Dec 22nd, 2019
Hello and welcome to season 2 episode 57 of The Berean Manifesto, brought to you by The Ekklesian House. This is Pastor Bill, and over the next 10 minutes, or so, we are going to be looking at healthy marriage from a biblical perspective.
We should start with what’s at the forefront of my heart on this matter. A couple of episodes ago, we covered love enduring all things and I made a point of emphasizing that this statement on love in 1 Corinthians 13:7 is not endorsing abuse of any kind. In fact, no scripture can legitimately be used to endorse or excuse away abuse. One such abuse that has been carried out using scripture to prop it up is spousal abuse. Which I think we can all agree is a pretty unmistakable sign of an unhealthy marriage.
If you are being abused, get to safety and get help.
The passage I hear about being used most often in this regard comes from Ephesians 5, starting in verse 22, it says, “ Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord,  because the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of the body.  Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives are to submit to their husbands in everything.” You’ve probably heard most, or all of that before, and I admire the courage of any woman who has lived up to that expectation, especially under the heavy hand of an oppressive spouse. However, taking this out of context, like with most scripture, is reckless and dangerous.
I’ve mentioned before that Paul likes to place the most important details of whatever he’s talking about at the end of lists and paragraphs. Here, when we keep reading we find the important piece of what Paul is trying to teach. In fact, if this second part isn’t adhered to then it would seem to hold true, and I believe it is the case, that the wife is released from the first part that we just read. Ephesians 5:25-28 CSB, “ Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her  to make her holy, cleansing her with the washing of water by the word.  He did this to present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or anything like that, but holy and blameless.  In the same way, husbands are to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.” The onus here is not actually on the wife to submit, but on the husband to treasure, and treat, the wife like Christ the church.
Twice, when Christ found people taking advantage of and mistreating the church, He started flipping tables and driving people away. The first time with a whip that he wove Himself out of long-pieces of rush. Knowing that He was leaving soon He implored Peter to feed and take care of His Church. He was beaten, scourged, beard pulled out, humiliated, forced to carry a wooden cross through the streets to His own execution, and was literally nailed to that cross and put on display till He died; and all of that willingly. This is how Christ loved the Church. If you husbands aren’t defending you’re wives, if you aren’t making sure they’re going to be cared for in your absence, if you aren’t literally willing to go through abject humiliation and torture to the point of death for them, then you are invalidating the instructions to the wife here in Ephesians 5.
Wives aren’t exactly off the hook here. When we get to the end of chapter 5 in Ephesians Paul sums up the message with one final statement, “To sum up, each of you is to love his wife as himself, and the wife is to respect the husband.” You see a healthy marriage relationship is like a balanced eco system. You wives have the responsibility of kicking things off by respecting your husband. From my own perspective, when I’m respected it reminds me that I have a duty to fulfill and I feel the weight of that responsibility which then leads to a place of personal pride in carrying out that duty. This is true at work, at home, everywhere. In the workplace I can tell you that when I’ve respected those reporting to me as a manager they not only become more dutiful, but go above and beyond what’s expected.
Wives, when you respect your husband you remind them of their duty, and give them reason to perform beyond the expected. In the healthy marriage this respect would then in turn create this sacrificial treasuring and love of the wife that puts the wife in a position to follow verses 22 to 24 of Ephesians 5 without fear or trepidation because you know that your husband honestly has your best interest at heart.
Now, there’s no way that we can possibly cover every detail of a healthy marriage in a 10 minute podcast, but we’ve got one more scripture to consider in covering the basics at least. This is probably not going to be a very popular point. 1 Corinthians 7:1-4 CSB says, “ Now in response to the matters you wrote about: ‘It is good for a man not to use a woman for sex.’  But because sexual immorality is so common, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman should have sexual relations with her own husband.  A husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise a wife to her husband.  A wife does not have the right over her own body, but her husband does. In the same way, a husband does not have the right over his own body, but his wife does.”
Husbands, the moment you got married you gave up ownership of your body to your wife. Wives, the moment you got married you gave up ownership of your body to your husband. This is a super vulnerable place to be, but a married couple belongs to each other. Husbands, if you want your wife to take care of you, then you need to take care of them. Wives if you want your husband to take care of you, then you need to take care of them. Wives have different needs than husbands have, and husbands have different needs than wives have, but you should be taking care of each other cause then the other will be taking care of the other. If either member of the marriage is neglecting the others needs, or only looking out for what they want then the whole thing falls into disarray.
Those of you who are married, and those of you who wanna be one day, it’s important to remember that healthy marriages don’t just magically happen. A healthy marriage takes lots of hard work. But, anything worth having is worth working on and fighting for.
In closing, let’s borrow some wisdom from Proverbs 25:24 CSBish, “ Better to live on the corner of a roof than to share a house with a (contentious spouse).”
This is Pastor Bill saying, “Until next time…”