Four years ago my life dramatically changed… for the better! On January 5th 2008 I married my wife. The wedding was beautiful. Everything went according to plan, even the rehearsal. Its amazing to think how much time, effort, and money is put into a ceremony that is over in 30 minutes. However, the wedding festivities didn’t stop there because for one week we were on a Caribbean cruise for our honeymoon. Life was sweet for one week, time stood still and all the cares in the world were gone. But then something happened, we came home and the reality of being married finally set in. The truth about marriage is no one knows what they’re signing up for. We think we do because we’ve seen our parents, family, or friend’s marriages, but one doesn’t know what marriage is until they’re finally in one. At the same time, when we enter into a relationship with Christ, we don’t know what we’re getting into either. In fact, Christianity as a whole has been pretty bad about sharing the truth about what it means to enter into a relationship with Christ. When we choose to commit to Christ, we’re entering into a marriage relationship with God that includes all the good, the bad, and the ugly. The apostle Paul has a lot to say about marriage, and in Ephesians 5:22-33 we learn how to relate to our spouses, which ultimately, teaches us how we relate to God.
Now this post is not going to deal with the whole love and respect thing you will find in so many other books on marriage. What I want to do is focus on our role in our relationship with God and how that makes us better husbands and wives for our spouses. Also, Paul is the most progressive man in the 1st century when it comes to marriage, and women’s rights for that matter. Too often, all men and women only focus on is the word “submit” in this passage, which is unfortunate because the word we should focus on is “love.” Paul challenges the norm on the cultural view of women by telling men to love their wives. This is huge when we consider Paul lives in a society where men treat women as property and they can do whatever they want with them. And the truth about this passage is Paul focuses more on what men should be doing in their marriage and how they should treat their wives, than on what women should be doing. In my opinion, a successful marriage is dependent upon men willing to step up and give their all for their wives and children. Furthermore, if you’re not married, you should still read on because its important to know why you should seek out a believer as a future spouse. And as a disclaimer, when I say believer I mean someone who is actively participating in their faith, not someone who says they believe, but show know evidence they are followers of Christ. In this post I’ll be be spending a little more time focusing on the men than women; however, don’t skip over each part because there’s something to learn from each one.
In Ephesians 5:22-33, Paul describes the marriage dynamic between husbands and wives, which he uses to show the greater mystery that God gave marriage to his creation to express the relationship he wants with them (v.32). Yes we are married to God. God’s marriage proposal wasn’t done by taking us out to dinner and presenting us with a pretty ring; but instead, his proposal was done by sending his son to die on the cross for our sins, so we can have a relationship with him. When we accept Christ as our Savior, we say yes to God’s marriage proposal. I bet you never viewed the cross in that way before, did you? Now being married to Christ is for our benefit because it teaches us how we can be better husbands/wives/boyfriends/girlfriends to our significant others.
Men: what Christ is doing in your relationship with Him.
(Ladies, don’t skip over)
In the passage, Paul says men are supposed to be like Christ to our spouses. Now Christ has a pretty interesting way of teaching men how they can be like him. Since men are married to Christ that means in their relationship with him, they take on the role of the female. Yes, I wrote that right guys, in our relationship with Christ we are the females. And no, this is not in a homosexual way nor does it promote homosexuality. Now before you guys macho up and get all bent out of shape, hear me out. Women are called to submit to their husbands, but men need to view a woman’s submission as a gift they must earn. The way men earn this gift is by showing their spouses they can trust them through providing emotional and physical security. In the book “For Men Only,” Shaunti and Jeff Feldhahn describe how this emotional and physical provision looks like:
(1) she feels that the two of you are close
(2) she sees that you make time together a priority
(3) she sees your commitment to her
(4) she sees that you are active in the life of the home
(5) she sees you making an effort to provide (physically) (as long as that doesn’t crowd out 1-4). pg. 80-81
Now guys think about all the ways Christ shows his commitment to us so we can learn to submit to him, especially when it comes to our finances. Christ goes above and beyond in all of these areas so we can see his example, and do the same for our wives. Christ making men take on the female role in their relationship with him is for man’s benefit, because (1) we can relate to our wives and understand why they don’t always like to give their gift, just like we don’t always want to submit to Christ; and (2) we now have an example of what it takes to show love to our spouses. Everything about this passage depicts Christ labor of love so he can present his bride as the most beautiful thing for anyone to lay eyes on. Guys, its up to us to do the hard work so our wives can be seen for all their worth. Wives, this is why you should be thankful to be married to a man who follows Christ; this is why you pray continuously for your husband, who follows Christ as his Savior, and for your husband, who do not follow Christ as their Savior; and this is why you should only date a man who follows Christ, because Christ is always teaching him what it takes to love you.
Women: What Christ is doing in your relationship with Him.
(Guys, don’t skip over)
In this passage, Paul writes women are like the Church. Now what does this exactly mean? When the church is functioning properly, it is the most inspiring thing a person lays eyes on. The church brings hope to others, and causes people to become more than what they are. And I believe this is what Christ is trying to do in his relationship with women, he is teaching them how to be inspirations to their husbands. Men need a cause, and we need to be pushed to go beyond ourselves. Your gift of submission to your husband should be viewed as the way you inspire him. When a man sees your willingness to follow him, it confirms he is doing what’s necessary to gain your trust. This inspires him to take action, which moves him to become a better leader for his family. The man’s role is to lead, and its the woman’s role to inspire him to move mountains. Husbands, this is why you should be thankful to be married to a woman who follows Christ, this is why you pray continuously for your wives, who follow Christ as her Savior, and for your wives, who do not follow Christ as their Savior, and this why you should only date a woman who follows Christ, because Christ is always teaching her how to inspire you to be a leader.
Why church matters
When my wife and I were looking at wedding rings for me, I must have looked at twenty different rings. Which is sad because my wife knew which ring she wanted after only looking at three. Wedding rings are important because they remind us of the commitment we made to our spouses. Rings also tell other people we’re off limits to having a relationship with them. Church matters because it symbolizes the wedding rings that were exchanged between Christ and us. So every time we abandon the church, every time we blow it off because we don’t feel like going, every time we go and don’t participate by serving, or every time we say the church is useless and doesn’t make a difference, is equivalent to me going to a social gathering and intentionally taking off my wedding ring so women don’t know I’m married. And what amazes me more than anything else is, even when I choose to be an unfaithful spouse to Christ, he still shows his love and faithfulness to me. At the same time, it makes me wonder how much more Christ would be inspired to move if his bride would be faithful to him. I imagine it breaks Christ’s heart knowing we only settle for his faithfulness, when all he wants to do is move mountains for us. I think its time we live out the greatest love story ever told, so this world can see Jesus.