The foundational chapter for how to have a gospel-centered, Christ-exalting, God glorifying marriage is Ephesians chapter 5. Ephesians 5 is a chapter that should be on your bucket list for familiarity if you are not already there. As the chief shepherd of Berean I find myself increasingly burdened for the marriages in the church; therefore, I thought it prudent to attempt to provide married couples and future married individuals a short article about marriage from Ephesians 5.
Recognize that Paul is speaking to believers. Non-believers are going to have a difficult time following Paul’s teaching. He sets the stage by stating in v. 21 that we all should submit to one another in the fear of God. He then begins with wives being instructed to submit to their husbands in v. 22 and then connects that submission to the wives’ relationship to the LORD. Wives, more than anything, your husband wants to know that you respect him. In fact, your husband thrives on the admiration you communicate as a clear sign of respect. By submit and respect, I don’t believe the relationship is a ‘yes sir’ and ‘no sir’ relationship; instead, it is a healthy and appropriate respect for the man of the house. Now, all this implies that the husband is the man of the house. This is a man that gets out of bed every day and works and works hard. It is very difficult to respect a lazy person. It is difficult to respect a buffoon. In chapter 5, Paul presents the LORD Jesus as the model for the husband. Our LORD and Savior was anything but a buffoon. He possessed character qualities worthy of emulation by both the husband and wife. He loved. His love was authenticate, genuine, compassionate, understanding, forgiving, tender, and consistent. He was kind. Don’t expect your wife to respect you when you are calling her nasty names.
‘Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her’ (v. 25) is what Paul tells us to do. It is much easier to respect someone that I know genuinely loves me and takes tangible actions to display that love to me. In fact, the love that Christ demonstrated was a self-sacrificial love. Christ died for his bride the church, and if I have any hope of being the husband God expects me to be, I will have to crucify my wicked, selfish, self-absorbing flesh daily. I will have to take ownership of the reality that I am a sinner. I am prone to certain sins and I need God’s sanctifying grace to operate in my life in a very salvific way in order to deliver me from my besetting sins. When I am tempted by Satan to retreat to the lazy-boy and leave the housework and/or children to my wife, I will have to discipline by body (1 Cor. 9:27) and get off my bottom and help. If my hope is for a moment of intimacy with the woman I love, I will have to work to create the conditions for that moment of intimacy. This is hard work plain and simple. This is why we have so many marriages that are less than what God expects—we as a society are becoming increasingly lazy and our smart phones have become a magnet that draw us to the world outside of the house where we can escape through a small screen of connectivity to somewhere else.
Husbands and wives, let me challenge you to conduct this simple experiment. For the first 90 minutes that both of you are home, together at the end of the school/work day, put your phones in a drawer. Set them on ring only for an emergency and put them in a bedroom dresser drawer so they are out of sight and then focus on each other and the kids. Together work diligently at talking and working. Make dinner together, do a load of laundry, vacuum a floor, set the table, load the dishwasher, start washing the pots and pans, check homework, read a single Bible verse aloud and discuss it for a 2 minutes, make sure the kids have clothes for the next day, pack lunches, make a grocery list, replace a burned out light bulb, take out the trash, and fold a load of laundry. At this point everyone is involved according to their age and abilities. The TV is off, connectivity to the outside world is shut down and this is one focused family working together. Dad is leading by example and mom is providing all the necessary input so that these 90 minutes are incredibly productive. Many hands make light work and you will be shocked at how much can get accomplished with 90 minutes of uninterrupted effort. Smart phones are not helping us to be more efficient or productive, rather they are contributing to our lack of productivity by distracting us from the true world around us—our spouses and children.