Morning. David Sorn. Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church.
Back in October of 2003, I got down on one knee, not two, and asked Lindsey to be my wife.
Thankfully she said yes.
But as I look back on it, one of the things that really surprised me was all the advice I got in the months after. Especially from men.
Now…I know some of it was just in jest, but so much of it was serious
And to my surprise, almost all of the advice I got from guys went something like this:
“Here are the most important words you’ll learn in marriage: ‘Yes, Dear.”
“You’re always right.”
“Don’t even try and argue bro…just let her do what she wants.”
“Happy wife…happy life!”
I remember even in the first year of my marriage, Lindsey and I were arguing about something in front of some people…and one of the guys was like, “Bro…you just gotta learn to give in. Women will get their way sooner or later.”
Now…not every marriage is like that.
But I think it’s now officially safe to say that even if women’s paygrades are still just slightly below men’s, they officially rule marriage in the United States.
If you’re woman…take this moment…give yourself a congratulatory pat on the back. You did it!
Or wait…here’s a crazy thought! Hold on to this one…
Maybe…maybe…..there isn’t supposed to be a winner in marriage.
Most American marriages could now be safely categorized in the “Yes, Dear…Happy Wife/ Happy Life” category at this point.
But 100 years ago…Even 60 years ago. That wasn’t the case.
Men ruled the home. They worked. Women stayed home. And the man came home from work, took off his shoes, put his feet up, and the woman, tired from a day of cleaning and child-rearing, continued with the chores as the man read the paper.
Men made all the “tough decisions,” women asked their husbands first if it was okay if they did this…and on and on
Now, , some look back at that, and even a lot of Christians and say…”WOW! Those were the glory days.” That’s Godly marriage. Marriage in the right order.
But is it?? Seriously? Is that marriage? Is it just better if men win instead of women?
What is marriage? And what does the Bible say marriage is?
EPHESIANS 5 AND MUTUAL SUBMISSION
I probably don’t need to waste my time convincing you that marriage is in a crisis in this country.
You know the divorce rate. You know it’s not working very well anymore.
I think one of the main reasons is we simply don’t know how to relate to each other.
It sounds really dumb to say it that way. But it’s that simple. No one is telling us how to relate to each other.
But the Word of God, the Bible, is the greatest source of wisdom of all time…and thankfully, it tells us.
Now, I said this two weeks ago, and I’ll say it briefly again.
I realize that not everyone in the room is married.
But I also realize that even if you’re single or divorced, or in high school, that for the vast majority of you, marriage is probably in your future.
And the more you can learn this stuff now, the better off you’ll be!
I also realize that not everyone’s spouse is Christian. Which makes some of the Biblical advice today harder to apply.
But passages like 1 Peter 3 (a great one to read if this is you) give great advice that it can still start w/ YOU applying this
We’re going to look at a very controversial passage in the Bible today.
One that has generated a lot of controversy and anger over the years.
And one that, I believe, the interpretation of, has been just absolutely butchered by Christians of the past.
(Ephesians 5:21) – NIV
21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
This is a general principle for all Christians...and Paul, the author is going to show us…it’s especially a principle for husbands and wives.
Submit to ONE ANOTHER. Both of you.
Now, at first I say the word submit…and you’re like…”ehh…I don’t really like that word”
That very word submission kind of rubs us the wrong way because, well, we don’t like authority very much.
We live in a society that has made a great emphasis on democracy and the equality of everybody; therefore, we have adopted a “nobody is going to tell me what to do” attitude
But submission is more of just a way of life for EVERYONE who follows Christ
It’s how we treat each other:
(Philippians 2:3-4) – NIV
3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
(Matthew 20:26-28) – NIV
26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Jesus is our example. We are to live, be in submission, and serve other people in love.
We don’t put our interests first.
That’s part of being Christian.
And THAT, is the basis for how we should relate to each other in Marriage.
We don’t put ourselves first!
We started in Ephesians Chapter 5 today, and that’s where we will be studying out of, and today, I actually want every single person to lean over and pick up a Bible …because I want to show you something in the text in your Bibles
So, go ahead, everyone lean over and pick up a Bible.
The Ephesians passage is on page 949
(Ephesians 5:21-22) - NIV
21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ 22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.
Now, this is a passage that has been abused for centuries to say, “Okay wives, your husband is boss, submit to him!”
And that’s not at all what it says. And a lot of the problem for it, and this is SO rare, but it’s not a perfect translation from the original greek.”
The Bible was originally written in Greek.
IN the Greek, the word “submit” is ONLY used in verse 21. It’s actually NOT even used again in verse 22.
So the Greek reads like this: “Submit to one ANOTHER out of reverence for Christ.”
Wives…you’re going to do it this way…
Husbands…you’re going to do it this way…
But the word submit isn’t actually used again for the wives section.
The other problem, and this is, what I want you to see in your Bibles because it’s actually fixed in more modern translations like the one in front of you.
Is this…see the heading that says “Instructions for Christian Households?”
First of all, those headings aren’t in the Bible. Translators just put them there to help.
But for years, the heading was placed after verse 21. So it looked like the submit to one another part was detached from verse 22
But it’s HIGHLY connected.
Let’s keep reading.
WHAT IT MEANS FOR WIVES
(Ephesians 5:23-24) – NIV
23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
We’re going to get back to what it means for “The husband to be the HEAD” in a little bit, but here it says, “Wives should submit to their husbands in everything.”
But remember…it JUST said…submit to ONE another. BOTH of you. Here’s how wives should do it. In just a second, we’re going to see…Here’s how husbands should do it.
In fact, there’s only 3 verses on wives…it takes him 8 verses to get through to the husbands. J
Serving people should be the DNA of a Christian.
Can I just take a very quick aside. We need serving help right here at 2nd service.
If you can serve. If you can help be on the frontlines of what we do here at Renovation. A church where in the last 2 weeks, close to 15 brand new visitors have walked in each week.
If you can serve, we need you to act in what we were just talking about.
We are looking for just 3 more greeters.
In fact, everyone look at your bulletin right now.
Flip it over to the back. If you can help with this…it’s a great way to get involved and make a diference.
Just check Greeting Team on the back. Seriously. Thanks!
Submission…like serving…is just simply saying…I’m going to put that person’s interests above myself.
And that’s what a successful marriage looks like.
If I love my wife, I’m going to try and submit, and put her interests before my mine.
And she’s going to try and do the same for me.
Unlike what people have tried to say about this passage, it does not say “Wives OBEY your husbands,” it just talks about putting their interests firsts. Just like Scripture says everywhere else that they are supposed to do for you and other Christians.
Look at what it says for husbands.
WHAT IT MEANS FOR HUSBANDS
(Ephesians 5:25-33) - NIV
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
And notice…as the text starts talking about how husbands are going to mutually submit, it doesn’t say something like, “And Husbands rule over your wives.”
It says, “Husbands Love.”
In such a way, that’s actually WAY more intense than a word like submit or serve….it says, “Like Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”
Jesus…as we know…DIED for the church. For us.
That’s how a husband should serve his wife.
He should love her in such a way that He would die for her.
But we read all this stuff about…submit to one another, love them sacrificially, and I think if we’re honest…and we start thinking out applications, here’s what a lot of think. Cuz I think this way sometimes.
Okay…in my marriage, I don’t like washing the dishes….
Actually, before I get into my hatred of dishes…I want share something even more personal about my life.
I have some fun news this morning that I want to share w/ you:
Lindsey and I are going to be parents.
Which is awesome. Great. But there’s more….
We are having twins. J
Should be fun/crazy/hectic/and amazing all in 1 J
They will probably come sometime in February
Anyway, I wanted to share that w/ you, but back to my hatred of dishes.
CuzI think…if I start just washing the dishes more…without being asked to. If I start just serving her more…HOW IS THAT GOING TO HELP ME?
What if…WHAT IF…she just takes advantage of it? And thinks, “HA! David’s serving me now! And doing more of the work! Gotcha!”
But that’s rarely how it works.
Think about why you love Jesus so much?
It’s because he SACRIFICED for you.
His sacrifice woos you to love Him and WANT to serve Him.
And the same thing in marriage.
The more you sacrifice for each other. The more you mutually put the other first. The more you will receive it back.
It’s not WHY we do it, but it is how it works.
But some of us say, “Yeah…but I don’t think I could do that with a straight face. Honestly David, my marriage is a mess. I don’t think I’m ready to serve yet. If my spouse wants this thing fixed, they need to SERVE me for a change!
But it won’t work that way.
Newspaper columnist and minister George Crane tells a story of a wife who came into his office full of hatred toward her husband.
She said, “I not only want to get rid of him, I want to get even. Before I divorce him, I want to hurt him as much as he has me.
Dr. Crane suggested an ingenious plan “Go home and for 2 months act as if you really love your husband. Tell him how much he means to you. Praise him for every decent trait. Go out of your way to be as kind, considerate, and generous as possible. Spare no efforts to please him, to enjoy him. Make him believe you love him. After you’ve convinced him of your undying love and that you cannot live without him, then drop the bomb. Tell him that you’re getting a divorce. That will really hurt him.”
With revenge in her eyes, she smiled and exclaimed, “Beautiful, beautiful. Will he ever be surprised!”
And she did it with enthusiasm. Acting “as if.” For two months she showed love, kindness, listening, giving, reinforcing, sharing.
When she didn’t return, Crane called. “Are you ready now to go through with the divorce?”
“Divorce?” she exclaimed. “Never! I discovered I really do love him.” Her actions had changed her feelings. Motion resulted in emotion.
We get stuck in marriage so often because we’re waiting on our hearts to change FIRST.
We think (GASP!) the worst thing in the world is to serve someone if you don’t really mean it
But LOVE is SACRIFICIAL…AND, you will NEVER move yourself out of a rut unless SOMEBODY takes the action to LOVE the other person even if you’re not feeling it
Love…loves…even when you’re not feeling it. And that is the essence of how it gets rekindled.
By putting the other person first like the Bible says.
We couldn’t ever live out Jesus’ instructions for us if we always wait until we’re “Feelin’ it first.”
This how you get a marriage really going. You submit to one another. You serve.
And if the fires of your marriage are cold right now. It’s going to take one of you be willing to do it…
And despite the fact that I ignorantly sometimes think, “She’ll take advantage of it if I serve” or I think, “Well, I just don’t feel like it yet…”
I find that when you actually do put the other person first, even though it seems SO counterintuitive, that’s where you will find LIFE in marriage.
Listen, it never goes bad for me, when I mutually submit and love my wife.
When I love my wife like Christ loved the church…
Our marriage will flourish….when I put HER FIRST!
NOTICE…I didn’t say…when I give in to her every whim…”Happy Wife…Happy Life.”
No. That’s not a MUTUAL relationship like the Bible talks about. That’s letting someone walk on you. Not a RELATIONSHIP.
Even though we see a mutual submission here through submitting and love, there is still something lingering in this passage about leadership.
It’s a great verse, and unfortunately it’s also been taken out of context and abused a lot. So let’s try and make some sense out of it.
(Ephesians 5:23) – NIV
23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior
This verse has also been used over the centuries to say: “The Husband is the HEAD…so…he makes all the decisions. What he says goes.
But whenever we look at a verse, we have to see its context.
And its context is that the husband is the head like Christ…who was the leader of the church…in how he served her and gave himself up for her…
Which is exactly what the next verses say.
Christ isn’t the HEAD in how he told everybody what to do! And He’s in Charge!”
No, “head” could be translated as being the leader in “taking responsibility for.”
Taking responsibility for loving first (like Christ). For serving first (like Christ). For growing the family spiritually (which verses 26 and 27 talk about)
And we talked about 2 weeks ago.
I want to read you something I read online a little while ago from just an average husband in church who was trying to describe what this means in his marriage:
“I am a big believer in headship. I am the head of my family. And I strive to do that as Christ loves the Church. He sacrificed himself and I must be prepared to do the same. When you figure what that means on a daily basis by looking at Christ's example, "headship" turns out not to be all that attractive. It means washing a lot of feet and embracing suffering in little and big ways for the well-being of those you love. Not that my wife doesn't do this plenty. It just means that I must be first. My initiative sets the tone for my family.
Headship means I kill the critter, clean up the bodily fluids, and make all the awkward phone calls. Headship means I am the first to swallow my pride. The first to extend an olive branch when we are both being jerks. Mine is the responsibility to drive the car w/o air conditioning. To do whichever simultaneous and mandatory chore that my wife does not want to do. My headship means that I am the example of Christ's love to my wife and kids. I wash a lot of feet. But I wouldn't have it any other way.
And I love that, and it makes me so sad that all Christians could come up with from this passage is: “The Husband is in charge!”
No, that’s not being the leader like Christ would lead. It’s not even in the same galaxy.
HOW TO LIVE OUT MUTUAL SUBMISSION
And I tell you what, “If you can start living out some of these Biblical principles in your life…Wives, if you can start thinking of serving your husbands first. Husbands, if you can start thinking about doing whatever it takes to love your wife and put her first….
Your marriage will flourish.
But if we go back to the ways of the world…and just fight for who wins…it will only end up in both of you losing.
And I think we can take submitting to one another even one step further.
Let me explain with a true story:
A Christian writer tells this story of quite some time ago when he was a younger father and had an 8 year old named Helen and a 5 year old named Brandon.
He took them to the mall, and as he was going to run into sears to buy a saw, they noticed the mall had set-up a petting zoo.
His daughter begged him to go, and he said sure. He gave them each a quarter to get in.
A minute later as he was looking for the saws, he noticed his 8 year old daughter walking behind him.
He said, “What happened?? She said, “Well Daddy, it costs 50 cents, so I gave Brandon my quarter.” He then writes, “Then she said the most beautiful thing ever, ‘It’s like you always say, ‘Love is Action.”
His daughter, who LOVED animals, had given her quarter so her younger brother could get in, and he was so touched by her willingness to PUT HER BROTHER FIRST
As soon as he finished buying the saw, he took Helen out to the petting zoo, and they saw her brother petting all the animals.
NOW…let me pause for a moment. I want you to finish the story in your head. What do you think he did w/ the daughter? What happens next?
Here’s what really happens:
The author writes, “Helen stood with her hands and chin resting on the fence and just watched her brother. I had 50 cents burning a hole in my pocket. But she never asked me for it, and I never offered it.”
“Because she knew that LOVE is also Sacrifice. Love always pays a price. Love always costs something. Love is expensive. When you love, benefits accrue to another’s account. Love is for THEM, not you. Love is a sacrificial action.”
And I love this story…because almost all of us saw the story end like this, “And then the dad thanked his daughter for being kind, and gave her 50 cents to go enjoy it too!”
And here’s my fear for us as American Christians.
That we’ll try embrace mutual submission in love to each other.
But for the wrong reasons.
We’ll do it because we’ll think, “Well, if I really serve my wife a lot, then she owes me something. And thus, marriage will work.
Now, yes, as we said earlier…serving is compelling to other person
But it’s NOT WHY WE DO IT.
Just like that story. We don’t LOVE to get LOVE. Which is what that father brilliantly taught his daughter.
And it’s not our example. Did Jesus go to the cross because he couldn’t wait to see what he would get in return for his sacrifice?
NO. Love is sacrificial.
Real love in marriage says, “I love this person so much, that I will put them first. Even if it’s a sacrifice to me.”
And I believe many marriages fail because they operate on the principle of FAIRNESS more than the principles of LOVE and SACRIFICE.
Fairness…is NOT Love. Love is Sacrifice.
You want life in your marriage? Love? Real love?
Follow the way that works. See, there’s the old way where MAN is boss! Or the new way of “Happy Wife/Happy Life” Or there’s the postmodern way of we’ll split who wins 50% of the time. You got your way last time!”
Or, there is the Bible’s way, which is this: Try and outlove the other person.
Let’s pray for that to happen in this church.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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