Yes, this is a religious post… we do that every now and then. This is the reflection I shared at a wedding today. It was a great honor to officiate the wedding between two of my best friends. Here’s the text I shared about Christian marriage.
Since we’re here today to celebrate this marriage, I think it’s a great time to talk about what makes a good marriage in the eyes of God. He created marriage with grace so that we may extend His glory through our happiness. It’s not just about us, it’s about us and God.
I’d like to read you a few verses from Ephesians 5. It’s a great example of how we can help make our spouses happy while glorifying God. We’ll start with the women because they’re definitely more important.
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
Now why would I tell the bride to submit to the groom on her wedding day? Because submit isn’t used negatively here. It’s easy to interpret this incorrectly. Submit does not mean that a woman is inferior or that she should be fearful of her husband; it does not mean that she should be passive and agree with everything her husband says or does; and it definitely doesn’t mean that if his spiritual strength is waning, she should give up guiding him to Christ. No, it’s the opposite of all of this.
You see… God designed a healthy marriage with an organized order. The husband is the spiritual head and the wife should be able to look to him for leadership. Will this always be the case? Will the man be that solid spiritual rock every day of his life? He can only hope. However, God is asking our wives to have a sacrificial, voluntary, and patient loyalty to their husbands… because let’s face it… men need a lot of work.
As the men figure things out, God specifically asks the woman to encourage her husband. Be so supportive that you boost his confidence on a daily basis; when he messes up – a lot – show him grace and forgive his foolishness; and in every interaction, point him to Christ. You see… submit doesn’t mean give up. It means that your loving kindness can help make him into the man God wants him to be.
Let’s switch gears and talk to the men. Ephesians 5:25-30 says this:
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church – for we are members of his body.
Just as Christ died for our sins so that we may become holy, this passage tells the husband to live sacrificially for his wife and family. No man can have a successful marriage while only thinking of himself. Each of us should strive to put our wives first and seek the joy that resonates through that kindness.
So, how do we do that? We have to reject our passivity and accept responsibility for life and marriage. Don’t ever tell your wife you don’t care. Even if its something she found on Pinterest, you should love the fact that she wants to share it with you.
We also have to step up and lead our wives spiritually. God addresses us directly and says that we must help our wives grow in love… and grow their knowledge of God’s word. Spiritual growth doesn’t end with Sunday school. We need to grow together with God every day.
Lastly, God specifically charges us to serve and care for our wives just as we want them to serve and care for us. Do you want a foot massage? Then offer your wife one first. Do you want a night out with the guys? Then offer to give her a night off first. Mind you, this shouldn’t be selfish at its core. Don’t do something only to get what you want later. That’s tough. I never knew how selfish I truly was before I got married. Every day is about dying to that selfishness and serving your wife with joy so that your actions please both her and God.
Ultimately, Ephesians 5 tells both husband and wife to live sacrificially and not give up on each other. Sometimes, we may think it would be easier to just walk away rather than face the difficulties before us… but in a Christian marriage, we don’t get to do that, just as Christ didn’t get to give up in the Garden of Gethsemane.
In Luke 22:42, Christ says this:
Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.
He’s asking God to relieve him of the burden of our sins. It was too much for him to bear alone. This next verse truly shows the love of our God. It says this:
An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.
Even Christ struggled to live out God’s plan, but God sent Him an angel to strengthen Him just as He has given you each other to share your strength every day.
I pray that we all take this to heart today – on this day of celebration – that we might remember our true purpose in marriage. I ask that God help us see their love strengthen this community and that this community strengthens their love now, and forever.
(Translation: New International Version)