It used to be the norm that people would get married young and stay married. They would be best friends and know everything about each other. Kids growing up to be fine members of society while dad would coach little league and mom would cheer on the soccer team.
Slowly, the world started to change. Children grew up into homes where mom and dad rarely spoke to each other. Parents divorced, using their children as pawns of control and influence against a bitter spouse. These kids don’t trust marriage — and for good reason. Almost 58% of marriages fail within 3 years, 66% within 10 years.
I bring this topic up because of a conversation I walked into a few weeks back. The topic was about sexism and why women can’t be leaders in the church. This person was a woman and not a Christian for this reason. She believed that Christianity demeaned women. And this view understandable! And I would even go as far to say that I would agree with her. But the question that really got me was this: What so special about a man to boss his wife around?
One of the things I picked up when I was a missionary was that people ask questions not because they want an answer but because they want to ask the question. Confused? Yeah, I was too!
Behind the question was a belief that men boss their wives around. You see, the question disguises the real problem (the inaccurate belief) and instead shows a response (the anger). My response to her was a question: Why do you think men want to boss their wives around?
This question shifted the conversation to her family and the home she grew up in. Her dad didn’t treat her mom with respect. So she had come to assume that this is what marriage is. This is not marriage! This is not love! This is not what God had in mind!
I believe that marriage is supposed to be the embodiment of Christ’s relationship with his Church. As Christ sacrificed his life for the church, so, too, should a man be willing to sacrifice his life for his wife. You don’t hear this often in weddings and I think given the choice, most men wouldn’t. It’s a tall order for men to stand too. God calls men and charges them with the duty to protect his wife. And in doing so, the wife is to submit to her husband.
Before we jump on the second part, let’s examine the first part. I think William Wallace said it best: Every man dies; not every man truly lives. There are some things in life worth living for and, at the same time, there ware things in life that are worth dieing for. A man must love his wife so much so that he would risk his life to keep her safe. I would even go as far to say to keep her comfortable! A pastor put it this way: If his family was on a boat while it was sinking, he would grab his wife first, make sure she was dry, comfortable, and a glass of iced tea in her hand before he would go out to save his kids.
Rest on that image for a second. Obviously, this is a hyperbole but it illustrates the priority of his life.
Now, let’s look at the second part: the wife is to submit to her husband. I believe it is the word "submit" that tangles us up. But let me put it in light with the role of the husband. Wouldn’t it make perfect sense that in order to protect his wife, that he would ask of her to do something to make sure she stays safe? (Let’s not converse as to whether a woman ‘needs’ protecting as that’s not the goal.) And wouldn’t it be devine that a woman shows her husband love by trusting him supernaturally? I would put it this way: Wife, if you cannot trust me, trust God.
Notice that the husband is not to force his wife into doing anything. Why should he?! He loves her! Forced love is not love but in fact the opposite! Love must be a choice. He must allow her to choose to love him. This doesn’t mean that the husband makes all the decisions or that the wife does not have any say in the process. Quite the contrary! In order to make the decision based in love for his wife, why wouldn’t he consult with her to see what she wants. After all, he would look after her comfort before his children!
The feminist movement brought great things to society. But it also went too far and took too many things away. It’s not that women can’t be leaders. They can. But men should be leaders. Men are not perfect and never will be. But his love for his wife should be as eternal as his relationship with God. Under the perfect circumstances, monogamy not only makes sense, but is the only product. Monogamy is a product of trust and love. When doubts arise about the relationship, it is this trust that husbands and wives turn to.