Summary: God gave us marriage as a picture of Christ’s love for His church. We faithfully show the world His love for us in the way we accurately display that picture in our marital submission.
1. Marital submission is about a mutual position
2. Marital submission is about a marvelous preparation
3. Marital submission is about a mysterious picture
On June 14, 2000, Southern Baptists created a firestorm of controversy. Leaders of our convention were all over the TV trying to defend their actions. I remember headline stories on CNN and all the networks slamming Southern Baptists. What was all the trouble over? What had happened that was so atrocious that it caused a national media outcry? Did Southern Baptists denounce the Bible and say it wasn’t true? No, other denominations have been doing that for over 100 years and the press doesn’t even notice. Did we elect a female convention president? No, women lead other denominations and the media praises them for how progressive they are. Did we embrace the homosexual agenda and say homosexual marriage is OK? No, certainly not. Every time a religious group does that, they are praised for how tolerant and open-minded they are. So, what could Southern Baptists have done that was so atrocious? What did we do that was so offensive to the media and a large portion of the American public? On June 14, 2000, at the convention in Orlando, Southern Baptists adopted a new revision of our statement of faith called the Baptist Faith and Message. It contains our beliefs on 18 foundational topics like the Bible, God, man, and salvation. The first 17 didn’t get much press. It was the 18th that caused the firestorm—the one titled “The Family.” It contains two statements which completely go against the grain of American society today. Two statements that are completely and totally biblical. The first is: “Marriage is the uniting of one man and one woman in covenant commitment for a lifetime.” That statement is so offensive to the world today, that preachers have been arrested in Europe and Canada for saying it from the pulpit. It is considered hate speech and we’re not far from it here in America today. The second statement that caused such problems is a bit longer. It says: “A husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church. He has the God-given responsibility to provide for, to protect, and to lead his family. A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ.” Our denomination actually had the audacity to put in writing that husbands are supposed to lead their families. And worse yet that wives are supposed to submit to their husbands’ leadership. Our society doesn’t want to hear that. If we’re old-fashioned enough to believe in marriage, we want it to be a 50-50 partnership. Everybody contributes, everybody shares. If you don’t pull your weight, you’re out. The partnership is dissolved. That might sound good if you’re building a commune or a corporation. But it’s not what God intended for a home. The passage we’re looking at this morning tells us God’s intent for the marriage relationship. But we have to remember to look at it in the context of what we talked about last week. Back in verses 17-21, Paul said that as Christians, we are to strive to be filled with the Holy Spirit. And then he gave us three things that would show if we are. We will overflow with praise, we will overflow with thanksgiving, and we will overflow with humility. He talks about the humility part in verse 21 where he introduces us to the “S” word. The word we hate because of our pride and selfishness. The word is submit. In our passage this morning, Paul expands on the concept of submission he introduced in verse 21 by pointing out what it looks like in our closest earthly relationship—marriage. God didn’t give us marriage so we could have an equal partnership. He didn’t give us husbands and wives so we could have someone to share the load with and help make ends meet. He gave us marriage as a picture of Christ’s love for His church. I want those of us who are married this morning to faithfully show Christ’s love for the church by our marital submission. But this sermon isn’t only for us married folks. It’s for all of us. I want each of us—married or not—to submit to Christ as His bride, just as the picture of marriage is supposed to show us. In order to do that, we’re going to look at three things that submission in marriage is all about. First, marital submission is about a mutual position. Keep your Bibles open to our passage as we will be moving around in it rather than hitting it verse by verse.
Marital submission is about a mutual position. Notice I said “mutual”. Go back up to verse 21. As Christians, who are we to submit ourselves to? One another. Within the church, all of us Christians are to humble ourselves and mutually submit to each other. Now remember I said that verse 21 introduces our passage this morning. So, Paul carries the idea of mutual submission into the home. Now, wait a minute. Verse 22 plainly says, “Wives submit to your husbands.” Yes it does. And verse 25 says, “Husbands love your wives”—how? “Even as Christ loved the church.” And how much did Christ love the church? So much that He emptied Himself of all He is and humbled Himself and died on the cross for us. See, submission is about humility. And the most humble act ever performed was when Jesus Christ gave Himself for the church. Submission within the home is the same as submission within the church. It is to be mutual. But what does that mean? How does that work? It works because the wife’s submission takes a different form than a husband’s. The wife submits to her husband as the head of the household. The feminist movement of the past few decades has done everything it can to destroy that concept. I say it’s the feminist movement, but it really goes back further than that. It goes back all the way to the Garden of Eden. Remember the curse that God laid down as a result of Adam and Eve’s sin? In Genesis 3:16, God told Eve, “Thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.” And ever since then, two things have happened. Husbands have shirked their responsibility in the home and wives have tried to usurp their authority. Headship is not something dreamt up by male-chauvinist pigs to keep our little ladies barefoot and pregnant. Headship is the family model that God ordained before He even created man and woman. The husband is to be head of his household. How? Just as Christ is the head of the church. So then we have to see how Jesus acts as head of His church. Is He a dictator? Does He rule the church with an iron fist? Does He command and dictate and boss? Or does He love? His leadership is a sacrificial leadership. It is a servant leadership. Yes, He has standards and rules and commandments. But He also said, my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Headship is Christ-like leadership. Leadership that is willing to wash your betrayer’s feet. Leadership that is willing to give everything—personal desires, wants, wishes—everything. Even your own life. That’s biblical headship. That kind of leadership takes humility. It takes submission. Biblical headship is the form of submission that us husbands are to engage in. Now, with that kind of leadership, you would think it would be easy for wives to submit to their husbands. But how easy is it to submit to Christ’s leadership in our lives? Not very. Because just like our wives, we want to be in control. We want to be masters of our own fate. But God didn’t design it that way. Just as husbands are to take the role of biblical headship, wives are to allow them to. We pray all the time that we want God’s will for our church. That’s great as long as we do it when He shows it to us. Ladies, when was the last time you asked your husbands what his will was for you? When he told you, did you do it? Like I said, that would be a whole lot easier if all of us husbands were exercising biblical headship the way we’re supposed to. But what happens if that’s not the case? Where’s the escape clause? I don’t see one at all for husbands. The only one I see for wives is if your husband is abusive or demanding you go against the clear teachings of Scripture. Our first responsibility is to God. If your spouse demands that you flagrantly go against the teachings of God’s Word, follow God. Wives—for those of you who are married to non-Christian husbands—you have a tremendous burden. You have to balance submitting to the headship of an ungodly husband and submitting to the headship of a holy God. It can seem like an impossible situation for you. But with God all things are possible. Trust in Him, lean on Him and He will give you the strength to endure. He will give you the wisdom to be able to witness to your husband. You will never nag him into the kingdom. You will never bribe him into the kingdom. You will never be able to argue him into the kingdom. You will only be able to love him into the kingdom—just like Christ does for us. If you are in that situation, sit down with our young ladies. Use the testimony of your own life to impress on them the importance of only dating Christian young men. God promises that He will bring good out of your situation. Maybe that’s one way. Marital submission is about a mutual position. Just like all believers are to submit to one another, husbands and wives are to submit to each other. Husbands by exercising biblical headship and wives by allowing them to. But marital submission is not only about a mutual position, it is about a marvelous preparation.