Marriage is said to be the only institution that gives you certificate on commencement, with the rest of your lives to earn it. This article attempts to draw life from the marriage relationship between Christ and the Church and pour it on the marital relationship between a man and his wife, drawing both closer to God and to each other.
God in scriptures show us the manner in which he loves us: “as the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride”(Isa 62:5), John on hearing report that more people were going to Jesus than to him, declared that it is the bridegroom that has the bride (referring to Jesus as the bridegroom and the people as the bride, John 3:29), Apostle Paul spoke of Jesus sanctifying the church to present us to himself as a glorious church without spot or wrinkle (Eph 5:27) and Revelations shows us a glimpse of the marriage supper of the Lamb (Rev 19:7).
The pattern for marriage is the pattern of Christ and the Church.
The pattern for marriage is the pattern of Christ and the Church. In understanding how Christ acts towards the church you understand how a husband should act toward his wife, in understanding how the Church is to respond to Christ, you understand how a wife should respond to her husband.
The Weaker Vessel Issue
For when I am weak, then am I strong … Apostle Paul
1 pet 3:7 points the wife as the weaker vessel, the weakness of the wife to the husband seems not to be a weakness of a physical or spiritual nature (as we continually see women who are stronger than their husbands, some physically or more spiritually mature) but a weakness (which more appropriately rendered would be ‘less strength’) of authority in the home.
Not a weakness of person-hood but of authority in the home
God in ordering the home placed the male man as head of the home (Eph 5:22,23,24), such that in spite of a greater strength the wife may have in other spheres, she is always less in authority (weaker) than the husband in the home. She might be his boss at the office, president of the country but in the matters of home and family he is the head.
Women are not weaker vessels to men (Gal 3:28), but a wife is to her husband alone, as the church is to Christ alone. In 1 Corinthians The Greek word used for wife is also used for woman (gyne) and the same with man and husband (aner), hence you interpret in context which of the two it refers to (this helps you better understand 1 Cor 11:3 and other scriptures).
He who has the greater responsibility should wield the greater authority
The man does not wield the greater authority for himself or his own purposes but for his family, he who has the greater responsibility should wield the greater authority. In the ongoing love story of the church and Christ, you discover that Christ is All in All (Col 3:11), He is both the author and finisher of our faith, guardian of our souls, the one who works in us to make us both willing and able, Salvation is not free, but Christ paid that price and gives it to us freely. Our boast is not that we love Him but that He loves us, like the famous hymn says ‘I hold not the Rock but the Rock holds me’. You see Christ takes the greater responsibility and so He of necessity must wield the greater authority so he can fulfill his responsibility in totality. While no man however good is ‘All in all’ God designed it such that the husband takes the greater responsibility as leader, priest & pillar of the home, so much so he is willing to die for his wife, as Christ for the church. So God therefore gives him the greater authority, as Christ had said ‘the greatest among you must be your servant’. Hence the man being the head of the home is proved by him washing the foot of the home, it’s shown by his selfless sacrifice and unconditional love to his wife and children.
Hence the man being the head of the home is proved by him washing the foot of the home.
So the man who bullies and intimidates his wife is not walking as head of the home, he is walking as oppressor of the home. A wife should be safe in the authority of her husband as the church is safe in the authority of Christ, never scared He will abuse it and always sure that His motives are not for selfish interest but for His bride. The glory of a husband is actually his wife (1 Cor 11:7), just like an alive and aflame church is the glory of Christ, so also a fulfilled and vibrant wife is the glory of the husband. A haggard wife who is so because of neglect from her souse speaks more of her heart haggard husband than she speaks of herself.
Submission does not mean rolling over and playing dead, it simply means letting your husband take his place. This is why even when a man fails in his responsibilities he is still the head of the home, because it’s a position he’s called to not just a function he performs (check out the article ‘still head of home?’ for more clarity), just the same way a wife does not loose her position in the home even if she fails in her responsibilities.
As Kenneth E. Hagin said ‘For the sake of good order in the family, the husband should be the head of the house. No intelligent woman should think of marrying a man who in her estimation is not worthy to take that place’
Many times when we try to do it by our might, intelligence and strength and don’t give God His proper place of leadership, we make Him unable to work for us and we fail when our strength eventually gives way, though we have a God who’s strength knows no bound.
Finding your Wife
Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing …King Solomon
Christ found us and is still finding us, Christ saved us and is still saving us.
You marry a woman but you find a wife. Many men have read Proverbs 31 and desired such a woman for a wife, many men are married and are wishing they had married someone else believing they married a wrong woman. Like Gary Thomas said ‘the question did I marry the will of God is a very wrong question to ask after one is married (paraphrased)’, having married him, he has become the will of God.
While Christ has saved us and made us like him (1 John 4:17) in spirit, yet He is still saving us through the renewal of our souls (mind, will, emotions) Rom 12:1,2. Which is a daily lifelong transformative process. Within us is the perfection of Christ (2 cor 3:18, Eph 4:13, 1 John 4:17) and Christ works to bring that reality to become our manifest experience.
In the same way you must realize that within every woman is a wife (lets call her the Proverbs 31 wife), she is the helpmeet for you, perfect for you. Like Christ, the husband is to find that wife in his woman, to find by unconditional love, kindness, care, patience and all the characteristics we see in Christ, by this he will continually find the wife in the woman he has married. We love God because He first loved us; He brings out the sacrifice and patience in us by His sacrifice on the cross and patience towards us.
The same principle applies to the wife to her husband; you find the husband in your man by your support, faith, love, respect, submission, help and the characteristics the Church is to have to Christ.
You may marry a woman but you must find the wife in that woman.
People don’t come ready made, they come the way they are, some more ready than others but all in need of further refining, interestingly we do not help our partners in the refining process by hammering on them rather by hammering on ourselves, our acts and reactions to them, the more loving and refined we are the more we can love and refine our spouse, the greater the light shines in our hearts the further the light shines through our hearts. It’s a continuous process which gets better with time. As has been said the best gift a single can give to his future partner is to prepare himself/herself now, even though it’s years before they meet.
The Non-Issue of Name Changing
In giving us marriage God shows a mystery of Christ and the Church by the husband and the wife, we believe and are baptized signifying a death to our past and our new life in Christ, our Parentage changes no longer under law (Rom 7:1-4) or children of the devil (John 8:44) but now children of God(Gal 4:6) and the bride of Christ.
This can be symbolized when a woman in getting married a woman looses her surname (symbolical of our past identity with the world) and takes up the surname of her husband (symbolical of our new identity in Christ). For us It’s really not a gender issue or human right matter or human philosophy but a depiction of heaven on earth, a pre-play of the greatest marriage yet to come. It also does well to show the two no longer two but one.
It’s really not worth struggling over, no part of scriptures states a woman shall changer her surname, even though such a tradition existed (Isa 4:1). I personally feel however it is a commendable practice worth practicing.
No longer I that live, but Christ that lives in me …Apostle Paul
Series to be continued