Whenever men and women look at the Scriptures, they often see things differently. Especially Paul’s writings regarding marriage. Every husband, as well as wives, tend to focus on the wrong things.
For example, when men read Paul’s letters, especially his letter to the church in Ephesus, they only see what Paul told their wives. Take a look:
You wives must learn to adapt yourselves to your husbands, as you submit yourselves to the Lord, for the husband is the “head” of the wife in the same way that Christ is head of the Church and savior of the body. The willing subjection of the Church to Christ should be reproduced in the submission of wives to their husbands (Ephesians 5:22-24)
See what I mean? The husbands read that and say, “Ooh yeah, I like that! Me Tarzan, She, Jane. She must submit to me!” Ah, wait a minute Tarzan, read beyond that, and read the instructions Paul gives you! I realize that part isn’t important, but give it look:
Men ought to give their wives the love they naturally have for their own bodies. Seek the highest good for her and surround her with a caring, unselfish love, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her . . . (Ephesians 5:26)
The wives like that part! They hear that and say, “Yeah, if I had a husband like that, I would be easy to follow him anywhere. I could easily ‘submit‘ to that kind of guy! But my husband could never be like that!”
That is why whenever I teach this, I like to have the wives in one room and the husbands in another. That way the men only hear:
You husbands, are morally obligated to love their own wives as being, in a sense, their own bodies. The husband who loves his own wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own body, but instead, nourishes and protects and cherishes it, in the same way that Christ does the church . . . For this reason a man is to leave his father and his mother and be faithfully devoted to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. (Ephesians 5:28-29, 31)
The problem with the wives hearing that, they say, “Yeah, you don’t know my husband. Why should I submit to him? If I am equal to him in every way, then he better start treating like I am. That’s when I would be able to follow him!”
Okay couples, take off your boxing gloves so we can understand what God is driving at. If you want to improve your marriages, even successful ones, you must allow yourselves to surrender to what Paul is sharing. If you will humble yourselves, you will discover that marriage is not about women serving men, and men domineering women. It is about men and women serving each other! Do you see that? The moment we focus on what our mate is supposed to do for us, we completely miss Paul’s point. The emphasis is on what we give to each other.
Look at Paul’s instructions:
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ! (Ephesians 5:21)
Now notice that before Paul even begins his instruction for marriages, he said, “Submit to one another” How? “out of reverence for Christ!” He encapsulated his whole instructions with MUTUAL submission. The focus is on giving . . . not getting. Contrary to what the world will tell you, the Biblical view (which is the only view we should follow) of marriage is not one-sided. It is not about women becoming servants of men . . . it is about two people working hard to give of themselves to enrich and encourage the other. What I mean is that husbands are to serve their wives, in the same way, women are to serve their husbands. Regardless of the behavior and actions of their partner!
Peter must have agreed with Paul’s instructions because he wrote:
“In the same way, you wives must accept the authority of your husbands” (I Peter 3:1)
But wait, he further wrote
“In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together” (I Peter 3:7)
Wait a minute. In both of those verses, he prefaced his statement by saying, “In the same way . . .” The “same way” of what?
Well, just before this, in the second chapter, Peter told us to submit to authorities and to show respect for everyone. Even slaves are to submit and respect their masters. And our example to follow in this attitude is Christ!
When they were hurling their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he was suffering, he never once made any threats. Nope. Instead, he entrusted himself to the One who judges everyone. He took our sins in his body so that we could die to our sins and live for righteousness; it was by his wounds that we have been healed. We were like sheep going astray, but we have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
After describing the sacrificial way Christ lives he says, “Wives, in the same way . . .” and “Husbands, in the same way . . . ” Jesus did not live for what He could get from others. He gave His life so we might know life. In the same way, we are to give ourselves to our mates!
Our concern should be what we can give to our mate! This is the same rule for both men and for women. This is just as valid today, as it was in Paul’s and Peter’s day. Unfortunately, we live in a time when the primary focus is on what we are getting from our relationships. However, as disciples of our Messiah, we are to change this focus in our marriages.
Now I want you to be honest with me. Has there ever been a time when you read the Scriptures and found yourself ignoring or completely dismissing what the Scriptures say? Be honest. Now, with what I just showed you regarding your marriage, does it square with your own? If not, what are you going to do about it?
Again, be honest with me. Do you have any right to veto your Father’s desires? Does it make any sense at all to ignore His counsel? I mean, He is the One who designed marriage. So, if you have a problem, there is no need for you to go out and buy a book that talks about the psychology of marriage, or pays the big bucks for a counselor . . . simply read the Bible . . . and consult your Father!
Are you going to dismiss this message on marriage as being something that cannot help your marriage? Well, don’t wave it off . . . listen to the Lord’s words!
Are you so self-absorbed in your marriage that, in your mind, it is your mates problem, not yours? Be careful there. Begin to search your own heart and deal with that.
“Well, he should help me clean up . . .”
“Yeah well, she should be more receptive to my advances . . .”
“He doesn’t meet my needs for intimacy. All he wants is the physical . . .”
“Yeah, maybe that is true, but she never has my clothes clean when I need them . . .”
On and on it goes. Hey! Get it out of your head that your mate exists to make your life complete. You are to be helpmates. Companions. Co-laborers.
How about we turn those things around? Let’s change our complaints to be more like this:
“I’m having trouble finding more ways to demonstrate my love . . .”
“I’m trying to find a way to encourage my mate more often. He/she so underestimate their talent and abilities. It is such a shame for them not to use it . . . how can I help?”
“I’m frustrated that I don’t do more for my spouse . . .”
“I wish I could love him/her more fully . . .”
Just imagine what would happen in your marriage if you began to ask those kinds of questions? I can tell you. Your spouse would become a different person. They would be more responsive, attentive, appreciative and loving. They would walk around with a smile on their face. They would always be telling others how wonderful you were. Now, it won’t happen immediately, but it will happen.
You know, our Father may actually have something here!
(I send out messages like this each morning in emails, and if you are interested in receiving them, send me your email address and I will add you—a to the list: Mail List)
I do thank you for your gifts. It is your faithful and continued support that makes these messages possible.