Monday, November 22, 2010

Married for God - Chapter 5

This series was originally posted on In Tandem, a blog for ministry wives

Chapter 5: God’s pattern for the marriage relationship

How ought husband and wife relate to each other?
the Bible’s answer is simple, politically incorrect, and deeply beautiful: the wife ought to submit to her husband as the church submits to Christ, and the husband ought to love his wife as Christ loves the church. (p83)
He states clearly that while many today are uncomfortable with this teaching:
We need not be defensive. This is a beautiful pattern. It undermines equally the oppression of male chauvinism and the false dawn of aggressive secular feminism…This is how God has made the world, with men and women made equally in his image, and entrusted equally with the joyful honour of governing his good world. Equal, but different. (p84)
He also emphasised that this is not culturally specific (and therefore avoidable). Rather, “this is the pattern for every age and all cultures. This is God’s shape for marriage and we need to understand it” (p86)

His explanations of the key passages (Ephesians 5:22-33, Colossians 3: 18-19 & 1 Peter 3:1-7) are very helpful and I recommend you read them yourself, rather than have me attempt to summarise them.

However, his summaries of what this pattern may look like bear repeating:
At the heart of this pattern is the husband who consciously reminds himself again and again that he is called to be like Christ going to the cross in his marriage: to lead by serving and loving and caring whatever the cost to himself…

At the heart of this pattern also is the wife who consciously reminds herself that she is to cultivate the gentle and quiet spirit of dignified honourable submission, serving alongside her husband with equal dignity, using her gifts to the full, but nevertheless encouraging him to take his place of Christlike headship in their marriage. (p95)

How does headship and submission work out in your own marriage?
In which ways do you struggle with it?
How do you discuss headship and submission with engaged couples?

Ash points out 4 distortions of this pattern, two from husbands behaving badly and two from wives behaving badly:
  1. The tyrannical husband – this is not a Christlike leader, but rather a bully.
  2. The bossy wife – she wants to lead rather than encourage her husband to do so
  3. The mousy wife – who surrenders her dignity as the man’s equal partner
  4. The abdicator husband – who avoids the cost of cross-shaped leadership. Ash suspects most men need to repent of this.

(You might also find it helpful to switch across to Lesley Ramsay’s post on this chapter in the Equip Book Club, she includes a very helpful table from Wayne Grudem)

Do you tend towards any of these distortions in your own marriage? How might you try to change your patterns of relating?

Ash finishes by wondering how our marriages might just point people to God:
I think that men and women may say to themselves as they watch a Christian marriage: ‘I have never seen God. Sometimes I wonder, when I look at the world, if God is good, or if there is a God. But if he can make a man and woman love one another like this; if he can make the husband show costly faithfulness through sickness as well as health; if he can give him the resources to love when frankly there is nothing in it for him; well, then he must be a good God. And if he can give this wife grace to submit so beautifully, with such an attractive spirit under terrible trials, then again he must be a good God.’ (p96)
Wouldn’t that be a wonderful witness.

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