Marriage Builders: Submission is Not a Bad Word
Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:1-2
Building a Successful Marriage with Love and Respect
The world considers marriage to be an avenue of satisfaction for the self. This view seeks fulfillment in pleasure, companionship, what I can get out of it or benefit from it. These are parts of a relationship, but not the main parts. People get confused, disillusioned, and eventually give up on marriage because the above aspects are not being fulfilled to their satisfaction and expectations. They are negating what is really important and meaningful in building a marriage!
If you want to be successful in life and marriage, you need to get this point: the primary purpose of marriage is not to please ourselves, but to glorify and serve God. Yes, God wants us to be joyful, happy, and content, but being happy means being focused on Him and not on our circumstances. The most important guideline for a healthy marriage is following His principles from His Word, not what you think, want, or have experienced. Remember, God designed marriage and us. He knows best!
Marriage from the Perspective of Christ and the Church
Because God’s ways are not our ways, sometimes we bristle at His commands. For instance, in Ephesians 5:21-27, the theme is submission – a far cry from the American ideals of personal freedom and choice. However, submission is not the tyrannical lifestyle that most of us imagine. Rather, submission to the Lord is freedom and, when used toward each other, it is a form of mutual respect. It frees us from bad thinking that leads to bad choices. For a wife to respect her husband shows him unconditional love that helps fuel his desire to return love. He receives the value and honor that is so important to a man. The wife also is blessed because she knows she is cared for and cherished.
Submission is given out of weakness or inferiority, but because God has placed, in the order of creation, the husband as head of the home, just as Christ is the head of the church. Men and women have different roles, yet each one is equal in the sight of God. Through healthy submission to one another, we see the continual, mutual respect that builds an effective, strong marriage relationship.
The husband loves and the wife responds with respect and honor. Even when life is hard, do not think, No, I will not respect him; he is a jerk; no, I won’t love her, she is a pain. With this mindset, your marriage is destined to fail.
The Ephesians passage starts off telling us to be imitators of God or Follow God’s example (Ephesians 5:1-2). For us to be imitators, we have to know God and His precepts for us, and we do this through reading the Word and following our Lord’s example. This means we imitate His love and character in our relationships, especially with our spouses.
If you have trouble with the word submission, understand that it is not to exceed the parameters of the will of God or of love and righteousness. To prove this, submission is not an excuse to batter or put wives down in any way. The directive to husbands is even more daunting than what has been given to the wives, and is given first. Husbands are called to love, and love is what sets the tone and standard for the relationship. Submission is a response to that love – because the husband is loving, caring, putting his wife’s best interests first, the wife submits, and he earns her devotion. The mandate to love commands the husband to thoroughly exhibit all of the qualities of biblical character in his relationship with his wife (1 Corinthians 13:4-7).
The wife’s respect is a response to the husband’s love for her and his providing of love, safety, security, as well as for having her best interest and care at heart. It is like when we respond to Christ with love, gratitude and service because of His free gift of grace. We do not earn salvation for service; rather, it is a fruit of our gratitude. It is not to be forced, but offered freely in response to love. In this way, we will be escalating love and kindness instead of repression and dysfunction.
Jesus did not give up on us when things went from bad to worse; His grace, forgiveness, and perseverance came through. It is the model relationship for the home, for children, and the fellowships and relationships we have. The church is the bride of Christ, and He loves her. Your spouse, or spouse to be, is your bride or groom where righteousness, love, commitment, and holiness are to be practiced and exercised in the best and fullest way possible for you (Revelation 21:1-2).
Key marriage tip: We are called to submission to our spouses. Christ and the church are the prime models for us in a lifelong commitment of monogamous marriage.
Questions to challenge, inspire and equip you to be better in your commitment, love and marriage:
- What can you do to be better imitators of Christ? How would that improve your marriage?
- For the husband, how can you better practice real love and cherish your wife that God gave you?
- For the wife, how can you respect and honor your husband that God gave you?
- How do you feel that God wants you to be joyful, happy, and content?