Marriage in today’s society and even in the church is in deep trouble. If there were a National Geographic Special on the topic of marriage, it could possible be called, “The Biblical view of Marriage: an Endangered species.”
Biblical marriage is a covenant, heterosexual relationship between one man and one woman who are individually walking in the fear of God. Biblical marriage is a covenant that is entered into with vows made with one another and most importantly before Almighty God. If we are to honor those vows, as Paul has already said, we need to be Spirit filled and be prepared to wage war against the lies of our culture, our fleshly lusts, our emotions, our speech, and our self centered attitudes.
A biblical, covenant marriage is one that is going to live under the submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. That means that the wife is going to submit to her husband, and the husband is going to love, nourish and cherish his wife.
The Biblical pattern that a Christian marriage is intended to resemble is the loving and gracious relationship that Jesus Christ has with His Bride, the Church. Also mark this upon your heart. The number one purpose for your marriage is not your personal happiness. Oh when two souls are sold out for Jesus, and walking in the love of Christ and serving one another, there will be joy and happiness indeed. But happiness in and of itself cannot be the goal. When personal happiness becomes the meaning of marriage, the next step is divorce, plain and simple.
What is the biblical purpose for a Christian marriage? It is the same as is the case of individual Christians. To bring glory to God. As for me and my house, we will serve The Lord. The purpose of a Christian wife is to be a reflection of how the church submits to The Lord Jesus for the glory of God. The purpose for a Christian husband is to nourish, cherish and love his wife as Jesus loves His church for the glory of God.
When either the husband, or wife, ignores or simply stops submitting to their God ordained roles, the net results will be fault finding, frustration, aggravation, tension, lack of communication, and alienation. This is not God’s design or purpose for a Christian marriage. A Christian marriage isn’t reform school, where each spouse is seeking to conform their husband or wife into their image and likeness. The goal of the Christian marriage is that both husband and wife be conformed into the image of Jesus Christ for the glory of God.
When husbands or wives dig in their proverbial heels and refuse to walk in their God given role in marriage, it matters not how smart or wise they think they are, they are asking for trouble, because no wife or husband is smarter or wiser than God Himself! Disobedience quenches the Holy Spirit of God and cuts off the much-needed supply of “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control that our marriage needs to grow and give glory unto God. (Gal 5:22-23)
“Let the ground of all religious actions be obedience; examine not why it is commanded, but observe it because it is commanded. True obedience neither procrastinates nor questions.” QUARLES
All relational marital problems (not such problems as deaths, illnesses, unavoidable financial setbacks, etc.) stem from disobedience by either the husband or wife, or both, to the one rule given to each spouse. “A Sunday school teacher once asked her class, ‘How is the will of God done in heaven?’ One child answered, ‘Cheerfully.’ Another, ‘By everybody.’ A third, ‘All the time.’ But the best answer was, ‘It is done without asking any questions.’”
A Christian Marriage is like banking or farming: If there is no deposit, there can be no withdrawal; if there is no sowing, there will be no reaping. A Christian marriage requires a mutual deposit of prayer, unselfishness (agape), communication, understanding, forgiveness, grace, and intimacy. If you are not sowing the seeds mentioned above on a daily basis, then you cannot expect to reap a harvest.
What kind of deposits are you making in your marriage? What kind of seeds are you sowing in your marriage?
If your marriage is on the rocks or in trouble today, it is because you are doing things your own way instead of God’s way. God’s ways work, but they require obedience, discipline and patience with one another.
A beautiful elderly couple was asked by their church to give their testimony of 65 years of marriage to one another. After the meeting, a few newly wed and other couples asked them how long they had been working on their message. They said for the last 65 years.
Henry Ford’s gave great advice when asked on his 50th wedding anniversary for his rule for marital bliss and longevity. He replied, “Just the same as in the automobile business, stick to one model.”
Martin Luther described marriage, “Let the wife make the husband glad to come home, and let him make her sorry to see him leave.”
Ephesians 5.22-24 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and He is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
Ladies, like a perfect gentleman, I begin our 2 part series on the roles in marriage with you. I want to keep this simple. I want you to write down on a 3 by 5 card Ephesians 5.22-24. Submission to your husband is your God given role in your marriage for functional purposes. Do not focus on what your husband’s role. Focus on yours, for only you can fulfill the role of the wife.
It must be understood that even though a husband and wife in Christ are equal in the sight of God according to Galatians 3:28, divine authority and submission is necessary for the kind of functional order that glorifies God.
Equality of personhood does not negate the principle of submission to God ordained authority whether it be in the work place, in government, within the family, and in the marriage covenant.
Submission has nothing to do with personal value or worth. According to James 3.9, every single human being is made in the image of God. It has everything to do with order and functionality. And the only time that this principle of submission is to be disobeyed is when the person in authority demands that you flat out disobey God. Then the principle found in Acts 5:29overrules it: “We ought to obey God rather than men.” Remember, no human being in a position of authority has the authority to demand disobedience to the Word or will of God. Sapphira died by submitting to her husband’s lie about the price of land he sold (Acts 5:1-10).
This principle of equality and submission is given to us in the Godhead.
- In 1 Corinthians 11:3 Paul says, “But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.“
You may ask, “What does that mean God is the head over Christ? I thought they were one.”
- The answer is yes and no, Jesus said, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father” (John 14:9), and, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). Hebrews 1 says that Christ was exalted to be equal with God.
So what does it mean that God The Father is the head of Christ? God’s headship over Christ is a not matter of essence; it is a matter of function. Within the function of the Godhead, it was deemed necessary that Christ submit Himself.
- The same Jesus who said, “All authority is given unto Me in heaven and in earth” (Matt. 28:18) also said, “My food is to do the will of Him that sent Me” (John 4:34).
In essence and nature, Christ and The Father are the same; but by God’s design, the function of the Son demanded that He submit to The Father in a beautiful act of humiliation.
- Phil 2.5-8 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
The same principle of submission is true in marriage. The essence, the spiritual quality, and the position before God of both husband and wife are the same; but in the family, for the sake of function, the woman is to take the place of submission to the leadership of man.
Equality before God does not negate the principle of authority and submission. It’s not a matter of who’s better—it’s a matter of God’s design for order and functionality.
Let me repeat this very important truth again: The goal of submission is to please and glorify the Lord Jesus Christ. The very act of submission to Him, by either husband or wife, is an act of worship! Marriage is not a power struggle or a gender war. It is a husband and wife mutually “submitting to one another in the fear of God.” (v 21) The husband who is walking in the fear of God is to love the wife unconditionally; the wife who is walking in the fear of God is to submit to the husband unconditionally – unless that submission demands sinful behavior. Plain and simple.
In a parallel passage to Ephesians 5:22, Paul said, “Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord” (Col. 3:18).
Aneko (to be fitting) was sometimes used of that which was legally binding, as in Philemon 8, where Paul uses it in reference to legal propriety. The word refers to that which is the accepted standard of human society.
Eve was created from Adam’s rib and ordained to be his companion, to be, as Adam himself beautifully testified, “bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh” (Gen. 2:22–23).
God’s curse did not change His basic plan for mutuality in the marriage relationship or for the functional authority of the husband over the wife.
Man was created first and was created generally to be physically, constitutionally, and emotionally stronger than woman, who is “a weaker vessel” (1 Pet. 3:7).
Both before and after the Fall and the consequent curse, man was called to be the provider, protector, guide, and shepherd of the family, and woman called to be supportive and submissive.
Let’s look again at this word “submit”. It means, ‘to willingly rank underneath or to relinquish one’s rights to another’s authority.’ The words “submit” and “helper” (Gen 2:18) put together means that the wife’s role is to voluntarily surrender to Jesus, and in doing so yield to her husband in order that she may complete his incompleteness.
Also, submit is a military term. But again, that does not mean that the wife is inferior and the husband superior. This role of submission is for functional purposes. Some commentators have pointed out that the earliest manuscripts do not even contain the word submit that we have here in Ephesians 5.22, and that is true. But they do this to try to wiggle around the obvious command given by God to wives, submit to your own husbands in The Lord.
If you read ahead in Ephesians, you will see that the principle of submission and authority is covered from 5.22-6.9. You will notice that in 6.1, children are to obey their parents in The Lord and in 6.5, servants are to obey their masters in The Lord.
I personally believe that the reason why the word submit is given to wives instead of obey here is so that husbands will see that they are not to treat their wives like they are children, nor are we to treat them as if they were our slaves.
Also, just as the husband is not to treat his wife like a child or a slave (but as his helper and companion), the wife is not to treat her husband like he is her child. He already has a mother, and he’s not married to her!
Older Christian wives and mothers are to teach the younger women and wives Titus 2.5 To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.
The Greek word that is translated obey here means to be in subjection to; to line up under.
Wives, why are you called to obey your own husband? Is it because Jesus loves husbands more than wives? Because husbands are always smarter than wives and are flawless in their decision making processes?The reason given is because when a Christian woman is usurping the authority of the man in the home, the divine design and order for a marriage is being violated.
Now I am sure that if I were a woman, right about now I would probably be thinking how can I possibly get that microphone cord around Pastor Ray’s skinny little neck and squeeze it as tightly as possible. I am going to tell you from the bible why you feel that way. It is the one thing that changed in the dynamics of the husband/wife relationship after the fall.
Back In Gen 3:16, God said to the woman, “I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; in pain you shall bring forth children; your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.”
Ladies, is it true that having children is painful? It is equally true that the husband is the functional head of the family. However, here is your challenge.
This same word for desire is used in Genesis 4:7 of the desire of sin to master over Cain. Because of the curse, Eve would have to fight a desire to master her husband, a desire that works against God’s ordained order for the home.
The principle of Adam’s headship as a husband was established before the fall (see Genesis 2:18 and 2:22). Now the curse on Eve makes it much harder for her to submit and flow with God’s institution of male headship in the home.
This is even more difficult in a marriage where the wife is saved but the husband isn’t. Ironically, we read in 1 Peter 3.1-6 that God’s principle of headship doesn’t change. Again, the only exception is when a husband is asking you to do something that is clearly sinful or illegal.
A word to all single Christian sisters here this morning. Especially those whose “marital time clock” is ticking away. I sincerely beseech you to be prayerful and careful about whom you marry. Get to know him well enough to show his true colors. Most men act real good in church or around other Christians while they are in pursuit of a wife.
Ask (and honestly answer) yourself these questions:
- Does he love Jesus Christ more than you?
- Does he honor his relationship with Jesus Christ by keeping himself sexually pure?
- Does he inspire you to walk closer to Jesus?
- Is he a man of prayer and does he pray with you?
- Does his life reflect submission to God’s Word?
- Is he lazy or is he a hard worker? Does he work at all?
- If not, why not?
- If he doesn’t work, what does he do with his time?
- Would you have to support him?
- Is he punctual and a wise steward of his finances?
- Does his yes mean yes and his no mean no?
- Is he kind, tenderhearted, understanding?
If he was previously married, it would be wise to get all of the information that you possible can about why that relationship ended up the way that it did. He is apt to only tell you his side of the story. A Chrits-loving, God-fearing man will not be bothered by any of the questions that I have just put before you.