LifeLink Devotions (Click here for Apple Podcast)
Monday, April 4, 2022
There is a lot of confusion and misunderstanding in our culture and in the church about the Biblical principles of marriage. So many people have gone off on radical tangents because they misunderstand the words the Apostle Paul uses in Ephesians to describe a Godly marriage. Some have based their understanding on the poor examples that were set by their own parents or by those in positions of leadership in the church. Some have chosen to interpret Paul’s teaching based on a pre-determined social agenda. But when understood considering the true picture of our relationship with Christ, the truth set forth about marriage bring the greatest fulfillment possible to both husband and wife.
Ephesians 5:22-27 “Wives, submit to your husbands as 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. 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.”
Marriage is a mutual partnership of love, respect, and submission. It is not a dictatorship. It is not anarchy. Marriage is a mutual submission to Christ, resulting in mutual submission to one another, expressed by the husband loving his wife as Christ loved the church, and the wife respectfully submitting to the husband as she does to her Lord.
When Stuart Briscoe met his future wife Jill, they realized they came from two different family backgrounds. The dynamics of each family would help them to understand the true definition of submission, love, and respect. Jill’s father was a quiet, gentle man, and considered himself head of his home: protector, defender, and provider. Her mom was a sweet, Scottish- born Presbyterian. She believed in the sovereignty of God and her husband. Her father adored her mother, put his considerable business assets into her name, and looked to her to raise the children. He was the model of God’s love by seeking to enrich and fulfill her life at the expense of his own desires. When Jill’s sister came of age, her father supported her when she became an excellent car mechanic and raced cars. Eventually she took her place at his side as partner in his successful car business. Jill’s father represented the servant-hearted leadership of Christ, who loves His bride the church and proves it by giving himself up for her.
In contrast, Stuart’s family was strict. His father was an elder in a small local assembly of believers, and he took seriously his responsibility to rule the household well. He considered himself the authority in his family, while his wife, a bright, articulate, efficient lady, considered herself in subjection to her husband in everything, carrying those convictions to her dress, her hair style, and her silence in the presence of men at the church. She was a gifted child of God but based on her misunderstanding of Paul’s marriage principles she was stifled and unfulfilled.
When Jill met Stuart’s family for the first time, she remembers wondering greatly about this amazing mode of doing things. She says, “I sensed an unconscious frustration of unexplored desires and frustrated gifts in my mother-in-law. It was as if those gifts sat meekly inside her heart with eyes downcast and wearing a hat. In that moment as a new believer, I believe I stumbled on an important truth of what submission isn’t. Submission isn’t sitting down on the outside while you’re standing up on the inside.”
When we experience true love, we become its slave. But that slavery is absolute freedom. Freedom to stand on the inside and leap on the outside. Love does not suppress – it liberates. We who know the incredible grace of God understand this. We have surrendered and submitted our lives to the One who sacrificed His life for us. We were not coerced or manipulated to do so. We understood in our hearts that every moment of every day Jesus Christ has our best interests in mind and desires to see our lives fulfilled. Our submission to Him brings the greatest joy.
That’s what it’s supposed to be like when a husband treats his wife like Christ treats us. Wives will submit to the loving leadership of such a man, because they know it sets them free to be all that God made them to be. When husbands are living in submission to Christ, it will be reflected in the way they sacrificially love their wives. Wives will reflect their submission to Christ by respectfully submitting to their husbands. Both will be filled with the complete joy and satisfaction of life as God intended when living in His love. It’s beautiful. It’s satisfying. It’s God’s truth.