Church and Marriage – Part 4
This is the fourth of a four part blog series answering the question: Why do couples who are actively involved in church have a lower divorce rate?
#3 – Submission to Authority
It is in the nature of Man to buck authority, to run from it. That is why we find ourselves “lost” in need of being saved. It is impossible for a person to become a Christian without submitting to the authority of God.
Now consider for a moment the picture that the Scripture paints of the relationship between Jesus and his Church. Is not the Church called the Bride of Christ? And Revelation speaks of a “marriage” between Jesus, as the groom, to his Bride, the Church. It is a powerful image. It is also an image of submission. When I counsel couples who are preparing for marriage I tell them that marriage was God’s idea. I also tell them that what we do as human beings when we marry is paint into our lives a very small but poignant picture of what God is up to in all of human history. Just as a man seeks a bride, so too is Jesus seeking his. Human marriage is thus an exercise, a warm-up, for eternity. By understanding our proper place and relationship as a Bride before Christ, we can know how to function and be happy within human marriage. The key is submission.
The problem, as I have said, is that we all, you, me, everyone, have a bent in us that opposes submission. We think of it as a nasty word. Something we don’t want to talk about. For many women, the word submission conjures up all sorts of unhealthy and ungodly images of a bully husband who rules over them physically and emotionally. Some guys are, in fact, like this. But we need to also realize that as a whole we simply do not understand biblical submission to authority.
The principle I want to convey is this: You will not be fulfilled and happy in marriage until you submit to biblical authority. And here is how this works…
For Women: “Wives, be submissive to your husbands” (2 Peter 3). Easier said than done. I know. Here’s the catch. One of the results of Eden was that women would desire to occupy the place of head in the family (Genesis 3:16). I see this all the time. Women who want to “wear the pants” in the relationship. And husbands who let them. What I have also seen (and without exception I might add) is that women who wear the pants are exceedingly unhappy. They THINK they want to be in charge but they don’t. Because to be in charge means they have a husband who is a wimp. A pushover. Someone she cannot trust for safety and security. He can’t lead his wife so she has no confidence or respect for him in terms of him being able to lead anything or anyone else.
For Men: “Live with your wife in an understanding way, showing honor…since they are heirs with you” (2 Peter 3). Most men I know don’t understand women. That’s normal. But a man who doesn’t even try to understand their wife is a self-centered chauvinist. A man should also honor his wife. And the word “heir” refers to royalty. A wife is not the head of the house but she is the Queen. And she should be treated as such. I’ve never met a woman who would not run to submit to this kind of treatment. Ephesians 5 has this word for men as well, “The husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church…now the church submits to Christ.” The word “head” is one of protection. It is a man’s job to cover and protect his wife. Guys, your wife is like a flower and you are like an umbrella. Your job is to keep the elements from beating her to death, to let just enough sun and rain in so that she can grow and blossom, but to not allow hail and wind to torment her. So here’s a question: If your wife is not blooming, whose fault is it?
For Couples: Did you see the part in Ephesians 5 about Christ being the head of the church and the church submitting to Christ? Here’s how all of this fits together. Women, submit to your husband. Men, love, honor, understand, your wife AND at the same time submit to the authority of a church that submits to the authority of Christ. It’s sort of like a chain where each link is vital. If one link is missing the chain breaks. Trust me, a woman is much more at ease submitting to her husband when she sees him submitting to authority himself. No man or woman is outside the scope of God’s authority. And in submission to authority lies the secret to a happy marriage. All in preparation for eternity when Jesus comes for his Bride!
Save your marriage. Go to church.