Monday, June 10, 2013

A Biblical View Of Marriage

Marriage was ordained by God in the beginning. As such, He placed a high value on it. Unfortunately, this high value caused the almost immediate attack by the adversary on this holy institution. With-in just six generations the Bible reports that plural marriage entered humanity. In Genesis 4:19 Moses writes, “Then Lamech took for himself two wives: the name of one was Adah, and the name of the second was Zillah.” From that point to the modern society of AD 2011 Satan has tried to corrupt the institution of marriage in order to disrupt the plan God has for mankind. The Bible spells out a godly approach for men and women to accomplish His will for the family.
First, God designed the family to be represented in a certain form, namely a husband, a wife, and children where God blesses. The structure of the marriage is foundational to the success of a society.  In order to see that clearly, all one would need to do is look to God’s Word. As an example of this, Ephesians 5:22-23 states that wives should, “submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word.” With this Scripture passages as a backdrop, the roles of husbands and wives can be looked at in greater detail.
The role of the husband is one of great responsibility. The Bible states that the husband is the “head” of the wife. The Greek word translated head here is Kephale. A lexicon has defines the word as such: anything supreme, chief, prominent of persons, master lord.[1]  It is apparent that the husband is to have the role of authority in the marriage relationship. While many egalitarians have a problem with this concept, their arguments fail to meet with the criteria found plainly written in the Scriptures.
As Wayne Grudem points out, an argument that the word kephale actually means “source” makes no sense.  A man cannot be the source of his wife. And the argument that he is the source of happiness is contrary to the definition of kephale.[2] Instead, it should be seen that the husband is the authority. This does not force the wife into subservience, however. When looking at the original intention for marriage, one sees that the wife, in this case Eve, was to be a helper for her husband. The Hebrew word for meet found in Genesis 2:18 is ‘ezer and literally means “one who helps.”
They are to be a partnership, in essence as well as in application. The husband should consult his wife on most every question of the family and marriage. He should cherish her input and her wisdom. Any man who believes that a woman is of inferior intellect has obviously never considered Proverbs 31. As Adrian Rogers would quip, “A woman is far superior to a man…at being a woman.” Many women are much better bookkeepers than their husbands, as one example.  True leadership is finding the right dynamic, where each individual is contributing his or her utmost to the partnership so that it is performing at its highest efficiency.
Having said that, the headship, or authority, ergo responsibility, squarely lies with the husband. The husband may delegate out certain responsibilities to his wife, but ultimately, he is responsible to the family and to God for the outcome and conduct of his charge. That is male headship.
Along with that is female submission. The word submission has a nasty connotation in the modern culture and society. It has become common practice for the word “submit” to be removed from many wedding ceremonies. This portion being replaced by custom vows or a more modern flair on the traditional, such as, “I promise to stand by your side.” The point is that when the words submission and marriage come up in conversation, many “liberated” women cringe. It truly is a shame that the word has come to be a synonym for slavery. The Greek word is hupotasso and is define as such:
A Greek military term meaning "to arrange [troop divisions] in a military fashion under the command of a leader". In non-military use, it was "a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden".

So it is easy to see that the non-military term of “voluntary cooperation” is in view here. The wife is voluntarily giving herself to her husband. In this there is a beautiful illustration of the husband-wife dynamic that is so prevalent in the God-Believer relationship. We must willingly give ourselves as slave of Christ, if we are to be in a right relationship with Him. According to Tony Evans, there is also a relationship illustrated in the fact that God is Trinitarian in nature, and that the marriage illustrates that characteristic of God in the three-way affiliation between man-wife-God.[3]
It is John Piper’s belief that most women who reject this complimentarian view do so because they do not understand the role of the husband. This is a great explanation, because when a husband loves his wife the way Christ loves the church, she would flourish in that environment. [4] Submission is not about losing one’s identity or power; it is about trust. Trust in the husband, and more importantly, trust in God.
Most church goers, if they have been around a while, have no doubt heard about Little Suzie. She came home from first grade and excitedly said, "Mom, today our teacher told us the story of Snow White." For the next five minutes she then recounted the fairy tale including the arrival of Prince Charming and his rescue of Snow White. "Then do you know what happened, Mom?" Suzie asked. "They lived happily ever after?" "No, Mom, they got married." The anecdote plays on our sentimentality and fears; that most marriages do not work out in the end. It is sad to think that way though, because God provided a guide to help have a happy, fulfilling marriage. The key is in the development of roles that are Biblically based. The husband has certain roles to fill, as does the wife, and when these are mixed up or jumbled, confusion sets in.
The husband’s role is laid out in Ephesians, as has been previously discusses. The roles are headship, a self-sacrificing attitude, and a determined will. He is to show authority (headship), love his wife above himself (self-sacrificing), and be as determined to see the marriage succeed as Christ was to see His bride redeemed (determination.) In 1 Peter 3:7 husbands are admonished to give honor to their wife. Husbands should not make them the butt of jokes or allow them to be seen as anything beyond the honored bride that they married.
In the same chapter, Peter encourages women to be submissive to their husbands. Again, the word hupotasso signifies voluntary submission and not subservience. In another role, Peter also instructs the wives to be as living epistles to their lost husbands.  By loving the husband, cherishing him, and showing kindness to him, it is possible that he might be won to the Lord.
There is also a suggested dress code given in 1 Peter 3. In essence as well as application, Peter here stresses modesty of the sake of the marriage. Otherwise, the role of a godly wife is that of homemaker, mother, wife, and partner.
The conclusion to the matter is not as simple as it would seem. The power struggles of everyday life will work their way into the marriage. When she wants to go shopping on Black Friday, and he has his eye of the football schedule, interests will collide. And there is the command that husbands and wives are to submit to each other in Christ. (Ephesians 5:21) Hopefully some clarity can be seen in the fact that submission and love are so very similar to each other. There are circumstances where it is appropriate for the husband to submit. If he has entrusted her with the family finances, he should submit to her decision that there is insufficient funds to purchase a new big screen television. And like wise, wives are to love their husbands. Nevertheless, this system of male headship and female submission is God honoring and is proven to work at making a successful marriage.
It is easy to see why many women in today’s culture think submission is equal to insanity. The adversary has made it his mission to destroy the concept of family, home, and marriage. When a saintly woman says she loves submitting to her husband, it must seem to today’s liberated woman that she is saying, “I love to slam my finger in a door jam.” But when one understands the portrait that God paints, a loving wife, a dedicated husband, and a Holy God, coming together for happiness, the picture begins to develop a high definition clarity.

[1] Lexicon. [online]
[2] Grudem, Wayne. [online]
[3] Evans, Tony. Speaks Out. 8
[4] Piper, John. Desiring God. [online]

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