignore my wife, pull out a picture of her and then kiss the picture, I am an unhealthy person. I have made an idol of the picture and missed the reality of what the picture represents.

Pictures and picture frames break. They rip, burn, fade, and are often destroyed. So, too, marriages break and fall apart, but they are only pictures of the reality of one's union with Christ. If the picture is destroyed, it never means the reality conveyed by the picture is gone.   A spouse is to get his or her significance, security, and love from a  union with Jesus Christ, and never a union with any man.

"What happens when my spouse breaks the vow of sexual fidelity or becomes emotional or physically abusive to me?"

Answer: To say that a spouse's infidelity doesn't hurt would be false, thus all married persons want their spouse to be faithful. However, to say I don't need a faithful mate is true. To say that a spouse's emotional and physical abuse doesn't hurt would be false. To say that I don't need my spouse to be kind, loving and gracious is true. A married person doesn't need to be married. I may want to be married, but I don't need to be married.

Therefore, if your spouse is unfaithful or abusive, confront your husband in love and draw a boundary. Tell your husband that you cannot control his actions, nor is it your desire to control him. Let him know that if he desires another woman, or if he feels the need to abuse you, then you will let him go. You can and will end the marriage because you do not need him. End it, however, not in spite, or anger, or manipulation or control. End the marriage because you refuse to enable your husband in his sin, or be a wife that remains in abuse because you can't live without your man. You can. And, when the marriage is over, treat your former husband with dignity, respect and kindness--the same way you would treat any man who is not your husband, for that is the kind of person a woman who has her needs met in Christ is. Of course, the Spirit may lead you to stay with an adulterous spouse as He did Hosea to stay with Gomer, but it was not for Hosea's sake that he remained committed to an adulterous wife, it was for his wife's sake.

In some marriages, spouses will unintentionally enable their mates to continue in their addictions or sin because they unintentionally substitute their spouses for Christ. When a married person cannot envision a future without their spouse, then the picture (marriage) has become an idol, and the married person has lost perspective on the reality that marriage is intended to represent (my union with Christ).

"Be specific on why my spouse is even more attracted to me when I am love without needing?"

Christ's love for us is magnetic. "We love Him because He first loved us" (I John 4:19). Christ does not need us. He doesn't need us to be happy. He doesn't need us to be fulfilled. He doesn't need us to be a certain way for Him to feel significant. When He loves us, it is a selfless love. His love is unconditional, and wells within Him like an artesian spring. We don't pull it out of Him; He loves because He is love. When we begin to understand and experience this unconditional and personal love, we are drawn toward Him.

In the same manner, when a fulfilled, self-sufficient person marries, that person doesn't need marriage. The Kingdom of God is God's total answer for man's total need. What a person needs is Christ. We are wed to Him, and our desires in marriage are to be all that Christ has made us in life.

Selfless love is magnetic. It draws a spouse. Granted, your mate may not at first understand selfless love, mainly because His needs are not yet being fully met by Christ via faith! For this reason, a spouse may become unfaithful by searching for fulfillment in others. A Christian must set boundaries in marriage, but the enforcement of those boundaries should always be done with dignity, respect and love for the unfaithful spouse-for the good of the one unfaithful.

There is an extraordinary beauty in loving without needing.


  1. Wade, if I remember correctly, you wrote about this subject once before and I appreciated it then and now as well.

    You said...

    And, when the marriage is over, treat your former husband with dignity, respect and kindness--the same way you would treat any man who is not your husband...

    My ex and I have been divorced for nearly 35 yrs. or so (didn't mark the date on my calendar...:) He lives in N.Y.; I live in Florida. We were married for 17 yrs. Right out of the courthouse with divorce certificate in hand, we went to lunch together and after all this time, he still calls me about every 2-3 weeks to "catch up" on what's happening. We stay in touch because we care. We stay in touch because we have two sons together and want to stay up-to-date with their lives. I care about his family and he cares about mine.

    If there is such a good, amiable divorce, we've got it! :)

    Thank you for this beautiful, important lesson on loving without needing both in and out of marriage.

    Mary Ann

  2. Wade,

    My father told me I was always right, but when I was wrong, I was dead wrong.

    “…I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name is inscribed on it that no one knows except the one that receive it. (Revelation 2:17 Holman)

    *…I will give to each one a white stone, and on the stone will be engraved a new name that no one understands except the one who receives it.” (NLT)

    Wade, where did you get from this verse that Jesus will give us a new name?

    When we meet in heaven, I will know you as Wade and you will know me as Rex because “…I will know fully, as I am fully known.” (1 Corinthians 13: 12 Holman)

  3. A new name doesn't mean you don't know or remember the old name. :) A new name represents an identity that is found fully and completely in Christ! Yhanks, Rex.

  4. there is a kind of love that wants what is best for the 'other' for the sake of the 'other'

    it does not ask for anything in return

    it does sometimes cost the one who loves greatly, but the cost is not counted

    I sometimes think of the family of Corrie ten Boom and how, during the time of the Shoah, they took Jews into their home for sanctuary and hid them, and how they suffered terribly because of their great Christian love for those people . . . I wonder if Christians today still have the faith to offer so great a witness to Christ, and then I read about the Southern Baptist Church that is offering sanctuary to a Syrian refugee family,

    and I knew that it was done out of the same kind of love . . . and that it shines as a witness of a Christian people to their great Lord . . . God Bless Bryant Wright and his congregation . . . the Lord, in His great mercy, has looked on them and they have borne witness to that mercy

  5. Wade,

    Your “thanks” made me like your reply. Our new name is “Christian”, and is known by many people and not only by ourselves.

    Would it hurt too much to admit another reference would have been better such as ”…it was Antioch that the believers were first called Christians.” (Acts 11:26)

    Years ago on a mission trip to a Muslim country, we found a church that called themselves “believers” because the word “Christian” was hated.


    I’ve worked with a man on many “Volunteer Christian Builders’ jobs. During World War II, for two years his parents hid a young couple from Germans in a secret room. When she became pregnant, they knew neighbors would hear the baby cry and talk. So his mother became pregnant. After the war, the couple came to America and paid for his family to come. They didn’t know why Americans liked eating watermelon so much because they had boiled theirs.

  6. Hi REX RAY,

    great story about the protection of the young couple . . . and the babies! . . . that's a Christmas story with all the coming of new life, in the midst of such horror.

    As to boiling the watermelon, my mother used to take water melon rinds and peel off the green skin and boil the white rind in spices to make watermelon pickles . . . best pickles I've ever had . . . I've tried to duplicate the recipe without success . . . SO good, my mother's pickles!

    Hope you are doing well. Another Christmas is upon us, and I have bought some birdseed bells to hang on the pear tree outside for the sparrows. No snow here yet, but it will come. Soon, I hope. Take care of yourself. Remain at peace in Christ.

  7. After being married 26 years, I discovered my wife (ex-wife) was being unfaithful to me. Dr Dobson wrote the original book on “tough-love” entitled “Love Must Be Tough”, where I learned her actions displayed her lack of respect for me (one of the three basic needs of all humans you mention). So I “got tough” with her, let her go, and she divorced me. That was twelve years ago.

    I would have to say that I probably fall short in treating her with the dignity, respect, and kindness that you recommend. We have four kids together, and now eight grandkids. I taught divorce recovery in my old church for many years, and one of the things I learned was to not say bad things about her especially in front of our kids because that is their mother.

    But even after twelve years it is still very difficult for me as we do have contact with each other during birthday parties, weddings, holidays etc etc. I am polite and cordial, but would rather not have any contact with her at all.

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  10. This is an excellent Christian perspective, one that challenges us to find our "all in all" in Christ and not in another person or some other substitute. He will keep in perfect peace those whose mind is fixed on Him. Fixing my mind on Him is a daily, sometimes moment by moment, challenge because the pain inflicted by infidelity and the subsequent end of a long-term marriage is often overwhelming. I think a corollary of your terrific teaching here, Brother Wade, is that even though I have been hurt, I am not a victim. And another corollary is that her infidelity describes more about her than it does about me. So, even as I am in pain and the anger and sadness flairs up, and I ruminate about revenge (which, by the way, is NOT mine to exact: Vengeance is God's exclusive province), I fix my mind on Him through prayer, Scriptures, Christian counsel, and even journaling. He is, has been, and always will be the source of fulfillment.

  11. Wade, I found your article to be quite informative and explicative of how Jesus has dealt with me and my marriage. I was not a good husband for the first five years of our marriage. Then I became born again and everything changed. One day not long after being born again the Lord spoke this to my heart, “Loddie, one of the most important measures of your love for me will be in how you love your wife. You are not to love her on the basis of her love for you or lack thereof but according to the love of Christ for his church.” I retorted with “isn’t she supposed to love me as the church loves Christ.” To which the Lord quickly responded that charge was given to the wife for guidance in her marriage to a husband and was not given to the husband whereby he might use it to insist on submission of the wife to his demands and fulfillment of lustful passions. So after 48 years of marriage I cannot claim to have perfectly obeyed that charge of our Lord but think I can say it has become more and more a way of living out our marriage as each year has gone by. Each of us loves the other deeply with a love that we desire to give rather than a love we crave to have. Thanks for the words of wisdom on love and marriage.

  12. Loddie,

    Good and powerful testimony. Thank you, sir.


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