My post on divorce yesterday struck a nerve with a few people.  I understand.  It is an emotionally charged subject and for some the topic is a very bitter one from either personal experience or through seeing parents go through a divorce.

One thing I want to be abundantly clear on – God’s grace permeates through all of this, and I don’t want anyone to think that because they have gotten a divorce and perhaps have subsequently gotten remarried that they stand condemned forever.  My thoughts yesterday were mainly centered around the idea of remarriage and how Jesus guides us in this.  One thing that I have seen in my years of ministry is people who end up in a cycle of divorce and remarriage or unhealthy relationships.  It is a proven fact that 2nd marriages fail more often than first marriages, third more than second, etc.  Mainly because there is often an attitude about marriage and problems with both parties that never really end up being addressed.

Basically, when you marry it is no longer about you.  Many times this is not taught, and worse, not modeled.  Not just out is society, but in the Church as well, and we wonder why the divorce rate is climbing and the collective attitude about marriage in general is sour.  Far too many people go into marriage in order to have their needs, both felt and unfelt, met.  When you go into it with that expectation – either party – it will lead to disappointment.

Now after 15-years of marriage I am still working on applying this.  I can be selfish, self-centered, stubborn, and want to make sure my needs are being met.  I can be a complete jerk.  That is backwards – it isn’t how marriage is supposed to be.  Paul paints an excellent picture of marriage as being symbolic of the relationship between Christ and His Church.

First let’s see what Paul says to the wives:

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, (Ephesians 5:22-24, ESV).

Now I know there are feminists who would love to rip this passage out of the Bible.  “That’s sexist!” they cry.  “You are a male chauvinist if you interpret that literally,” others may say.  At best some would just look at those of us who teach this as being old-fashioned.

On the other hand there are men and pastors who have interpreted this to mean that women are to be doormats and subservient to the wishes and desires of the husband.  That interpretation of this passage is, I’ll put it nicely, flawed.

The Greek word for “submit” seen above (or “be subject” in some translations) is “hupotasso.”   It is a Greek military term that means, “to arrange troop divisions in a military fashion under the command of a leader.”  When used in a non-military sense it means, “a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden.”  Submission isn’t something to be demanded, but freely given.  It is voluntary, not forced.

Wives are to voluntarily cooperate, voluntarily “give-in”, put your husband’s needs before your own.  Carry his burden so to speak.  Not because it is demanded of you, but because of the love you have for him.  Just like the church does this for Christ, we certainly obey yes, but we do this out of love because of what Jesus did on our behalf, (Romans 5:8).

Now something that is often overlooked by those who demand submission is the verse that precedes the passage above, “submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ,” (Ephesians 5:21, ESV).  Same Greek word – “hupotasso” applied to everyone, at least those who claim to follow Christ.  So husbands we are also to carry a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, etc. to our wives.

And all those who follow Christ are to do this with every brother and sister in Christ.  Paul exhorts us in Philippians to “do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others,” (Philippians 2:3-4, ESV).

Paul gets specific with the guys in Ephesians 5.

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, (Ephesians 5:25-29, ESV).

Gentleman we are to love our wives by giving ourselves up for her.  To watch over her and guard her.  To encourage her and pray for her.  To love her as we would our own selves.  How did Christ love His church?  By dying, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us,” (Romans 5:8, ESV).  Men who would do this would not abuse their wives, cheat on their wives, lie to their wives or exercise a dictatorial style of leadership over their wives.

Simply put both husband and wife are putting the other first.  Marriage means sacrifice, not to sacrifice begrudgingly, but out of love.  I guarantee you that when marriages start to look like this our divorce rate will go down.

26 comments
  1. Both sides in a marriage are called to be selfless. It is a lifelong commitment and not to be taken lightly. It requires work and sacrifice, love and grace on both sides. And a walk with Jesus by both partners to make it the fullest it can be.

    Paul is not being a sexist, but a realist. God calls us to roles within His church and within a marriage. And those He gives authority to He holds accountable.

    Nice, thoughtful post you have here.

    AndyCs last blog post..The Old Grey Mare

  2. Both sides in a marriage are called to be selfless. It is a lifelong commitment and not to be taken lightly. It requires work and sacrifice, love and grace on both sides. And a walk with Jesus by both partners to make it the fullest it can be.

    Paul is not being a sexist, but a realist. God calls us to roles within His church and within a marriage. And those He gives authority to He holds accountable.

    Nice, thoughtful post you have here.

    AndyCs last blog post..The Old Grey Mare

  3. Both sides in a marriage are called to be selfless. It is a lifelong commitment and not to be taken lightly. It requires work and sacrifice, love and grace on both sides. And a walk with Jesus by both partners to make it the fullest it can be.

    Paul is not being a sexist, but a realist. God calls us to roles within His church and within a marriage. And those He gives authority to He holds accountable.

    Nice, thoughtful post you have here.

    AndyCs last blog post..The Old Grey Mare

  4. Thank you for adding this segment to yesterday’s post.

    When I proposed to my wife [of 15 years now], I researched what the bible taught, and it took me to Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus. That I am to love my wife as I love myself, but then I was struck that it no where said for wives to love the husband, only to honor and respect him. I took this to mean that the burden is on me as the husband.

    I had never been taught this in a church, and it is very rarely discussed in the churches that I have been a part of over the years.

    As you said, this is not an easy task. I am selfish, and self centered – wanting things my way. It is not easy to live Paul’s words, our human nature wants to rebel against it. But that is the whole Christian walk!

  5. Thank you for adding this segment to yesterday’s post.

    When I proposed to my wife [of 15 years now], I researched what the bible taught, and it took me to Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus. That I am to love my wife as I love myself, but then I was struck that it no where said for wives to love the husband, only to honor and respect him. I took this to mean that the burden is on me as the husband.

    I had never been taught this in a church, and it is very rarely discussed in the churches that I have been a part of over the years.

    As you said, this is not an easy task. I am selfish, and self centered – wanting things my way. It is not easy to live Paul’s words, our human nature wants to rebel against it. But that is the whole Christian walk!

  6. Thank you for adding this segment to yesterday’s post.

    When I proposed to my wife [of 15 years now], I researched what the bible taught, and it took me to Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus. That I am to love my wife as I love myself, but then I was struck that it no where said for wives to love the husband, only to honor and respect him. I took this to mean that the burden is on me as the husband.

    I had never been taught this in a church, and it is very rarely discussed in the churches that I have been a part of over the years.

    As you said, this is not an easy task. I am selfish, and self centered – wanting things my way. It is not easy to live Paul’s words, our human nature wants to rebel against it. But that is the whole Christian walk!

  7. This is a timely topic Shane as I have been thinking about this sort of subject recently. I have only been married a little over a year but am finding the challenges are making me become a better person. One of the subjects no one brings up when talking about those who waited in life to get married is how much more difficult it is to adjust one’s lifestyle. I am learning that teaching an old dog a new trick is possible.

  8. This is a timely topic Shane as I have been thinking about this sort of subject recently. I have only been married a little over a year but am finding the challenges are making me become a better person. One of the subjects no one brings up when talking about those who waited in life to get married is how much more difficult it is to adjust one’s lifestyle. I am learning that teaching an old dog a new trick is possible.

  9. This is a timely topic Shane as I have been thinking about this sort of subject recently. I have only been married a little over a year but am finding the challenges are making me become a better person. One of the subjects no one brings up when talking about those who waited in life to get married is how much more difficult it is to adjust one’s lifestyle. I am learning that teaching an old dog a new trick is possible.

  10. @MaxJ – I do think the burden is on us – that is leadership. I also think that it is hard for a wife to do anything but love her husband when he puts her before himself.

    @zpr – God bless you in your relatively new marriage!

  11. @MaxJ – I do think the burden is on us – that is leadership. I also think that it is hard for a wife to do anything but love her husband when he puts her before himself.

    @zpr – God bless you in your relatively new marriage!

  12. @MaxJ – I do think the burden is on us – that is leadership. I also think that it is hard for a wife to do anything but love her husband when he puts her before himself.

    @zpr – God bless you in your relatively new marriage!

  13. I agree with your sentiments here Shane – all the way. Marriage is about putting self in the hands of the other – being the support of the other – being one and not divided. I think that’s why I can say ‘I don’t like divorce’ because I have seen some that happen for all the wrong reasons – or people don’t put much stock into keeping the marriage ‘alive’ (I was a prime example of this).

    But I learned that getting it right means getting a lot more good out of life than settling for hurt, pain, seperation, or giving up. I value marriage a lot (personal choice) and I want to give my best to my wife – not my second best or sometimes – nothing at all. Marriage is sacred to me – there is something very great in it when it works well. I have seen enough of those glimpses to know its the path I desire to take – and I want to be the best husband I can be.

    Societyvss last blog post..Religulous, Ridiculous, and Righteous

  14. I agree with your sentiments here Shane – all the way. Marriage is about putting self in the hands of the other – being the support of the other – being one and not divided. I think that’s why I can say ‘I don’t like divorce’ because I have seen some that happen for all the wrong reasons – or people don’t put much stock into keeping the marriage ‘alive’ (I was a prime example of this).

    But I learned that getting it right means getting a lot more good out of life than settling for hurt, pain, seperation, or giving up. I value marriage a lot (personal choice) and I want to give my best to my wife – not my second best or sometimes – nothing at all. Marriage is sacred to me – there is something very great in it when it works well. I have seen enough of those glimpses to know its the path I desire to take – and I want to be the best husband I can be.

    Societyvss last blog post..Religulous, Ridiculous, and Righteous

  15. I agree with your sentiments here Shane – all the way. Marriage is about putting self in the hands of the other – being the support of the other – being one and not divided. I think that’s why I can say ‘I don’t like divorce’ because I have seen some that happen for all the wrong reasons – or people don’t put much stock into keeping the marriage ‘alive’ (I was a prime example of this).

    But I learned that getting it right means getting a lot more good out of life than settling for hurt, pain, seperation, or giving up. I value marriage a lot (personal choice) and I want to give my best to my wife – not my second best or sometimes – nothing at all. Marriage is sacred to me – there is something very great in it when it works well. I have seen enough of those glimpses to know its the path I desire to take – and I want to be the best husband I can be.

    Societyvss last blog post..Religulous, Ridiculous, and Righteous

  16. Great Post Shane! I agree with you about Grace permeating.

    The idea of sacrifice is so central to anything that is worthy or Holy. Marriage Ceremonies usually are ones of celebration as well they should be. The marrige ceremony is much more sweet and meaningful if the idea of death to self and sacrifice is brought in.

  17. Great Post Shane! I agree with you about Grace permeating.

    The idea of sacrifice is so central to anything that is worthy or Holy. Marriage Ceremonies usually are ones of celebration as well they should be. The marrige ceremony is much more sweet and meaningful if the idea of death to self and sacrifice is brought in.

  18. Great Post Shane! I agree with you about Grace permeating.

    The idea of sacrifice is so central to anything that is worthy or Holy. Marriage Ceremonies usually are ones of celebration as well they should be. The marrige ceremony is much more sweet and meaningful if the idea of death to self and sacrifice is brought in.

Comments are closed.

Get CT In Your Inbox!

Don't miss a single update.

You May Also Like

Burning Things is a Bad Idea

I tend to think that burning things is a bad idea. So…

Dear Soccer Mom (and Baseball Dad), Please Don’t Hate Me

Shawn Barr: Some Christian families – who used to try and keep church and spiritual endeavors a priority – sports has often become the number one priority.

Chris Pratt Shares the Gospel

Chris Pratt accepting the Generation Award at the MTV Movie Awards shared with the audience and those watching on TV some essential truths.

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones: No End to This Glorious Message of the Cross

From D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) in The Cross: God’s Way of Salvation:…