I don’t know about you, but I am energized and motivated when I can see a process for what it means in terms of the bigger picture. It is too easy to get lost in the details and look busy but then fail to take the time to assess if we are busy about the right things.
So too with marriage, it is critical to understand the grand narrative of marriage to properly understand our roles as husbands.
Last week, I gave some thoughts on pursuing your wife. And that is such a key concept to understand, guys. If we do not understand the how of pursuing our wives as well as the why, we are headed for serious danger.
Today I would like to remind us as husbands of the why, because if we are going to do anything well, it is imperative that we also get the why behind it. Otherwise, we just carry out the motions and are not effective. And then we wonder why things are in epic fail mode.
Marriage is no different.
A question for you
Guys, let me begin with a question: do you treat or think of your wife as lesser, meaning that you think your wife is of less value because God has put you in a role of leadership?
Then, without question, you do not get it.
Both male and female, as well as husbands and wives, are made in the image of God. We are equal but we are different. And in a world that desires to minimize or destroy the differences, the fact is we are different. But different does not mean different in value. But we are different in function and role.
And it is in this function and role that leads us to a bigger story, a much bigger story.
Our story within the bigger story
We know the Father loves His Son and is delighted in Him.
and behold, a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.’ (Matthew 3:17)
And here is an amazing verse to contemplate:
For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell. (Colossians 1:19)
And then that love is expressly shown between Jesus and His church.
…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. (Ephesians 5:25-27)
Talk about full pursuit. There is no better example.
This is an awesome grand narrative. And guess what guys? Your love for your wife is designed and purposed to be a picture of this. How do we know this? Look at the first part of Ephesians 5:25:
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church…
So when people view me loving my wife, this is what they are supposed to be led to think about.
You cannot say it better than this, where David Platt states in Counter Culture…
So this is who God has designed a husband to be: a man who gives everything he has for the good of his wife. A man who takes responsibility for the beauty of his bride, ready to lay aside his rights and willing to lay down his life for the sake of her splendor. God has designed a husband to be the head of his wife like this so that in a husband’s love for his wife, the world might see a picture of Christ’s love for his people.
In other words, we are a living picture of the gospel. But guess what? We can try as guys all we want and say we are going to “do better,” but the truth of the matter is that this is impossible on our own.
But here is the good news: Jesus has already done the work. We are only able to model Jesus in our marriage, guys, to the extent that Jesus is in control. We cannot model Jesus and His love for the church unless we see ourselves as utterly dependent and in need of a Savior.
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11:36)
Of, through, to – that is pretty much all encompassing.
I know, we as men like being self-sufficient, like we can just gut it out and do better. Nice try on that one. And just a hint: you are in for some serious failure if you live that out. That is the whole point – I need the Holy Spirit doing the work so that I can overflow what He is doing in me.
Cease striving and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10)
It is time to cease from our own efforts and allow God full control of our husband-ing.
The other part of the big story
There is an addition element to mention here and it has to be mentioned because it completes the story. And though this focus is now on the wife, it is important for us as guys to understand this as well because it is part of the pursuit of our wives that I blogged about last week.
We look at Jesus and, though He is God, delighted in honoring and respecting and submitting Himself to the will of His Father.
My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work. (John 4:34)
For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. (John 6:38)
Though Jesus is God, we see a beautiful relationship between the Father and the Son. And this submission, or placing under, did not result in Jesus being “God’s doormat.” Have you read Philippians lately?
And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:8-11)
And as Jesus has honored His Father by doing His will, so too the Church, the bride of Jesus, submits herself to King Jesus.
…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 5:23-24)
Our culture today has misconstrued the husband/wife leadership/submission concept as found in scripture and it really is sad – because it is a picture of the most grand of narratives.
Would I criticize Jesus for submitting Himself to the Father? Do I look down on Him because His submission is some form of weakness?
Never. In fact, the Father exalts the Son for Jesus’ delight in doing the will of His Father.
Caution to us as guys – if we view submission as somehow my getting my way, as my wife having to “obey because I said,” as making her the doormat because I am the “king,” that I am somehow more favored in God’s eyes, then I am afraid we are in line for some heavy discipline by God and we are also totally misrepresenting the grand narrative and distorting the gospel and its power.
Jesus, as pursuer of the Church, leads so that we are sanctified, presented without blemish, and made holy.
So too with my wife. I have been commanded in scripture to lead her. That does not mean I am better or that she is lesser. But it is what I have been commanded to do. I value her opinion and lift her up in front of my kiddos and others. She speaks truth into my life and I absolutely need her in my decisions. There are days I do not want to lead. But that is irrelevant. Because as Jesus actively leads and loves His bride, so my leading and loving my bride must look like Jesus leading and loving His church.
And the truth of the matter is that if we as men were truly looking like Jesus in our leading and loving, we would stop having the awkward discussions about wives and submission. It is because of our modeling of pathetic love and weak leadership to our wives that the topic of submission is such a hot one.
This whole idea of marriage was God’s in the first place and it was put into place so that others around us might see two things:
First, God loves His son Jesus and showed us His love by offering His Son as a redemptive act. Jesus loves His Father and submits to an assignment of love…willingly. And Jesus loves His bride and gave Himself for her.
Second, Jesus submits to the will of the Father, not because He is less in equality, but because He delights to do His Father’s will. And now we as the Church, give ourselves to King Jesus because of the example of Jesus. How else could we respond to His great pursuit of us and sacrifice for us when there was no reason existing within us that He would be our Savior?
And so this grand narrative is displayed through the gift of marriage. I really resonate with David Platt:
In other words, God designs husbands to be a reflection of Christ’s love for the church in the way they relate to their wives, and God designs wives to be a reflection of the church’s love for Christ in the way they relate to their husbands.
Well said, Mr. Platt.
Guys, if you do not get this, and I mean really get this, we tend to exhibit one of two extremes: we either become passive in our love for our wives, disengaged, get distracted, focus our attention elsewhere, and look nothing like Jesus, or we become harsh in our love to our wives, we put down, we demand, are critical, and end up looking nothing like Jesus.
Both roles are important, guys, because both a husband and wife together model something much larger than us. And it takes both to model this. We are one flesh, and defining marriage anything other than how God has defined it is both dangerous and foolish.
Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. (Ephesians 5:31-32)
Guys, I hope this bigger picture both motivates you and excites you. You want purpose? Find a better purpose than this as a husband. And do you see why it is so critical that you must fight your flesh and walk in the Spirit daily? Do you see why your marriage matters and that you are showing the gospel as weak when you treat your marriage as common?
There is a bigger picture guys, and we get to be part of it. Live it well. Jesus is better.
I’d love to hear from you — please leave a reply below if you have any thoughts to add to the conversation.
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