The Other Side of the Coin
EVERY coin has two sides, a top and a bottom. Fittingly, they are also called a “head” and a “tail,” for they complete each other. In fact, “head” often implies the existence of the “tail,” as when the Bible says, “The aged and highly respected one is the head, and the prophet giving false instruction is the tail.” (Isa. 9:15) Thus also, “top” implies the existence of “bottom”; an “inside,” an “outside”; an “east,” a “west,” and so forth.
A similar principle might be said to hold true in finance. All assets imply liabilities, depending upon how you view them. For example, in its annual statement a bank must have its assets balance its liabilities. Among its assets might be listed deposits amounting to many thousands of dollars; but these at the same time represent liabilities, since the patrons of the bank can ask back their deposits, and the money actually belongs to them, the bank paying interest for the privilege of using it.
This principle of there being the other side of the coin might be said to apply also to ever so many of the commands that we find in the Word of God—and elsewhere too, for that matter—and this especially as regards those that place certain obligations on persons in their relationship with others. Every command placed on one group of persons that benefits another group might be said to represent an asset to the ones benefited. But inherent in such benefits almost invariably lies an implied obligation or liability on the part of the ones so benefited. This is primarily because of the rule that we are to do to others as we would have them do to us.—Luke 6:31.
For example, according to God’s Word the husband is the head of the family, and his wife is likened to his body. Accordingly, wives are told to be in subjection to their husbands in everything. (Eph. 5:23, 24) But let no husband gloat over this. Why not? Because implicit in it is an obligation, a liability, as it were. It obligates him to treat his wife as his own body, to love her as himself, to care for her, cherish her, feed and clothe her, provide a roof over her head and protect her from harm. So the asset that accrues to the husband by reason of his headship and his wife’s subjection to him implies no small obligation, a balancing liability, the other side of the coin. This should serve to make him a modest, humble head!
The same, of course, is true as regards the command to husbands to love their wives as their own bodies, as Jesus “Christ also loved the congregation and delivered up himself for it.” (Eph. 5:25) Does a wife complain that her husband does not love her as he does his own body? Then she might ask herself, Am I giving my husband the cooperation that I should? Am I in subjection to him as is his own body? Certainly his own body does not complain continually or nag him about things. The Bible says: “Better is it to dwell upon a corner of a roof than with a contentious wife, although in a house in common.” (Prov. 21:9) So with the asset or advantage that accrues to the wife by reason of the Biblical command for her husband to love her as his own body, there is implied the obligation of the wife to cooperate as fully as possible with her head. This, of course, will make it all the easier for her husband to love his wife as he does himself!
However, let no one think that negligence on the part of one justifies negligence on the part of the other. It does not! The obligations remain regardless of what the other one may or may not do, but justice and love of neighbor indicate that each should do his part.
The principle of the other side of the coin also applies to the commands that the Bible gives as to the proper conduct between the sexes. The Word of God gives exceedingly wise, sound counsel in such matters, for it was inspired by the One who understands human nature better than anyone else in the universe. For example, it tells men in the Christian congregation to treat the “younger women as sisters with all chasteness.” It also warns that for a man to keep looking at a woman so as to have a passion for her is to commit adultery in his heart.—1 Tim. 5:2; Matt. 5:28.
Such commands as these might be said to represent an asset or advantage for the younger women, all women in fact, as it gives them a sense of security and freedom, especially within the Christian congregation. But with this advantage also comes an obligation, a liability for them. What is it? That they conduct and dress themselves as sisters of the men, not as sirens. As the apostle Paul counseled Christian women: “I desire the women to adorn themselves in well-arranged dress, with modesty and soundness of mind.”—1 Tim. 2:9.
The principle of the other side of the coin might be said to apply in particular to all relations involving authority and subjection. Thus with the direct obligation of students to pay attention goes the implied obligation on the part of the teacher to teach with skill and enthusiasm so as to hold the attention of the students. But regardless of what either does, as has already been observed, each has his obligation: the teacher, to give his best regardless of whether the students pay close attention or not; the students, to pay close attention even though the teacher is lacking in skill and enthusiasm.
So also in the Christian congregation. Its members are commanded to “be obedient to those who are taking the lead among you and be submissive.” But with this command goes the implied obligation to take the lead in such a way as to make obedience not unduly onerous, for those taking the lead have to render an account as to those in their charge.—Heb. 13:17.
Appreciating that there is the other side of the coin, that there is an implied obligation for us in ever so many commandments that seem to be in our individual favor, will help us to show empathy. It will make for better understanding, better cooperation, more harmony and efficiency. It is a way in which we can help the other person to meet his obligations; thus we will be obeying the rule to do to others as we would have them do to us.