Rules for (Marriage) Relationships

I know that these verses carry a lot of baggage through the years and it is easy to just dismiss them.  But it is a poor approach to Scripture to simply dismiss verses we don't like just because they seem to be out of touch with modern thought.  You may not agree with my conclusions but I invite you to join me in wrestling with these Rules for Marriage Relationships that Paul wrote...

  Wives, be subject to your husbands as you are to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife just as Christ is the head of the church, the body of which he is the Saviour. Just as the church is subject to Christ, so also wives ought to be, in everything, to their husbands.
  Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, in order to make her holy by cleansing her with the washing of water by the word, so as to present the church to himself in splendour, without a spot or wrinkle or anything of the kind—yes, so that she may be holy and without blemish. In the same way, husbands should love their wives as they do their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hates his own body, but he nourishes and tenderly cares for it, just as Christ does for the church,because we are members of his body. ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ This is a great mystery, and I am applying it to Christ and the church. Each of you, however, should love his wife as himself, and a wife should respect her husband.‭ (Ephesians 5:22-33, NRSV)


Before we got married,‭ ‬Heather and I went through premarital counseling.‭  ‬In fact,‭ ‬it was using the Prepare/Enrich program we are using for the Strong Marriage Conference this coming weekend.‭  ‬There I was introduced one of the two books recommend to couples that I counsel.‭  ‬One of them is called,‭ ‬His Needs.‭  ‬Her Needs,‭ ‬by Dr.‭ ‬Willard Harley.‭  ‬In his work and research,‭ ‬Dr.‭ ‬Harley identifies those things needed most by spouses.‭  ‬He takes the top‭ ‬5‭ ‬needs of men and women and helps us understand not just the need but how we might learn to meet that need.

‭‬Dr.‭ ‬Harley’s approach made such an impact on me.‭  ‬You see,‭ ‬he gives a cheat sheet‭ ‬-‭ ‬the answers to the questions about knowing what my best friend needs.‭  ‬But then,‭ ‬as I read through these words of Paul,‭ ‬I couldn’t help but place Dr.‭ ‬Harley’s lens on the text.‭  ‬I began to wonder,‭ “‬Has Paul also given us a cheat sheet on how the rules for a Christian marriage work‭?

You see,‭ ‬the role of women is fairly clear,‭ ‬if not very much misunderstood.‭  ‬But if we are looking at one another through the eyes of Jesus then something else ought to become clear.‭  ‬Specifically,‭ ‬what if we used his,‭ “‬Golden Rule:‭”  ‬Do Unto Others what you would have them do to you‭ (Matthew 7:12) – ‬and in doing so,‭ ‬we turned the tables on the text‭? ‬The first is most obvious,‭ ‬Paul writes to clearly identify the expectations of women in a marriage‭ (‬and to help us see more of the mystery of the relationship with Christ and the church‭)‬.‭  ‬To submit in marriage IS an act of sovereign will to one WORTHY of respect.‭  ‬It is not to the role of a servant but as a partner.

The second thing,‭ ‬which is not as clear is this: if you know you would like help in fulfilling a task and you know the task put before the person,‭ ‬then it only makes sense that you would do what you would want done,‭ ‬you'd help...and fufill the law of love‭ – ‬the way of Jesus Christ.‭  ‬Husbands,‭ ‬by knowing what it is that your spouse is being asked to do‭ – ‬a choice she gets to make,‭ ‬you have the freedom to choose to make that burden for her AS EASY and AS LIGHT as POSSIBLE‭ – ‬Become worthy of her respect‭!!!  ‬What does that look like‭?  ‬Try Paul’s words:

1Co‭ ‬13:3-8a CEV‭  (‬3‭)  ‬What if I gave away all that I owned and let myself be burned alive‭? ‬I would gain nothing,‭ ‬unless I loved others.‭  (‬4‭)  ‬Love is kind and patient,‭ ‬never jealous,‭ ‬boastful,‭ ‬proud,‭ ‬or‭  (‬5‭)  ‬rude.‭ ‬Love isn't selfish or quick tempered.‭ ‬It doesn't keep a record of wrongs that others do.‭  (‬6‭)  ‬Love rejoices in the truth,‭ ‬but not in evil.‭  (‬7‭)  ‬Love is always supportive,‭ ‬loyal,‭ ‬hopeful,‭ ‬and trusting.‭  (‬8‭)  ‬Love never fails‭! 

Husbands does this describe you‭?    ‬We may need to trade in the spouse we are and become the spouse our spouse needs so they can be pleasing to God‭ – ‬that is our responsibility.‭

Okay,‭ ‬ladies,‭  ‬I really believe men DO understand what the words are saying‭ – ‬but that is some hard stuff to hear.‭  ‬We want to be men worthy of your respect that is why today all the husbands here will go back and LISTEN OR READ THAT AGAIN.‭ (‬Guys–NOD‭  ‬heads‭)
...‭ ‬but ladies,‭ ‬the question I have for you to consider is this:‭ ‬have you considered WHO HE WOULD LOVE TO DIE FOR‭?

Dr.‭ ‬Harley mentions that one of the‭ ‬5‭ ‬things men need is admiration.‭  ‬You know that‭ “‬Male-Ego Thing‭?”  ‬Yeah,‭ ‬that is real.‭  ‬You know what else‭?  ‬In our day and age‭ – ‬it takes a beating too.‭   ‬Someone once said,‭ ‬men are like M&M's,‭ ‬Hard Candy Shell on the outside‭ – ‬soft and chocolate on the inside.‭  ‬It doesn’t take long for this world to wear out that shell.‭

A husband will go through a lot,‭ ‬even die,‭ ‬for one who shows admiration‭ ‬-‭ ‬who encourages.‭  ‬Ask your husband or fiancee,‭ ‬who are some of the men you admire most and why‭?  ‬Chances are,‭ ‬it was someone who built them up,‭ ‬admired their abilities or gifts,‭ ‬and told them so.

It is your sovereign decision to be the spouse your spouse needs‭ – ‬to trade in the spouse you are now and become the spouse you ought to be.

It is here I think the mystery lies too,‭ ‬regarding Christ and the church‭ – ‬for in Jesus Christ,‭ ‬God has done for us what we couldn't even do for ourselves‭ – ‬he submitted to God's will and died for us all.‭  ‬He lived the Golden Rule and calls us in marriage to live out this Rule for Relationships in this way:‭     ‬“Meet your spouses needs as you would want your spouse to meet yours.‭”



MAY I SUGGEST:  If you are looking for more help with marriage, I strongly encourage you go to the website of Prepare-Enrich.  There are trained counselors in your community who would be willing to help your marriage become all that it can be.

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