Mike Gerhardt, Husbands and Wives, Ephesians 5:22-33, December 10, 2017. The Biblical institution of marriage is one man and one woman for a lifetime. God created marriage to prevent loneliness and provide help through a prescribed intimacy. The formula was simple leave, cleave and become one flesh. W. A. Criswell: Two can live as cheaply as one - if one doesn't eat and the other goes naked! However, there are examples of polygamy in scripture, think of Jacob, King David or King Solomon. Though this is not God's design, God did allow it. Bigamy is having one extra, whereas polygamy is taking on multiple spouses. It’s common in some parts of the world. The Church of the Latter Days Saints actually forbids polygamy but in some Mormon groups, they think if it was good enough for OT, it's good enough for today. In North America polygamy has not been legally recognized since the 1850's. Though there are no longer any federal laws against polygamy, there are laws against the practice in all 50 states. Even though it's illegal, experts say there are 30,000 to 50,000 people living in plural families across the country. Someone said marriage to multiple spouses is like vitamin C, too much of a good thing can cause problems. Socrates: By all means marry. If you get a good wife, you will become very happy; if you get a bad one, you will become a philosopher and that is good for any man. Paul has been addressing living in Community as Children of light. The nuclear family is foundational to the church. To emphasize the qualities of living in the Spirit, Paul addressed husband and wives, parents and children, bosses and employees. I want to read this passage backwards: verses 25-32. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church- for we are members of his body. "For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. SEVEN verses to command husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the church. This by the way was a revolutionary concept. At that time in the middle east and in much of the Roman empire it was common for women to have no rights, and to be treated as property. It was rare for husbands to love their wives. Not just any kind of love but as Jesus loved (agape love) and gave himself for the church. Paul lifted the responsibility to love to the highest example-Christ, and his sacrifice on the cross. Jesus went to the cross to make us holy, wash us, sanctified us, set us apart as children of light. Jesus’ love was transforming and freeing to be all that we can be for His Kingdom. 1 Cor. 11:3 I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. Yet there is a yielding to each other. 1 Cor. 7:4 The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. The words feed, and care are translated nourish and cherish in the KJV. Nourish simply means keep fed. Cherish means to keep warm by holding close with tender care. Think husbands. This is your calling. Cherish and nourish are still present in some wedding vows. Remember your vows. Husbands love your wives as Christ loves the Church and gave himself for Her. As we discovered last week: men and women are different, and they were created that way. This is God’s Designed Role in marriage. Here are some common stereotypes: provider-nurturer, protector-stabilizer, risktaker-securer, oriented to objective thinking-oriented to subjective thinking, big picture-detailed picture, today- future, tough-gentle, dirt-living flesh, hammered out-fashioned and shaped, cold and lifeless-warm and sensitive. Those last three were from the message last week. Here are some other contrasts: A woman knows all about her children. She knows about dentist appointments, best friends, favorite foods, secret fears, and hopes and dreams. A man is vaguely aware of some short people living in the house. A woman worries about the future until she gets a husband. A man never worries about the future until he gets a wife. A woman marries a man expecting he will change, but he doesn’t. A man marries a woman expecting that she won’t change, and she does. Few women admit their age. Few men act their age. Ray Stedman: Marriage is a process, not a single production. It is a pilgrimage, not a six-week performance. It is intended to be a public portrayal, not a private predicament. It is a life-long contract, not a negotiable franchise as many presume today.
Let’s read 22-24: Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Hoo-po-tas-so to submit one’s self unto another. It is a Greek military term meaning to line up under the command of a leader. This submission is used in 1 Cor. 11:3 for Christ submitting to God the Father. The Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit are co-equal yet there is a procession of responsibility and authority. Most traditional weddings, who is the last to come down the aisle? The bride. Who’s the most important person at a wedding? The Pastor. NO, the bride. Some may argue that. A procession is NOT about one person being better than another. Jesus said Luke 22:42 and other places: not my will but the Father’s, I am to do His will. According to scripture, God holds the husband responsible for the spiritual and physical wellbeing of the home.
Ladies submission is knowing how to duck so God can hit your husband when he’s irresponsible. I have said if a man loves his wife like Jesus loves the church, that women would have no problem with letting him lead. Jesus leads the church. Rarely have I felt Jesus dictating every decision from heaven. We as a church council submit to Jesus as head of this church and yet Jesus allows us to make decisions in His will with his blessing. Men, be leaders in your home like Jesus. Howard Hendricks: Marriage is not finding the person with whom you can live, but finding that person with whom you cannot live without. Verse 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
Has marriage changed over the last few decades? Maybe the legal definition has changed, or the general apathy toward marriage and commitment? Has God’s definition of marriage changed? I still believe his way is the best way.