The Purpose of Marriage: Part 2
Read Part 1 here: Love Just Isn’t Enough.
Christian marriage requires mutual submission. Consider what the apostle Paul wrote; “For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.” (1 Corinthians 7:4; ESV).
This passage has wider implications than just the issue of sex, which is the original context. What this passage implies is that husband and wife have a voice in what happens in the other person’s life.
For example I enjoy smoking cigars when I am camping, but my wife has voiced her displeasure of smoking and asked me not to smoke cigars. I no longer smoke cigars because my wife has say in what I do with my life.
While it is true that marriage requires a mutual submission of husband and wife, it is also true that God has called men to lead the family. This doesn’t make men superior to women, rather it means men have been given a special responsibility. It is a responsibility that is vital for the sake of the Kingdom of God and the well being of the family.
Remember Christ’s definition of leadership includes both service and sacrifice. True leadership, the type of leadership God desires men to exhibit, flows out of a man’s sacrifice and service for his wife and family. In essence it is leadership that is founded on love.
Remember what the apostle Paul wrote to 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, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. Ephesians 5:25-27; ESV
Here we are reminded that Christ’s leadership of the Church flows out of his love for the Church. That love is seen in his sacrifice and service so the Church can be redeemed.
Men receive the validation to lead, from God’s perspective, through their sacrificial love. If you are not willing to lay down your life for your wife you are not fit to lead her.
Part of the reason why love is such an important part of leading a family is because your wife craves to be loved, cherished, and desired. It is important to note that this does not mean what you think it means.
Women, contrary to the way it is portrayed in romantic comedies and love songs, do not want to made the center of your universe. That will only creep them out and make them disrespect you. It is the reason girls dump the nice guy and go out with the bad boy. To love, cherish, and desire your wife means to invite her into your life, to help her find her place in the Kingdom, and to physically love her every day you are together.
A man should never make a woman the purpose of his life. As a fallen creature she can never fill the void that only God can fill. What a man should do is to find his life in God and develop the plan for his life from that reality. That gives him something to invite a woman into rather than making her his life. In order to lead you first need to know what direction you are headed.
To love your wife includes finding a way for her to use her gifting for God’s Kingdom. As her husband your wife depends on your direction, encouragement, and support to accomplish all that God had called her to do.
Never neglect showing physical affection to your wife. It is a vital part of staying connected to each other and showing her that you desire her. Hold her hand, hug her, kiss her, and make love to her. This is essential for strong and enduring marriages.
To be the leader is not an invitation to be a tyrant. God did not give you this role so you can get your way and be served by your wife. That is what pagans do, but it is not what Christian men do. To be be the leader is an invitation to guide the life of your family and to empower your wife to use her abilities for God’s Kingdom.
If men are going to be the leaders in their family they first have to reject passivity. The narrative in Genesis tells us that Adam was passive when his wife Eve was tempted by Satan. We need make a different choice than the one made by Adam. We need to be intentional about leading our families and we need engage the evil forces that seek to tear our families apart.
Men also have to be confident. It is hard to be confident when the enemy whispers in our ear that we don’t have what it takes, but we have to stand firm on the promises of God and remember that through his Spirit we are empowered to do what we have been called to do: to lead.
To be a husband is to be a leader. Only through your leadership will your marriage experience the purpose God created it to have.
I would like to recommend to the husbands out there a resource. While it is written by an atheist and therefore devoid of spiritual content The Married Man Sex Life Primer 2011 provides an excellent explanation of what it means to lead your family.