Christ In The Marriage
Scripture: Ecclesiastes 9:9
Christ In The Marriage
Sunday, July 7, 2019
Pastor Randy Smith
As I mentioned last week, we are starting a new sermon series this summer entitled, “Christ In.” Last week we looked at “Christ in the Home.” This week I would like to cover “Christ in the Marriage.” If you would, please turn in your Bibles to Ephesians 5.
1. A Husband’s Role
Let’s first take a look at the role of the husband.
When we read about a wife’s role of coming under her husband’s leadership in verses 22-24 (which we will get to), it is very easy to conclude that Paul would command the husbands to lead. Although when we get to the teaching for husbands in verse 25, the Apostle does not say, “Husbands, lead your wives.” Rather he says, “Husbands, love your wives.” And the way we are to love our wives is spelled out in the remainder of the verse: “Just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her.”
Men, we get not only our marching orders but also our example from Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ sacrificially and selflessly loved and continues to love His bride (which is the church). By the authority of Scripture we are commanded to love our brides in the same manner. In other words, as members of His church we are to receive the love of Christ and then extend that same love through the power of the Holy Spirit to our wives.
When we consider our Savior, first it’s a love that leads by example. John 13:15, “For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you” (that was after Jesus washed the disciples’ feet!). Second, it’s a love that leads by service. Mark 10:45, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” With this as a backdrop you can see that there is absolutely no room for a harsh, tyrannical dictator.
I believe many men have gone in the opposite direction – the chauvinistic dictators. Instead of providing a loving biblical authority for their families whereby their home might be well-managed under Christ’s lordship, they have ignored their high calling.
Yet the Archie Bunker days seem to be over. Turn on the average sitcom today and the father is portrayed as a bumbling fool. Someone pointed out that the only television father who regularly attends church is Homer Simpson – not exactly the model, men are to follow – far from the example of true manhood established by Jesus Christ.
Another issue that I bring up with reluctance is that too many men are more concerned about their wife’s role than they are about their own. They almost have a bizarre fascination and obsession with a woman’s submissiveness. I believe they find it easier to detect their partner’s failures, than see and subsequently correct their own shortcomings.
Men, would you consider the following heart questions with me?
How easy are you making it for your wife to submit? Do you consider her feelings? Do you live with her in an understanding way (1 Pet. 3:7)? Is your leadership kind and compassionate and thoughtful? Do you lead by example, practicing what you preach? As we learned last week, do you nourish and cherish your wife (5:29)? Here is the test men, is your wife more like Christ because of your leadership or in spite of your leadership (5:27)?
I am also saddened with the men who are obsessed with a wife’s need to submit, but they demonstrate very little submissiveness in their own lives. What kind of example of submissiveness are you setting if you cheat on your taxes, ignore traffic laws, harass church leaders and complain about your boss? Let’s remember husbands, we are not – even in our own homes – a law unto ourselves. We too are under the lordship of Christ.
Furthermore, men, before you ever complain about the lack of control of your wives, make sure you have learned to practice some self-control in your own life. For until you learn to manage yourself, you will never be able to manage you home.
The story is told about a pastor who heavily advertised his upcoming sermon. It was entitled, “How to get your wife to treat you like a king.” As expected the place was packed. Yet the content of his message was very simple. “Men if you want to be treated like a king, why don’t you begin by treating your wife like a queen!”
Gentlemen, the bottom line is this. Once you are ultimately motivated by a desire to glorify the Lord vertically, you will not be veered off course by any actions on a horizontal level, an interpersonal level. Sure, your wife can make your job a whole lot easier by submitting, but ultimately your responsibility to love her as Jesus Christ loves the church is an act of obedience to God regardless of how others may treat you.
Men, you must understand that God has called you to be a leader. But let’s remember, it is not because you are more intelligent, more gifted or more spiritual. You are a leader simply because that is the way God ordained it to have order in the home and maintain Christ’s universal headship (Eph. 1).
Let’s remember that in verse 32 of chapter 5 of Ephesians, Paul said these roles are to reflect Christ’s relationship to the church. When people look at our marriages, they are to see the most glorious marriage in the world – the one between Jesus Christ and His church.
Men are we taking our lead from a loving Savior? And women, as we move to the second point, are you taking you lead from a submissive church?
2. A Wife’s Role
In verses 22-24 the Apostle Paul said, “Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.”
Of a woman’s submissiveness noted Christian counselor Jay Adams said, “They have tried to dull the edge. They have twisted it and ignored it. But there is no way to get away from the plain intent of these words, no matter how you squeeze them… Paul said it three times in three verses in three different ways” (Christian Living in the Home, p. 73).
Possibly a few points will help clarify this often misunderstood section of Scripture.
First of all, the word “submit” (hupotasso) simply means –“to line up under.” It carries the idea of willingly or voluntarily placing oneself under someone else. It relates only to role, not to essence. It has nothing to do with being inferior, just as God the Son is not inferior to God the Father, though submissive to Him in role (1 Cor. 11:3). As John MacArthur said, “What it calls for is an active, deliberate, loving, intelligent devotion to the husband’s noble aspirations and ambitions” (The Fulfilled Family, p. 32).
Second, understanding that the word is “submit” and not “obey” (cf. Eph. 6:1), helps us to understand that the woman’s objective is simply intended to complement her husband’s leadership. Rather than a two-headed monstrosity leading the family, she is there to support his God-designated role while fully functioning as his equal partner and “fellow heir of the grace of life” (1 Pet. 3:7). This means the wife should be free to share opinions, provide insight and even respectfully disagree. But when it is all said and done, she is willing to come alongside her husband’s plan for the family as God is holding the man accountable.
Third, lest we soften this word “submit” too much, let’s remember that going along when you agree is not submission. It is like the woman who said, “I always submit when I think my husband is right.” That is agreement, not submission! Submission is willingly forsaking your desires for the sake of your husband’s leadership and unity within the family.
Third-B, young ladies if this is the way God has ordained the system, it’s important to say you better be very careful about the man you choose to marry!
Fourth, it is conceivable that the husband should defer more to his wife than the wife submits to her husband. If it is only the husband always getting his way, where would the husband need to die to self and prefer his wife’s needs above his own? Although Jesus Christ is our head, I do not see Him demanding where we go on vacation, what temperature we keep the house, what food we serve on the table and what color the kitchen should be decorated. Husbands, in the same way, consider your wife’s needs above your own and do not abuse the verses on submission as an excuse to be selfish! It is ultimately your spiritual service to Christ.
Fifth, wives, submissiveness is not a response your husband deserves but rather a desire on your part to be obedient to the Word of God. As verse 22 says, a woman’s submissiveness is “as to the Lord.” Therefore this action is to be done regardless of the worthiness of your husband.
You say, “What happens if my husband is an unbeliever?” Peter addresses that very issue in his epistle.
“In the same way,” say the Apostle, “you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives (1 Pet. 3:1). Did you hear that? If your husband is an unbeliever, your greatest goal should be to win him to Christ. And according to this passage, the greatest way to win your husband to Christ is not through sermonizing or constant nagging; it is not by any words but rather by your submissive behavior. The passage continues, “As they (husbands) observe your chaste and respectful behavior. Your adornment must not be merely external – braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God” (1 Pet. 3:2-4).
You say, “Is there any time I should refuse to submit to my husband?” Again, the answer is clear. If your husband ever expects you to disobey Scripture, you must refuse, as your obedience to the Lord is always the top priority in every decision. As Peter and John said when they were told to stop talking about Jesus Christ: “We must obey God rather than men” (Ac. 5:29).
Sixth, when you feel your hands are tied, ladies, remember (as I said earlier) that your husband is the one accountable before God. Just as pastors will be accountable before God for the direction of the church (Heb. 13:17), husbands will be accountable before God for the direction of the family. Remember, when Adam and Eve blew it in the Garden, it was Adam that was questioned (Gen. 3:9) and subsequently judged – the act forever known as “Adam’s sin” (cf. Rom. 5:14; 1 Cor. 15:22). Therefore trust the Lord’s justice and permit the one being held accountable to have the final say. When a wife gets to heaven, I do not believe the Lord will ever say, “You sure did a bad job in leading that family.” The only thing He will ask is how she functioned on the basis of the role which He gave her.
Seventh, this role allows a woman the freedom (not bondage) to be all that God has called her to be. According to the Scriptures, a woman’s high calling and greatest means to self-fulfillment is to bring up children and manage the house (1 Ti. 5:14). Going back to creation the woman was created to be the man’s helper, but I believe it is also fair to think of the man as the woman’s helper. He is there to oversee and manage the direction of the family, to liberate the woman from the encumbrances of these responsibilities so she can be freed up to make the greatest influence by training up a generation of children that love and honor God. Can anything be more rewarding or more important?
Yes, this system is attacked by the world. But what do they have to offer? What is their plan for a successful marriage? How well is what they doing working for them? Do it God’s way! For doing it His way will result in joyful marriages that glorify God.