" Wives submit to your husbands as to the Lord.... Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her."
- Ephesians 5:22; 25
In starting this series off, I wanted to begin with a strong foundation of biblical truth about the climax of where engagement leads, marriage. I feel it is important to really know what God's word says about this institution to fully be able to understand its meaning to grow and be prepared for when we finally make this incredible promise. I pray that through this, false expectations the world has instilled in us will be released and the expectations that God has established will fill our hearts and start the beginnings of the strong, indestructible foundation marriage is through Him.
In this day and age our society is constantly learning and growing through influences of the world. Movies, books, the news and magazines all tell stories and give false hope on how to selfishly achieve the desired outcome (whatever that may be). One of the greatest lies our world tends to spin is on the basis of love and marriage. Stories of Love have enchanted our hearts ever since we were little girls. Dreams of the day we would meet our prince charming, fall in love and live happily ever after. *insert moment of daydreaming silence* I personally am not going to sit here and bash the hearts and minds of sweet little ones because I still like to think I have this belief at times. I love the idea of a happily ever after, there is an innocence to believing these dreams.... to a point.
A few weeks ago I finished a phenomenal book called "The Meaning of Marriage" by Timothy Keller ( I highly recommend this book to any and everyone!!!) This was not one of those 'Here is my opinion on how wrong the world is about marriage' books, but a book strictly based on what the bible says about marriage and the importance of its meaning and impact spiritually.
"Gods great purpose in marriage is to picture the relationship between Christ and his redeemed people forever"
Lets just let that sink in for a few seconds. The purpose of marriage is a testament of the gospel, what Jesus did for us. I posted a few posts back about the incredible meaning of true Love, Christ. Our world describes love as a feeling, an emotion, Love is so much more than that... its an action (Eph. 2:4-6)
"Wives submit to your husbands as to the Lord".... Well that's kind of daunting isn't it? In modern society the word submit tends to stir up negative connotations. Submit has been seen as a law to completely become a servant, to be controlled with no independence or freedom.... how about lets maybe change this word submit to a sweeter word.... humble. "Wives, humble yourself to your husband as to the Lord" I love that. Even in the pre-season of engagement I love being able to practice this command. Humble yourself; do as Christ did and put yourself behind the other. Put your selfish wants and desires of being first on the back-burner and serve, encourage and bless the one you love; be a "strong helper." Jesus' "willingness" to accept his role to submit (humble himself) and die for humanity was voluntary, "a gift to his Father." Our voluntary action of humbling ourselves and submitting in marriage is a gift (not a "duty") we are blessed to offer to our husbands as Christ offered to his Heavenly Father.
"Husbands love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her."When I read this part of the verse, I tend to get the little smirk of "yeah! love me!" Quite opposite of the first part. In this half, Paul is paralleling the relationship of Jesus to the Church. As the church, we are called to submit everything to Christ (as a wife to a husband.) The husband's role is to imitate that of Christ's authority as a "servant-leader." Christ in his full authority did not lord over or demand to "be served, but (came) to serve" (Mark 10:32-45). As a servant-leader, husbands are to "become the servant.. to die to self in order to love and serve the Other." I love the definition that Keller uses, a "servant-leader: one who uses authority and power to express a love that doesn't even stop at dying for the beloved."
Christ submitted (humbled) himself to serve his father and express an everlasting love to serve the undeserved and save them.... the gospel.
"Jesus gave himself up for us.... gave up his glory and took on our human nature (Phil. 2:5) and willingly went to the cross and paid the penalty for our sins, removing our guilt and condemnation, so that we could be united with him (Romans 6:5). He gave up his glory and power and became a servant. He died to his own interests and looked to our needs and interests instead (Romans 15:1-3); that, Paul says, in the key to not only understanding marriage but to living it.
When we do for our husband or wife what Christ did for us, everything will fall into place as God's ultimate purpose is being fulfilled as he intended. Timothy Keller simply puts it:
"Marriage is so painful and wonderful because it is a reflection of the gospel, which is painful and wonderful."
Being engaged is incredible, I have learned so much and have had some tough realities to face. The love stories we hear from the world are amazing and sing the melody our hearts want to hear, but once we realize that this dream is a reality in Christ, He starts unfolding the personal love story he has shared with us, so we can be imitators of what He did for us. I expect marriage to be tough, I expect to have days where love is hard to act and serving my future husband will be the last thing I want to do. But, I also expect to experience a full and deeper meaning of what it means to love someone unconditionally, what it means to make a promise between another and God, what it means to truly have a best friend for life. In understanding the real intention of marriage and our roles in this institution, it gives it such a deeper meaning and understanding of responsibility God has blessed his people with.
- Keller, Timothy. The Meaning of Marriage. New York, Penguin Group (USA) Inc. 2011. Print.