As Valentine’s Day approached this year I thought of the causes and effects it has on our society.  I’m sure we have given our economy a boost buying flowers, gifts, cards, and candy for those we love.  It is a joyous time if you are a recipient of those gifts.   On the other hand, this holiday has a blatant way of exposing rejection for others.    I have good news!!  There is a Valentine that is all inclusive and is perfect.  God sent His Son, Jesus, the expression of love perfected.

God made marriage to be symbolic of Jesus Christ and His love for His bride, the church.    We look to His example of love to show us the way.  Before we can ever understand marriage and what our role is in a marriage, we have to gain an understanding of Christ’s love for the church.   In the book of Ephesians, chapter five, verses twenty-two through thirty- three, God lays out His plan.

Jesus is the established authority for the church.  He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  The man is established by God to be the authority in a marriage.  What qualifies Christ as head of the church was Him being her “Savior.”  What qualifies a man being given the authority in marriage is that he follows the example of Christ and becomes the “savior” of his wife as Christ is and was for the church.  Christ is a great leader.  He is the pursuer of the bride of Christ.    Christ was the initiator, not the bride.  Because He first loved us, we love Him.  Men need to follow the ultimate example of Christ.

The bride desires strong leadership.  Strong leadership is not synonymous to domination.  Looking closely at Christ’s example we see sacrifice is synonymous with leadership.  Men need to understand this concept first and foremost.  Women then need to understand that the man’s sacrificial role qualifies him as the authority to whom  she is to submit.   This submission was designed to protect and keep her safe as submitting to God’s Word protects His church.  This is where we find security.

Husbands are commanded to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.  Why?  So that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the Word that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.  In other words the ultimate motive in a man’s heart for cleansing his wife with the Word is that one day he can present her to Christ, holy and blameless.  This is being nourished and cherished spiritually.  I believe this is the husband’s first priority and then to nourish and cherish her in the physical realm.

Looking at God’s Word the wife is to love her husband with her all.  God said the most important commandment for the church is to love Him with all our heart, soul, and mind.  (Matthew 22:34-40)  Because Christ first loved the church and laid down His life for her, we now love Him as our Lord.  As women honor their God they should honor and respect their husbands.

Men are told in verses twenty-eight and twenty-nine to love their own wives as their own bodies.  It states in verse thirty-one the two have become one.  When we mistreat one another, we mistreat ourselves.  Would we intentionally hurt and injure our own body?  Would you intentionally damage your heart?  Injury to the heart causes death just as injury to one another can cause death in a marriage unless the injuries are taken to the “Great Physician.” He who loves his own wife loves himself the Bible states.  The bride of Christ has become one with Him.  As Christ loves us He is loving Himself because we have become one with Him.

Verse thirty-one tells us for this reason, taking a wife and choosing to be a husband, a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined with his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.  This again is addressed to the man.  Jesus Christ, the son of God, left His home in heaven and came to this earth to make the ultimate sacrifice for His bride!  Think of leaving heaven to come live on this earth!  This is love perfected.

Christ sends out His Valentine proposal daily, year round, to ALL.  In order to become a bride you have to accept the proposal from the groom.  If we want a marriage made in heaven we have to follow the instructions sent from heaven.  It begins with women and men accepting His proposal and becoming the bride of Christ.  In doing this we place ourselves under the authority of His Word.  We become “followers of Christ” as we allow Him to lead the way.

You may be wondering what this has to do with health and fitness.  Research shows varied effects of marriage on health.  Dr. Brian Baker spent the last decade conducting studies on the effect of marital strain on cardiovascular health.  In one of his most recent studies, he followed both men and women with borderline high blood pressure for three years and found that blood pressure is directly linked to what he calls “marital cohesion”—how much couples do and share together.  In relationships with stress and tension the blood pressure went up and obviously the opposite was true in good relationships.  One study showed that marital stress can double a person’s risk of developing diabetes.  Another study, out of Sweden, showed women in marital distress have a three times greater risk of a second heart attack.   A third study showed that positive marital interactions can boost immunity and reduce the risk of heart disease by keeping stress hormones low.

According to psychologist and author, John Gottman, PhD, benefits of a good marriage include better physical health, more resistance to infection, fewer infections, and a reduced likelihood of dying from cancer, from heart disease, and from all major killers.  The process gets reversed when relationships dissolve.  Even more importantly we should consider the effects of bad relationships on our children and society as a whole.

May I humbly encourage you to think about the “Valentine” our Heavenly Father sent to us.  He gave His best, His own Son.  May we learn from Him.  We need to strive to give our best to each other.  The result will be a much healthier, happier, loved, society.  Happy Valentine’s Day from Masterpiece Fitness.

Teresa Roberts is owner of Masterpiece Fitness, and a Certified personal Trainer, Group Fitness Instructor, WaterArt Instructor, Water Rehabilitation Specialist, Sports Conditioning Specialist, and Cancer Exercise Specialist.  She is also available for motivational speaking and writing.  Please check out her website @ masterpiecefitness.com.  Find Masterpiece Fitness on Facebook.  For questions, comments, or appointments, email: teresa.roberts888@gmail.com, or phone 276-236-8748, (cell) 276-237-6680.