Editor’s Note:

The purpose of this series is to help singles think through how to be single in the church, those who are married but don’t have kids to continue to pursue each other and those who are married to excel at parenting by the grace of God.

*****************Romantic Couple at Sunset

“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as 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. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:22-25)

Christ, as Lord

When my wife and I had our very first date, I looked her in the eyes and said, “You will never be number one in my life and I can never be number one in your life. I will assuredly fail you and at some point—you, me. Jesus must be first. He must be Lord of our lives and then all things will work out as He has planned for us.”

That couldn’t be a more true statement. One of the first things that I perform with couples in marital counseling is an exercise. I ask the woman and then the man, each separately, to number their relationship in the order of importance, but they must place God in the picture. Most of the answers are typical: (1) spouse, (2) God, (3) self, or (1) God, (2) spouse, (3) self; either way, I point out their flawed thinking. Some may have God first, but this cannot be true of both parties, if I am seeing them for counseling. However, I will assume they believe that and then inform them that there is no number 3. The order is God first and the couple shares the number two.

When Christ is the LORD, He unifies and sanctifies the couple’s relationship—helping them grow in love, grace, and peace together. Does this nullify difficult times? No, certainly not, but with an honest heart with Christ as Lord, being placed first in the relationship, both parties will admit to their pride and self-ambition, and also recognize the gift that God has given to them—in each other.

Submission

The word submission has taken a back seat in our society—no one wants to submit to anything or anyone—especially another person. The thought that the Word of God would demand submission should not be a new concept. However, it is an abused one. The reason why Christ as Lord comes first is because submission cannot be attained without abusing it otherwise. For the sake of our discussion, let’s make one thing clear, for the wife to submit to the husband is not the same as women submitting to men—we are specifically speaking about the marriage relationship between the husband and wife.

The wife does not submit to her husband because he is a lord—but “as” she submits to Christ and understands that He has her best interests at heart. This places a lot of responsibility on the husband—to nurture, love, care, and protect her—and she is to trust him, just as she trusts Christ. Why? Because God made Adam first and then Eve (1 Tim. 2:13). God placed a protective heart in the man and armored him with courage, strength, and fortitude. Likewise, the husband must submit to Christ. But the act of submission by the wife is never held in a vacuum—or by itself. Just as submission can only be enacted when Christ is Lord over the relationship, it also can only be successful when coupled with love—more specifically, a love from God.

Love

Love. Now here is a word that is more abused than probably any other English word. Unlike the Greek that has several different words to express what type or kind of love—English does not, and so, we admit that we love houses, cars, food, pets, and our wives—all within the same sentence and usage of the word. With that said, let’s clarify the meaning of love, without delving into a Greek 501 course. The Scriptures inform us that a person can only know love, if they know Christ (1 Jn 4:19); all else is an emotion, a feeling, or an action—not from the soul. Why? because the unregenerate has no awakened soul and lives in spiritual blindness. Here we see the first principle of Christ as Lord.

Second, we view that Paul’s command is for “Husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Eph 5:25). This doesn’t necessarily mean that the husband should jump on a grenade to save his wife—of course he would. How did Christ love the church (His bride)? Christ was ridiculed and beaten for her. Christ endured temptation for her. Christ was misunderstood, but continued with God’s plan. So, let’s ask some simple questions: (1) Do you use cutting sarcasm when your wife makes a mistake? (2) How do you talk about your wife around your friends—do you allow them to talk about her, or do you put her down—to lift you up? (3) Do you not pray with her, for her, and about her—do you not know her struggles? (4) Do you ever get physical or angered into rage with your wife?

If you answered yes to any of these, you are not in numerical order, nor do you understand what unity means. Being unified means that when you ridicule your wife in front of others, you are putting yourself down. If you cut down your wife, there is some insecurity in you, or pride, and you need to repent and draw nearer to Christ. A wife cannot submit to a husband who hates, mentally kills, and abuses her. For this reason, the Apostle ends with this application—let’s heed it.

“In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’”(Eph 5:28-31).