3-Week Series: Double Blessing


Summary: Ephesians 5


What marriage means to you

Different people have different definitions of marriage. So, what's yours?

ACCOUNTANT: Marriage means making a profit, having another person to share the daily expenses.

ECONOMIST: A man is said to be incomplete before he's married. After that, he's finished.

BANKER: Marriage is like a loan for honeymoon; thereafter, it's all payments.

FIREMAN: Marriage these days are like fires. They go out over time.

MATHEMATICIAN: Give your wife an inch and she becomes the ruler.

MUSICIAN: Marriage is like listening to a single song over and over again.

OPHTHALMOLOGIST: Love is blind. But marriage is an eye opener. You have to see eye to eye.

PHILOSOPHER: Marriage teaches you great many things you wouldn't need if you had stayed single, such as tolerance.

PIANIST: Marriage is like a piano. How well it sounds depends on how well you keep it in tune.

PLUMBER: Marriage is like a warm bath. Once you get used to it, it is not so hot.

SOLDIER: Marriage is like a besieged castle. Those who are outside try to get in while those who are inside try to get out.

VIOLINIST: Marriage is like a violin. After the beautiful music is over, the strings are still attached.

WASHERWOMAN: Marriage is the most expensive way to get your laundry free.

DRIVER: Marriage is like having a back seat driver.

Engineers: Marriage has many more problems to solve than single?

How about when two believers marry? Marriage is a beautiful institution that has turned ugly for believers and unbelievers alike. Marriage is more than a courtship, a certificate or a companionship. It requires work and wisdom.

What is the biblical blueprint on marriage for families, couples, parents and children? Is it a hard and fast rule, or healthy and flexible one? Are we victors or victims in marrying? What is a Christian family?

Wives, Let Men Lead

21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. 22 Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 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. (Eph 5:21-24)

One of the most talked about news from Prince William and Kate Middleton's royal wedding in 2011 is the bride's marriage vow. Following the lead of Princess Diana, the first royal to refuse to "obey" when she married Prince Charles in 1981 at the age of 20, Kate Middleton omitted the word "obey" from her wedding vows. The future Queen of England instead promised to "love, comfort, honor and keep" Prince William.

William's grandmother, the Queen, and his aunts Princess Anne, Sarah Ferguson and Sophie Wessex used the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, which requires brides to "love, cherish and obey." Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, who married William and Kate, said he does not support the use of "obey" in wedding vows. He said it was outdated and could be used to justify domestic violence. Sadly, Diana did not want to submit and her prince did not love her!

My wonderful wife cautioned me about this passage. She said women dislike the word "obey." Not one to refuse a tease, I asked my wife, "Did you say "obey" in your vows?" She said in Chinese, "How to not to use it?" I replied, "It's Murphy, isn't it" referring to the wedding minister as well as her mentor, who is a conservative Southern Baptist ordained minister. On our wedding day, her mentor Rev Murphy Lum was the officiating minister and my mentor Rev Herman Tang, another Southern Baptist ordained minister, was the speaker, so she has no escape.

The Bible's blueprint and counsel for wives is for them to submit (vv 21, 24) to their husbands, but with an unexpected, unsuspecting and unforeseen twist. First of all, the presupposed imperative "submit" is missing from verse 22, but it is borrowed from the context of verse 21's "submitting (yourselves in the fear of God)," which is a participle, which is linked to be filled with the Spirit (v 18), and verse 24's "submit," which is an indicative verb. None of the two is an imperative. While the imperative "submit" is missing from Ephesians, it is nevertheless present in another almost identical passage - Colossians 3:18.

On the other hand, the submission of wives is the key to a healthy, happy and harmonious marriage, and not a heartless, helpless and headless marriage. Not only "to submit" is not an imperative, it simply means from "under" (hupo) and "arrangement" (tasso), meaning to be under an arrangement, not that the husband is necessarily superior, strong or successful. Married women with higher education and higher-income naturally ask, "Why do I have to submit to my husband?" Because men needs their wives' respect, recognition, reassurance and room to do the job God intended them, which is to lead the family. No woman looks up to a man who is insecure, indecisive, inferior, intimidated, inadequate and invisible. It is obvious that a shaky man leads to a shaky marriage. While women do not have the same problem, man cannot live with a wounded bruised and bloodied ego and esteem. If their respect is shattered, they live in a less manly manner. A man can live without power over others, but he cannot live without pride in himself.

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