Biblical Concepts for a Great Marriage
The world’s ways are opposite God’s ways. It always is. Wisdom is based on behavior and attitudes that are shaped by God’s truth, whether it be subtly revealed as in the conscience or clearly spoken in His Word. Foolishness always rejects and scorns that truth. The truth always brings about a better, an abundant life, while rejection of that truth brings pain and difficult consequences with long lasting consequences.
|Introduction: The World's Ways
A. A Couple's Calling
B. A Husband's Calling
C. A. Wife's Calling
Singles Discuss Marriage
The Christian church has gradually adopted the world’s ways in the past several generations. The church might call itself evangelical but it has in fact departed from some of the most basic Christian truths in God’s Word. She does not know that she has departed from the truth in most cases. She even prides herself in her supposedly ‘better’ choices when in fact she has has made and encourages others to make wrong decisions. Yet she is unable or unwilling to admit it. To be more specific the family has suffered. Something is so off kilter when a parent is willing to spend many thousands of dollars for some special medical treatment for their child but neglect to give the child what God has said is the very best and most essential. A recent Barna statistic shows that only 3 of 10 evangelical families think that the salvation of their children is important. Something is wrong with the family but what is it?
Christian families are breaking apart left and right. They suffer because they are not living by the truth of God. At any point they have hope if they would repent and turn back to God. But they can’t somehow see that the judgment that is upon their lives is because of their rejection of God’s ways. They don’t know they have left Him so they certainly don’t care about a way back.
Now let me ask you a question, “Does a person need to know he is going against God’s way in order to suffer consequences?” Certainly not. Moral laws are the same as physical laws. If a person jumps off a roof and breaks a leg, nobody is surprised. Does it make a difference if it is a child who hasn’t learned about gravity? Will he break his leg too even if he has yet taken physics? Of course. The laws are active even if we plead ignorant. That is why we have parents. That is why we have pastors. That is why we have the Bible.
God has clearly taught us a pattern here in the scriptures but very few couples observe them. People can excuse themselves, but it doesn’t matter for in the end they will still suffer the same consequences as the world and perhaps even worse. Remember that revealed scripture help safeguard us to stay within God’s moral law so that we can stay out of danger. Let’s suppose that the moral law is totally invisible. Scripture however instead of keeping us from the best is helping us to note where the moral line is. It is like a projected line that clearly tells us where it is safe to walk so that we will not cross over and suffer the consequences. Like walking near mine fields, you only walk where it has been proven safe to walk. God’s Word does that.
We are going to look at three special truths essential to healthy marriages. You can ignore them if you wish, but you will at some time in the future will wish you did not. You can make excuses why they are out-of-date, antiquated, man-made, not sufficiently self-expressive or that ‘that is fine you think that way, but I…” kind of attitude, but that would be foolish. God not only knows where the mines are planted but has made the best life possible for us. For us to ignore His Word is to scorn His Word. God graciously has written down the moral code for us in the Bible and has given us minds to interpret those words. He lets us know how to live out a great life. But let me first tell you a secret about God’s truths.
The more you are convinced that these truths are good and desirable, the easier you will be able to respond to them. This is the trust factor. We believe God has given them out of His love rather than out of His severity. I challenge you to stop thinking that the world has a better way. Its judgment is so obvious that I won’t even tell you a single statistic. Just walk into the drugstores and see what medicines people are buying to cope with the consequences of theirs sins. My neighbors and no doubt your neighbors no longer believe that a good marriage is obtainable. They have seen so much hurt that they no longer dare dream that one can live in a good marriage. They live apart from God’s truths.
Again, let us not be deceived. Christians are not in any way specially protected from the folly of scorning God’s commands. Jesus did not say in Matthew 7 that the foolish man that built his house on the sand was the non-Christian who didn’t rightly respond to God’s truths but to any man who chose to ignore Jesus’ words. My wife and I have chosen not just to know God’s Word but to observe it and have reaped a wonderful marriage. You can have one too.
We will look at three essential truths. They are interrelated. They are also connected to the church. I will mostly address the physical marriage and only quickly address the spiritual ramifications as to what it has to do with us as a Christian body later on.
A. A Couple’s Calling (Ephesians 5:31)
B. A Husband’s Calling (Ephesians 5:33)
C. A Wife’s Calling (Ephesians 5:33)
“For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. Nevertheless let each individual among you also love his own wife even as himself; and let the wife see to it that she respect her husband” (Ephesians 5:31-33).
“For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh.”
Let us note what kind of unity we are speaking of. The scriptures state, God states, that when a couple gets married, “The two shall become one flesh.” Actually it is this pronouncement of God regarding a couple that demands special arrangements within a marriage if it is to work out well. He does not say that they are one only when all is working out well or only when they share a bed. Jesus amplified its meaning when He said, “What God has joined together, let no man separate.” Marriages are special because not because they take place in the church but that that they take place before God whether one believes Him or not. Everyone is accountable to God for their marriage.
But this “two become one” is bad math. We know that one plus one equals two. So how is it that they are one. But frankly it is because of this truth that harmony only can take place when the husband and wife are working as one.
There is the special union not only of the body but of the soul and spirit. Many couples have really missed it when they think marriage only on a physical level. There is also the emotional and spiritual union.
Everyone knows, for example, there cannot, or at least there should not be, two drivers of one car in motion. I rather be lost merrily going along than having two drivers argue about which way they should go, each pulling at the steering wheel. Evidently, some people disagree with me on this by the way they operate their marriage.
The point is that though our bodies have two ears, two eyes, two feet and two hands, they are wonderfully coordinated by one head, one mind and one brain that work as one coordinating system. Our bodies are marvelously designed. I have been building a loft bed for my daughter and she can testify how hard it is for me to make two pieces that are mirror images of each other in alignment with each other when they are stationary not to mention if they both started to move.
If we believe God’s truth about oneness, then we will have to accept that the husband and wife is to blend together in such a marvelous way like the body that the two will be one. Who here complains because he has two eyes that function as one? Who here wish they only had one hand rather than two. But they function as one. They work together. That the husband and wife function as one does not cause any drag on the relationship but only brings extra support, strength and beauty. This is a marvelous marriage in function. The two work together as one. This is harmony and it is beautiful when it works.
I know that many of you are thinking about your spouse or your parents right now. You are saying to yourself that a good marriage is a dream. It is more like an earthquake than harmony. I feel for you. It shouldn’t be so. I grew up in such a storm and tore me and my siblings apart. Only God’s grace has put me back together again. But that is the whole point. If you find distress, realize it is because they are not observing God’s ways. Poison is in the porridge. A good marriage always comes from doing things God’s ways. A bad marriage, even if one is a Christian, always comes about because of disobedience. You chose to go off the road. Excuses do not take away the consequences. If you as a couple or even as a spouse repent, you will start to see amazing differences. But before I go on and share with you God’s ways of finding that harmony, let me point out one fact.
Oneness requires the husband and wife, male and female, to blend together as one under God’s rulership. If the husband and wife remain as two so that they retain their individualism and independence, then they will destroy their marriage and lives. Many Christian marriages are not Christian at all because they do not live as one but two.
God’s married couple is one and must insist on living out His truth. I understand that many single people want to retain their individual rights and opinions when they enter marriage. They may as well not get married. They are going to have a terrible marriage. One can see the arguments come alive with this approach. “I want … but I want …” and so it goes on and on. We have competition instead of complementary living.
God’s married couple is one and must insist on living out His truth. Let me mention a few modern heresies that have crept under the church’s bed covers.
• Secularism: God is not involved in the welfare of man and certainly not in marriages and families.
- God’s Perspective: God is so thoroughly involved in marriage that whenever you do anything different than He has suggested or taught, then disaster awaits you.
• Independent spirit. The restraint of our choices always brings about harm and abuse of our real self.
God’s Perspective: Freedom begins when we live for the purpose God made us. A good marriage is when a man and woman fulfill their own duties and rightly live under the proper restraints.
• Materialism: Man and woman are not anything more than a bunch of interacting molecules. Marriage is merely a human intervention of life where two physical bodies touch each other more than others.
God’s Perspective: Marriage is the interconnectedness of a man and woman in a life long, parent-recognized relationship, in which they share on a physical, emotional and spiritual level.
• Feminism: Women are equal with men in all ways and better than them in some. A wife is an inferior and abused state which women have accepted for far too long.
God’s Perspective: Women are precious creatures designed for marriage. They find fulfillment in being a helpmate to the husband that God will one day most likely give them. Women fulfill a role that no other creature including another man can fulfill and will find her supreme purpose in focusing on God’s purpose for her.
I understand that many single people want to retain their individual rights and opinions when they enter marriage. They may as well not get married. They are going to have a terrible marriage. One can see the arguments come alive with this approach. “I want … but I want …” and so it goes on and on. We have competition instead of complementary living.
God has fortunately not just made two people and then just called them to work together the best they can. This is all homosexuals can do. No. God has a much better plan. When He designed man and woman He fully integrated into their beings, physical, emotional and otherwise, the ability to carry out to blend as one in the context of marriage.
It is absolutely foolish for a man to want to be like a woman or a woman like a man because they envy their roles. As long as one envies the others role, then he or she will never be content or focused on his or her own responsibilities. A body does not need two left hands! A marriage does not need two heads! Because there is a union, a perfect blending of two people into one, then there can only be one leader. God has called the man to be the head and the wife to submit. Because of sin, however, there are two competing, or we could call them worldly, approaches. Now let us look and see what these two other directives are along with their opposite approaches.
“Love his own wife even as himself.”
The husband is called to love his own wife as himself. We see that the word ‘only’ is carefully placed. He cannot put his affection and attention on anyone but his own wife. Do you think if I asked the wives here if they like this teaching, what do you think they would say? Of course. What if you single women knew your husband was not willing or able to only love you? Would you still marry him? I hope not! The man is to cleave to his wife.
This man is called to love his wife even as his own self. In verse 23 it is stated that the “husband is the head of the wife” but now it states the man’s major focus should be on loving his wife. This highlights some of the problems we face and why the world thinks their suggestions are better.
Many wives know about husbands as men who like the control but not the responsibility. They are heads. They can spend the money the way they want but they tend to spend it foolishly. This makes it hard on the wives. There is no doubt that many wives have given this foolish leadership of the husband a last chance and then just got a divorce.
God’s way is better. Authority in God’s realm never means an insensitive leadership. We can see this by the very command to love his wife. He doesn’t go tell him Adam how to lead. Before sin he did what was right and proper. But because of the sin nature, man tends not to be sensitive to the wife’s special make-up. God is really calling man to love their own wives just as He has loved the church. He was willing to make sacrifices to better the church. And in the same way men are to use their position to help build up their wives. This becomes a big priority in their lives.
“You husbands likewise, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with a weaker vessel, since she is a woman; and grant her honor as a fellow-heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered” (1 Peter 3:7).
In 1 Peter 3 we read that women are a special creation of God.
Here are some important conclusions to these thoughts combined with what we have already mentioned.
The point in all of this is to establish a context of love where the tenderness, love and glory of the wife can appear. If she knows that she is being loved, then she doesn’t have to pretend to be a man any longer. She can happily be herself, a woman, after God’s special design. If she sees you looking at porn or eyeing other woman, ignoring the home, then she is never secure. She will back off, make funny demands. She is above all a responder. Love her and you will see her respond. I exhort you husbands that you put away any and all pride and bitterness. You must not let her wild comments catch you off guard. God will care for you. You only need to persist in treating her nicely even when she doesn’t deserve it.
In faith I have taken this command to the fullest. Difficult times are now another opportunity to be patient. Unsubmissiveness is an opportunity to tenderly treat and pray for her. Times of depression are chances to love her without getting any positive feedback. In other words, these challenges become the very tests where I can score an ‘A’ by keep loving her no matter how she responds to me. Now do you think a wife with such a husband will like this? Sure. This keeps us husbands on track even when the fog is so dense that one can’t see two steps ahead. God’s command clearly directs us.
Most of you will get married. Now become pure in thought. Now learn to serve sacrificially. Now take up the task of putting away those ‘fun’ things so that you can make those sacrifices that are necessary. Men should approach maturity at around 13 years old. They should have put away their silly toys and taken up the great task to be a great man of God. Do not think that you cannot train to be a good husband before you get married and neither erroneously believe that you do not need training before marriage. It is not natural because our lusts and self-oriented sinful natures war against what is right, good and lovely. This is why God commanded man to love His wife. This is a special divine love that comes from God.
1. Now is the time for training in purity. It makes a difference. If you can’t do it now, you can’t do it later.
2. Leave your boyhood behind along with its toys. Now you need dedication to training for sacrificial service.
3. Your best training is how you take orders from those in authority over you such as your parents. this includes both outward obedience and a heart of respect.
4. You are enlisted in a war for your soul. The flesh against the Spirit. Don’t give up. Make it a fight that you will wage all your life.
“Let the wife see to it that she respect (fear) her husband.”
The husband is to focus on one thing: love his wife. By doing this, he will carry out his headship well. The wife is called to focus on one thing too: fear or respect her husband. The very words stir fear and hatred up in some women. They think that God has a case against women. But this is the world’s opinion. The world’s viewpoint goes diametrically opposed to God’s directive of being submissive to her husband.
Let’s first see what the wife is being called to.
1. The wife is responsible to take action. Some people subtly criticize the command to submission by wrongly interpreting it to mean ‘to lose motivation and sense of purpose.’ It is the other way around. She is to be full of attention and action. She is alert respecting her husband. At the end of the age every wife will be asked to whether she respected her husband. Responsibility means accountability. The husband will be responsible for how the home went because he is head. But she will be responsible for how she respected her husband.
2. The wife might seem surprised at her prime focus to fear or respect her husband. She might wonder how can a great marriage be built on a command to fear her husband. Part of the confusion is what fear means. Part of it is what the world nonstop keeps saying.
The Chinese have two words for fear. One is afraid and the other is ‘in awe of.’ I think the later sense is much more proper. The wife needs to realize no matter how foolish her husband is and how much he focuses on fulfilling his own lusts, he is still her head. Marriage defines the context in which men and women grow. If a women does well in this area, then she will do well in lots of areas. If she does poorly here, then she will have trouble with all things.
Single men, what kind of woman will you marry? One that has learned to value of submitting to her parents? You are wise if you search for such a woman. Otherwise your foolishness will cause you to learn the hard way. It is better to live in a corner of a roof than in a house shared with a contentious woman. (Proverbs 21:9).
The wife needs to cultivate a genuine respect her husband so that it shapes how she responds to him. Very few families now train their daughters to be submissive. They are to be top scorers, top gymnastics. We instead build into them an ungodly value to make a lot of money. They learn from the world to focus on looking beautiful and act clever. The greatest gift your parents can give you ladies is to treasure the opportunity to serve others. You are not looking out to meet your needs but the needs of others. In the home you should learn how to happily serve otherwise you will not be at all content as a wife. But remember, God made you a woman that was designed to be a wife and that fulfillment will come from there rather than the success the world talks about.
3. The wife needs to cultivate a genuine respect her husband so that it shapes how she responds to him.
Single women. Very few families now train their daughters to be submissive. They are to be top scorers, top gymnastics. We instead build into them an ungodly value to make a lot of money. They learn from the world to focus on looking beautiful and act clever. The greatest gift your parents can give you ladies is to treasure the opportunity to serve others. You are not looking out to meet your needs but the needs of others. In the home you should learn how to happily serve otherwise you will not be at all content as a wife. But remember, God made you a woman that was designed to be a wife and that fulfillment will come from there rather than the success the world talks about.
4. The wise godly woman, then, will see that submissiveness is how she can reveal the glory of God even to a stubborn husband. Some men are foolish. Some are non-Christians. Wives need to be submissive to their husband no matter what.
“In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives” (1 Peter 3:1).
Do you see what I see from this passage?
a) First of all, a wife must be submissive even to the husbands that are ‘disobedient to the word.’ What does this phrase mean? It simply speaks about a man who has not come under the control of God’s Word. He is like the wild horse that easily can hurt those nearby. This is the man hardened to God and foolish. But what seems insensitivity here actually enables her by faith to walk on holy ground. The real test for submissiveness is not when the husband is doing a great job but when he fails at his responsibilities. But the godly woman has a vision of life that is much greater than her own feelings.
b) One must understand that submission does not mean that the wife is saying what the husband has done is okay. On the other hand, his wrong is much more clearly revealed to him when she is quiet. On as personal level, when my wife responds in a quiet and gentle way to something I have messed up, I can see my sin mirrored right back at myself. But if she speaks or makes an inappropriate comment or gesture, then the perfectly horrible image of myself is distorted and I can’t see my sin so easily. It makes it easier for me to blame her for my problems than myself.
c) Submissiveness is a powerful tool. The setting for all the instruction found in 1 Peter is the life and death of Jesus Christ. It was through His giving of self that He actually won the war against hatred and death. 1 Peter 3:1 starts with “in the same way” because it refers to the previous verses which speak so clearly of Jesus’ suffering for our sins. I understand that the wife must submit in faith. And though it seem so contrary to natural senses, it is shown to be a superior way through Christ’s example. Peter has such confidence in this that he says of the disobedient husbands, that “they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior” (1 Peter 3:1-2).
I summarize this point by stating that it is wrong, that the world is absolutely wrong, when they say that requiring women to submit to their husbands is oppressive and restricting. The world says this but it is largely because of the rebellion stirred up in women that they refuse to submit to their husbands and destroy their marriages. The opposite is true. A genuine submissive spirit is a mighty tool of God to humble the most proud men for it is only in the midst of a precious godly and respectful spirit will the man most clearly see his abrasiveness and guilt.
Instead of trying to think that the men have it better off, the wife ought to simply focus on what God has designed her to do the best.
We have two things to summarize. First of all the husband and wife situation and then draw some special applications on how it applies to us as believers, the bride of Christ.
• We have said what we have needed regarding the responsibilities of the husband and wife. Their calling in marriage is for the man to be head and the wife to submit. It is through this special calling they can be one and live out a great marriage. Because of sin, the man needs to specially focus on unconditionally loving his wife. The wife is called to submit. Her part in the whole plan of salvation is critical. Christ used submissiveness to accomplish what authority and power could not. She needs to value her role and not despise it.
• But let us see what this says to the church of God. The church is the family of God. In Ephesians 5:32 Paul says this mystery of leaving and cleaving have to do with Christ and the church. Basically, the picture of husband and wife in harmony perfectly paint the picture of what it will be like between Christ, the bridegroom and the church, the bride. Christ devotedly gives himself to the needs of the wife, the church. The wife, the church, is caught up in His love and gives Him her whole heart and attention.
Let me apply this. I believe the church is far away from God. The church for one does not believe or trust in Christ. She is caught up in thinking there are better ways than Christ. The church is willing to run after the world in its busy pursuit of money and fame. It is largely blind as to how to trust Christ because she has so many reserves. She has committed an affair with the world and does not realize it. She wonders why Christ is so difficult to follow when Christ so wonderfully leads her. But she does not trust Him. She always thinks she knows better and then disobeys.
As Christ’s bride, we need to respect Christ and His ways. If He tells us to make disciples, then we should make disciples and stop just playing church like boys play with toys rather than real things.
 The husband and wife leave their parent’s authority and become a new structure called a family directly under God. The family always lives under God’s rulership. But within this family there is also structure and authority. God has appointed it this way before sin ever entered our world. Authority has nothing to do with sin. Abuse of authoritative powers testifies to sin but not authority in and of itself. We must refuse to despise what God has given for our protection.
Some believe that the greatest marriage is one where husband and wife have equal authority and say as to what happens. The other day a woman was sharing about how where she comes from everyone knows the husband and wife are equal. They have equal say in everything. We have seen abuse when one person selfishly controls another. We can understand the problem but their solution is wrong and brings about more wrongs.
Introduction to the Book of Ephesians
Ephesians 1:1-3 Every Spiritual Blessing
Ephesians 1:1-3 Every Spiritual Blessing
Ephesians 2:1-3 Our Need, His grace
Ephesians 4:1-3 Preserving the Spirit's Unity
Ephesians 4:11-16 The Purpose of Training
Ephesians 4:14 B) Responsibility 1. Deceit