Friday, January 20, 2012

Marriage: Biblical vs. Politically Correct

Husbands should be equally careful to only use their headship as a means to love and serve their wives. Gospel-centered headship starts and ends with love and service as a means to lead our wives to Christ. It means choosing to love your wife more than you love yourself, for her greater good and ultimately for God's glory.

There are those verses in scripture which seem, in today's culture, easier to avoid then to try and speak on. Ephesians 5:22-27, without question, are some of these verses.

We live in a society that screams for "equality" for all...and this isn't entirely a bad thing.  As Bible believing Christians, it would be hard to argue against the fact that God created both males and females in his own image. (Genesis 1:27)
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
 However, the creation story doesn't stop there...and part of being thorough with studying the word is the fact that we need to also look at the entire creation account.  The second chapter of Genesis (2:18-23) gives us a firmer grasp on the differences that God intended to put in place regarding men and women:

[18] Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” [19] Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. [20] The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. [21] So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. [22] And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. [23] Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”
So what can we gather from this part of the creation story that wasn't made clear in chapter one?  To be honest, not much more then the fact that God created woman with a specific intention in mind.  She was created to be a 'helper' for man.  Now, let's get down to the semantics.  The word “helper” in Hebrew is ‘ezer and it means: one who supplies strength in the area that is lacking in “the helped.” The term does not give any implications that the helper is either stronger or weaker than the person being helped. This is important for reasons we'll see below.  It is also important to understand that God created this helper with specific intentions.  He didn't say I'll make man a twin, a clone or an exact copy of himself for companionship, but instead, I'll make him a "helper fit for him."  Woman was not created to be the "same" as man, she was created to be a complement to man.  And in turn man is to be a complement to her as well.

Interesting stuff so far?  I'm intrigued.  We've walked through creation...and now I'm certain you are still wondering what on earth this has to do with Ephesians 5 and maybe even more so, what does this have to do with the weird title of this blog post?  Well, here is my attempt at pulling this all together.

My understanding about the roles of a husband and wife are not based on anything other than scripture, so if you have a problem with what I'm saying...don't shoot the messenger.  While we may not be able to find countless verses relating directly to the roles of a husband and a wife in marriage, what we can find is a few verses with a priceless amount of useful truth, which speak directly to the topic of marriage.  Ephesians 5:22-27 are, in my opinion, one of the greatest set of verses.

Within these verses we see the application that relates directly to how the husband and wife are supposed to "help" and "complement" each other.  This relationship, which was established by God in the creation account (Gen. 1 & 2) is one of the most precious relationships ever created.  Why?  Because within this relationship (and only this relationship) is a built-in echo and representation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Let's start with the role of the wife: (Eph. 5:22-24)

[22] Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. [23] 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. [24] Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
In the role of the woman (the humble servant) we see that the wife is given the ability to be Christ for her husband.  Jesus, came to earth not be be served, but to serve.  He came as a helper to all mankind, who because of sin was desperately in need of a Savior.  Remember the Hebrew word for helper ('ezer) and it's definition?  Christ came to supply strength in the area that was/is lacking.  We lack the holiness God demands and Christ, through his perfect submission (even unto death) provided us the help we needed to be restored into a right relationship with God.  And in this same way...we see the opportunity in these verses for the wife to submit to her husband as the church submits unto Christ.  Yes, even within the Trinity, Jesus being fully God, submitted to the will of the Father and (for the Salvation of the church) came to earth do die on the cross.  There is no greater picture of submission than the one painted by Christ in his submission to God.  This doesn't mean that God the Father was a ruler over Jesus, but instead that Jesus, through his humility, understood his role was to surrender his life for the sake of saving others.  It's a beautiful picture of humility and love and only through this submission was Salvation was made possible to anyone.

Now, on to the role of the husband: (Eph. 5:25-27)

[25] Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, [26] that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, [27] 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 role of the husband (the headship) we see Christ's love.  A love and a passion so strong that he was willing to lay down his life for his bride (the church).  And he didn't do this for his own glory, but instead he did it "that he might sanctify her" so that "she might be holy without blemish". We see in these verses that Jesus used his headship as a way to love and serve his bride, the church, even unto death. Therefore husbands should be equally careful to only use their headship as a means to love and serve their wives. Gospel-centered headship starts and ends with love and service as a means to lead our wives to Christ. It means choosing to love your wife more than you love yourself, for her greater good and ultimately for God's glory.

We live in a day and age where this kind of talk gets people into trouble.  To say that there are specific "roles" that people should adhere to is not only politically incorrect, but in some cases can actually be incriminating.  People don't like the idea that a woman should be the "helper" or that the man should have "headship" over his wife.  There was an entire woman's liberation movement aimed at killing these stereotypes, and unfortunately over the years, many in the church have jumped on board.

However, that's not an entirely "fair" statement, and here's what I mean.  One can't talk about this subject, or the devastation that the women's liberation movement has caused to marriages, families or the church without recognizing that there is probably some valid reasons for the resentment of these words.  And there are also reasons why the movements which have sparked these controversies over the years were ever started in the first place.  Without question, there have been plenty of men (husbands) who have misused these verses, not to love their wives, but instead to be served by their wives or to rule over them. This is nothing short of sinful. Christ is our example of headship, and Christ used his headship to love and serve, not to demand to be served. It is just as wrong for a man to use these verses to lead his wife with an iron fist as it is for a woman to deny her rightful role to serve, help and support her husband.

The thing that is most often missed in all of this is the reason.  There is purpose and planning which goes into all of God's creation.  Marriage is part of this.  Everything that exists in the world, does so for the same ultimate reason.  To bring glory to God.  The marriage relationship provides husbands and wives the opportunity to reflect Christ's gospel.  No other human relationship, defined in the Bible, has as clear a picture of echoing the Gospel like marriage, and it is precisely because of this fact that marriages (especially marriages in the church) are under such attack.  If God created marriage to be an echo to the world of the Gospel of his Son, then why on earth would the devil not seek to destroy it at any/all costs? 

So, the challenge for us to think about and hopefully accept is this:  instead of joining the ranks of the world in rebellion against the Biblical definition of marriage or the roles which God defined for a husband and a wife, let's embrace them for all they were intended to be in an effort to not only live out godly marriages but to reflect the Gospel of Jesus Christ in and throughout our marriages.  This will bring glory to God, which is the ultimate purpose for all things created  by God.

For His Glory,


No comments:

Post a Comment