February 8, 2012 by Stacy McDonald
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