Leading up to the anniversary I spent a lot of time in reflection to what I wanted to do for a gift… Though we have never been big on presents for each other on specials occasions, a 10th wedding anniversary calls for a little something-something!! Though 10 years is not as numerous as many couples we know, Courtney and I have always had a desire that our marriage (and now-a-days family) would be an encouragement to others. I do not share that as a, “we’ve never fought and married life has been perfect” or even trying to put our lives on “pedestals” to others, however, God has called us (believers) to be an example of loving community and a reflection of Christ himself. In the book of Ephesians 5 (a letter written by Paul to a community of believers in Ephesus) he dedicates several powerful and difficult sentences to couples and how we should act in marriage if we are followers of Christ.
“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 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. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.”
If it ends there, it seems both unfair to the ladies and extremely difficult. Over the years, especially in pre-marital mentoring I’ve done, I’ve heard so much rejection and misunderstanding to this passage. We (not just women but as a culture) get so hung up on this word “submission.” In the land of the free “why do we have to submit to anyone” or “so I’m supposed to mindlessly obey to my own detriment”!? If that was the only verses in the passage you have a leg to stand on and let me apologize to anyone that has used the above verses to argue or dominant a household… That is wrong (as we put it into context with the next nine verses: 3 verses to women & 9 verses to men)!
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church - for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”
Did you catch it!? After reading this passage I always ask the question: “How hard would it be to submit to someone who cares for you more than themselves and would literally die for you?” What do you think? That’s true freedom… to put our love, trust and submission in someone that loves us more than their own life and daily puts their needs behind ours!! P.S. that’s the gospel… to put our faith in one who can actually do the work for the payment we owe and out of thanksgiving follow!! However, please do not get confused… Our spouses can never pay the ultimate sacrifice necessary for our sin. Only God can do that and He has through His Son: Jesus! Our spouses make terrible gods and even worse saviors!!
Christian couples are given a heavy standard to live by: Wives submit to your husbands & Husbands love your wives like Christ loves the Church! So… How are we doing!? Fellas, how are you doing this week at putting your wife and family’s needs before your own? How are we doing loving them the way they need love and not the way we think they want? Ladies, how are you doing following his lead? Are you praying that he could lead with conviction, spirit filled and love?
Though I do not want to point you to our marriage as THE example, I would love for you to be encouraged that it is possible to have a marriage that strives to bring God honor. It is possible… to not just exist but be happy, to not just get through the years but love the memories, to not just stay together but to honor each other!!
The Secret: Marriage is a Covenant not a Contract!! We are called to love and honor each other daily not because “they did their part” but because we made a promise to them AND GOD however many years ago!!