Summary: The changes in the American family have been shocking. To one extent or another, all of us are struggling to find ways to make our households work. But the challenges we face today are much different than those faced by our grandparents.
The transformation of the American family during my lifetime has been nothing short of breathtaking. When I was a kid the television shows we watched were Ozzie and Harriet, Father Knows Best and Leave it to Beaver. All three shows dealt with middle class families with mom and dad and the kids living happily in suburbia. The closest thing to family dysfunction was My Three Sons with Fred McMurray raising three boys without a wife around.
My, oh my, how times have changed! These changes are epitomized by the title of one of today’s most popular shows: Desperate Housewives. Think about it. In the short span of my lifetime our society’s ideals of marriage and family have shifted from Ward and June Cleaver as role models to a band of backbiting sexually indiscreet women.
The changes in the American family have been shocking, to say the least. But I don’t think it’s helpful to sit around moping while we pine away with long faces yearning for the good old days. That won’t do any good and it certainly won’t change anything. The fact is, we can’t go back in time. Often people bemoan this, but the fact is we live in the 21st century. And God wants to equip us to live here and now in the real world where we find ourselves.
So, with that in mind, we’re calling this new series “Desperate Households.” I think the title captures the urgency of our time. To one extent or another, all of us are struggling to find ways to make our households work. But the challenges we face today are much different than those faced by our grandparents. For instance, today 43% of the US adult population is single. In other words, 95.7 million Americans over the age of 15 are not married. The world has changed! To quote Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, “Todo, we’re not in Kansas anymore!” I think to some extent these changes have caught people off-guard; particularly those of us in the church. In general, the church has not responded well to the changes in the American family. All too often Christ-followers have tried to retreat by isolating themselves from what they perceive as a disintegrating society. But, I remind you, nowhere in the Bible do we find God retreating from hurting people. Quite the opposite! When God came to earth in the person of Jesus, he buried himself up to his elbows in the stuff of people’s lives!
Instead of retreating, I think the Lord wants us to move forward! The truths in God’s Word have never been more relevant than they are today! For example, I think people need to be reminded that there’s not one example of what we could call a perfect family in Scripture. Ozzie and Harriet simply aren’t in the Bible. Rather we have Abraham who committed adultery and bore a son thru his wife’s maid. We have Jacob a liar and cheat who had children by two different wives and two maids. We have Moses who grew up as a foster child in Pharaoh’s palace. King David is called “a man after God’s own heart,” but his family had incest and sexual abuse. The prophet Hosea married a prostitute and Jesus more than likely lost his father while he was young and lived in a single parent home.
Do you see? There are no perfect households in the Bible! And there are no perfect households on earth. The Bible says none are perfect. “We’ve all fallen short of the glory of God.” As a result, not one of our households is perfect. This means we all need God’s grace! This means we all need God’s help! And that help comes primarily from God’s inspired Word, the Bible. The passage that we’re going to consider over the next four weeks begins in Ephesians 5:21. This passage offers God’s roadmap for building healthy, functional households in spite of all the craziness around us.
Today we’re going to focus on verses 25-33. I want you to notice especially that husbands are told to “love their wives” three different times. The same command is repeated in verses 25, 28 and 33. You might underline each time the phrase appears in your Bible. All three times the Greek word for love is agape. The love that husbands are called to give their wives is unconditional. It’s the opposite of selfishness. Agape love puts others first. In other words, a husband’s love for his wife is to be nothing less than a reflection of God’s love.
(Read Eph. 5:25-33) Look back at verse 25. Men, what I’m going to share today will be helpful for you, whether or not you are married. The principles found in this passage are helpful for all men (single, married or divorced) in their relationships with women. With this in mind, men, would you repeat verse 25 out loud with me? "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her..." I think this is one of the most challenging verses in the Bible. Why? Because the verse calls me to love sacrificially, like Christ. It calls me to give up my rights; to be selfless instead of being selfish.