Part 2: Submit And Serve
The second part of the command for husbands to love their wives is, “love… just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her”. Forgetting this phrase opens the door to all kinds of misconceptions of what it means for wives to submit to their husbands and the numerous ways that men have used scripture to fulfill self-centered doctrines.
Christ is the head of the church just as the man is the head of the wife and the family. What example did Jesus give for leadership? In Matthew 20, Jesus addressed the issue of what it means to be the head (or leader). He explained how the world (or in that culture, the gentiles) showed they were in charge by dominating and putting people under them. He followed up by saying:
26 “Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant.
27 “And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave —
28 “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
So how did Christ exercise His role of being the head of the church? He served the church and gave his life as a ransom. As the Lord over His disciples, He took the role that traditionally was delegated to the lowest servant and He washed the disciple’s feet.
This is exactly what it means to be the head of the wife. To be the leader, your responsibility is to serve, and become the spiritual example of God’s grace and love.
If the husband is leading as Christ led by serving and the wife is submitting, how can the picture God is painting be any clearer? Both the husband and the wife become mutually submissive and self-giving. The world’s way is to be self-serving (the way of “get” or “gain” ) and to demand our imaginary rights. (Who gave these rights? We don’t know.) It shouldn’t be hard to figure out which is the most effective family model. God’s Way is the way of Giving. “The World” hates us for this and is sure we’re crazy.
What if we all GAVE and SERVED instead of lived for getting and taking? I’d say the world would back away from a potential 3rd World War so far that finally everyone would just quietly dismantle their weapons and go on living peacefully. It wouldn’t even require to be daring and courageous. We would realize those weapons are completely obsolete.
What if we all GAVE ourselves to our wives instead of attempting to GET something from our wives? Start by trusting and giving her freedom to be herself. Instead of attempting to control and own, let her be herself and trust God to handle the other issues. That requires courage for many who have always lived by the idea they must be in control of everything and everyone! That’s very dangerous place in which to live! Ultimately those who insist on controlling everything and everyone become dictators and finally become quite dead.
I know this is a revolutionary idea for some readers. It’s better to live by trust and love and tolerate the bad moments, rather than to own and control another person. It must be better than the cold dark place so many marriages secretly inhabit.
We have to first overcome our own sinful pride and selfish desires. Often men want to leave their marriage because the woman isn’t meeting his needs or expectations. They want a “separation” because suddenly they are “incompatible.”
God loved even when his “spouse” was unwilling to follow His Righteous Ways!
not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD. “Behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
“Go and proclaim these words toward the north and say, ‘Return, faithless Israel,’ declares the LORD; ‘I will not look upon you in anger For I am gracious,’ declares the LORD; ‘I will not be angry forever. ‘Only acknowledge your iniquity, That you have transgressed against the LORD your God And have scattered your favors to the strangers under every green tree, And you have not obeyed My voice,’ declares the LORD. ‘Return, O faithless sons,’ declares the LORD; ‘For I am a master to you, And I will take you one from a city and two from a family, And I will bring you to Zion.
I know these are very hard examples but they are models for us to love even when it seems impossible. Even when that woman seems so difficult and drives you crazy, love and be good beyond all measure of goodness even so!
The Bible instructs us to love as Christ loved and gave His own life as a ransom. A husband is commanded to do just that. Sometimes our desires and feelings call us away from God’s plan, but to love our wives means that we sacrifice our fleshly desires and lay down our ‘rights’ as a ransom for our wives. Our focus is not on fulfillment, but on being instruments God uses to build our SPIRITUAL homes.
Psalm 127:1 says that unless God builds the house, they labor in vain who build it. Most moderns have no recognition of this symbolic language. They read “house” and for them they get an image in their mind of a house! They completely missed it. You will never understand Christianity until you understand at least a little Judaism and the culture from which it came. If you don’t understand these phrases, and your pastor doesn’t explain them everyone goes away from the day’s sermon with a complete misunderstanding and might alter their lives forever because they never understood.
This is why I earlier said that marriage is a SPIRITUAL journey.
I knew a Korean couple who got into a car crash. He was driving. She was in the front passenger seat. She was paralyzed from the neck down and became bitter and spoke angrily toward him and finally he left her. But, you see, he left just when she needed him most!
At that time in their lives, tough as it might be, he was required ( I think) to give away his dreams and become her caretaker. This is life in its worst moments. You can’t leave when she gets fat or gets cancer or some other terrible tragedy befalls the family. Such are the moments when males display whether they are real men or just lily livered pansies. In particular a man who treats his wife as if she is his slave proves he is not a man. He is a boy living in a fantasy.
What if one of the children becomes a life-long health-care case? If you’re unwilling to accept these risks, don’t marry! Marriage requires real grit for the uphill climb. The world is full of “tough guys” with big arms and tattoos. That is not a sign of real manliness or masculinity. It’s a sign of a boy still living in “Dreamland.” Real men continue the uphill climb even when there seems to be nothing to hope for at the top of the hill, because they have accepted the commitment.
Marriages end in spite of the fact that people earn enough to buy bigger houses, and material comforts, because they neglected the most important principle of all. They are without a foundation. God must build the house. That implies we men must read and study God’s teachings and allow Him to build that house within us! It is WE who must SUBMIT to God.
When we submit to God’s training in time we become masters of this wisdom and then teachers and “priests.” It is then we are qualified to be married. Sadly, we marry at age 18 or 20 and we are still like spiritual puppies. Soft, cute and fuzzy but otherwise spiritually worthless and gritless. Therefore, if you marry in your prime youth you had better be studying about God’s requirements for real manhood because the truth of this requirement will test you all too soon.
It is because of this reasoning that I have begun this article and may produce others. All the world’s psychology may be helpful but it is still psychology and is still created by women and men, which is to say, it has lots of rules and examples but lacks God’s wisdom. It will lead to the edge of an icy precipice with a slight downward grade and just when you get to the edge a rain will begin first softly and then fall harder!
I’m saying, you can’t survive a marriage with psychology! You’ll get then two or three choices. (1) You spend the rest of your life saying “Yes Dear” and hating all of it or (2) You separate from her and the two of you might at most live separate lives sharing a house or (3) You get your wisdom from God and submit to God’s ways and teachings because that’s the only viable answer!
I’m sure some readers want to argue and even beat me bloody for saying this. Most don’t like to discover that the truth really stings some days, but that’s the truth and life really can be unforgiving.
If our focus is on things or on selfish desires, all the wealth in the world will do little more than patch over our past mistakes for a little while. All the self-help classes and counseling can only produce a vain effort of labor. Only God can rebuild a broken home. Only a spiritual home built in God and on His Ways can stand when the enemy is doing his best to destroy everything you have built.
Men who know none of this, and even think God is a myth, imagine they can buy her a ring or a car and the damage they do regularly will be expunged from the record. Your wife is not a “sex-bot.” You can’t reprogram her mind and reformat her artificial intelligence! If that’s what you really want, nowadays you can buy such machines, but that’s not a marriage. That’s living with the other psychotic men in Fantasy Land. You may gain some sort of physical satisfaction from your sex machine powered by an intelligent computer program that even learns your likes, dislikes and conversational patterns, but you will never take a spiritual journey with this….this APPLIANCE!
It doesn’t matter what we desire. Whether we desire wealth, luxuries, sexual fulfillment or any other distractions that come into our world, none of these can give lasting fulfillment. The same struggles are in every marriage, but how we deal with these struggles determines our success, and where our focus rests determines how we deal with our struggles.
Proverbs 18:22 says, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favor from the LORD.”
God provides us with the gift of marriage and gives us the responsibility to nurture that marriage.
You are the caretaker of God’s gift. What you put into your marriage is what you will get in return. Like a garden, if you plant good seed, care for it and keep it watered, it will blossom and produce in exchange for what you have invested. But if you neglect it and don’t deal with the weeds as they spring up, your marriage’s vegetables and flowers will be hidden under the weeds.
A good marriage requires effort, even when you don’t feel like making the effort. Even when you are too tired to deal with the weeds, they continue to grow. The sooner you get to work the easier the task will be.
Cleaning out a marriage requires self-examination and also working together to communicate and resolve issues quickly. The Bible warns that if a man fails to nurture, honor and live as an heir together with his wife in the grace of God, his prayers will be hindered.
To neglect God’s design for the family is to rebel against God. You can’t separate your relationship with God from your relationship with your wife. God requires obedience first, and then you will discover greater success and satisfaction in all other aspect of your marriage and child rearing.
The test of faithfulness is determining which takes priority. Can you trust God to fulfill your needs and therefore be willing to put your wants aside so you can obey? Or — Will you sacrifice obedience and pursue only your desires and reject anything that stands in the way of your own temporary satisfaction?
God always requires obedience and promises to satisfy those who trust in Him. To reject God’s command always has consequences, but we who have God’s Spirit in our hearts have the right to choose what is right over what feels good for the moment.