Order and Structure of a God Shaped Marriage Vol. 7

Series: Monday Marriage Message

January 22, 2024
Pastor Ken brown Jr.

Hi, this is Pastor Ken, thanks for joining me once again for the Monday Marriage Message where together we search God’s instructions to experience highly successful marriages. Today we will continue with our look at the Order and Structure of a God Shaped Marriage. This will be our seventh edition in this series looking at the differing roles of the Husband and the wife in the greatest of all human relationships. Each of the episodes in this series have been based on 1 Corinthians 11:3. There the Apostle Paul wrote the following. But I want you to know and realize that Christ is the head of every man, the head of a woman is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. I used the first few installments in the series to consider the role of a husband, and the fact that according to our focal scripture he is directly responsible to Christ for his interactions with his wife. Last time we began focusing specifically on the important position of the wife within the Structure and Order of a God Shaped Marriage. In that episode we delved into the much misunderstood topic of submission. Knowing that the concept of submission inside marriage is a bit of a touchy subject I considered carefully how I would approach it. As a pastoral counselor, I understand that teaching some of the precepts in God’s word can at times be problematic. This is not because there is some problem with what God’s word has to say, God’s word is infallible. It can be difficult based on our level of willingness to accept what it says as right and true. Sometimes that gives us trouble. Unfortunately, as human beings, when we don’t like, or personally agree with something we tend to close our minds to it by simply ignoring the subject all together. So, when there is a topic like submission that must be practiced to enjoy marital success, the challenge is to convey the truth without people metaphorically sticking their fingers in their ears and shouting “I can’t hear you…I can’t hear you!” With this in mind, I had to consider carefully how to best speak on the much misaligned concept of submission. Psalm 19 tells us that all of God’s precepts are perfect, that all of His ways lead to successful living. It tells us that if we will take scriptural guidance seriously it will bring blessing to our lives. Nowhere is that more true than in the marital relationship. If we want the blessing of an amazing marriage, we must follow the prescription written by the author of marriage. Who would know more about the correct operation of successful marriages than the creator of the institution? Furthermore, as I have documented many times before, the primary purpose of marriage is to reflect who and what God is. Certainly there should be no arguing that God is most capable of giving us proper instruction as to how to best reflect Him. If we are willing to forsake what we think about it in the natural, submission is actually a very interesting idea. It presumes the essential truth that the person offering their submission is equal in value to the person in leadership or authority. Slavery is accomplished when one who is bigger, stronger or of some greater ability forces the involuntary subservience of another. Slaves have no choice in the matter, they are forced to serve the one in authority. Submission is not slavery. When one submits, they choose to do so. Submission is an act of the will. I must volunteer to place myself under the submission of another, because I am an equal with any human authority I choose to submit to. This is also true of a wife’s submission to her husband, I pointed out last time how God used specific words when referring to Eve that clearly indicated her equal value to Adam. Every wife who chooses to obey God’s perfect precepts for marriage and willingly submits to her husband, who holds no greater value than she does, is also positioning her marriage to receive blessing. While we are on the subject of submission there are few things I think necessary to note. First and foremost, regardless of whether we are speaking of the husband or the wife, ultimately how we interact with one another is in response to God. The scriptural prescriptions for a successful marriage have been given to us by God Himself. So far in this series I have looked to Ephesians chapter 5 for specific instructions to a husband and a wife as to how they can each align themselves with the Order and Structure of a God Shaped Marriage as laid out in 1 Corinthians 11:3. There we read that a husband must lay down his life (his goals, needs, and desires) for his wife (putting her goals, needs and desires above his own). Last time, we looked at how a wife is instructed to place herself in submission under the authority of her husband in all things. These are instructions from God’s word. These are not demands made by a spouse. Our adherence or lack thereof is in direct relationship to the level of submission we place ourselves in under God. It is truly essential to our marital success that we fully grasp this understanding. As a husband, when I love my wife the way that scripture instructs me to, in other words when I meet her needs (physical, emotional and spiritual) simply because the need exists. I am doing so because I am submitting to my God who instructed me through His written word to act in that way. When I lay down my life (make my needs less important to me than my wife’s needs are) I am lowering myself in comparison to her that she might be elevated. Why do I do that? I do that because God’s word says I should, therefore those actions are in submission to God. If I choose instead to be selfish and put myself first, then I am being dismissive of God and His specific instructions to me as a husband. If I submit to God, then my marriage has greater ability to reflect Him, experience success, and be blessed. When my wife Lynn submits herself to me in all things as she is instructed to do, in actually she is submitting herself to God. Not because I am her god, I am not…I can totally admit that I would make a terrible god. Ultimately, she is submitting to God because it is God who instructed a wife to submit to her husband in all things. Her submission to me then actually says far more about her relationship with God than it does her relationship with me. We are each solely responsible before God for our response to Him. Therefore, our obedience or disobedience to God is a reflection of the condition of our individual relationship with Him…nothing else. Consequently, we cannot use the unwillingness of our spouse to follow the commands given them by God to justify our non-compliance to the commands given to us. I cannot say with any validity whatsoever, that I don’t have to obey God, if my wife isn’t obeying God, and even though the wife is under the authority of the husband, she has no basis to make such a claim either. As Dr. Emmerson Eggeriches likes to say concerning this…“My response is my responsibility” I couldn’t agree with him more. Having made that point, let me move to the next one. Ephesians 5:21 takes the position I just outlined a step further. It says Submitting to one another in the fear of God. Only when we understand that submission to our spouse is in fact, submission to God, and that our spouse’s choice to submit or not to submit to Him is to have no effect on ours, are we are able to rightly understand submission to one another. Here in this scripture, Paul points out that submission to God means submission to one another. While a wife’s submission to her husband is her responsibility before God, (Ephesians 5:22) there should also be mutual submission taking place at all times (Ephesians 5:21). Romans 12:10 tells us to Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another. In other words, our love for one another should spur us to submit to the needs and desires of each other. In my humble opinion there is no other place in scripture that illustrates submitting to one another within the marital relationship quite like 1 Corinthians 7:3-4 – Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. The context of these two verses is undoubtedly speaking of sexual intimacy within the marriage. In that context these verses are self-explanatory (though admittedly slightly confounding) . However, when a scriptural principle illustrates truth at a certain level, that truth remains relevant at lesser levels as well. Like any of God’s instructions we don’t like and want to dispel or ignore so we won’t be obliged to submit to them, we can try to argue that this scripture is an example of circular reasoning and therefore renders itself invalid. We would be in error to do so, and arguing something doesn’t make it so. In fact, I know it flies in the face of conventional wisdom and contemporary thinking, but I would argue that this scripture governs any action involving a married person’s physical body. My wife and I believe this scripture regulates a concept we have dubbed “Marital Veto Power”. We agreed when we married that we each had veto power concerning the other. This is based on scriptures such as 1 Corinthians 7:4, Romans 12:10 and Ephesians 5:21, all discussed above. We believe we have the right (and dare I say responsibility) to tell the embodiment of the other half of our one flesh that we are not in agreement with a certain activity, and the other must comply. Allow me to illustrate. I love riding motorcycles. Prior to marrying me, my wife had never ridden one, but I had been riding them with my dad since the age of 5. He taught me to drive one myself at 12 years of age and I have been enjoying them ever since. On hot days I love being on the motorcycle and prefer the wind in my face to the air conditioning a car offers. When it is really hot the only thing that feels better than the wind in your face is the wind blowing through your hair too, so on those days, I like riding without a helmet. When we married, my bride told me she didn’t mind at all if I rode motorcycles, she just wanted me to wear a helmet when I rode. There are all kinds of valid studies that show that riders who don’t wear helmets statistically crash less and experience less head trauma when they do have accidents compared to those who wear a helmet. My wife did not find this information compelling at all. After some discussion it was agreed that if I was within town limits and the speed limit is 25MPH or less I am free to go helmetless, however, if the speed limit is above 25 MPH, I must wear my helmet. Because she feels that way, I wear my helmet each time that is the case. I often wear it even if I am downtown. I do not have authority over my own body, my wife does, and because I love her I prefer her and submit to her wishes. Let me say that Marital Veto Power should be used very sparingly otherwise it will simply be viewed as one spouse being a ‘control freak’ or ‘power hungry’ neither of which is a good look. Submission isn’t a dirty word; it isn’t setting ourselves up to be a doormat. Submission is a voluntary act of the will that requires strength and understanding. It is not something that renders us weak or foolish but rather, strong and wise. Submission to each other is actually submission to God who instructs us to interact with one another in that way. Remember, how we interact with our spouse is in direct correlation to how we respond to God. So now, responding to God as you should so that you can successfully enjoy a God shaped Marriage…Go be Awesome!

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