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Now that the last article has extensively evaluated primarily a woman’s perspective, it’s time to take careful consideration from the man’s point of view. While the core message of Ephesians 5 includes qualifications for becoming a Pastor, it is also perhaps the closest template to be the equivalent of a Proverbs 31 for men. In the latter portions of Ephesians 5, particularly in reference to verses 22 to 33, we observe the church’s suggestions for a proper marriage. Let’s unpack some of this segment piece by piece and evaluate what a big part of God’s plan for marriage entails. This will serve to give us a solid foundation for what the ideal marriage looks like from a Christian worldview.
The first verse suggests that wives should submit to their own husband as to the Lord. In the following verse it states that the husband is “head of his wife, as also Christ is head of the church.” In verse 24 it compares the relationship of a marriage to the relationship Jesus Christ has with His church. She ought to be subject to his leadership in everything, just as we as believers are subject to Jesus Christ in everything. These are all strong words, and for many women, would bring some sense of pause. We need to put these into perspective, and paint a clear picture.
Verse 25 helps us decipher the logic on a deeper, and quite frankly a more understandable level. Without the viewpoint of verse 25, we would be missing out on the bigger picture. It talks about how husbands ought to love their wives, “just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her“. Women should only submit to us to the extent that we love them like Christ loves the church. We cannot simply take verses 22-24 as a ticket to domineer our wives. The greater responsibility of how we are to love her, should make her desire by her own free will to submit to our leadership.
The leadership of course doesn’t mean we take away her rights to an opinion. Rarely if ever would I imagine that it involve major decisions without seeking her input. I can only think of perhaps a few rare scenarios. Scenarios such as ones that may concern the safety of the entire family unit, where a man must make a decision alone. Perhaps it could be during a critical moment where there isn’t enough time to speak of the matter before making the optimal decision. Such times are surely few and far in between, and for the vast majority of the time, I would imagine a wife’s input being the highest valued opinion for a husband. The only one whose opinion directly matters more is literally God’s.
When we marry we become one flesh with that person. Just as we are one body with Jesus Christ, who is our groom for eternity as we are blessed to be His bride, so should we also take into careful consideration the marriage union. While we aren’t married to our spouses for eternity, our marriages here on earth should reflect the ultimate marriage in Heaven. A married couple should certainly get along, but they should also sharpen each other up. Sometimes constructive criticism is warranted, but it is also pivotal to be affirmed in both action and words. This mutual affirmation should go both ways, and it should constitute a blessing to both the man and the woman in question.
As men of God we need to consistently seek God’s will and prayerfully lead our families by the lead of the Holy Spirit. We also need to respect that each person is a human being with free will who has special interests. If your marriage has trust, you can easily deligate tasks to one another as you ought to. These tasks should be tailored to your spouses strengths, while avoiding their weaknesses as much as possible. If I know my wife is better at managing our finances for instance, as a husband I have to be willing to relinquish control over them. The fruit of her handling them will show that me swallowing my pride may lead to better long term results. She could still inform me about how we’re doing, and the key financial choices can be made by the both of us, but that doesn’t mean I have to be paranoid of her handling our money. If I can trust her with my life, marry her, and am willing to die for her if it came down to it – I need to be realistic about trusting her with basically everything. Our role is not to retain full control of everything, this would only breed stress, worry, and insecurity. The role a husband plays is one of service and humility. It will ultimately display different aspects of our love torwards one another. We will see the blessing of peace when we don’t have to hold onto such a firm grip on everything.
Just as it would be foolish to harm your own flesh, so it is foolish to harm your husband or wife. You’re making your own life harder due to this severe short-sightedness. Sometimes we need to learn how to operate with finesse and lose arguments so we don’t lose our marriages. Other times we need to stand firm on what we know is true in order for our relationship to grow. The audacity to get uncomfortable for the sake of conflict resolution is valuable, but that doesn’t mean we should go to bed angry with each other.
26 “Be angry, and do not sin”:[a] do not let the sun go down on your wrath, 27 nor give place to the devil.”
Ephesians 4:26-27 (NKJV).
In the end both men and women can learn a lot about how to comport themselves from both Proverbs 31 and Ephesians 5. These are tools that help us understand where the bar needs to be set for a marriage, a bar that has been set quite high by design. It should grant us pause from wanting to prematurely jump into a marriage. A marriage worthy of being cared for and cherished when God might bring it to fruition. Marriage isn’t all about fireworks, fleeting feelings, or solving your problems. It’s an act of service long after the fuses have been ignited and the fireworks ended a long time ago. It’s a matter of the deeper love that comes through knowing someone, rather than idealizing who they might be in our infatuation. It doesn’t fix problems, it means you have a partner in life to tackle both your issues together with, rather than apart from one another.
I am confident marriage can be a beautiful thing. If you can bring more glory to God together with your spouse than apart from her/him, I believe that’s a marriage worth committing a lifetime to. If you can’t honestly say that it could or would, then I would suggest to hold off until God gives you the green light. Marry for the right reasons, with the right fundamental knowledge and execution of God’s wisdom in a practical sense, by exploring His Word diligently and frequently. Prayerfully seek God’s best and remember it’s better to be alone than with the wrong person.
This doesn’t mean you should dissolve your current marriage to seek an alternative. No matter how bleak things may seem, God ordained it to happen and you owe it to one another to try your best to resolve your issues. Your mindset should be that of divorce not being a lingering option in case things get tough, otherwise you’ll just end up being another statistic. This especially rings true when it comes to married relationships that involve having had children. Likewise it’s imprudent to stay in an abusive relationship. God may desire for you to pursue safety in such cases. In the case of marital unfaithfulness some choose to see if trust can be rebuilt and the marriage union fought for. This is up to the discretion of the two individuals involved and their cord of three strands with God first. It is however biblical grounds for divorce for those who sincerely believe that God would prefer you leave the relationship than to try to repair it.
In the end, the beautiful thing is, none of us miss the ultimate marriage in Heaven with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. There’s no need to rush our way there though. As long as we’re alive and breathing, our mission here on earth isn’t finished. Seek God’s will for your life, and let Him handle all the details about what He desires you to do. Whether you’re single, married, or widowed I am hopeful that this piece has helped you. For the singles to exercise patience and wisdom in choosing a marriage partner. For the married to remember how high God set the bar, and how vital it is to care for a marriage that God ordained. For the widowed to know that whether they re-marry or not, our ultimate hope in our eternal union with Jesus Christ cannot be lost, stolen, or taken away.
Walk in Love
5 Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. 3 But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; 4 neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this you know,[a] that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not be partakers with them.
Walk in Light
8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the Spirit[b] is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), 10 finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. 13 But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light. 14 Therefore He says:
“Awake, you who sleep,
Arise from the dead,
And Christ will give you light.”
Walk in Wisdom
15 See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, 16 redeeming the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, 20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another in the fear of God.[c]
Marriage—Christ and the Church
22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28 So husbands ought to love their own 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 the Lord does the church. 30 For we are members of His body,[d] of His flesh and of His bones. 31 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”[e] 32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.