Friday, January 16, 2009

Marriage a Picture of Christ and his Church

Ephes. 5:22-33 (ESV)
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. [23] 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. [24] Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
[25] Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, [26] that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, [27] 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. [28] In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. [29] For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, [30] because we are members of his body. [31] "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." [32] This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. [33] However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Now Paul gets down to some very practical advice on how to walk in love. He turns to the family. I expect this is where most Christians find their crosses in life. Spouse = Cross. Marriage , though a great blessing from God, is not always a bed of roses. We have to bear and suffer with one another. Women tend to hate this passage about submitting to their husbands. This is the curse of Eve, that she will look to her husband and he will rule over her. It is a curse. But it is what love does in this world. The love of a woman submits to the will and love of a man. And wives do well to submit to their husbands. (A word of caution here, women are under no obligation to submit to abuse.) A man never feels more loved and inclined to love than when his wife does what he asks. In reality this is how a woman shows love to her husband. It also keeps him around the house and out of trouble, a little less inclined to fall into temptation. Of course, where this applies to many aspects of the married life, dinner, laundry etc. I think we would be avoiding the subject if we were to focus on those and not sex. Honorable men wait until they are married, and then only have sex with their respective wives. An honorable man makes a commitment to his wife to love her, and do all that entails, not the least of which is to provide for her and the children that come out of that marriage. But men do not get married so they can have sex once or twice and resume a celibate life. When a husband asks, listen. It will go a long way in providing for a happy marriage. Happier than anything the fictional characters of the Harlequin novels you read will ever experience.
I say that because women seem to be revolted by a man’s obsession with Playboy and other such magazines. (And rightfully so, natural as the draw is for a man to that sort of thing, it does reveal his baser and sinful side.) But they also seem to be totally oblivious to that same sin when it comes to smut novels and articles in Cosmo.
The flip side of this is the part that is hard for husbands. They have to love as Christ loves the church. That means forgiving, suffering for, and if need be dying for. This becomes particularly hard when the wife turns into a hen pecking shrew, who is no longer interested in pleasing her man, except for on his birthday. Oh happy, happy, joy, joy. It becomes particularly painful when she becomes interested in pleasing other men. And not all of us are called to be as forgiving in these matters as Hosea. But still, even if the marriage does not continue, we are called to forgive. It also means that husbands work sometimes thankless jobs to provide for their wives, and children. Possibly it means not buying the latest toys and gadgets. Some of the best advice I ever received was to buy all my toys before I got married. Single people have money married folks do not. But it is in marriage, not in leading the celibate life of a monk, or a priest, that a Christian man learns to be Christ like. When you are single you are much freer to indulge your selfishness, at least in the nonsexual realms. This also means men, that your wives become the focus of your attention, as the church is Christ’s focus.
O.K that is about as much marital advice as a divorced remarried pastor can tolerate giving. Remember though, when you fail at the above, that Christ died for his church, and that includes you. You are forgiven, even when Christ is too hard an example to follow.


Brigitte said...

"can tolerate giving". Blunt but good advice. Thanks.

steve martin said...

Thanks be to God that He forgives me.

I am not the husband that I ought be. I am at times selfish and lazy and insensitive to the needs of my wife.

You are right, I believe, when you say that a married man has a much better picture of how Christ loves the Church than would a single man.

We are to leave childish things behind and take a wife or husband. '

It is not good for us to be alone.

Thanks, Bror!

Bror Erickson said...

Sorry guys, I have been out of town the last three days. A friend called and at the last minute we were hunting Coyotes all over hell's half acre other wise known as Nevada. Unsuccessful, but one of these days...
In any case I wasn't around to respond to anything.
But I do hate giving marital advice, and the only way I know how is to be blunt. Those who know me know that I rarely have the skill to be anything but blunt. Thanks for contributing to my blog with the comments.

Daniel Skillman said...

Thank you for bringing up the sex issue. This is sorely overlooked in churches. When a man is cold toward his wife in respect to conversation, he is chastised for not being open. But when a woman is cold toward her wife in respect to sex, the man is chastised for being demanding. The husband is expected (and rightly so) to be emotionally available to his wife. But the wife is not expected to be physically available to her husband. This is just flat out wrong, biblically speaking. Thank you again for pointing this out.

Bror Erickson said...

Yes Daniel it is true. Furthermore a sexually frustrated male is cause for a lot of emotional stress. Sexually frustrated males are not always the most pleasant to be around, they need a testosterone release, so they can calm down and be emotionally available.

Brigitte said...

There is a good booklet available on this from the Lutheran Hour. I think it is: Uncover the lover within.