A couple of Sundays ago one of my links to blog posts that stood out to me was to Brad’s Journey to the Space In-Between at One Flesh Marriage. I was deeply impressed that Brad was unwilling to silence the Holy Spirit’s voice so that he could do what he wanted or what felt safe and easy. I also identify with the “Space In-Between” that he mentioned – that place between the “rule your wife” and the “mutually submitted” camps on the issue of Eph 5: 21-33. I’m going to do my best to upset both camps below (it’s a gift I tell you, it is) but let me start with my conclusion before I lose everyone:
A husband is better when he does more sacrificing than “leading”.
First to my friends in the mutual submission camp (and I have more friends in that camp than the other):
- My bride and I have done a massive amount of study on this (she even more than I), and I can discuss the meaning of the Greek words Hupotasso and Kephale till your eyes glaze over (and I can point you to a PDF in which Wayne Grudem refutes the claim by some authors that he thinks Kephale should be understood as meaning “source), but I want to avoid the depths of Greek.
- On the surface “mutual submission” is an oxymoron, and that alone should make us think twice. Two people cannot be submitted to each other, it’s just not possible. A group of people can submit all around, and that is what Paul suggests. Paul never tells husbands and wives to submit to each other.
- I have a friend who argues that there is no example of Jesus submitting to God, but that in all things they agreed. I would argue this with what happened in the Garden of Gethsemane – Jesus clearly did NOT want to go to the cross. He said He did not want to go, and He asked that He be spared, but He also said “not my will, but Your will be done”. To me there is no question here – God was “In charge” and Christ submitted to God.
On the other side, the “head of the home side”:
- I can’t find what many men do in the name of “being the head” in the Bible, and especially not in how Christ acts towards the church.
- Jesus was/is a servant-leader, not a leader. There is a HUGE difference between the two.
- Jesus does not demand or ordered, He asks.
- Jesus does not lay down the law and keep that law with fear; He loves and shows by example.
- Jesus does not do the fancy, fun and important stuff and leave the church to clean up after Him; Jesus promotes the church and helps it to do what it was created to do.
- Jesus sacrifices for the church – even to the ultimate sacrifice on the cross.
- Submission is called for, but it’s a choice the church makes – to submit or to not submit (this is painfully obvious from the lack of obedience in the Church today).
In my estimation, the “egalitarian” marriage movement is an understandable but wrong reaction to those who misused the Bible to be king over their wife. I also understand why any man would rather the egalitarian model – it is far less work and sacrifice for the man than doing what the Bible really calls a husband to do and be.
So, should your bride “submit” to you? Yes, the Bible says she should – but that probably does not look like what either of you thinks it looks like. What’s more, it’s not your job to tell her to submit or to talk her into it. Neither are you called to judge how well she submits. Your actions may lead her to follow, but regardless of how she receives your actions, the Lord will judge you on what you do, not what she does. Giving, protecting, loving, promoting, and sacrificing: this is the example that our Lord set for us. Put her ahead of yourself, and her needs ahead of yours: this is what it means to be a servant-leader. Do what neither of you wants to do, and do what’s needed when both of you are exhausted: these are what you are called to do.
Bottom line: Being “the head”, as that phrase has come to be understood, is a cushy job, and being “egalitarian” is safe; but neither is what Paul commanded or Jesus showed by His example.
Links to blog posts that stood out to me this last week:
Marriage and Porn: What Women Think: I have not linked to the rest of this porn series (in which I was mentioned) due to a slightly different world view. HOWEVER, this post is important for men as it gives voice to a few of the thing a woman thinks when her guy views porn.
Better Husbands and Fathers
5 Ways to be a Better Husband: #4 – Surprises!: Eric may be onto a new love language here …
Black and Married with Kids
Can You Keep Your Spouse’s Secrets?: Can she tell you anything and know you won’t share it?
The “Thought” Doesn’t Count if You Give Thoughtless Gifts: True, this.
Avoiding a Mid-Marriage Crisis: In this MUST READ POST, Edward Lee says “A large number of the conversations revealed the resolve of women, that through forced smiles, admitted to giving up on ever finding happiness in their marriage. They had essentially been numbed into submission of feeling for or even desiring their husband..” This is a HUGE problem in the church. Are you giving your bride anything of value, or are you more trouble than you are worth?
Gina Parris’ Blog
How to Set & Achieve Your Goals: Forget the Past: Gina said “Your future is NOT dependent on your past .” The future of your marriage is the same, not dependent on your past UNLESS you let it be.
Happily Married After
2011 – The Year of ‘HER’: I double dog dare you!
Intimacy in Marriage
Friends With Benefits: Sexual Intimacy in Your Marriage: Not what I expected from the title, but a great post!
5 Ways to Find More Time for Sex: Here is one you wish your bride would find on her own …
Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage
http://themarriagecounselingblog.com/counseling/reasons-marriage-counseling/: Get help while it’s a small thing!
The Marry Blogger
The Top 10 Marriage Blogs of 2010: Stu announces the winner – got check it out and find another great blog or three to follow. Congratulations all the winners.
Men and Women and a string of Christmas Lights: Interesting thought here. I think it is usually true, but I don’t think it should be.
5 Surprising Ways to Improve Your Marriage in 2011: Some great ideas here.