February 8, 2012 by Stacy McDonald

Divided We Fall: The Great Dance – Part 2 of Stained Sheets

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Read Part 1 here: Stained Sheets: Licking Ash Trays

While God has declared that the two should become “one flesh,” many husbands and wives have separate bank accounts and split the bills; many have individual careers and social lives, which sometimes include close friendships with those of the opposite sex. Sadly, there are Christian couples who attend separate churches and even sleep in separate bedrooms. Millions of couples share an address without ever truly sharing the joy of the one-flesh relationship that God intended. For many, oneness in marriage may sound sweet and romantic, but it doesn’t really mean anything.

In Malachi 2:15 God Himself says that He is present in the union; and what does He make clear that He is after? He says that He seeks godly offspring. He wants us to be faithful in raising up generations of children who love and glorify Him! But, how can we properly do that when so many of our marriages are sick and diseased—when the sheets of our marriage beds are shredded and stained? How can the music of the Spirit flow between us when our relationship is a cacophony of conflict as we both fight for our own way?

Scripture instructs a husband to give his wife honor, keeping in mind that she is a weaker vessel, and that together they are heirs of the grace of life (1 Peter 3:7)! He is commanded to love her as Christ sacrificially loved the Church (His Bride), pouring Himself out, even to the point of death (Ephesians 5:25).
When a husband loves his wife, I mean truly loves his wife, it will be difficult for her to resist such pursuit. Oneness is born out of this type of passion. And the honor of marriage is built up. Husbands and wives will be one when they learn to dance to the melody of life together!

The Dance of Marriage

Often, a man is told that to treat a woman with respect, he must treat her as his “equal.” She can get her own door, make her own money, and fight her own battles. Instead of viewing her as equal in value, but different in purpose, and rather than treat her as a precious jewel (Proverbs 31:10) to be protected and cherished, he is taught by the world to relate to his wife as more of a roommate or co-worker.

Donald O’Connor once shared that one of his favorite dance performances was the one he performed with Vera Ellen, in the movie, Call Me Madame. He said of Miss Ellen:

“When we danced together the great thing about her was that she didn’t try to upstage you. Women dancers sometimes try to lead. We worked together and every movement we did meant something.”

Just as an elegant waltz requires someone to skillfully lead the steps, so does the well-choreographed dance of marriage require a husband to lovingly lead his wife. He doesn’t stomp on her toes; instead, with strength and purpose, and an ear for the Great Musician, he leads the dance.

Men and women each have their unique roles and duties in marriage, which are equally important and essential to the ministry of the family. If the dance is going to be a success—if it’s going to flow without a lot of stumbling, someone is going to have to lead; and, for that to really mean something, someone else is going to have to follow.

“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.” (Ephesians 5:22-24)

As men and women, we tend to loath submission to authority. From birth, we don’t want to be told what to do. We are inherently selfish. Everything is “mine,” and anything that goes wrong is “somebody else’s fault.” We are selfish rebels at heart. It’s the nature of sinful man.

So it’s not surprising that the “chain of command” found in Scripture tends to be a hotly debated topic, even within Christian circles. And thanks to feminism, abuse, and pop theology, the biblical concept of wives submitting to their husbands is too often misinterpreted and misrepresented, or rejected all together as outdated, even by Christians. Webster’s 1828 Dictionary gives us the following definition of submission:

“Resignation; a yielding of one’s will to the will or appointment of a superior without murmuring. Entire and cheerful submission to the will of God is a Christian duty of prime excellence.”

There is a peaceful trust and strength that is born from resolutely obeying God and remaining under the authority in which He has placed us. There is a distinct comfort that comes from recognizing the sovereignty of God and being content with His plan for us.

That being said, we should never submit to any leader to the point of sin; and we mustn’t equate biblical submission with the foolishness of blind submission. We must obey God above all others, and violating His statutes under the guise of submitting to a sinning husband is wrong.

Yes, a husband will be held accountable if he leads his wife into sin, but a wife is also accountable for her own sin. And a wife who allows her husband to continue in sin without confronting him is neither truly loving/helping her husband, nor is she glorifying God with her silence. Part of being a helpmeet to my husband is helping him to make wise decisions and pointing out areas where he may be blind. A wise wife should be able to give wise counsel. Purposeful submission is active and thinking, and honors God; passive submission is lazy and blind, and honors man.

Read Part 3, Stained Sheets: Washed in the Blood

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13 Responses to “Divided We Fall: The Great Dance – Part 2 of Stained Sheets”

  1. Pam Leding says:

    Wonderfully expressed! How sad that often this glorious biblical doctrine of submission is so distorted to the point of women not lovingly comfronting their husbands when they sin. As you stated, “we must obey God above all others” is key to abiding in Christ! Thank you, Stacy, for this post!

  2. Joa says:

    I love this short series. I love your frankness about the Biblical truth. I am especially comforted by what you stated here about peaceful trust and strength coming from obedience to God. To hear it from the world, we have to lace up our bootstraps and be our own god.

    Just a comment about something I’ve noticed- I grew up in a Presbyterian Church, PC USA- I don’t go there now because I don’t agree with their political leftism. For the last few years, I’ve attended a Primitive Baptist church. It seems like a minor phenomenon there, where a husband (usually a husband) is a Primitive Baptist, and his wife goes to (usually here) a Southern Baptist church and comes to church with her husband occasionally. I even know a preacher whose wife doesn’t regularly attend because she is a member of a free will Baptist church.

    I thought it was strange that so many couples here were split on, presumably, free will versus sovereignty, and thus went to different churches. On first blush I thought that was not ideal. I still don’t think it’s ideal; but it has made me think more about myself, as an unmarried girl. What if my future spouse doesn’t believe doctrine the way I do? Is it a dealbreaker? What about children?

    Just thoughts. :)


  3. Jennifer says:

    I prefer the regular definition of submission in the dictionary I’ve seen, which doesn’t mention a “superior”.

  4. Emily says:

    What gives you the right to pass judgment on what other married couples do in the privacy of their own bedrooms? Not everyone lives by the Puritan’s Creed (the horrible fear that someone, somewhere, is having a good time, *and they must be stopped!*) If you want to make a positive contribution to humanity, you have countless options. I suggest the best way to start is by minding your own business, and keeping your nose out of other people’s marriages and sex lives.

  5. Stacy McDonald says:

    Hi Emily,

    Do you want to be more specific? We weren’t discussing “what married people do in their bedrooms” other than to say that sexual intimacy in marriage is a song filled with passion, security, excitement, satisfaction, oneness, and mystery.

    I did talk about the ugliness of pervert shacks. The types of sex promoted there include fornication, group sex, sado-masochism, pornography, masturbation, and homosexuality. Do you think these things are healthy? If a Christian brings this into his/her marriage bed, they are defiling what is beautiful and holy. There is no special license for married people to partake in what God calls sin…or an abomination. And yes, before I was a Christian, I walked into a place like this. As wicked as my life was at the time, even I was repulsed by what was in that place.

    There was nothing beautiful or intimate about it. It was cheap, raunchy, and lewd; the walls were filled with pornography and the shelves were filled with items that promoted every form of perversion imaginable. It was sickening. I can’t imagine any Christian convincing themselves that this type of place would “help” their marriage.

    I found it interesting that you think people who promote a pure marriage bed are afraid that “someone, somewhere, is having a good time, and they must be stopped.” Don’t you see that this is exactly the opposite of what this whole article was about.

    I WANT Christians to have a good time – but I want them to have even more than that – I want to see marriages flourish. My hope for Christian couples is that their sex lives will be a safe and secure place where they can express their love for one another in beauty, passion, purity, and excitement. It won’t happen with cheap tricks and images of porn models in their minds. I want them to turn from what is filthy and turn to what is absolutely beautiful and amazing. Don’t settle for Satan’s counterfeit. Go for the good stuff.

  6. Stacy McDonald says:

    Don’t get too hung up on the word “superior” Jennifer. It is simply referring to rank/responsibility. When a man gets a job, his boss is his “superior.” That doesn’t mean his boss is “better” than he is. It just means the boss has a job to do – and he is in charge of making sure things run the way they’re supposed to. It’s all part of an orderly system. God is a God of order.

  7. Colleen G says:

    For Joa’s question above- Yes you really need to make sure that your future husband’s doctrinal belifes are the same as yours are. You will be asking this man to be the spiritual authority in your house and you won’t be able to trust that God is leading him if you distrust his theology. It will set up your children for division. How will they know which parent has it right? It would almost be like forcing them to rebel against one of you. By doctrine I mean the big stuff like eternal security, liberty and baptism. Small stuff would be pianos vs. organs or hymns vs contemporary. Although it makes life eaiser for all if you generally agree on the small stuff too.
    I always wondered why the feminists(in general) think it is ok to submit to a boss but not submit to a husband. Neither one asks you to leave your brain at the door and a boss tends to think of you as a lower being and not an equal person with different fuctions. On the plus side my husband doesn’t take advantage of me. My bosses were always trying to work as much profit out of me as possible while giving me the lowest pay/benefits.

  8. Alek says:

    wow Emily, did you even read the post?

  9. Gina says:

    “There is a peaceful trust and strength that is born from resolutely obeying God and remaining under the authority in which He has placed us. There is a distinct comfort that comes from recognizing the sovereignty of God and being content with His plan for us.”

    I’ve been doing a word study on “authority” and it was helpful for me to see that the root of this word “au” means to augment and gives the idea that authority helps us grown because we are “augmented” with safety, care, etc. when the authority is rightful.

    Keep writing!

  10. p says:

    honestly i am not right, b/c i am questioning my faith do i really WANT God. Or something else. because i feel like im pressured, being made to do something that doesnt come out of a heart of thanks and understanding of who He is but of anger and being forced. God doesnt make anyone serve Him, there has got to be a relationship there. My roles as a wife and mom i dunno the more i read this stuff the more im like do i even WANT this. I doesnt sound like its something i desire. im just being honest. But i mean like Peter where are you gonna go. But i want my relationship to God to be something of a joy to serve Him, but its not sounding like it. I appreciate the help tho i have a lot of changing to do.

  11. HollymMead says:

    Yikes, Emily! Your anger at the “passing of judgment” comes through loud and clear, but Stacy was simply offering her advice and support to encourage people to want the very best God’s Word has for them and to not settle for less. That isn’t judgmental; it’s loving. Christians should deeply desire to live in conformity with the joy the Lord has set before them (and He has a glorious FEAST in His Word regarding sex within marriage) and it is good for brothers and sisters in Christ to encourage one another to pursue all the Truth from the Word. Stacy isn’t making up her own standard and ramming it down anyone’s throat here; God’s Word is VERY, VERY CLEAR in these matters she is addressing, and His Word IS the only standard being presented here. (The fallout of sin that she describes as being “raunchy,” etc. is just pure sociological fact that is readily observed from even secular statisticians who chronicle the social and psychological ills that result from these kinds of activities.) Don’t be riled up thinking Stacy is trying to suppress your access to that which is good (or fun, which really isn’t a Biblical concept at all. . .fun falls so short of joy, which IS a Biblical concept); that’s the very thing she does want for you!

  12. Joa says:

    Thanks for your advice, Colleen. All of the couples I know personally in this situation are very graceful and understanding, and I’ve never heard anyone bad-mouth the others’ church or doctrinal beliefs, etc. I don’t know that free-will versus sovereignty, for one example, is necessarily a deal- breaker; but I don’t like the idea of not going to church with a future spouse. “So find someone with your beliefs.” Yeah, I know. :)

  13. Sue M. says:

    WRT to a husband and wife attending different churches…In my home city I had a co-worker (Maxine) who worshiped at a large Lutheran church downtown and her husband belonged to a charismatic church closer to their house. The wife occasionally attended her husband’s church. But one of the most selfless things I’ve ever seen was that Maxine’s husband went to an early service at his church, stopped by their house to take her out to breakfast, and then they both drove downtown so they could worship at her Lutheran church together.

    When Maxine asked her husband why he was so willing to attend church twice each Sunday morning he said something like this: “I appreciate being a part of X Church (his church), its beliefs, and the people I know there (which Maxine also knew). But I know how much St. X’s Lutheran church meant to you. It was your family’s church. You went there every Sunday and were baptized and confirmed there. You came to know the Lord there. We were married there and sent our kids to VBS there. How could I take that away from you?” Now if that’s not an example of a husband loving his wife his wife like Christ loved the church, I’ll eat my hat! :)

    P. S. While their children were living at home they chose a Methodist church, I think, so they wouldn’t make their kids feel pulled one way or another or never really feel part of either church. After that they returned to their preferred churches.

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