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Eph 5:1-33

(1)  Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;
(2)  And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour.
(3)  But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;
(4)  Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.

(20)  Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;

(21)  Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.
(22)  Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.
(23)  For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.
(24)  Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
(25)  Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
(26)  That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
(27)  That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
(28)  So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.
(29)  For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:
(30)  For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
(31)  For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh
(32)  This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
(33)  Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

God’s Point of view

Marriage is much more than relationship and companionship. Besides God’s intention mentioned in Genesis 2:18, when He says that is “is not good for man should be alone”, God created marriage as a shadow and type of the intimate and loving relationship that He wants to have with His bride the Church (i.e. us); and which one day will be achieved. This is why the redefinition of marriage act is such an affront to us as believers. In God’s eyes the relationship between a man and woman, as husband and wife, is one of the most sacred here on earth and any moves to redefine this is simply blasphemous.

Not only did God institute marriage, but in calling us to be followers of Him he became our example and this is particularly true of marriage. While He did not enter into a physical relationship with a women, when Christ came to the earth he did so with the same passion of a suitor trying to woo his bride. Hence Paul refers to the mystery of marriage as actually pertaining to that of Christ with the church; His bride (verse 32 above).

So lets consider our example, Christ.

The Woman

Much is said about the wife’s need to submit to her husband but what is overlooked is that when comparing our relationship with the Lord, He always accepts us even when we have been less than submissive i.e. While a  wife is called to submit, the Husband should always be embracing, regardless of her attitude. Also when submitting, a wife does so “as unto the Lord”, in the same way as she would obey God. In short her submission is a form of worship to, and declaration of her trust in God. Finally when when things seem tough or not fair, consider Christ, who for the “joy that was set before him” (Hebrews 12:2) was obedient unto death, redeeming us to Himself. knowing that as you humble yourself under his hand, that He will in due time raise you up (1 Peter 5:6).

The Man

Firstly a husband must never forget that “he who finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favour of the Lord” (Proverbs 18:22). So what is a husband called to do?

  1. Love (verse 25 above); but not just love, rather love as Christ loved. We glibly say, “as Christ loved the Church” but reading Psalms 22 and Isaiah 53 quickly puts it in a sobering context.

  2. Priest in his home (verse 26 above); in the same way as Christ sanctifies us to himself through the washing of the word, a husband needs to be well versed in scripture, skillfully and lovingly instructing and directing his wife (and later family) in the things of the Lord.

  3. Brings out the best in his wife; verse 27, in the same way as Christ does all that He can to present us faultless before his Father, Husbands should do all that they can to bring forth the best in their wifes so that they can blossom into the companion, helpmeet and one day mother that God intended them to be.

  4. Dwell with their wife according to knowledge, giving honour unto her, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered. (1Pe 3:7) Ultimately will only hear from God if he honours his wife.

Conclusion

Why do I submit to Christ? Not just because He is in control but more so because He has won my heart. He loves me and has always provided for me. Further more He has always proved to be true and hence I have no fears or concerns for the future. And this truth completes the wonderful, symbiotic relationship between Love and Submission. A loving husband will never put demands or expectations on his wife that she is not happy or comfortable with. Similarly a wife will willingly submit to a caring and nurturing husband that is not seeking his own interests but rather dying to self in order to meet hers.

As you read between these lines you will see that for most situations scripture, and hence the Lord, puts the main burden of responsibility for the marriage relationship on the shoulders of the husband. So how do couples forge on through those tough times? Rather than turning to modern contemporary wisdom and clever programmes, I have a few approaches that have never failed us:

  1. Pray for each other
  2. Pray daily together
  3. Saturate your lives in the entire scripture
  4. Respect scripture
  5. And if your relationship goes through times of strain, men actively meditate on “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it” and wives on “ Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.”

In having said all this, I don’t claim to have always got it right but irrespective of my actions and attitudes, God is true and His word never fails. In short when I actively apply these truths to my life, that is do things God's way, we all reap the reward of His blessings. While it may have its ups and downs, marriage is a wonderful journey that grows richer and more passionate as you draw deeper into the Lord.

Summing it up in a nutshell

He who made them at the beginning "made them male and female", and said, For this cause a man shall leave father and mother and shall cling to his wife, and the two of them shall be one flesh? Therefore they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate. (Mat 19:4-6)