And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord.
As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.”
So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.Ephesians 5:21, 22, 31 33
I feel I should sum up the ground we have covered in the last few days in Gems in order to bring the pieces together. After Gemming these portions at the end of Ephesians 5 these last few days I have a fresh admiration for the Bible and for Paul. Believe me, and those who know me know this, I had a high admiration of the Bible beforehand. But now it has grown even deeper and highe! r and broader. There is a three pronged truth of God that is captured in these comments of Paul’s and I don’t want you to miss it. Repetition is the key to emphasis and memory. Hence here it is again. Advice on marriage from one who was never married (in all probability). How does he do that? How does someone who has never been married, give such insightful deep advice to those “who know it”. By staying closely in touch with the Creator!
There are three principles here that we must not let slip from our grasp. I have spent the last few weeks sharing snippets from what I am preaching tomorrow at JPCC. I have shared them with 2 cell groups (once with one group and twice with the other, and at the devotional time at the office (twice). Each time I share “twice” I have gone a little deeper but I soon realized that even some of the basics I shared the first time were not caught. I had to repeat the principles in order for my hearers to begin to “get it”. Isn’t that we constantly need to do. Isn’t that the point with Paul saying these things which are written as examples (1 Cor 10:6,11)? We need to keep on saying it until we get it. That is why it took the Israelites 40 years to take a journey that should have taken 11 days (Deut 1:2).
Here again are the three Gems of Ephesian 5 related to marriage. Don’t miss them. Put them in your phylactery (if you don’t know what it means look it up). Write them on your forehead; better yet, commit it to memory and write it on your heart. IT’S IMPORTANT.
Principle One: Be submitted to ONE ANOTHER
This is something that shows you are constantly being filled with the Spirit. Yes, that’s right, not just the singing and psalming and talking spiritual talk, but BEING SUBMITTED TOO. In that context, wives do your part and submit to your husbands. Do it willingly and in respect to him and to Christ. Submit to him out of respect for him. If that is too hard to do because you don’t feel he deserves respect, do it anyway. Do it for Christ if you can’t do it for hubby. Sow to the principle and see what happens. Husband realize that you can’t force submission because it’s “in the Bible”. You can only gratefully receive it when it is given to you as a gift by your wife. The moment you seek to force it you ruin it. Submission for both of you is being willing to put yourself into the hierarchy or position under Christ that He foreordained. It is something you have to do of your own free will. God will never force you to obey or to submit yourself to his “rule”. You have to choose it. It fits right up there with be willing to lose your life if you want to keep it. How typical of God.
Principle Two: You must leave before you can cleave
You must realise where you are on the dependence – independence – interdependence continuum and seek to grow more interdependent. You can’t take one step along the scale before “completing” the previous step. You can’t become interdependent before you have been independent. And it goes with! out saying (but I will say it anyway) you can’t become independent before you have been dependent. Strive toward interdependence. That is the goal, not independence. There is another step to be taken beyond independence. Before you can fully grasp the new principle you must let go of the old. That is how Trobriand Islanders catch wild monkeys. They put something the monkey wants in a jar with a small opening, which is then fastened to a stake. The monkey comes and grabs the desired thing and then tries to take his hand out but he can’t get his closed fist out of the jar. He has to let go of the prize. But the monkey is too dumb to see that and so is caught. Don’t be caught like a dumb monkey. Be willing to let go of step two in order to reach step three. Become interdependent. The Bible is full of it. One another . . . one another . . . one another. Be one another centred, it’s the biblical way. And for the sake of your marriage LEAVE your family and cleave / cling to your wife.
Principle Three: God has made you both in a certain way
He has pre-programmed women to love and to be loved. So love her and watch whats happens. He has ingrained that principle deep inside them. He has pre-programmed men to rule, to take their place in His hierarchy and have dominion. To go forth and to conquer something. With that in mind, it makes perfect Godly sense for Paul to write husbands love your wives; wives honour to your husbands. Have you connected submission with honour yet? Do you see it is all part of the one glorious whole. God has the whole thing tied up as a package with a neat little bow on top. Presented to you as a gift with His love. He created men and woman as perfect complementary beings. That is what the word “helpmate” [negeth] means in Genesis 2:18 – Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him.”
It’s like the joke going around that says: After a few weeks of Adam being by himself in the garden of Eden, he got lonely. So he went to God and asked for a companion. God said he would look into it and get back to him the next day. So the next day God went to Adam and said ‘Here Adam, I can make a beautiful woman that cooks, irons, cleans, never complains and is pretty much just what you want, but it’ll cost you an arm and a leg. What do you think?’
Adam thought for a few seconds and then asked ‘What can I get for a rib?
That is a joke, it is funny but it is not truth. Search for truth; don’t search for funny. Funny will only satisfy you for a moment. Truth will satisfy for a life time. What God designed for men and women in marriage is perfect. But you have to grow into your understanding of it. She really is perfect for you guys. You just don’t realize yet how perfect.
These three principles belong together as one package and need to be practiced together. Together they are a three fold cord that is not easily broken.
I will add one more comment and then I think I have to leave this topic despite there being so much more to comment on. One deeper insight I have gained over the last days is that any woman is right for any man. The way God has made us is perfect and we could find our [neged] in any partner of the opposite sex. The notion of looking for Mr Right or find Miss Perfect is Hollywood nonsense. Of course there are preferences we all have and we can select within the bounds determined by those preferences. God gave you free choice. And bear in mind that is coming from me (who was a part of the way God put our story together in the first place – See Gem 553). But I believe now the reality is you could find your helpmate in any one of the opposite sex. That is how God has made us. That would sure free you from the pressure of finding Mr Right or Miss Perfect. But the key is you have grow into YOUR ability to marry and commit. The process of marriage is one of commitment, interdependence, mutual submission and love and respect. Are you up for that? I like what Alan Meyer says: We have the marriage ceremony schematized wrongly. Instead of pretty little decorations in pink and white, flowers and frills we should decorate a marriage service with blood and dead sacrificed animals. (Ian’s description of Alan’s comments from a 70 year old’s memory) You are going to the funeral of two individuals who are dying to themselves as individuals and are willing to become one. I like the idea while the image may seem radical, that is exactly what marriage is! Are you ready for it.
- An English professor wrote on the blackboard: Punctuate this sentence: ‘woman without her man is nothing’.
- The men wrote:’Woman, without her man, is nothing.’
- All the women wrote: ‘Woman! Without her, man is nothing.’
I made a comment above about “funny” and “truth”. I feel I have given you the truth in the principles outlined above. Now let me give you the funny.
A man is like a fine wine. He starts out raw as grapes and it’s a woman’s job to stomp on him and keep him in the dark until he matures into something she’d like to have dinner with.Anon
A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle.Gloria Steinem
After a quarrel, a husband said to his wife, “I was a fool when I married you.” She replied, “Yes dear, but I was in love and didn’t notice.”Anon
Before you meet your prince you have to kiss a lot of toads.Anon
Boys are great, every girl should own one.A Woman
Man is incomplete until he is married. Then he is finished…Anon
It is not marriage that fails; it is people that fail. All that marriage does is to show people up.Harry Emerson Fosdick
Notice I gave you seven! Think about it.