Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: The roles of husbands and wives should exhibit Christ’s love

Sunday, August 6th, 2006

Marriage – The Example of Christ’s Love for the Church

Ephesians 5:21- 33

Intro: Current trends in Marriage

The pastor was visiting the fourth-grade Sunday school class to talk about marriage as part of the lesson. He asked the class, “What does God say about marriage?” Immediately one boy replied, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

In 2004 the divorce rate was 47% of all marriages. 1

By age 30, about half of women in the U.S. have cohabited outside of marriage, even though after 10 years, the probability of a first marriage ending is 33 percent, compared with 62 percent for cohabitations. 2

“Baptists have the highest divorce rate of any Christian denomination, and are more likely to get a divorce than atheists and agnostics, according to a national survey.” Now don’t start pointing fingers at the Baptists, because the survey conducted by Barna Research Group in Ventura, Calif., also found that “among Christian groups, only those who attend non-denominational Protestant churches were more likely (than Baptists) to be divorced,” …. And “born-again Christians are more likely than others to experience a divorce,” said George Barna, president of Barna Research Group.”

But this is not necessarily all bad news. George Barna noted that the large number of divorces have changed young people. ‘One of the most striking findings in our recent survey among teenagers is that when we asked them to name their top goals for the future, one of the highest-rated was to get married and have the same spouse for their entire life,’ he said.” 3

I. Christ Exhibited in Mutual Submission

1. The scriptures never should be used to perpetuate any form of human oppression – the scripture and Jesus teachings affirm

a. The dignity of womanhood

b. The equality before God of all human beings

c. The unity of all Christian believers John R W Stott

2. “The God of the bible is a God of order and in his ordering of human life – (the state and the family) he has established certain authority of leadership roles.” 4

“He begins with husbands and wives. “Wives, be subject to your husbands as you are to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife just as Christ is the head of the church.” Now there’s a difficulty here isn’t there. That’s the difficulty of working out what it means for the husband to be the head of the wife. It raises the issues of subjection and oppression … and it raises the question to what extent does the husband’s headship depend on the social situation of the time? But it’s also a difficult issue because we live in a fallen world. Let me take you back to Gen 3, to the fall, to the source of our difficulty. Here’s what God said would be the result of their disobedience: (Gen 3:16 NRSV) “To the woman he said, ‘I will greatly increase your pangs in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.’” Now the term desire there is the same word that’s used in the next chapter where God warns Cain that Sin desires to have him. In other words her desire for her husband isn’t necessarily a physical desire, rather it’s a desire to control him. So the result of the fall is that men rule over women and women desire to have it the other way around. Rather than to love and to cherish, our desire is to dominate. So our natural inclination isn’t to submit to one another but to rule one another. So that makes it doubly difficult for us to deal with a verse like this. Wives find it hard because they don’t want to submit to the rule of another. Husbands find it hard because it gives them a perfect excuse to exercise their sinful urge to dominate. But neither response is a Christian one.” 5

“Thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. Whatever there is of uneasiness in this, it is an effect of sin coming into the world.” 6

“We have to be very careful not to overstate this biblical teaching on authority. It does not mean that the authority of husbands, parents and masters is unlimited, or that wives, children and workers are required to give unconditional obedience. No, the submission required is to God’s authority delegated to human beings…. The principle is clear: we must submit right up to the point where obedience to human authority would involve disobedience to God.” 7

The authority that is implied in the instructions to submission and obedience is actually never mentioned explicitly. That authority “must never be used selfishly, but always for those others for whose benefit it has been given.” Paul actually “warns them against the improper use of their authority, and forbids them to exploit their position, and urges them instead to remember their responsibilities and the other party’s rights.” 8

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