Marriage: Happy or Holy ?

My Sunday morning life group is dedicated to the growth of married couples. It's been a place that I have been both humbled, inspired, challenged and grown.. both on a personal level as an individual & as a partner/wife in my marriage.

Joining the life group a few months ago, I caught myself thinking that I may not be challenged enough in an environment of nearly and newly-weds (because I have a *cough* whopping 4.5 years under my belt). I also caught myself thinking that maybe I shouldn't be going to a biblestudy for married couples when my husband was literally about to walk out the door for a seven month deployment... I mean, wasn't this for couples?

Let me answer this: no & no... definitely not.

I was quickly humbled as I was gently reminded that you never reach an ultimate destination in your marriage. You never reach a place of "happiness" where you are automatically graduated into a class of marriage experts. Our marriage is about a journey- INCLUDING the ups and downs. Our marriage is about HOLINESS. Happiness is a temporary state.. do we really want our marriages to be centered around a temporary state of emotion? I sure don't.. What a calling and challenge it is to view your marriage an opportunity to glorify the One who created you.. the One who brought the path of you and your spouse together. Now THAT is a purpose.

When we're at our best, our words, thoughts and actions should be glorifying the Lord. When we're at our worst, our words, thoughts and actions are a reflection of God's faithful love and forgiveness. Even during the difficult times, God is glorified when we seek Him through the process of being reconciled to one another. He can be glorified at all times.. the good, the bad and the ugly.

We strive for holiness not happiness when we begin to fulfill our God given roles in marriage. As we individually begin to act in obedient response to our biblical calling as a spouse, God is glorified and will bless your marriage beyond measure. Be the spouse you are commanded to be, not out of the expectation that your spouse will "fall in line," but rather that God will find favor on you as you honor Him with a holy heart. Even if you are a PERFECT partner in your marriage, but are doing it so that your spouse will feel obligated to do his or her own part, you STILL have some work to do on your heart, my friend.

A couple of weeks ago, my life group was studying our biblical responsibilities through the text of Ephesians 5:22-27.

"22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless."
 Boy do people freak out when they read the words "submit" and "head of" in Ephesians; I can admit that I myself have harbored negative feelings towards this text in the past.

I realized though through the study of these verses that the challenging call here is to husbands.. Submission may seem like quite the daunting task, but God ordained leadership is a HEAVY responsibility. Let me share with you some of the notes I took from my class that day that really spoke to my spirit.

Let's first define these two concepts by their synonyms given by merriam-webster:
submission: yielding, surrender, resignation, defeat, subjection, compliance
gosh.. no wonder it seems terrible!.. we'll come back to this.
leadership: control, management, supervision, supremacy, power

Okay, so reading these and making application to the verses above is ROUGH. If that's what Godly marriage is all about, who would want it? Fortunately, merriam webster doesn't define our marital roles.. God does. And when we think about how He compares the dynamic between a husband and wife to Christ and the church, it is clear that there is another definition of our roles.

Let's re-define these two concepts by their synonyms given by God through-out scripture:
Godly submission: humility, meekness, obedience, trust, acceptance, yielding
Godly leadership: guidance, teaching, gentle instruction, responsibility, initiative, accountability, SERVICE.

Did I just use service as a synonym of leadership? I sure did. God commands those in leadership to serve others rather than reign over them.
Mark 10:42-45
42 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them.43 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

This is a beautiful picture when both husband and wife are acting according to God's will in marriage.

You might be thinking to yourself: well, I am a believer, but my spouse is not.. am I still supposed to submit to his leadership? Yes. Although it will not be easy, live our your calling as a Godly spouse and let God take care of the rest. It is not our job to change the heart of others. It is our job to display the love of Christ through our actions. Trust in God's sovereignty and place the heart of your spouse to the Lord.

Here are my thoughts on this text:

Christ manifested His love for us by sacrificing Himself. He led by example and through service. He was a humbled teacher and rebuked those who were wrong gently. Christ made Himself accountable for our sins as a way to reconcile us to God. Christ lead in a way that others submitted to Him willingly and not out of obligation or coercion. Husbands are ultimately responsible to "cleanse her with the knowledge of the Word."  As a godly husband and follower of Christ, if your wife is not submitting to your leadership, you are not loving her properly. Start with loving service and you will earn a leadership role in her heart.

The church submits to the Lord out of love and affection. We, the church, submit though trust, service, and respect.  Submission is hard under improper leadership, but it is our calling. Ask God to give you a heart of submission. Godly wives: trust your husband, support him and treat him with respect.

Regularly evaluate if you marriage is "measuring up" to the model of Christ and the church.

Righteousness > Being Right

Don't submit for leadership..
Don't lead for submission..

Act in obedience and glorify the Lord. Living this way provides a life of purpose.
Seek holiness in your marriage. You'll be amazed to see that happiness will follow you in your journey.

Blessings, Lindsey

No comments:

Post a Comment