Men and Marriage
In Ephesians 5:22-33, we have he longest statement on the relationship between husbands and wives in the New Testament. This week, we examine God’s call to every husband to function as the “head” of his wife and family. That “headship” is expressed as the husband takes primary responsibility for sacrificially loving, protecting and providing for his wife – just like Jesus does the church.
Important Background: Marriage is Rooted in Creation. (Eph 5:31-21; Ge 1-3) Our God is a triune God – one God, three persons – God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit. They are equal, yet distinct. Equal in power, glory, divinity Yet, distinct in form and function. The Father makes the plan, the Son executes the plan and the Spirit empowers the plan. When we pray we pray to the Father, by the Son, in the Spirit. Within the trinity there also exists, amidst their equality, a functional submission. The Son submits to the Father and the Spirit submits to the Son and Father. Therefore, within the Godhead there is both authority and submission – both are expressions of God.
Therefore, in Genesis 1, when God creates humans it is not a surprise he makes them male and female to reflect the nature of God. He did not just create man, nor just woman. He creates man and woman to image God. As image bearers, men and women are equal in dignity, value, worth. Yet, just like God, distinct in form and fxn.
In Genesis 2 we see that woman was made after man, out of man, for man. Paul uses these facts in 1 Cor 11 and 1 Tim 2 to establish the benevolent leadership of the husband. The argument for the husband’s leadership is never based in culture, but creation, making it permanent and universal.
In Genesis 3 we have the fall of mankind Satan ignores the created order and goes straight for Eve. Eve tries to help. Adam stands idly by as a coward. Sin enters the world thru their disobedience. They hide from God and one another in shame. God comes to find them. Where does he go first? Adam. Adam blames Eve. Eve blames the devil. Adam to Eve. Eve to Satan. Sin shatters intimacy and closeness, while cultivating guardedness and self-focus.
Result today? Husbands tend to abdicate/abuse their responsibilities (like Adam) and wives want to control them (like Eve). So you have workaholic, relationally disconnected, spiritually apathetic husbands. Nagging, gossiping, disrespectful, overly controlling wives that want to fix their husbands. Husbands want their wives to stop nagging. Wives want their husbands to start leading.
Eph 5:31-32: Marriage Created by God to Reflect Relationship between Christ and the Church (“mystery) JESUS is the head, the savior, the leader, the lover, the nourisher and the cherisher the church. The CHURCH submits to the protection and provision of Jesus’ leadership.
Husbands and wives should function like that. Marriage is a living drama intended to tangibly demonstrate relationship of Jesus + Church. Husbands are to lead as the Christ figure, which the Bible calls “headship” (22-24) Wives are to submit as the Church figure, which the Bible refers to as “submission”.
Headship is God’s call to a husband to take primary responsibility for sacrificially loving, protecting and providing for his wife and family.
Submission is God’s call to a wife to gladly, and freely, respect, support and assist her husband’s leadership Submission is not another word for subjection, subordination or subjugation. We need to take idea of submission, remove wrong ideas, disinfect of false meanings, and re-brand in light of Bible
Note: Mutual Submission (5:21)
The husbands “headship” and wives “submission” occur in context of mutual submission (vs 21) which is the result of being filled w/ the Spirit (5:18). Husbands and wives who are filled with Holy Spirit serve one another. So, each should be mutually humble, ready to serve, encourage, listen and meet needs. Jesus washed feet of disciples, but didn’t doubt his leadership for a second. So, yes, there is mutual submission, but that mutual submission does not always express itself in the same way.
Three things Eph 5:22-33 says about Men and Marriage.
5:23 “For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church.”
FIRST as the head the husband bears the primary responsibility of his wife and family.
What “headship” or “primary responsibility” DOES NOT mean…
Does not mean male domination and asserting the man’s will over woman’s will, regardless of wife.
Does not mean husband is superior over their wife. Equal in every way. Wife may be smarter.
Does not mean every man is head of every woman. “of his wife” = specifically, marriage relationship.
Does not mean the husband is Christ, but points to Him.
What “headship” or “primary responsibility” DOES mean…
Headship means the husband leads for the good of his wife and family, like Jesus.
Headship means always keeps body in mind. Good leader always takes into account what is best for every one.
Headship means the husband is fully accountable for his wife and family. Does not mean the woman has no responsibility, just that the man bears a unique and primary one.
Headship means the husband has delegated authority from God for God’s purposes. Stewardship, not right.
Headship means the husband prepares his wife for Jesus, to ultimately depend on Jesus. (5:27)
Headship means the husband is the head whether man accepts it or not. As head goes, so goes body.
Headship means the husband may not always initiate, but provides general pattern of initiative. This is initiative in protecting, providing, shepherding, planning. If not initiating, the husband is functioning as body not the head.
Headship means the husband accepts burden of final say. Husband and wife make decisions together, but the husband accepts the responsibility and result of tough calls.
Sinful tendencies of every man: ABUSE to APATHY. On the one side of the spectrum, men abuse by being heavy-handed, harsh, demanding, selfish and angry.
God has not given men authority to gratify our own pleasures and exploit others for our own comfort. On the other side of the spectrum, just like Adam, men are prone to abdicate. Not angry, just absent. Not demanding, but apathetic. Not harsh, disinterested, and uninvolved
Single ladies: Ask “AM I willing to entrust responsibility of my future marriage and family to this man?”
Single men: Are you becoming kind of man that is willing to take on that type of leadership/responsibility?
vs 25 Husbands Love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.
SECOND as head the husband bears primary responsibility to sacrificially love and protect wife and family
Practically? Be willing to do anything and everything up to and including dying for your bride. Be willing to die for your wife and be willing to die to yourself 1,000 times a day for your wife. To do whatever it takes to do whatever needs to be done.
Includes, physical and spiritual protection. Praying, knowing, leading and shepherding your family. Serving as the lead the repenter of your home, even if not your fault.. Ensuring everyone reconciled by end of day. This does not mean wives never repent, just that husbands take the lead.
vs 29 “No one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes…”
THIRD, the husband bears the primary responsibility to provide for his wife and family.
Take care of your wife and family w/ the same commitment that you take care of yourself. That means that you provide for her in every way. When you bring the best out of your wife, you are actually promoting your own joy. Jesus has bound up his joy in his bride. Husbands your joy is wrapped up in the flourishing of your wife.
Includes, physical provision.Husband bears primary responsibility to ensure bread is on the table and bills are paid.
If not, the man should feel the main pressure to do something to get it there. This does not mean wife can’t help, but husband should feel the primary weight.
Includes, spiritual provision The husband is the spiritual leader. If you’re wife has a question, she should go to you. If you don’t know, you find out. If you’re wife needs prayer, she should go to you. But, to give spiritual food, you must have it and know where to find it. A man must go hard after God b/c you can only lead if you are growing.
Note! You don’t have to have all the answers. Leadership does not assume superior knowledge, but initiative.
Includes, emotional provision. Do you know your wife? Compliment her? Surprise her? Write notes/texts? Date her?
Do you carve out time to just listen to her? Do you nourish and cherish her? Does she know that you put her above everything and everyone else?
Summary: Headship is God’s call to a husband to take primary responsibility for sacrificially loving, protecting and providing for his wife and family. It is a serious and joyous responsibility to work + love + pray for continued flourishing of your wife (Ware, 141)
“In the home when a husband leads like Christ and a wife responds like the bride of Christ, there is harmony and mutuality that is more beautiful and more satisfying than any pattern of marriage created by man.” Piper 66
“God’s divine ordering was not meant for privilege, prerogative, favoritism, or dominion, but for leadership and leadership means service, sacrifice, help, uplifting, redemption, and a cross. Leadership is not meant to exploit, but for life; not to exterminate, but to carry; not for primacy, but for priority. It means, in the last analysis, obedience, service, even death, for the sake of his wife.” PT Forsyth
I have never met a wife who is sorry that she is married to such a man.
FINAL WORD TO MEN.
Reflect on what Jesus has done for you. He died to serve, protect and provide for you. You do the same.
You want her to be a real woman, that means you have to be a real man.
Make her glad she’s a woman and your wife. Notice her. Listen. Compliment. Help. Ask her questions.
Stop making excuses and do something. Your leadership is for her help, transformation
Repent to your wife for ways you have failed to love her. When is that last time you did that?
Ask your wife what she needs from you How could you better lead, provide and protect?
Get some men in your life that will get in your grill regarding how you’re loving and leading your wife.
But, “My wife isn’t lovely”. Then, love her until she is.”
Married women: Don’t demand this from your husband. That’s placing yourself as head over him. Pray for him. Draw him out. Express your desires for him w/out ultimatums.
Single men: What type of woman do you desire to marry? What kind of man do you need to be?
Single women: What kind of man are you willing to entrust responsibility of your future marriage/family to? You want a man who is going to love you as Christ loved His bride.
If he is supposed to love you as Christ loved the church and doesn’t love the church = watch out
Broken marriages: What do you need to do to right the ship? Move? New job? Whatever it takes. Jesus specializes in redemption and making straight, what we’ve made crooked.
Questions? What struck? What was most helpful? Where do you see need for growth in your life?