[From Noel] This week in our Real Marriage class, after watching the video we divided into two groups: husbands and wives. Julie will write later this week about her experience with the ladies and I’ll share my thoughts about our conversation as guys.
We had a really good talk about the nature of male spiritual leadership in the house. Mark Driscoll refers frequently to Eph 5:21-33 in Real Marriage and it goes without saying that a text that calls for women to submit to their husbands is outrageously unpopular in our culture. Context is key to understanding what Paul is saying here: Here are a few observations that are each worth a blog post on their own:
1. This text is referring to husbands and wives and their relationship in light of their mutual submission to God. (read v. 21 very carefully. v. 22 and v. 25 are subordinate clauses that depend on v. 21 to have any grammatical meaning). This verse is not talking about women and men in general.
2. “Submit to one another…” is an imperative command. It is not a suggestion. These are tough words.
3. Verse 22 is not suggesting that husbands be spiritual heads, it is stating a fact. The verb is indicative. The questions for the guys is not whether you are a spiritual head in your household or not. It is not an encouragement to be a spiritual head. It is saying that you are the head. The question is are you an effective head or not. Are you serving as the guarantor of your marriage covenant or have you left this unguarded.
4. Many women find v. 22, “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands…” a difficult thing to stomach but guys, you ought to find v. 25 an even more challenging statement: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” This is a man who willing accepted a beating rather than see his bride abandoned. He drowned in his own blood, asphyxiated on a cross.
What all this means is that as the spiritual head of your family, You go first: you serve first, you apologize first, you forgive first. Men were meant to initiate – not just when it comes to sex – but initiate in showing consideration, initiate in ensuring we are being responsive to the needs of our family. We ought to be first to be compassion, first to defer to the other, first in taking care of chronic issues around the house. If your wife has expressed a desire for you to engage in some way MAN UP AND DO IT. Then a couple weeks later check in and see if things are better. This should read like a rebuke guys: We need to love our wives better than we have.
We are meant to lead like Jesus and Paul describes what that looks like in Phil 2:6. Jesus never uses his position for his own advantage so men who are the spiritual heads of their households do not live like dictators (on one extreme) and they don’t lay there passively reacting like a passive aggressive roommate.
If time is tight make sure to read p. 54-56 where Mark talks about every husband serving as the guarantor of the marriage covenant. This is some great stuff. I think I found my Father’s Day sermon.
Many of the guys in the class made the observation that a husband who loves like Jesus would be a husband a wife would love to live in submission to. There is nothing demeaning about someone placing themselves under the authority of someone who loves them like Jesus does. That is what a healthy marriage is. Two different people loving each other more than they love themselves.