Marriage is not a man-made institution. The more I learn about it, the more I see God’s fingerprints all over marriage. We can choose to ignore God’s design, roles, and advice, but it usually doesn’t work out very well. I know it hasn’t in my life! He’s the dad and we’re the kids; that’s why. Truth is truth. We can try to change it, argue with it, and maybe not like it, but it is still just as true.
A fire in a fireplace is a beautiful, warm, comforting thing. That is truth. If the same fire gets out of the natural, safe parameters for it, say, on the living room floor, then it gets ugly, out-of-control, and overwhelming very quickly. When we fail to keep God’s design, roles, and advice with respect to marriage, the same thing can happen; it can get ugly, out-of-control, and overwhelming very quickly.
An example of roles that is very misunderstood by our culture is the role of leadership by a husband and submission by a wife. This topic often comes up in Christian counseling for couples. On the surface, I admit that does sound harsh, but it is a very well-designed concept that God gives us for harmony, peace, and growth in a Christian marriage.
The spiritual leader or husband in a is not better, smarter, or above the wife who submits. He simply is the one that makes decisions when hard ones need to be made, but the pattern he follows is from Christ. Our leader, as Christians, Christ died and gave himself for us. Husbands should always make the hard decisions in that manner: dying to self and unselfishly, sacrificially nurturing, encouraging, protecting, promoting, blessing, and loving their wives. It’s pretty easy to submit to a husband who is leading in the way he should lead. This type of submission on the part of a wife, ideally enables a husband to love his wife even more sacrificially. Many times couples can make vast improvement in how to focus solely upon their side of the street in this regard, often a focus of Christian marriage counseling.
In the Garden of Eden is where the first husband wimped out. Eve didn’t need to go find Adam to offer him the apple. He was standing right there the whole time listening to satan tempt Eve. What bold leadership Adam displayed. Eve had to step in and usurp his leadership, because he wasn’t manning up. She had to try to discern on her own whether this was a good thing to do. Adam simply stood there silently and didn’t lift a finger while his wife was tempted, and then volunteered to take the first bite. His answer to God: “The woman you gave me made me do it!”
When a woman feels safely free to submit to her husband because he is always holding her in the highest esteem and sacrificially putting her before himself, it empowers both husband and wife. Biblical counseling includes the premise that a wife can have a tremendous influence on her husband. Remember, most of us are just little boys in a man’s body! I know my poor wife submits many times when she must be thinking: “What is he doing, God?!?”
The story is told of a man and his wife in Chicago. Bob was one of the youngest city commissioners ever hired to serve. City commissioners are non-political executives in city government that are held over in city administrations based upon their performance only, regardless of political affiliation. At the time there were nine of these executives in Chicago; Bob, at age 33 was City Commissioner over Construction & Infrastructure for the entire City of Chicago, hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of buildings, bridges, roads, parks and other assets.
One Saturday, Bob and his wife, Susan, were visiting a new high-rise office building under construction for the city. Bob wanted to show off this magnificent structure. On the first floor, as he showed his wife around proudly, a laborer sweeping some distance away shouted out “Hi, Susan!” Susan looked his way and immediately walked over. After chatting for a few minutes and a parting hug, Susan rejoined her husband for the rest of the tour. A little while later, Bob asked who the man was that Susan had spoken to.
“Oh, that’s Tom, a guy I dated in high school.”
Bob answered, rather arrogantly “Aren’t you glad you didn’t marry him? You’d be married to a laborer instead of the City Commissioner.”
“Well,” Susan said confidently, “If I had married Tom, HE would be the City Commissioner.”