I remember reading Ephesians as a newer Christian and being shocked as I came across the Apostle’s words in chapter 5:
Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. (Ephesians 5:22)
I quickly became nervous because my wife was a brand new Christian and I was about as biblically literate as a flannel board. My first thought was, “This can’t mean what I think it means.” And my second thought was, “How in the world am I going to sell Christie on this?”
The first question was answered with a “yes” and a “no”. The concept of male leadership, even headship, was correct. However, I had this wrong perception of some type of bizarre patriarchal suppression of the wife by the husband. In my mind leadership and submission seemed to demean rather than provide for her flourishing.
We all know that women are very different then men. However, we don’t always appreciate it.
Over the last several years I have watched my wife prepare for birthday parties, holiday seasons, or other special events. She, like many women, gives considerable time and attention to the details. In particular she works to ensure that the colors, design, and even the most minute matters are covered. I’ve seen gum balls color-coded, paper cut outs, cup cakes and napkins match, balloons, sparkly soda, snow sprinkles on a red table cloth, swirly straws, and even a big metal bucket filled with ice to so people will feel “festive” when they get their drink. This is what women do. Men on the other hand, we think function. We reuse our forks, wipe our chin on our sleeves, and pass on the straws. We skim past the details without noticing.
In the past I have noticed the details and asked, “why?” My wife lovingly instructed me that it is an expression of creativity, joy, and love. It is festive.
While struggling to pull this type of thing off my self, I have come to appreciate it. What’s more, I’ve come to baptize it into the spiritual realm so as to love my wife more, appreciate our differentness, and marvel at God’s design.
If you were to comb through your Old Testament you would find that God is a God of detail. You have chapters and chapters of detail about the tabernacle in Exodus. We have dimensions, colors, types, …
Wise and helpful diagnosis here from Paul Tripp in What Did You Expect? He is noting how often a couple will ask, “What happened to us? How in the world did we end up here?” The answer is not acute but a chronic problem.
It feels to them that they have driven into some kind of marital fog. It feels that what was once bright and sunny has suddenly gone dark. But nothing has been sudden. The changes of their marriage have taken place in progressive, little steps. In those unremarkable moments that occur in every marriage, wrong thoughts, desires, words, and actions changed the character and direction of their marriage; they took place in little moments, and no one was paying attention.
We all do it.
It’s not that we suddenly quit loving one another. No, that’s not what typically happens. Marriages don’t typically change with an explosion. Marriages typically change by the process of erosion. Even where marital explosions take place, they usually take place at the end of a long process of erosion. The movement of a marriage from an active commitment to an active lifestyle of unity, understanding, and love rarely takes place in one step. Rather, this movement takes place in ten thousand little steps.
The problem is that as these changes are taking place we tend to be asleep at the wheel. What we once committed to value and protect has progressively become the thing we take for granted. What we were once deeply appreciative of, we have become used …
Sound words for marriages plagued by isolationism.
Marriage really is a human covenant of companionship. God wasn’t so much giving Adam a physical helper for the work in the garden as he was giving him a companion.
God knew that he had created a social being, and because of Adam’s social hardwiring, it was not good for him to live without the companionship of one made from him and made like him. You could argue that this is the most basic reason for marriage. God created a lifelong companion for Adam, and his relationship with Eve would exist on earth as a visible reminder of God’s love relationship with people and as the God-ordained means by which the earth would be populated as God designed.
So the character and quality of the friendship between a husband and wife always functions as an accurate measure of the health of their marriage. It is also an accurate barometer of trust. When trust is present between two people, their appreciation and affection will grow, and as these things grow, friendship flourishes. Tripp, What Did You Expect?
I wrote an article for the Ligonier Blog on the gospel and marriage. Here is the intro and summary:
When a new leader is appointed in an organization change is inevitable. The incoming boss will set policy, establish tone, and reflect an attitude in their organization. The same is true for our marriages. The new leader I am referring to here is not a new husband but rather the true husband, The Lord Jesus Christ.
We know from the Scriptures that a Christian marriage is never simply a union of two people but two people united together in Jesus Christ. This is another way of saying that Jesus is our head, the Lord and the life-giver of our marriage. When a couple embrace the truth of the gospel, whether in conversion or sanctification, there are always corresponding changes associated with Jesus being the head of the marriage. Below are three of the more common changes that Christ works into a marriage as he rules it through the gospel.
The three changes are:
1. From Selfishness to Service
2. From Laziness to Engagement
3. Self-Righteousness to Humility
You can read the rest of the article here.
It seems that everyone has an opinion about Gay Marriage, and these opinions are rarely ambivalent. Christians have (and rightly so) been outspoken in their opposition to a redefinition of marriage. This recasting of the institution of marriage is not, we would argue, a progressive and healthy advancement but rather a disastrous detour from what biblical, therefore, right and good.
At the same time and while marriage is on the front burner, particularly the undermining of God’s plan for it, let me ask a question. Are Gay and Lesbians the only ones who undermine God’s plan for marriage?
The answer is, “Of course not!” Just because you are hetero-sexual does not mean that you are reflecting God’s plan for marriage. You don’t get a pass just on marriage because you are not Gay. The basis of a marriage reflecting God’s plan is how it reflects the gospel. In other words a marriage is reflective of God’s plan in so far as it reflects the marriage between Jesus the husband and the church the bride.
This is where it gets quite personal for us inside the Christian camp. God’s plan for marriage includes the following:
We have all heard the expression, “If you don’t have anything nice to say then don’t say anything at all.” This may be good advice for elementary school children but it is not preferred for husbands.
Am I saying, “Feel free to insult your wife.” Hardly. Instead I am saying that we need to try harder, look deeper, pay more attention.
Along these lines Timothy Witmer writes to husbands in his book Shepherd Leader At Home, (p.40):
You should thank her just for her willingness to have hitched herself to you!…There are plenty of (other) things you can say to build up your wife. When is the last time you complimented her appearance? When is the last time you thanked her for all she does in taking care of you and the children? Even more important is taking the opportunity to praise her for her character qualities. Be sure to be specific. The writer of Proverbs 31 was very specific about the praiseworthy traits of an excellent wife. She is praised for everything from being a good seamstress to being a good businesswoman. However, the summary statement focuses on the most essential thing. ‘Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.’ (Prov. 31.30)
Many times married couples struggle with communication. Whether it is because of laziness, selfishness, or distraction, we take our eyes off of the proverbial ball named romance. The way back is always intentionality, transparency, and consistency.
As I was thinking about this is my own marriage I came across this quote from Theodrick Bland. He was engaged in battle during the American Revolution. He wrote his wife and what survives is a clinic for us in written and verbal communication. Take note men. This is gold.
Writing his wife Martha in 1777 from the battlefield in New Jersey he said,
….my dear, when you are writing, write of nothing but yourself, or at least exhaust that dear, every dear subject, before you make a transition to another; tell me of your going to bed, of your rising, of the hour you breakfast, dine, sup, visit, tell me of anything, but leave me not in doubt of your health…Fear not, yes ‘you will again feel your husband’s lips flowing with love and affectionate warmth.’ Heaven never means to separate two who love so well, so soon; and if it does, with what transport shall we meet in heaven? (Meachem, Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power), p.90
Notice how he wants the details, the particulars. He wants to enter into her narrative and see and enjoy it as he enjoys her. These details may seem mundane in our own day-today lives but they are not. And how can they be? They have your Love’s …
In his very helpful book on marriage What Did You Expect? Paul David Tripp nails one of the fundamental issues not only of marriage but of the human experience. We do well to listen and think through this:
One of the most tempting fallacies for us–and for every human being in this fallen world–is to believe that our greatest problems exist outside of us rather than inside us.
It’s easy to fall into thinking this way, because we have a lot of material to work with. We do live in a broken world where things don’t operate as was intended. Every day is filled with difficulties and obstacles of some kind. We live with flawed people, and our lives will be complicated by their brokenness.
Despite this, the Bible calls us to humbly confess that the greatest, deepest, most abiding problem each of us faces is inside, not outside, of us. The Bible names that problem-sin.
Because sin is self-focused and self-serving, it is antisocial and destructive to our relationships. Here’s where this goes: it requires each of us to say that our greatest marital problem exists inside us, not outside us. —Paul David Trip, What Did You Expect? pp. 73-74
By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. (1 Jn. 3.16)
What is love? In short, love is joyfully and willfully sacrificing yourself in the service of others for the purpose of seeing them blessed. This is what we see in the gospel and this is what Christians endeavor to do as we respond to the gospel. The Gospel is the most heart-melting and liberating truth. It models and motivates true love.
The type of love we have in the gospel is total acceptance even in light of full disclosure. God knows how sinful we are but accepts us eternally based upon the doing and dying of Jesus.
As has been said by others before, “We are more sinful than we can ever have imagined but we are more loved than we can ever have hoped.”