Marriage is tough. The process of two individuals each with their own stuff, issues, patterns and uniting around a common love, behind a common vow for the rest of their lives is not easy. The courtship – a piece of cake. The wedding – a breeze. The honeymoon…well, that’s where the issues start. At least that’s when it started to get hard for my wife and me. We wondered “what have we done?”
· Finding the right posture toward one another for the long term is just flat difficult. Marriage is a risky and complicated proposition.
So, what is the right posture? How are we to relate to one another? What roles do we play in this most unique of human institutions – marriage and family?
And…more to our point…what implications, if any, exists between our recent decision regarding women in church leadership and family roles?
For answers to those questions we must consult the bible for clarity.
· we consult the Bible because it is God-breathed (inspired by God), because it is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, (2 Timothy 3:16)
· we consult the Bible for family matters because it is a “Lamp to our feet…light to our path”
22 Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
And there you have it…according to this passage the wife’s posture in marriage is clear – submission
· There’s nothing unusual about this word (submit)– it means what you think it means - to subject yourself to the direction of another – defer to another… To place yourself under the oversight of another.
· The word does not actually appear in this sentence (“the wives to their own husbands as to the Lord”) but is assumed with reference to Eph 5:21 (submit to one another out of reverence to Christ) …which we will return to in a minute.
· Add to this posture of submission the emotion of another word down in verse 33 – respect – submission with a sense of admiration…you get the picture don’t you?
A wife’s role in marriage is respectful submission.
Now, why? …Vs. 23 “for” because or since - Because or since the husband is the head of the wife.
o Kephale – boss, authority
o Kephale – source of life, fullness and growth
· Just like the reference to Kephale in 1 Corinthians Tim examined last week here this word is equally debated. Authority or source?
· Frankly…it doesn’t matter whether you interpret this as “boss” or as “source of life” the outcome is supposed to be the same...
o I happen to believe, consistent with Paul’s other use of the word that it means source…the one from whom the other was derived
o Regardless of how you interpret the word…the ramifications are the same – submission.
· It is clear, the wife’s posture in a marriage relationship is to submission – to defer to her husband. Period.
Now, before you dig your elbow into your spouse…or look at each other and role your eyes…or feel angry or confused or…vindicated or…whatever you are feeling…
Hold the phone. You better understand this in its fullest context.
6 conditions that inform this concept of a submissive wife: 6 things to keep in mind:
1. A marriage is between two equals.
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27
There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28
· Man is not superior to woman
· A wife’s submission out of choice not out of dominance.
2. The prime posture of marriage is mutual submission.
Look again at Eph 5:21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Marriage should be a race to the bottom … a contest to see who can give up the most…
This is the prime/defining posture under which everything else is defined. Yes, a wife should submit to her husband who is working hard to submit to her. (in a few minutes we’ll see just how hard a husband needs to submit – how far he should go)
3. This posture of a submissive woman is only relevant in the context of marriage.
This is clearly only about family:
Vs. 22 – “to your own man”
Vs. 34 – clearly in context of family
Just because you are a man does not give you any right to have women defer to you. This is a family matter.
A Woman can be CEO of a fortune 500 company and thousands of employees submit to her leadership, or she can be high ranking government official with great power but when she goes home her responsibility is to submit to her husband.
· for example - Cyndy Parkman is our pastor of Grace Kids. Hundreds of volunteers, both men and women serve under her authority and leadership. But in her family she submits to Bob.
Cyndy told me this week that Bob “experiences great joy in wholeheartedly supporting and encouraging me to use my God-given gifts for the Kingdom and he does so with great love and affirmation very day. AND it is with great love and appreciation that I submit to his loving leadership in our home”
Another condition to keep in mind:
4. Marriage thrives through self-sacrificing love.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
and that’s not all…
5. A marriage thrives as both spouses practice the “one anothers”.
The “one anothers” are a series of Biblical commands or guidelines for relationships of all kinds: Ways we are to live in community with one another…they should define friendships AND marriages:
…be devoted to one another
…live in harmony with one another
…accept one another
…wash one another’s feet
…honor one another above yourselves
…agree with one another
…serve with one another
…bear with one another
…admonish one another
…encourage one another
…spur one another on
…love one another
So let’s stop and get our bearings…a wife is to submit to her husband…clear enough…but she is to do that within a broader context… she should be submitting to a man who is seeking to submit to her simultaneously, a patient, kind, hopeful, trusting man who is not an angry, self-seeking person. She must submit to a man who is devoted to her, honors her, accepts her, serves her, encourages her and spurs her on to be a better person.
Which leads to the last condition to keep in mind…when it comes to postures in marriage:
6. A husband’s role is to love his wife “to death”…his own.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church-- 30 for we are members of his body. 31 "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." 32 This is a profound mystery--but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. Ephesians 5:21-33
So…a wife is to submit…what of the husband? – he is to (Vs. 25) “give himself up” – to die.
A husband is to submit his life goals to a greater goal of caring for his wife
· What does that mean?
o Vs. 26 – 27… protect her holiness (moral integrity, purity, beauty of her soul)
o In short… to lead her spiritually … to set the spiritual pace in the marriage
o Note: to husbands with little kids – go out of your way to create space for her to be with God!
· Here’s another implication:
o Vs. 28 – 29 …feed and care for her as you do your own body
o Be a marital hypochondriac – just as you are sensitive to how your body feels be sensitive to how she feels and the marriage feels
· Another implication:
o Vs. 31 – submit ALL relationships under the one you have with her.
§ She trumps parents, friends, co-workers…etc.
§ And it goes without saying…another woman
§ Leave them all for her
· Final Implication:
o Clearly in this whole section the husbands relationship with his wife is modeled by Christ’s for the church
§ So…the symbol of your life with must be the towel and basin
· Jesus always led with an upside down authority – the first is always last…and the last is always first
§ and the symbol of your life with her is the cross – you must die
· IL – Barry’s chastisement to me
The man wears the crown in the family but it is a crown of thorns C.S.Lewis
A wife’s job is to submit to him and a husband’s job is to die for her.
Husband is a job not a rank. (FO in war)
so…to borrow Robert Lewis’s challenge…
Finally…when all is said and done…
Ultimately marriage thrives under the mutual submission and committed love of two equals.
· if you are single and thinking about marriage in your future…be forewarned and encouraged what faces you. Begin to dream and pray about how God can shape you for your future spouse.
· if you were married at one point but are no longer for whatever reason…you know how to pray for marriages…how to come along side and lovingly help those who aren’t quite where they need to be.
· if you are married…I’m sure emotions are running high in this room:
o some bursting with joy and appreciation for your spouse – tell them!
o some hurting because your marriage has slipped…or worse fallen into disrepair.
§ there is little submission, little care, little love.
o some wistful…your marriage is OK…but it could be so much more.
Knowing that we’re all working through reactions and implications let us end with our hearts turned toward one another and our souls open to God.