M and I had our good friend and matchmaker read Ephesians 5:21-33 at our wedding. She winked while saying “one flesh.” We tried to cover up our giggles as we kneeled at the altar. You can rightly assume that M and I think it’s a beautiful passage.
But instinctively, I cringed upon seeing the sermon title “How a ‘good’ wife submits to her husband” in our bulletin last week. Far too many times this conversation has almost immediately gone south because sides pick and choose which verses and context they’ll take into account. And don’t even get me started on the near futility of the great debate between egalitarians versus complementarians.
- Hierarchy ignores the overall purpose of marriage.
- Hierarchical decision-making ignores the reality of godly practice.
- Hierarchy ignores the evil fruit.
“A husband needs his wife’s support, trust, and encouragement. He needs to know – and I’ve been there – that she really has his back. When I’ve gone through tough times and I don’t know how I’m going to go on, [wife’s name] will tell me, I don’t know either honey, but we’re in this together to the end. And that means everything. Everything.”But marriage is – or should be – about:
- Followers of Christ submitting (deferring) to one another. In the footsteps of Christ, we seek selflessness: others’ needs come before our own. We seek others’ maturity and growth in their faith over our own advancement and comfort. As Jesus to one another, we help our brothers and sisters follow God’s call for their lives and reach their God-given potential.
- Husbands and wives having a “lean” in their submission designed to strengthen the unity of the household as well as the most common needs of the other spouse. This is why there seems to be differentiated, gender-specific instructions given to husbands and wives.
- Christian marriages are to be a counter-cultural message to the world around us. As we grow in our faith and our marriage, M and I have become more convicted at how radical Jesus was and is and therefore wants us to be if we are going to follow Him. The more we know Jesus, the more we become uncomfortable with our comfort – the status quo, unchecked privilege, zero sum games, constant power dynamics, structures based on abuse of power, etc. In contrast, we’re called to be set apart (“holy”) and a breath of fresh air to the world around us. We don’t believe we can do that in our marriage if it operates just like every other corporation driven by unrestrained greed or any other relationship built on treating one sex as "second class Kingdom citizens."
- Where people get their needs met,
- Where power isn’t the main concern,
- Where peace and unity reign, and
- Where people are free to be all that God calls them to be?