Love + Submission = Beauty

by Sep 5, 2017

It started out beautiful. Genesis 2 shows us that it wasn’t good for man to be alone, but it was good for man to have a “helper fit for him.” God created a beautiful helper, and man was super stoked about it (bursting out into song when he saw her!). They were together, totally unified, and it was beautiful. But then it broke down. The enemy of God and all that’s good became the enemy of marriage. The enemy attacked their marriage, and the marriage broke down. In that scene in Genesis 3, the woman failed to be a good helper, and the man failed to be a good head. Their failure in marriage is a picture of how all of our marriage now fail in ways. Thankfully, Ephesians 5 moves us back toward Genesis 2 by showing us how we can pursue beautiful marriages that reflect God well.

Ephesians 5:21 tells us to, “[submit] to one another out of reverence for Christ.  Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.” As Christians, we’re all called to live a life of submission. A wife has a unique role in submitting to her husband. Submit here doesn’t mean like a slavish groveling, like something that looks pathetic and sad. Because it goes on to say that she submits to her husband the way the church submits to Jesus. The church trusts Jesus, respects Jesus, speaks highly of Jesus, and gives herself completely to Jesus.

Wives, this is really, really good news. Jesus, who gave up his own life, who loved and cherished his church, is the standard for husbands. And who wouldn’t want to give themselves completely to someone like Jesus? Jesus doesn’t look at his church and abuse his authority, saying, “Hey hey hey, I have the authority here, get in line and know your place, church.” That’s not how he treats his bride. In the same way, his church doesn’t look at him and say, “I resent your toxic leadership, oh lover of my soul.” No, The picture we get of Jesus and the church is Jesus as the head; loving, cherishing, being tender and compassionate with his bride, and his church joyfully submitting to that kind of care. And what’s cool is that a wife submitting to her husband isn’t even all about just submitting to that specific man. It says submit to your own husband, as to the Lord. The way you submit to your husband is an act of worship to God. A wife can please God by how she follows what Ephesians 5 says here.

Wives are going to be tempted away from this in one of two ways. One is by taking over the husband’s role in marriage. Maybe it’s because he’s more passive, or because she doesn’t trust his decision making, or because he encourages her to take his role, whatever the reason, that’s going to be a real temptation for a wife. The other temptation may be to follow him blindly, no matter what, without lovingly questioning and challenging some of his decisions that she’s not sure are right or please God. This passage says to submit to him like you submit to Jesus, and Jesus never leads you into sin. So please do not be passive in your marriage, doing whatever your husband wants. You should continually be pushing your husband toward Jesus, and he should love that.

Ephesians 5:25-33 says, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.  For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church,  because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.  However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” Love your wife like Jesus loves his church. Well, how much did Jesus love his church? He gave himself up for her. He lived his whole life for her. He went hungry and thirsty for his bride. He went into battle with the enemy for his bride and won. He taught her. He was patient with her. He nourished and cherished his church, like we see in verse 29. Just like we do with your own bodies, your own lives guys. Jesus took care of every need his bride had. He even died for his bride. He gave his entire life for her. There’s the bar.

Men, how are you doing at loving your wife like Jesus loves the church? Patiently? Sacrificially? Giving up your time? Your energy? Are you loving her even in her brokenness, even if she doesn’t act like a good helper to you? Or is your love conditional?

Men, you’re going to be tempted in one of two ways. The first is that you are going to be tempted to rule and dominate your wife. To not let her have a voice, not influence decisions, not get her input or care about how decisions effect her. You’re going to be tempted to abuse your role and crush your wife. Or, you’re going to be tempted toward passivity; sitting back and putting the pressure on her to make all the decisions and keep the family together and pursue unity. A lot of guys do this. They see their role as just being the provider, as long as they’re bringing home the bacon it’s the wife’s job to do everything else. You’ll be tempted to be lazy and put the pressure on her to do what you were designed to do.

Are you struggling with any of this in your marriage? If so, I have some fantastic news for you. Jesus did what we couldn’t do. He actually loved the church the way he’s called husbands to love their wives. He actually submitted to his Father perfectly the way wives are called to submit to their husbands. Jesus did it. And if Jesus has saved you, then you have his perfect life of love and submission to your credit, and he’s continually transforming you to be more like him. Which is a good thing, because we need Jesus in order to do what He’s called us to do in our marriages. But, do you bring Jesus into your marriage? Maybe you know that you need him for your lust battle or your bitterness or your pride but are you conscious daily that you need him for the beauty of your marriage? Do you pray for your marriage? Your spouse? Do you seek help from people who know Jesus when your marriage is struggling? Or do you bottle it up and not let Jesus have a part in it?

That’s why we also need each other. Men, we need other dudes to tell us when we’re not loving our wives like we should. Because we’re good at hiding that, men, we need to man up and confess when we’re not doing this and get some dudes in your life who are going to bring you to Jesus and fight for your marriage with you.

Ladies, you need other ladies to tell you when your not submitting to your husbands like the church submits to Jesus. You may have to confess how you struggle with that and surround yourself with some ladies who are going to bring you to Jesus and fight for your marriage with you.

Jesus cares deeply about your marriage. He wants it to be as beautiful as possible and for you to be as happy as you can be within your marriage. And that’s going to happen when he is the leader of your marriage. When both husband and wife love Jesus more than they love each other. When both husband and wife submit to Jesus for how they relate to each other. Satan would love to destroy our marriages. He’s probably trying to right now. Because marriages that look like Ephesians 5 are really beautiful and they show the world who Jesus is.