Updated: Dec 12, 2021
No matter what type of institution we look at, there is some type of order, structure, job description, roles and positions that people fill, playbook, manual, organizational chart or blueprint to follow.
A football team learns to work off of a playbook. The purpose is to help them all come together as one, cohesive unit. Each individual player has a different role to play that helps the team as a whole. And, each of their roles are equally as important as the other. Whether a large corporation or a small business, there exists a business plan that gives it structure. People are hired based on the business plan that will help it succeed. Each one plays a critical role in this endeavor. Whether it is the military, a cheer squad, school administration, orchestra, police force, nursing home or any other type of institution you can think of, there is a blueprint that helps that institution function with a means of efficiency, organization and harmony that will help it operate and succeed.
In all of this, there are different roles and responsibilities that people fulfill. Not every person in a company can be the CEO. Not every person on the football team can be the quarterback and call the plays. Not every person in a church can be the pastor. Or, be first chair in the orchestra. However, that does not mean that if you are not, your role is any less important. The responsibilities are merely different.
Confusion and chaos can creep in when there are conflicting guidelines, or ones that are not clear cut that all can understand and follow.
The institution of marriage is no different. For a marriage to succeed, two people need a blueprint that offers guidance on the roles and functions within that marriage. To eliminate confusion and chaos and bring balance and harmony in the home.
If I believe that the institution of marriage was a God idea, which I do naturally, then it would seem reasonable that He had a few thoughts to share with us on how it should be structured, how it should function and offered a blueprint to follow. Whether you believe, or don’t, is not at play here. It is taking a practical look at what the Bible does say and see if it doesn’t make sense. So, indulge me for a few moments and you can decide for yourself. What do you really have to lose?
There is no question that there has been some bad teaching on marriage. Mostly tainted with biases or cultural influence. However, I believe if we simply take what is written at face value and make a conscious effort to avoid these pitfalls, we should be good.
So, let's start with this:
“And the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a help fit for him.”
God knew man needed help. And man needed company. It would be healthy, and it would be good. A helper in life. Not a slave, not a conquest, not a maid and not your mama.
What kind of help? Ironing pants and washing dishes? No, these things anybody can do. Milk the cow and feed the cat? Again, things anybody can learn to do. The kind of help that is indispensable in a relationship is the help of offering their best counsel, being a sounding board, encouragement in difficult times, providing feedback, a different perspective, a companion and friend. A woman’s touch that men lack. A cheerleader for a joint cause. Someone that can bring balance. That helps in developing a battle plan and navigate the uncertain waters of life. Both have equal stake in the success of their relationship. And both share in taking equal risks in placing their future, hopes, dreams, goals and desires in each other.
Not everyone is a “fit”, or match. In fact, this is the common phrase in hiring today. Businesses look to find someone who is the right fit for the company. Someone who will fit into their business culture, match the job description, have shared common goals or ideals. Someone they feel they can get along with and will blend in with the team.
In relationships, we tend to call this person that we consider our match, or our fit, our “soul mate.” That soul connection. The “one” for us. What we base this decision on varies. Unfortunately, many a decision is based on emotion rather than impression. What I mean by impression is this: Do they inspire you to be the best version of yourself? Do they bring out the best in you? Do they lift you up? Give you hope? Do they add to your life and round you out? These things go beyond the initial emotion of being enthralled with someone. Emotion's ebb and flow, but these signs are more telling and sure. A soul mate has strengths in areas you are weak. When together a couple makes each other more complete. These are things that are attractive, appealing and causes a love to deepen beyond its feeling, as important as that is.
God put Adam to sleep, took a rib from his side to make this individual. God could have used I suppose any other bone but chose the side rib of man. To me that reflects that a woman is not only a helper, a companion, but an equal. Walking side by side. Adam acknowledged as much when he stated “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh. She shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Eve couldn’t be any less or inferior to Adam. She was just like Adam in makeup, just fulfilling a different role. He was a man; she was a woman. A partnership embarked on a life journey together. He had someone to share life with. In fact, Proverbs says that “Whosoever finds a wife finds a good thing.” For those men who are married, it is good to be reminded of your wedding day. Why were you so excited standing at the alter? Surely it was because of some of the things just mentioned. You found someone to share life with. To love. The prettiest girl in the world. Your “soul mate” you said, yea? You knew you found a “good thing”. Don’t lose sight of this.
So, we read in Ephesians, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.”
What kind of love? The kind of love where you are willing to sacrifice your own life for her. Where you lift her up and are willing to give selflessly. We read further that “..so ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. he that loves his wife loves himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it…” So, this was literally the case for Adam. Men, if you care enough about yourself, and I’m thinking you do, you will care for your wife. Not just because it is in your best interest, but because she is an extension of you. She is what makes you whole. Helping in those areas of need. She does so by choice. Where this choice to do so begins to change is when she is no longer receiving the love and respect due her. When she feels she is no longer given the opportunity to contribute. To have a voice in the relationship. When she is no longer being cherished. When she no longer feels connected in an equal partnership. Let this portion marinate for a minute. You better love her at least as much as you love yourself.
A mistake has been made with regard to the authority given to men on being the head of the wife, and of the home. Some took this to mean “power” and having “male dominance”. That is not the intention. That is a “man idea”, not a “God idea”. To have order, organization, an outlined playbook and distinct roles to fulfill, just like in any other institution, God set man in the role to be the CEO as it were. But with that position comes great responsibility. We just went over some of them earlier if you didn’t catch what they were. And none of them had to do with “lording” over your subjects or setting yourself up to be “king”. God has that covered. Man is responsible for setting the tone, laying the foundation and nourishing the marriage relationship. He leads by example! So, what example are you providing?
Men, here’s one last piece of advice to keep in mind ….
So, with guidance given to men on their role, we read next the role and responsibilities of the woman.
Most women, if receiving this kind of love, and placed in this position of equal partnership from their husbands, as well as witnessing this kind of leadership, should be able to honor her husband effortlessly. To help and support him. To follow his lead knowing in the end you cannot have two heads of a household and not have problems. Women do so out of deference. However, men have to give women a reason to follow.
A portion of Scripture that makes women bristle is the “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands, as unto the Lord.”
This one passage has to be one of the top 5 most abused verses in the Bible. Men, eager to control, have used this like a hammer. And, because of it, the notion has come off as repressive for women. Who can blame them when there has been an improper application of this verse? However, if we read a little closer, we realize that this is not given as a command from man, nor is it to satisfy a man’s ego. After the comma, we see it says, “as unto the Lord”. Women look to comply, not out of duty, nor just to please her husband, but rather out of their desire to honor God who asks that there be a deference given to the husband. And the reason is so that there is a balance that is struck. Men are to lead, but they are to do so out of love and respect. Women consent to follow out of love and respect. Both are responsible before God. And, if there is any respect for God, then both will work things out accordingly. Believing that there is a God that is of higher authority is really what helps make this work. Men cannot bend and shape the rules to their liking and are answerable to someone above them. A man that looks to please God and his wife, rather than himself, helps him to be a better man, husband, and leader. And, respectively it is the same for a woman. Many of our relationship issues today stems from progressive influences peddling some evolution in the relationship culture and a rejection of the traditional, politically correct influences that attempts to do away with anything deemed archaic, a neutering or emasculation of men in society, a general lack of guidance for men regarding their place and role in relationships, proper role models, undue pressure on women to embrace commando feminism (not to be confused with empowering women which I am all for), and simply a lack of local and personal support. As an example, I am amazed how few churches have a couples or marriage department anymore. And yet, this should be a churches top priority. Strong marriages help establish a healthy family. This, in turn impacts the community and our society-at-large. This is one of the main reasons we started this blog site. To fill the gap that churches and the local community have left behind.
As a general rule someone has to lead and someone has to follow. The word “submit” simply means to defer to, or to consent to the authority of another. It should be noted that with authority comes with it great responsibility. That is why decisions should be based on what is in the best interest for both husband and wife. And it is made after consultation with the wife. Afterwards, he puts those decisions into motion. In this manner there are no surprises. Nor potential arguments as the topic was already hashed out. We are talking life and financial changing decisions, not like whether you should wash the car or not.
Listen, I’m married to a strong, black woman. She has her own opinions, her own way about things, an outgoing personality, a mind of her own, and is as independent as it gets. I do not try to control her or dampen who she is. And I surely don’t look to change her as it is one of the things I love about her. Like Sean Connery said in one of my favorite movies “First Knight”. He stated, “I cannot love people in slices.” Likewise, she loves me enough not to control or attempt to change me either. And she respects me enough to “bring it down” a notch or two when I subtly let her know she is pushing the limits on something. Similarly, she lets me know when I’m being “stupid”. We help each other have balance. We change either voluntarily as we continue to be the person we want to be for the other, through growth and maturity, or simply as we age (this is a topic for another time.)
We read “and the wife, see that she reverence her husband.”
Reverence is holding someone in high esteem. It means to appreciate and cherish. To think highly of. This should be the natural response toward a husband looking to do the best he can in providing a life filled with love, respect and provision.
Respect, honor and love are very positive things that feed a good relationship. Ridicule, mockery, being demeaning, overbearing and the like only tear people apart eventually. A husband needs to be encouraged so he knows he has his wife’s support, approval and that he is doing a good job. You be his source of strength, and belief in the future. The more you are, the closer you two will become. And the more you both come to trust and depend on each other.
When applied in a wholesome, balanced way, the things outlined here will offer a solid foundation to build off of. Each relationship will need to take these simple building blocks and apply them in a manner modified to work the best in their circumstance.
Some of the relationships that will have difficulty with these, or any type of building blocks, would be:
Men who are insecure in their relationship, or in themselves, in allowing their mate the freedom to be independent. In cases like this there is the attempt to control. To force women to submit. Some form of abuse is the typical outcome.
Women who are insecure in themselves and in their relationship. This breeds jealousy and manipulation.
When one or both parties are self-centered. When everything revolves around that person in what they want and need. There is little room for compromise or input. Self-satisfaction is paramount above all others.
Those that are “too time invested” in anything that they personally are involved in that leaves the other person on the outside looking in. One cannot be married to an idea, a ghost, or some part-time spouse that is more like a visitor or “hangout buddy”.
Those emotionally detached. These people are not invested too deeply in the relationship and so making an exit is easy.
Those that are abusive.
A domineering woman. Not to be confused with a strong woman.
A smothering spouse.
Those who don’t believe in any rules, boundaries or notion of morality.
Free spirits that feel doing so limits them. I’ll do as I please mentality. Well, good luck!
So here is an overview. Women, allow your man to lead. As long as he is leading in a righteous way. Men, given the opportunity to lead, be responsible in how you do so. Treat your wife as yourself and cherish her. Both of you love and respect one another. Problem solve together. Don’t control. Allow the freedom to be yourself as an individual within the relationship. Look to honor God’s guidance as a common foundation you both share, acknowledge and agree with to help stay on track. Don’t forget to have fun!
We hope this has provided some inspiration, guidance and help toward your continued desire to build a lasting and loving relationship.
Until next time, we wish you LOVE, JOY & PEACE!