Stephen Caswell © 1999
Marriage, Complete Breakdown
A mature-looking lady had an appointment with a marriage counselor, and told him flat out: "I would like to divorce my husband." To this, the counselor replied, "Well, do you have any grounds?" She answered, "Why yes. We have almost an acre." The puzzled counselor asked her, "You don't understand. What I want to know is do you and your husband have a grudge?" The lady answered, "Actually, we don't, but we do have a nice carport." At this, the counselor shook his head and said, "Ma'am, I'm sorry, but I just don't see any reason why you should divorce your husband." The lady looked at the counselor and said to him, "It's just that the man can't carry on an intelligent conversation." Why do so many marriages struggle or fail today? Because most couples have rejected God's pattern. Most folk today believe that marriage will meet their every need, only to find out that it won't. For couples to be truly happy in marriage people must learn to give instead of taking! Husbands, how do you get your wife to treat you like a king? Listen up!
Last Sunday we looked at the final command to walk in a certain way. Christians are to walk circumspectly or wisely. This involves planning our lives and living in the power of the Holy Spirit. His ministry results in joy, thanksgiving and submission. Paul now relates this to our interpersonal relationships. In the 3 sets of relationships Paul describes, he says that we should exercise mutual submission to one another. Children are to obey their parents. Wives are to submit to their own husbands. And servants are to obey their masters. Paul also gives instructions for the husbands, the parents and the masters. They are to behave properly in their exercise of authority. They must show care and respect for those under them. Today we will look at God's commands marriage. Only the Holy Spirit enables us to have harmony in matrimony.
I. Wives Submission & II. Husbands Love
Through out this passage Paul compares marriage to the relationship between Christ and the Church. Paul starts by giving a command to the wives to submit to their own husbands. Paul describes this submission three ways. Ordinance, Order and Outworking.
Ephesians 5:22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.
The first reason wives should submit to their own husbands is because God commands it. He has given this ordinance. The word submit &upotassw means to render obedience, to be subordinate to, to place or arrange under. This is a voluntary action on the part of the one submitting. This is a military term that referred to soldiers arranging themselves in ranks under their commander. Paul commands wives to submit to their husbands as unto Christ. When a wife submits to her husband she is in fact serving the Lord, obeying His will. Part of a wife's service to God involves fulfilling the role that God has called her to. A wife who observes this command is in fact observing the Lordship of Christ. Those who don't are being disobedient to the Lord Jesus Christ.
This word submit is used to describe people being subject to an ordained authority. 1 Peter 2:13 uses this word to show our relationship to the government. Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, 1 Peter 5:5 uses this word to describe the relationship between young people and older folk and in fact all relationships. Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” The basic principle is the same. Respect and obedience toward an ordained authority! Submission is possible only when we are controlled by the Holy Spirit. He gives us the necessary grace to be submissive. Submission is acknowledging the Lordship of Christ in our lives.
Law and Grace
A tyrannical husband demanded that his wife conform to rigid standards of his choosing. She was to do certain things for him as a wife, mother, and homemaker. In time she came to hate her husband as much as she hated his list of rules and regulations. Then, one day he died--mercifully as far as she was concerned.
Some time later, she fell in love with another man and married him. She and her new husband lived on a perpetual honeymoon. Joyfully, she devoted herself to his happiness and welfare. One day she ran across one of the sheets of do's and don'ts her first husband had written for her. To her amazement she found that she was doing for her second husband all the things her first husband had demanded of her, even though her new husband had never once suggested them. She did them as an expression of her love for him and her desire to please him. Husbands there is a lesson here for us in this too. Don't demand submission, earn it by loving your wives!
Ephesians 5:23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body.
Paul's second reason is God's established chain of command or headship. 1 Corinthians 11:3 But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. God has established a proper order. God > Christ > Man > Woman. Why has God done this? Because you cannot have two leaders in one home. Two heads may be better than one when working out a problem. But two heads in one home leads to conflict. Someone must have the final responsibility in the home. God has ordained that the man is the head. It has nothing to do with equality, but rather it refers to our different roles. Christ was equal to the Father yet He became a man and took on the form of a bond servant to provide our salvation. He was equal but took on a subservient role. God requires the same thing of wives. In Corinth, Paul had to correct the ladies for seeking the leadership positions in the Church. This is why he listed this chain of command in verse 3 and then discussed the issue of headship in detail.
Ephesians 5:24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.
Paul's third reason involves the outworking of the command. As the Church is subject to Christ in all things, so too the wives must be subject to their own husbands in everything. God has ordained that the wives be submissive to their husbands in all things, not just where they agree. But how does this work out? A wise husband won't make foolish demands on his wife. He will listen to her advice and weigh up his decisions carefully. But he still has the final say. What are some specific areas that relate this? Honor - Love - Obey
Ephesians 5:33 Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. The word respect here means to reverence or fear someone. Wives must not despise or resent their husbands authority, but rather show them honor. 1 Peter 3:1-6 is very instructive here. Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear. Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel— rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror.
In this passage, Peter gives the same instruction. He shows how submission involves chaste conduct, being self controlled with a gentle and quiet spirit. He speaks of the wife having respect for her husband. Peter cites Sarah as an example of this. She followed this pattern respecting Abraham, obeying him and calling him lord. Wives must not contend with their husbands over the decisions that need to be made. Peter says that they should have a gentle and quiet spirit. It does not mean that the husband can do as he pleases. He should listen to his wife but the final decision rests with him. God has given him this responsibility and will also hold him accountable. The husband is not a law to himself but is in fact under Christ's headship.
Love - Obey
Titus 2:3-5 the older women likewise, .... that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed. Paul says that the younger married women are to love and obey their husbands. Isn't that a bit outdated? Surely God doesn't mean love honor and obey in the 20 th century does He? Most folk today would consider these verses as outdated, dictatorial or chauvinistic. But does God change His mind? Paul also says that they are to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, good and homemakers. This is the primary role for wives. Their number one priority is to minister in the home. The word homemaker means, a keeper or guard of a house, home keeper, stay at home, domestic. This is God's role for wives. It is a different role from men but nevertheless very important. At creation God made Eve for Adam to be a companion and a helper. Their role relates primarily to family life.
a. Ordinance - Why should wives submit to their husbands? God has commanded it. Submission to one's husband is seen as service to the Lord. This is observing the Lordship of Christ.
b. Order - Paul's second reason for submission is that He has set in place a chain of command. Harmony in the home is impossible unless this chain is observed. This is the headship of God.
c. Outworking - Ladies are you reverencing your husband? Are you obeying him and loving him? God has given wives an important role in the home. It should never be sacrificed!
II. Husbands Love
Paul commands husbands to love their wives. The word love here is ajgaph or God's love. This love means to esteem and put the other person's well being first. Then He describes this love under three headings, Sacrificing, Sanctifying and Satisfying. Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her,
Firstly Paul says that husbands are to love their wives just as Christ loved the church. Christ gave Himself sacrificially for the Church. He gave Himself without reservation for us! He put us first. Paul sets a very high standard for us husbands to keep. To love sacrificially means to serve. Just because we are the head doesn't mean that we can't serve our wife out of love. Jesus is our master and yet out of love He served mankind. He even washed the disciples feet. Husbands should help with the children. They should share the jobs around the house. Washing the dishes, making a cup of tea, helping put the kids to bed. We can all do these. A husband who truly loves his wife will give himself without reservation. He will put his wife first, he will serve her. Colossians 3:19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them. Husbands must not resent this service. God wants us to willingly love them and serve them like Christ did!.
Sacrifices - Wealth in Poverty...
Old debt accompanied our new marriage. Income from Peter's free-lance job was unpredictable. As Christmas approached and other couples were buying furniture or gold jewelry, we agreed to exchange gifts that had cost no money. A hundred times I forced myself not to buy the perfect jacket for Peter (or the perfect holiday dress for myself). My inner Grinch had stolen my Christmas spirit. I grumbled, "Here it is, our first Christmas together, and we can't even afford to buy a tree." I awoke Christmas morning to find a large package on the kitchen table. "You promised you wouldn't spend any money on me," I chided.
"I didn't," he grinned. "Not one penny." Instead, he had sold his racquetball racquet, his most cherished possession, to buy me a blender. I cried. Not because the blender was my dream gift--I could have lived my entire life without one--but because my husband had sacrificed something of himself for me. I went to bed that night praising God: "Thank you for making us 'poor.' Otherwise, I'd never have known how rich I am."
Ephesians 5:26-27 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.
The word sanctify means to set apart, to make holy. Christ has set the church apart for Himself by cleansing it and making it holy. He has betrothed the Church to Himself. This is why the Church is to keep herself pure, unstained from the world. We have been betrothed to Christ our heavenly bridegroom. In the same way husbands and wives are set apart for each other. No third person should come between them. The husband's love should encourage his wife to become more like Christ. He should set the example by demonstrating the love of Christ in all purity.
The husbands love for his wife should not be selfish. Rather he is to show her the kind of love that is mutually rewarding and sanctifying. He should hold her up before his friends and acquaintances in all purity and goodness. He should not criticize or expose her weaknesses to others. He should never speak about their intimate moments or personal matters. 1 Peter 3:7 Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered. He is to protect her virtue and keep her modest and respectable in all things. His love for her should be understanding that she is the weaker vessel, made of finer clay. When couples live together in harmony God listens to their prayers. This is because they are one in god's sight.
Husbands who kiss their wives every morning before leaving for work usually live five years longer than those who do not. A kissing husband has fewer automobile accidents, loses up to 50 percent less time from work because of illness, and earns 20-30 percent more than a non kissing husband. No statistics were available for benefits to kissing wives. Perhaps along with special rates for nonsmokers and nondrinkers, there'll soon be a special policy for kissers.
Ephesians 5:28-32 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
Paul tells husbands to satisfy their wife's needs as they would their own bodies. The reason they are to do this is because the husband and wife are one flesh. This quote comes from Genesis 2:24 where God presided over the first marriage. Paul says that every man takes care of his own body. Therefore since we are one flesh with our wives shouldn't we care for them too? Paul describes how Christ provides for the Church by nourishing it and cherishing it. Husbands are to follow His example. Nourish means to rear up to maturity, to train, to promote health and strength. Husbands are to provide the necessary food, clothes and shelter to maintain their wife's well being. If a husband truly loves his wife he will look after her needs. Husbands are the ones who should work and provide for the wife and family. The husband is to provide for the physical, social and spiritual needs of his wife. He is to lead by example as head of the home. The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother. Theodore Hesburgh
The word cherish means to impart warmth, comfort, nurse or foster. The husband is to see that his wife is secure in his love. He is to provide emotional security for his wife. The words I love you mean so much, yet we say them so infrequently. Husbands must provide a secure home life. How can they do this? By giving their time and love to their wives. Our wife must know that she means more to us than everything else. Except the Lord of course. Our lives should be intertwined. We can't do this by living independently of each other. One flesh means that we share everything. To satisfy our wives requires our commitment and time. You cannot do this in 15 minutes a day. Good marriages don't just happen. They result from hard work and dedication. But the effort put in by the husband will result in blessings for himself as well.
Love Adds the Chocolate
Ÿ A house is a house is a house--until love comes through the door, that is. And love intuitively goes around sprinkling that special brand of angel dust that transforms a house into a very special home for very special people: your family.
Ÿ Money, of course, can build a charming house, but only love can furnish it with a feeling of home.
Ÿ Duty can pack an adequate sack lunch, but love may decide to tuck a little love note inside.
Ÿ Money can provide a television set, but love controls it and cares enough to say no and take the guff that comes with it.
Ÿ Obligation sends the children to bed on time, but love tucks the covers in around their necks and passes out kisses and hugs (even to teenagers!).
Ÿ Obligation can cook a meal, but love embellishes the table with a potted ivy trailing around slender candles.
Ÿ Duty writes many letters, but love tucks a joke or a picture or a fresh stick of gum inside.
Ÿ Compulsion keeps a sparkling house. But love and prayer stand a better chance of producing a happy family.
Ÿ Duty gets offended quickly if it isn't appreciated. But love learns to laugh a lot and to work for the sheer joy of doing it.
Ÿ Obligation can pour a glass of milk, but quite often love will add a little chocolate.
a. Sacrificing - Jesus sacrificed Himself for us, He put us first! Have you put your wife in first place after God? How do you show it? Do you serve her? Do you help out around the Home? Or are you too busy with your job or leisure time activities? Yet this is what sacrifice requires. Jesus gave Himself without reservation, have you?
b. Sanctifying - The Lord has set us apart for himself and made us pure. Are you keeping yourselves pure in your marriage? Or have you allowed another to take some of your affection? Do you protect your wife's virtue? Do you speak of her with the highest respect to your friends and work mates? Do you talk about things that are intimate or personal? Do you criticize her?
c. Satisfying - The Lord provides for His body the Church. He cherishes it and nourishes it. Do you provide for your wife's physical, spiritual, and social needs? Do you satisfy her deepest need to be loved? Is she the most important person in your life? Do you tell her this and provide the security and warmth of committed love? He who loves his wife loves himself, because we are one flesh! Are your lives intertwined, or are you too busy living an independent life?
Husbands who give their wives a love that is sacrificing, sanctifying, and satisfying usually find that their wives are pleased to submit to them. The Holy Spirit's control enables us to submit to each other. He enables wives to love, honor and obey their husbands. He enables the husband to love his wife in a sacrificing, sanctifying and satisfying way. I pray that we will be controlled by the Spirit and reap the reward of rich, fulfilling marriages with happy children. Husbands, how do you get your wife to treat you like a king? By treating her like a Queen!
Philippians 1:9-10 And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ,