Week of September 21
Yes, I Know, But If Only
By Skip Heitzig
The roles God has for us in marriage are simple…but that doesn’t mean they’re easy! Ephesians 5 says the basic role of the wife is submission; the basic role of the husband is loving adoration. His desire is for us to be in submission to Him, with the Holy Spirit controlling us, and then to submit to one another (v. 21) in the fear of God.
Submission means that you relinquish your rights to one another. When you recognize needs in one another, you submit yourself to meeting those needs. Mutual submission should be a overall attitude for all Christians. This is the model we should follow—Christ’s model—and not that of society.
Within that framework, wives are to submit to their husbands (v. 22). The woman who says, “I just can’t submit to my husband!” has a problem not just with her husband, but with her Lord!
I’m not saying that you should go against the Word of God, like if your husband is leading you toward sin. There is always the high standard of obeying God.
And the husband being the head of your home doesn’t mean he is to be a dictator, or that he is superior to the wife, or more spiritual, or that he is always right. It just means that God has placed him in leadership. The Bible says that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of every woman is the man and the head of Christ is God the Father (see 1 Corinthians 11:3). Jesus is not inferior to the Father. It’s also wrong to think the wife is inferior because she is in submission to the husband.
The husband isn’t always right… but he is always responsible to God. God holds the husband responsible, ultimately, for the home. And wives, God will hold you responsible for submitting to your husband. To submit to your husband means that you respect him, that you recognize his responsibility to God.
Note the phrase “as to the Lord” (v. 22). That’s the goal. Everything we do should have the goal of pleasing God. You may not always feel like reading the Bible or praying, but you do it because God wills it. In the same way, you submit because God says so; it is His will.
But if you think the wife’s role is tough, look at the husband’s. Verses 25-31 detail the loving adoration he is to have for his wife.
Husbands, your love is to be unconditional, “as Christ also loved the church” (v. 25). That’s how God loves us—“no strings attached.”
It is to be sacrificial: “…and gave Himself for her” (v. 25). You are called to die, if need be, for your wife. In sacrificial love, you die to self and relinquish your rights to meet her needs.
It is to be love with a goal (see vv. 26-27). Jesus saved us with a goal, to set us apart, and sanctify us. Your role is similar…not to condemn or point out faults, but to lead your wife in spiritual growth.
It is to be affectionate (see vv. 28-30). This makes her feel secure, and willing to submit. The affection must be demonstrated and verbalized. Men, the more we show that adoring, affectionate love, the easier it is for our wives to submit.
You see, there’s a vicious cycle in marriages. Often a wife will not submit to her husband because she doesn’t feel secure. She feels his love is conditional, and so she protects herself, she won’t submit, she puts up a fight. And he gets angrier and tries to grab more authority.
One of the biggest problems in a marriage relationship is the “Yes, I know, but if only” mentality: “Yes, I know the Bible says to submit to my husband, but if only he would…” or “I know the Bible says to love my wife, but if only she would…” What the person is essentially saying is “I can’t be expected to fulfill my role until the other person does their part.”
That’s unbiblical! It’s not “love your wife if she submits” or “submit if he loves you.” Do it like Christ, unconditionally. You submit as unto the Lord. You love as the Lord loves. You give 100 percent. Otherwise, you get caught in a vicious cycle of resentment that will take your marriage downward and can destroy it.
You can read books on marriage, go to seminars, listen to messages, and it will just be like a bandage over a large wound…unless your life is submitted to God, you’re controlled by the Holy Spirit, and there’s a mutual submission to one another.
The core issue is being submitted to God. Then you can develop that mutual submission toward one another. God will enable you to love your wife as Christ loved the church; to submit to your husband as Christ was submissive to the Father.
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