"Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;"
Eph 5:25

Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Fact Is, I Need Help!

Graphic Credit: www.foundationsforfreedom.net
Yesterday I received a comment on my last post that, regrettably, I accidentally deleted when I intended to post it. L Anyway, it consisted of a list of news articles and YouTube videos in which husbands followed the advice of their wives.
I inferred from the reader’s list that she assumes I do not listen to my wife or take advice when needed.
I assure you that it is not God’s will that husbands do not listen to their wives. Quite the contrary. Every leader needs trusted advisors to help him make decisions. A husband is no different. (I am no different.)

If I plodded through life making all my decisions based solely on my own gut, I would be in very deep trouble in deed. In fact, it’s very likely I would not have been married for 20 years, or even 2 years for that matter.

The fact is, I need help. That's why God gave my wife to me.

Husbands should consult their wives on decisions. For example, I would never buy a house or a car, or drastically change my hairstyle without first seeking the counsel of my bride. Further, if my wife advised me to see the doctor about the disgusting growth on my neck, I would certainly take her advice to heart.

That said, none of these facts negate the truth of the Word of God. And the Bible is quite clear that wives must obey their husbands.

Does this mean the husband should be a narcissistic donkey who steamrolls over his wife and family and does whatever he pleases, whenever he pleases?

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you[a] of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. (1 Peter 3:7)

As a husband I am commanded to live with my wife in a way that honors her. I am commanded to understand her and love her like Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25). Sometimes that means sacrificing for her, and sometimes it means requiring her to do things that stretch her boundaries (sometimes stuff she doesn’t want to do).

Of course she, like all of mankind, has free will and the ability to say “no,” and often does, as do our children. As do I when I don’t like where God is sending me (familiar with Jonah?). We are imperfect people living serving a perfect God in an imperfect world.

However, when we rebel against authority we remove ourselves from the protection of that authority. 

  • When I rebel against God I will be forgiven when I confess and repent, but I do not escape the consequences of my rebellion. I will pay for my poor choice. It may be as small as restarting a project or as major as restructuring my marriage and family. 
  • When my children disobey their mom and me they likewise will be forgiven but also will be punished by us. It could be minor, such as doing extra chores or losing a privilege, or major, such as losing driving rights or being on “house arrest.”
  • When my wife rebels against my (and God’s) authority she will be forgiven (yes, even I have a heart sometimes), but she will pay consequences, though they may not always be apparent to her or intended by me. The penalties could range from small to large; she might have to wait longer before making a certain purchase, or she may lose the confidence of her husband and thus lose the “one flesh” intimacy God intended for her marriage.

The point is that husbands (and all leaders) would be foolish to go it alone without seeking the advice of their wives. After all, no one else (supposedly – more on that later) knows what makes him tick quite like the help-meet given to him by God the Father.

Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” (Genesis 2:18)

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Mutual Submission? A Sign of the Times

I’m going to state, right at the beginning, that some of you (nay, most of you) won’t like this post. Most of you will be offended, and not just a smidgen. It’s that kind of a subject.

I’ve been reading blog after blog about “mutual submission” and I have to say it’s a dangerous idea. It is destroying God’s design for the Biblical design of marriage. We have largely reversed the roles and placed Christian wives in charge of leading our families. When we misinterpret Ephesians 5:21 to this extent (that is, to include any hint of mutual submission) we are guilty of playing a role in the destruction of the Christian family.

Strong words, yes.

The Bible has a bunch of things to say about husbands and wives, and the behavior our Heavenly Father expects of us. I have outlined many times the nuances of these verses. It wasn’t until recently, however that I had a major “a-ha” moment regarding the realities of Biblical marriage and the benefits / consequences of playing loose and free with those concepts.

Here’s a newsflash:
  • Husbands don't have to obey their wives.
  • Wives do have to obey their husbands.

Yes. You read that correctly.

I know, I know. I will get emails from angry readers who say I’m wrong, and I obviously hate women, and I’m a terrible husband, and I have used the wrong Bible translation, and grow up and join the 21st century, and that was written for a very limited population, and things are different now, and how dare I have such an opinion.

Here are the facts.

Ephesians 5:21 is a tiny verse in a larger chapter, AND it’s the connecting phrase of an idea and the clarification of that idea.

Confused? Stay with me.

Paul gives us instructions, beginning with verse 18, on how to be filled with the Holy Spirit. He instructs us to (a) speak to each other, (b) sing to the Lord, (c) giving thanks, and (d) submitting to one another. Paul goes on in the next verses to clarify his fourth point (submitting to one another). In verse 22 he addresses wives, in verse 23 children, and in verse 24 slaves.
If these verses were in outline form they would look like this:

I.                    How to be filled with the Holy Spirit
a.       Speak to one another (v.18)
b.      Sing to the Lord (v.19)
c.       Give thanks (v.20)
d.      Submit to one another (v.21)
                                                               i.      Wives: submit to your husbands
                                                             ii.      Children: obey your parents
                                                            iii.      Slaves: obey your masters

So the “mutual submission” that so many people are fond of isn’t commanded of us in a vacuum. It isn’t commanded of us at all.

You might say, “well, that’s all fine, but the meaning of the word “submit” is subject to interpretation.

Um … No, it isn’t.

The Greek word for submit or subject (hupotasso) was a term used by a military leaders to tell their soldiers to follow commands.  Since Paul did not use a different word in these marriage passages, we have to assume the word carries the same meaning with regard to marriage. Consequently, the wife is charge with the responsibility of subjecting herself to her husband’s wishes as if she were a soldier under the direction of a military leader.

With that in mind, a good husband is not going to do anything that would harm his wife.  He will always keep her best interests in the forefront of his actions. He will submit (hupotasso) himself to Christ, and likewise lead wherever he feels the nudge of the Holy Spirit.
But what if his wife and family won’t follow?

There are many times when a husband attempts to lead and a wife says, “umm … nope. I don’t think so.”  That leads us to some unfortunate consequences. I’ve seen some cases in which a husband is ridiculed for not leading his family when it is his wife and family who rebel against his authority. Often the result is a husband who, after attempting time after time to lead his marriage in a certain direction to no avail, stops attempting to lead in that area.

For example, before leading His disciples to a town or into an area of ministry, Jesus never once asked for their approval. The only approval He sought was that of God the Father. He took that approval and he led as he felt necessary. Yes, he was compassionate, kind, loving, and sacrificial because His role was not to force us to obey Him so He could satisfy some twisted, selfish desire. Rather, He led His followers in accordance with God’s will for them.

At the same time, however, He was brutally honest and factual about what he expected from His church (bride). He guided and taught the things they would need to be acceptable to God. When she disobeyed he forgave and took her back. He continues to do so today. We rebel and He forgives over and over.  To a point. There will come a time in a sinner’s life when God will walk away and leave us in our sin.

Just like Jesus leaves some people to their sin, a husband who faces a rebellious wife eventually relinquishes control of the marriage and family to his wife. She is now the leader and slowly becomes angry because her husband “won’t lead.”

Some would argue that a wife would be more apt to submit to her husband if she understood and agreed with his leadership. Some would say that she would most likely submit to him if he consulted her before making decisions.

Excellent point. 

In fact the Bible tells husbands in 1 Peter 3:7 to live with our wives in an understanding way. Also, it says in Colossians 3:19 that we should love our wives and not be harsh with them.

I can’t find a verse that commands wives to understand their husbands; only to submit to them as to the Lord.

So, a husband who lives with his wife in an understanding way, is not harsh with her, sacrifices his life (desires, wants, energy, resources) for her and leads the way he feels God leading him, should have a wife who submits to him, who says “yes” instead of “no,” and who is at peace.

More on this topic later.  I have a feeling I have only scratched the surface. 

Hold on to your hats!