Friday, June 22, 2018

What picture are our marriages painting to the world?


This week we have been focusing on the men and the role and responsibility of men in marriage by looking at a section of a letter in the New Testament of the Bible called the book of Ephesians. In Ephesians 5:25-30, we see Paul reveal for us a timeless truth when it comes to how a man’s response to God’s design can reveal a great deal about where they are spiritually in terms of the depth of your relationship with Christ in that a husband’s willingness to embrace their leadership responsibilities reflects a husband's willingness to follow Jesus example.

As we talked about last week, God divinely designed a marriage relationship with specific roles and responsibilities. And just like our first parents, Adam and Eve, while men and women have equal value and worth in God’s creation, men and women have different roles and responsibilities to fulfill; men are to exercise a role of leadership and authority as first among equals by lovingly leading, providing, and protecting women in ways that are appropriate to their relationship. Women are to fulfill their role in relationships by lovingly coming under and following godly male leadership in a way that allows for growth in their relationship with Christ and to exercise the gifts that God has given them.

However, as we looked at last week, instead of fulfilling his responsibility to lovingly, lead, protect, and provide for his wife, Adam cowardly chose to allow Eve to lead their relationship. You see, God gave His command to Adam, who was expected to lead the couple in following the command. The result was disobeying God’s command and sin entered the world and corrupted God’s design and creation.

And as a result, there are specific consequences of our first parent’s sin that lead men and women to push back against their role in marriage relationships. As a result of our first parent’s sin, all women throughout history have a natural bent and desire to rebel against and usurp God’s design for marriage relationships by attempting to exercise leadership and domination over men. And as a result of our first parent’s sin, men tend to abdicate their leadership responsibilities and instead function in one of two extremes. Apart from Jesus work on the cross and the Holy Spirit’s activity in our lives, men have a natural bent to act as either a coward or a chauvinist when it comes to their relationship with women.

Now whether you are married or single; whether you are a man or a woman; and you may be wondering “why does God’s design for marriage even matter? What is the big deal? I mean, why is it so important that husbands love their wives as Christ loved the church? Why is it so important that wives willingly place themselves under their husband’s leadership? Sure maybe my marriage does not function like the Bible teaches, but things are o.k.”

If those are some of the thoughts that are running through your mind, I just want to let you know that those are fair questions to be asking.  We see Paul answer these questions by pointing to a second parallel that is revealed by God’s design and purpose for marriage, beginning in Ephesians 5:31:

FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND SHALL BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH.

Here we see Paul quote Genesis 2:24, which describes the marriage relationship and the intimacy that the one flesh marriage relationship should experience. As we talked about last week, Adam and Eve were able to be totally transparent and vulnerable with one another. They were united in a one flesh relationship physically, spiritually, and emotionally as a result of their love for God and one another that viewed one another with equal value and worth.

Yet while Adam and Eve had equal value and worth in God’s creation, they had different roles and responsibilities to fulfill. Adam was to exercise a role of leadership and authority as first among equals by lovingly leading, providing, and protecting Eve. And Eve was to lovingly coming under and following Adam’s leadership in a way that allows for her spiritual growth and good. But notice what Paul states next in verse 32:

This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.

Now when Paul uses the word mystery here, this word refers to is a timeless truth about God and His Divine Plan that was once hidden, but now has been made known through Christ. This once hidden timeless truth about God, according to Paul is of utmost importance. He then proclaims exactly what this great mystery that has now been made known is: but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.

You see, here’s the thing: the reason why the health of you marriage is so important in God’s eyes; the reason why God has a divine design for the roles that men and women are to have within a marriage relationship; is that marriage has been divinely designed by God to be a picture on earth of the intimacy that followers of Jesus will have for all eternity with Christ. Marriage was designed by God to be a word picture to the world of the vulnerability, the transparency, and the intimacy that followers of Jesus will experience for all eternity with Him.

So when we choose to reject, to rebel, to pushback against God’s design when it comes to the roles and responsibilities that men and women have in marriage, we end up portraying a false picture of the relationship that we were designed to have with God for all eternity. And when our marriages are marked by confusion and conflict when it comes to the roles and responsibilities that men and women have in marriage, we end up portraying a flawed picture of the relationship that we were designed to have with God for all eternity.

That is why God hates divorce. God hates divorce because divorce mars and misrepresents the eternal covenant relationship that Jesus has with His followers. The covenant relationship that Jesus selflessly and sacrificially died for; the same selfless and sacrificial love that Paul commands husbands to love their wives with.  You see, God desires that our marriages experience a glimpse of the intimacy that we will experience for all eternity with Jesus. But to experience that intimacy requires following God design when it comes to the roles and responsibilities we have as men and women in marriage, which is why Paul concludes this section of this letter the way he does in Ephesians 5:33:

Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.

In other words, what is important and what is the point of the past two weeks is that husbands and wives faithfully fulfill their roles and responsibilities within marriage as God divinely designed. Husbands are to exercise a role of leadership and authority as first among equals by lovingly leading, providing, and protecting their wives as Christ lovingly leads the church. Wives are to fulfill their role in marriage relationships by lovingly coming under and following godly male leadership in a way that allows for their spiritual growth and good, so that they can become more like Jesus in character and conduct as they engage in the kingdom mission that we have been given by Jesus.

Now here is the question: Who has the harder role and responsibility when it comes to marriage, the husband or the wife? The answer is both. You see, this is how men and women in marriage practice what is referred to in church mumbo jumbo talk as mutual submission. Wives practice the concept of mutual submission by willingly place themselves under the leadership of their husbands in a way that places their husband first in a marriage relationship. And men practice the concept of mutual submission by exercise a role of leadership and authority as first among equals by lovingly leading, providing, and protecting his wife by placing His wife first, just as Christ loved the church and placed followers of Jesus before Himself.

I don’t know about you, but I find these two weeks to be incredibly challenging. It is hard for a wife to willingly place themselves under the leadership of their husbands in a way that follows their leadership in a marriage relationship. And it is hard for a husband to exercise a role of leadership and authority as first among equals by lovingly leading, providing, and protecting his wife by placing His wife first, just as Christ loved the church and placed followers of Jesus before Himself.

That is why it is so important that our relationships be controlled and influenced by the Holy Spirit’s power, because our relationships are influenced by what influences us. And the embracing of our roles within marriage has profound implications for our relationship with God. Because the timeless reality is that a wife’s willingness to embrace and place themselves under a husband’s godly leadership reflects a wife’s willingness to follow Jesus leadership. And a husband’s willingness to embrace their leadership responsibilities reflects a husband’s willingness to follow Jesus example…

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

The eight most prevalent selfish and sinful stereotypes of men that act as cowards or chauvinists in their marriage relationships...


This week we are looking at a section of a letter that is recorded for us in the New Testament of the Bible, called the book of Ephesians. Yesterday, in Ephesians 5:25-30, we saw the Apostle Paul reveal for us a timeless truth when it comes to how a man’s response to God’s design can reveal a great deal about where they are spiritually in terms of the depth of your relationship with Christ in that a husband’s willingness to embrace their leadership responsibilities reflects a husband's willingness to follow Jesus example.

As we talked about last week, God divinely designed a marriage relationship with specific roles and responsibilities. And just like our first parents, Adam and Eve, while men and women have equal value and worth in God’s creation, men and women have different roles and responsibilities to fulfill; men are to exercise a role of leadership and authority as first among equals by lovingly leading, providing, and protecting women in ways that are appropriate to their relationship. Women are to fulfill their role in relationships by lovingly coming under and following godly male leadership in a way that allows for growth in their relationship with Christ and to exercise the gifts that God has given them.

However, as we looked at last week, instead of fulfilling his responsibility to lovingly, lead, protect, and provide for his wife, Adam cowardly chose to allow Eve to lead their relationship. You see, God gave His command to Adam, who was expected to lead the couple in following the command. The result was disobeying God’s command and sin entered the world and corrupted God’s design and creation.

And as a result, there are specific consequences of our first parent’s sin that lead men and women to push back against their role in marriage relationships. As a result of our first parent’s sin, all women throughout history have a natural bent and desire to rebel against and usurp God’s design for marriage relationships by attempting to exercise leadership and domination over men. And as a result of our first parent’s sin, men tend to abdicate their leadership responsibilities and instead function in one of two extremes. Apart from Jesus work on the cross and the Holy Spirit’s activity in our lives, men have a natural bent to act as either a coward or a chauvinist when it comes to their relationship with women.

Mark Driscoll has done an outstanding job of summarizing the eight most prevalent selfish and sinful stereotypes of men that act as cowards or and chauvinists in their marriage relationships. First, let’s look at the selfish rebellion by men that leads to chauvinism. You may have met some of these men. First, there is no Sissy Stuff Sam. For No Sissy Stuff Sam, being a man means not being like a woman. No Sissy Stuff Sam’s driving life philosophy is whatever women do men are to do the exact opposite. These are the guys who are in a social environment who have contests as to who can belch the loudest, drink the most beer, be the most obnoxious, kill the most people on Fortnite Battle Royale, be the toughest, coarsest, baddest dudes in town.

Then there is Success and Status Stewart. For Success and Status Stewart, being a man is all about material success. Success and Status Stewart is driven by how many toys are in the garage, how large his house is, how much money is in the bank account. Masculinity is defined by material possessions. Unfortunately Success and Status Stewart in never around to enjoy his toys or invest in his family because he is too busy striving for position and possessions. He is unable to lead and protect his family because he is never around.

Then there is Giv’em Hell Hank. This is guy that you see yelling and berating his wife and kids. Give’em Hell Hank is angry and abusive, spending his time inflating his ego by bullying and degrading his wife and kids. Now Give’em Hell Hank would never talk to another guy the way he talks to his wife, because he would probably get a beat down. Guys, is this you? Is this how you treat your wife and children? Because if it is I have a secret for you. You may not know this, but other men don’t respect you; other men think you are a joke. Berating and abusing your wife does not get you any street cred; and it does not get you any respect; it just shows that you are a male chauvinist pig that lives a life that is exactly the opposite of how Jesus treats His bride the church.

Then there is Giv’em Hell Hank’s cousin; I’m the Boss Bob. I’m the Boss Bob is driven to be in charge of something because if you are not in charge of something you are not a man. I’m the Boss Bob is domineering and controlling. This is the guy that will walk into a church or an organization and just say “I want to be in charge of something”. And here’s the thing about him; He loves to be in authority, but hates to be under authority. He is a prideful, positional and power hungry person.

In addition, there the different, yet just as bad, selfish and sinful stereotypes of cowardice. First, there is Little Boy Larry. And unfortunately, many in the church have unintentionally produced and rewarded Little Boy Larry. Little Boy Larry is the 35 year old guy who still lives with his mother in her basement and plays X-Box all night. He’s disorganized, has no job and no real desire to get a job; instead he is looking to find a woman who will work so that he can be a stay at home dad. And so often, the church will look at Little Boy Larry and say “Well Larry is so nice, he’s such a nice little boy”. Exactly. He is still a boy at 35 who refuses to take any responsibility for his life.

Then there is Sturdy Oak Owen. Now Sturdy Oak Owen is a guy who is absolutely dependable but emotionally absent. This is the husband who comes home from work every evening, eats dinner, and then goes to the reclining chair and reads the paper for the rest of the evening and does not engage or invest in his wife or family. He does not lead the family or address concerns within the family, but abdicates that responsibility to his wife because he works hard all day. Instead of leading and investing, he cowardly hides behind his “dependability”.

The other extreme is Hyper-Spiritual Henry. Hyper Spiritual Henry is the guy that always is walking around with his Bible using it as a sledge hammer. Hyper Spiritual Henry’s wife and children are always worried in public when they are around him because he will take every opportunity to take every conversation into a doctrinal debate. The problem with Hyper Spiritual Henry is that he talks at you but not to you. He spends his time cowardly hiding behind religious behavior and God talk, which He may or may not follow. He lets his wife and children know all he knows about God, but they feel that he may not know God or them.

Finally, there is Good Time Gary. Good time Gary is the guy that women like to date but hate to marry. Good time Gary is the life of the party; he makes things exciting and interesting. But for Good time Gary life just is a party. Gary is the guy whose irresponsibility pervades every part of his life. And after a while, Gary’s cowardly avoidance of responsibility through joking and partying and goofing his way through life gets just plain old.

So men, have I just described you? Or have I just described a selfish and sinful tendency that occasionally appears in your marriage relationship? You see, all men throughout history have a tendency to be either cowards or chauvinists. That is why, as we talked about at the very beginning of this series, for us to experience relationships as God designed them to be experienced requires that we be influenced by God’s Spirit. God has designed specific roles within relationships and God has designed specific goals that those relationships are to accomplish. And for us to accomplish those goals, we need to live a life that is influenced and controlled by God’s spirit.

Now you might be here this morning, whether you are married or single; whether you are a man or a woman; and you may be wondering “why does God’s design for marriage even matter? What is the big deal? I mean, why is it so important that husbands love their wives as Christ loved the church? Why is it so important that wives willingly place themselves under their husband’s leadership? Sure maybe my marriage does not function like the Bible teaches, but things are o.k.”

If those are some of the thoughts that are running through your mind, I just want to let you know that those are fair questions to be asking.  Friday we will see Paul answer these questions…

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

A husband’s willingness to embrace their leadership responsibilities reflects a husband's willingness to follow Jesus example...


At the church where I serve, we are in the middle of a sermon series entitled family daze to family days. We began this series by explaining that God has a design for relationships. God has designed specific roles within relationships and God has designed specific goals that those relationships are to accomplish. And because of that reality, for us to experience relationships as God designed them to be experienced requires that we be influenced by God’s Spirit, because our relationships are influenced by what influences us.

Last week, we talked about the reality that nowhere in our culture today is God’s design for relationships more misunderstood, misapplied, or resisted then when it comes to the relationship that men and women are to experience within a marriage. Last week we focused like a laser beam on a wife’s role and goal within a marriage relationship. We discovered the timeless reality is that a wife’s willingness to embrace and place themselves under a husband’s godly leadership reflects a wife’s willingness to follow Jesus leadership. Just as followers of Jesus are to willingly place themselves under His leadership as they exist in community with one another, wives are to willingly place themselves under the leadership of their husbands in a way that follows their leadership in a marriage relationship.

This week, I would like for us to spend our time together focused like a laser beam on the men. So let’s pick up where we left off last week, as Paul continues his conversation with the members of the church at Ephesus, in Ephesians 5:25:

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her,

Paul begins this section of his letter with the members of the church at Ephesus by addressing God’s divine design for the role that men are to have in a marriage relationship with a command. Now it is important to understand that this is not a suggestion or a goal to strive for; this is a command: Husbands love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her”.  Paul makes a parallel between the relationship between husband and wife and the relationship between Christ and the church to reveal for us the reality that God commands husbands to love their wives the same way that Christ loved the church.

Paul is reminding the men of the church at Ephesus, and men throughout history, that they are so selflessly and sacrificially love their wives, just as Jesus selflessly and sacrificially loved humanity all the way to the cross. Jesus left the glory of Heaven, laid aside His position and His prominence and entered into humanity in order to live a life as a homeless, itinerant preacher and die the most humiliating and painful death imaginable. Paul is basically saying "Men that is how you are to love your wives. You are to love our wives as Jesus loves His church." Paul then continues by unpacking the results that Jesus love has on His relationship with the church in verses 26-27: 

so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.

Here we see Paul reveal two specific results that Christ’s selfless and sacrificial love had when it came to His relationship with the church. First, Paul states that Jesus loved the church selflessly and sacrificially so that He might sanctify her. Now this word sanctify is a big fancy church mumbo jumbo talk word that literally means to include a person in the inner circle of what is holy. Paul here paints for us an amazing word picture of a person who was once an outsider now being made a part of a family. Paul’s point is that Jesus love for His church resulted in those who were once on the outside when it came to having a relationship with God were now being able to be an insider and a part of the family of God as a result of Jesus life, death, and resurrection.

In addition, when Paul uses the phrase, “having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, he is reminding the readers of this letter of what occurs at baptism. The phrase with the word refers to one’s confession of faith that occurs during a baptism. At baptism, one publicly identifies themselves as being a follower of Jesus. And part of that process is sharing one’s testimony of how they became a follower of Jesus. Paul’s point here is that the church reveals and reflects the relationship with God that they were created for and brought into as a result of Jesus selfless and sacrificial love when people publicly proclaim and identify themselves with the inward transformation that has changed their lives through believing, trusting, and following Jesus.

Second, Paul states that Jesus loved the church selflessly and sacrificially so that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. In other words, Jesus love for the church was so that the church would be made glorious. Jesus loves His church and desires that His bride the church would possess and inherent quality of splendor and purity that is extraordinary. Jesus loves the church so that the church would be without spot or stain or blemish.

Jesus loves the church so that the church would be without any cracks or flaws. Jesus loves the church so that his bride the church would respond to His selfless and sacrificial love by being devoted and dedicated to Him. And Jesus loves His bride the church with the desire that His bride would respond to His love with a life that reflects His character and His conduct; a life that is faultlessly focused on pleasing Him.

Now men, here is a question for us to consider: Do we love our wives like that? Do we love our wives in a way that brings them closer to Christ? Do we treat them like an outsider or love them as an insider? Do we love our wives in a way that makes them glorious?  Do we love our wives in a way that is motivated that they would become extraordinary women? Extraordinary in their spiritual splendor and purity? Do we love our wives in a way that results in pointing them to a deeper devotion to God and the mission that He has given us? Do we love our wives in a way that provokes in them a desire to reveal and reflect Christ in their character and conduct?

And if those questions are not challenging enough, Paul continues by applying Christ’s love for the church even more clearly to the relationship between a husband and a wife in verses 28-30:

So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body.

Now when Paul uses the word ought here, this word literally means to be under an obligation to meet certain expectations. And husbands, this is the obligation that we are supposed to meet: Husbands are to love their wives as their own bodies. Paul then makes an interesting statement that we sometimes pass by when he states that he who loves his own wife loves himself. But what does that mean? Paul here is anticipating the potential pushback these commands by drawing another parallel between a marriage relationship and the relationship that Christ has with His bride, the church. We see Paul begin to unpack this parallel in verses 29-30.

 First Paul states that, when it comes to men, no one hates his own flesh; instead they nourish it and cherish it. In the athletic culture of the city of Ephesus, the physical body was of exceptional importance. And just like today, men in the city of Ephesus trained and worked out to compete in games. And just like today, men took care of their bodies when it came to what they ate. They made sure they had the proper nourishment so that they could perform well. When Paul uses the word cherish here, this word conveys the sense of comfort.

The point that the apostle is making here is that just as men intuitively take pains to provide for the care and comfort of our physical bodies, we are to do the same when it comes to how we treat our wives. Men, we are to strive to provide and we are to care about the comfort of our wives physical, emotional, relational and spiritual needs.  The reason we are to do that is because that is exactly what Christ does for His body the church. As we have talked about in past sermon series, the church is divinely designed to be the vehicle that God uses to reveal Jesus to the world. Jesus Christ is the head and we are the body or the vehicle that reveals and reflects Jesus to the world. And Jesus provides and cares for the physical, emotional, relational and spiritual needs of His body, the church. 

And it is here that we see Paul reveal for us a timeless truth when it comes to how a man’s response to God’s design can reveal a great deal about where they are spiritually in terms of the depth of your relationship with Christ. And for husband's that timeless truth is that a husband’s willingness to embrace their leadership responsibilities reflects a husband's willingness to follow Jesus example. Now, men, just like the ladies last week, you may be here this morning and you may be pushing back by thinking “but Dave you don’t know my wife. Paul would not have written that if he knew my wife”.

My response would be yes, He would have. Because this has absolutely nothing to do with your wife. And this has everything to do with you. You see, Jesus never asks us to do something He has not already done men. Jesus died on the cross for your selfish rebellion and sin. And He was fully aware of your rebellion when He selflessly and sacrificially loved you to the cross. And He expects you to reflect that selfless and sacrificial love to your wife.

Now ladies, you may be wondering “why doesn’t my husband love me like that”? Ladies, the reason that your husband may not love you like that is the same reason why you push back against the idea of willingly placing yourselves under your husband’s leadership in the same manner that you are to place yourself under the leadership of Jesus.

Tomorrow we will answer that question…

Friday, June 15, 2018

A wife’s willingness to embrace and place themselves under a husband’s godly leadership reflects a wife’s willingness to follow Jesus leadership...


This week, we have been looking at a section of a letter that is recorded for us in the New Testament of the Bible, called the book of Ephesians, where the Apostle Paul has focused on a wife’s role and responsibility within a marriage relationship. In Ephesians 5:22-23, we see Paul command wives to willingly place themselves under the leadership of their husbands in a way that follows their leadership in a marriage relationship. And Paul seems to add to the tension when he states that wives are to be subject as to the Lord. In other words, women are to willingly place themselves under their husband’s leadership in the same manner that they are to place themselves under the leadership of Jesus.

We discovered that the tension that we tend to feel when we discuss what the letters that make up the Bible have to say about the relationship between men and women within a marriage, often flows from two specific areas of confusion. The first area of confusion that can often arise when we talk about the idea of leadership or authority within a marriage relationship is due to how our culture attempts to portray God’s design when it comes to a women’s role in a marriage. A second area of confusion that can often arise when we talk about leadership and authority within a marriage relationship, which is the tendency in our culture to confuse value and roles.

We then discovered the principle of “the first among equals” in that while Adam and Eve had equal value and worth in God’s creation, they had different roles and responsibilities to fulfill; Adam was to exercise a role of leadership and authority as first among equals by lovingly leading, providing, and protecting Eve. And Eve was to lovingly come under and following Adam’s leadership in a way that allows for her spiritual growth and good. And just like our first parents, while men and women have equal value and worth in God’s creation, men and women have different roles and responsibilities to fulfill; men are to exercise a role of leadership and authority as first among equals by lovingly leading, providing, and protecting women in ways that are appropriate to their relationship. Women are to fulfill their role in relationships by lovingly coming under and following godly male leadership in a way that allows for growth in their relationship with Christ and to exercise the gifts that God has given them.

Now a natural and great question that arises here is “well Dave if God really designed marriage relationships to be like this, then why doesn’t my husband do what he is supposed to do? Why doesn’t he lovingly, lead, protect, and provide for me?” Or you may be thinking “Well Dave, if this is the case, if this is God’s design, then why do I want to push back against this so hard?” These are great questions to ask, and here would be my answer: We push back on this so hard just as our first parents pushed back on this truth. We see their pushback recorded for us just one chapter later, in Genesis 3:1-7:

Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, "Indeed, has God said, 'You shall not eat from any tree of the garden '?" The woman said to the serpent, "From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, 'You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.'" The serpent said to the woman, "You surely will not die! "For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.

Instead of fulfilling his responsibility to lovingly, lead, protect, and provide for his wife, Adam cowardly chose to allow Eve to lead their relationship. God gave His command to Adam, who was expected to lead the couple in following the commandment. The result was disobeying God’s command and sin entered the world and corrupted God’s design and creation. We see the specific consequences of our first parent’s sin that leads women to push back against their role in marriage relationships in Genesis 3:16:

To the woman He said, "I will greatly multiply Your pain in childbirth, In pain you will bring forth children; Yet your desire will be for your husband, And he will rule over you."

What is so interesting here is that this phrase “your desire will be for your husband” is not referring to a sexual or relational desire. We know that to be the case because this phrase is used just one chapter later, in Genesis chapter four. After God rejected an act of worship that was offered by Adam and Eve’s son, named Cain. Cain was very angry. He was so angry that his anger was revealed in his countenance or body language. And it is in this context that we see this phrase appear again in Genesis 4:7:

"If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it."

You see, sin was crouching at Cain’s door, desiring to dominate and manipulate Cain into rebelling against God. And in the same way, as a result of our first parent’s sin, all women throughout history have a natural bent and desire to rebel against God’s design in creation by seeking to usurp and rebel against God’s design for marriage relationships by attempting to exercise leadership and domination over men. And as a result of our first parent’s sin, men tend to abdicate their leadership responsibilities and instead function as either cowards or chauvinists. And we see Paul reinforce God’s design when it comes to the role and goal that a woman has in a marriage relationship with the following statement in Ephesians 5:24:

But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.

Paul reinforces God’s design for women within a marriage relationship by explaining that just as followers of Jesus are to willingly place themselves under His leadership as they exist in community with one another, wives are to willingly place themselves under the leadership of their husbands in a way that follows their leadership in a marriage relationship. And what makes this statement even more difficult is the last two words in everything. This is not just about what occurs in the bedroom, or the laundry room. Wives are to willingly place themselves under the leadership of their husbands in every aspect of their marriage.

And it is here that we see Paul reveal for us a timeless truth when it comes to how a woman’s response to God’s design can reveal a great deal about where they are spiritually in terms of the depth of your relationship with Christ. And for wives specifically, the timeless reality is that a wife’s willingness to embrace and place themselves under a husband’s godly leadership reflects a wife’s willingness to follow Jesus leadership.

You see, ladies, your willingness to willingly place yourself under the leadership of Jesus will be reflected in your willingness to willingly place yourself under your husband’s godly leadership. As followers of Jesus, we can often find ourselves practically living life in this manner: God you can be large and in charge of these parts of my life, but when it comes to my money, when it comes to my habits, or when it comes to my marriage, I will be large and in charge of those parts of my life.

However, Jesus desires to be large and in charge of every part of our lives, including our marriages. And when God created marriage, He divinely designed specific roles and goals within marriage that result in God’s glory and our good. And our willingness as husbands and wives to embrace and place ourselves within those roles have a profound impact on the depth and intimacy we have with Christ…

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Recognizing how God views our value and worth through our roles and responsibility...


This week, we are looking at a section of a letter that the Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus, called the book of Ephesians. Yesterday, we admitted that when many read the Apostle Paul’s words in Ephesians 5:22-23, a mental image pops in our minds and the tension rises in our minds.

We argued that the tension that we tend to feel fill a room when we discuss what the letters that make up the Bible have to say about the relationship between men and women within a marriage, especially when it comes to these verses, often flows from two specific areas of confusion. The first area of confusion that can often arise when we talk about the idea of leadership or authority within a marriage relationship is due to how our culture attempts to portray God’s design when it comes to a women’s role in a marriage. The second area of confusion that can often arise when we talk about leadership and authority within a marriage relationship, which is the tendency in our culture to confuse value and roles.

However, the letters that make up the Bible assign value and worth to who we are as human beings, not as human doings. For example, let’s look at the relationship between members of the Trinity. All three members of the trinity possess the same nature. Yet while every member of the trinity has the same nature, essence, and value, they have different roles, responsibilities, and authority. God the Father is the first among equals; God the Father exercises the leadership and authority role in the relationship amongst the Trinity.

Another example is the twelve disciples. While there were twelve disciples, and all twelve were equal in their value and worth as disciples, Peter was the first amongst equals. Peter was the leader that the rest of the disciples followed in terms of leadership and authority. We see this throughout the book of Acts. This same principle also applies to God’s design for relationships in humanity when it comes to men and women within marriage. We see the mutual value and worth of men and women revealed for us in Genesis 1:27:

God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

Both men and women were created by God in His relational image and are of equal value and worth in His sight. And because of that reality, men and women are to be treated with equal value, respect and worth by one another. To treat a woman any other way contradicts the crystal-clear teaching of God’s word.

In Genesis 2 we read that God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life. God then gave Adam a job to tend the garden and name the animals and just one command to follow; don’t eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But, as Adam named all the animals, he did not find a helper suitable for him and we read the first time that God said that something was not good; it is not good for man to be alone.

So God caused Adam to fall to sleep and took one of his ribs and formed Eve, the first woman. And as God brought Eve into Adam’s presence, we see Adam’s response and God’s design for marriage revealed for us, beginning in Genesis 2:22-25:

The LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. The man said, "This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man." For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

Adam and Eve were both naked and not ashamed because they were able to be totally transparent and vulnerable with one another. They were united in their love for God and one another and viewed one another with equal value and worth. Yet while Adam and Eve had equal value and worth in God’s creation, they had different roles and responsibilities to fulfill; Adam was to exercise a role of leadership and authority as first among equals by lovingly leading, providing, and protecting Eve. And Eve was to lovingly come under and following Adam’s leadership in a way that allows for her spiritual growth and good.

And just like our first parents, while men and women have equal value and worth in God’s creation, men and women have different roles and responsibilities to fulfill; men are to exercise a role of leadership and authority as first among equals by lovingly leading, providing, and protecting women in ways that are appropriate to their relationship. Women are to fulfill their role in relationships by lovingly coming under and following godly male leadership in a way that allows for growth in their relationship with Christ and to exercise the gifts that God has given them.

You see, the problem with the stereotypes that we looked at yesterday is that none of them are found in the letters that make up the Bible when it comes to the role that women have in a marriage relationship. First, as we will discover next week, unlike Doormat Dora, God’s design when it comes to the role of men in a marriage relationship does not promote the idea of a woman being a docile doormat. The claim that a Biblical view of the role of women promotes doormats and encourages abuse is both false and slanderous.

Second, unlike Dipstick Danielle, nowhere is Scripture do we see God promote the idea of weak willed, unintelligent women. What the Bible does promote are women who study and think hard about the message and teachings of Jesus and how they are to apply these truths to their lives. And the pages of the Bible are filled with strong willed and courageous women. Women like Deborah, Abigail, Ruth, Esther and Mary, just to name a few. A Biblical view of women promotes women who can swim against the cultural tide and critically think for themselves.

Third, unlike Kitchen trapped Kathy, the letters that make up the Bible does not teach that woman are to be homebound. What the Bible does teach is that part of a woman’s role in the home is to help create and maintain a welcoming environment where the marriage and family is nurtured and can grow. However, as we will see next week, this does not mean that she has to do all the chores or that the home is the sum of her existence. And for those of you who get hyper spiritual on this particular issue, I would simply direct you to Proverbs 31, where the woman described as the standard for women to follow not only managed a household-she also ran a business.

Fourth, one of the great meanings and blessings is to bear children and raise them in a way that promotes their good and God’s glory. Yet, unlike Baby-popping Bertha, the Bible teaches that while marriage and motherhood is a blessing, it is not a woman’s ultimate aim and goal. A woman’s ultimate goal, just like men, is to live their lives in such a way that reveals and reflects Jesus and advances the kingdom mission we have been given. Marriage is neither absolute nor eternal. What is absolute and eternal is that we are to live a life that is engaged in a relationship with Jesus Christ and the mission that He has given us.

And fifth, unlike repressed Rita, the Bible does not teach that women are second class citizens when it comes to exercising their spiritual gifts talents and abilities in the church. As a matter of fact, what the Bible teaches is that there is only one thing that a woman cannot do when it comes to serving in a local church. The one thing that a woman cannot do is be in the leadership position of an Elder or any position that requires the qualifications of an Elder. The letters of the Bible are filled with examples of woman who invested their time, talents, and treasure into God’s kingdom mission in a way that resulted in God’s glory and in the spiritual good and growth of others.

Now a natural and great question that arises here is “well Dave if God really designed marriage relationships to be like this, then why doesn’t my husband do what he is supposed to do? Why doesn’t he lovingly, lead, protect, and provide for me?” Or you may be thinking “Well Dave, if this is the case, if this is God’s design, then why do I want to push back against this so hard?”

These are great questions to ask, and Friday we will discover the answer and a timeless truth about the role of women in marriage…

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

5 stereotypes our culture portrays about what the Bible says about a women’s role in marriage...


At the church where I serve, we are in a sermon series entitled family daze to family days. During this series, we have been discussing the reality that when we think about family relationships, we can find ourselves thinking of family days as family d.a.z.e. And because of that reality, during this series, we are spending our time together looking at a section of a letter that a man named Paul wrote to an early church, called the Book of Ephesians.

It is in this letter that we see Paul explain to this church and to us here today, God’s desire and design for family relationships. And as we go through this series, our hope and our prayer is that God would move by the power of the Holy Spirit in our heads, hearts, and hands to equip and empower us to move our families from a place of dazed conflict and confusion to a place where we would experience the family relationships that God has created and called us to experience.

Last week we discovered the timeless principle that our relationships are influenced by what influences us. We talked about the reality that whether you are a follower of Jesus or whether you are not sure you buy the Jesus, Bible, church thing, this principle applies to all of us; our relationships are influenced by what influences us. Relationships do not occur in a vacuum; in every relationship there are external and internal forces at work in our lives that influence the health of the relationships in our life.

We also talked about the reality that to have the relationships that God desires and designed for us, especially when it comes to family relationships, require that we live a life that is influenced and controlled by the Spirit of God. We ended our time together understanding that God has a design for relationships. God has designed specific roles within relationships and God has designed specific goals that those relationships are to accomplish. And because of that reality, for us to experience relationships as God designed them to be experienced requires that we be influenced by God’s Spirit.

And nowhere in our culture today is God’s design for relationships more misunderstood, misapplied, or resisted then when it comes to the relationship that men and women are to experience within a marriage. So for the next two weeks, we are going to focus on God’s design when it comes to a marriage relationship.

This week, we will focus like a laser beam on a wife’s role and responsibility within a marriage relationship. And while the spotlight will be on the ladies this week, guys, next week we will spend our entire time focused on a husband’s role and responsibility within a marriage relationship.

Now as we focus on the ladies by looking at a section of a letter that the Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus, I imagine that for many a natural pushback and resistance will occur because, for many of us, we have experienced this passage either misrepresented or misused in the past.  So let’s look at this passage together, beginning in Ephesians 5:22-23:

Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body.

Now, for many of us as soon as you heard this verse, a mental image popped in your mind. And as those images popped in our minds, we could feel the tension rise. The tension that arises from this verse comes from the phrase “be subject”. As we discovered last week, the phrase “be subject”, in the language that this letter was originally written in, means to willingly place ourselves under others by placing others first based on one’s role in the relationship.

Yet here, just one verse later, Paul is commanding that wives are to willingly place themselves under the leadership of their husbands in a way that follows their leadership in a marriage relationship. And Paul seems to add to the tension when he states that wives are to be subject as to the Lord. In other words, women are to willingly place themselves under their husband’s leadership in the same manner that they are to place themselves under the leadership of Jesus.

Now some of you ladies are thinking, “Well Paul would not have written that if he knew my husband”. Or you may be thinking to yourself right now “well Dave, my husband is nothing like Jesus”. Ladies, we will deal with your husband’s next week. You just have to trust me on this one.

Now, I believe that the tension that we tend to feel fill a room when we discuss what the letters that make up the Bible have to say about the relationship between men and women within a marriage, especially when it comes to these verses, often flows from two specific areas of confusion. The first area of confusion that can often arise when we talk about the idea of leadership or authority within a marriage relationship is due to how our culture attempts to portray God’s design when it comes to a women’s role in a marriage.

Mary Kassian has done an outstanding job of summarizing the five most prevalent stereotypes that are portrayed about what our culture believes the Bible says about a women’s role in a marriage relationship. The first stereotype would be who we will call Dora the Doormat. Dora wears a please step on me sign around her neck and is a passive opinion-less servant who is unable and unwilling to do anything other than what she is told. She has absolutely no goals in life except to serve her husband and have him dominate her. Dora’s sister, co-dependent Clara, goes so far as to say that those who believe in the Biblical model of marriage relationships endorse abuse.

Then there is Dipstick Danielle. Dipstick Danielle does not have a brain, as she threw all rational thought aside when she embraced what the Bible says about marriage relationships. Danielle is close friends with Bobblehead Betty, who also does not have any thoughts of her own but simply nods “yes” to everything her husband says.

Then there is kitchen trapped Kathy. Kitchen trapped Kathy lives in the kitchen, except when she goes to the laundry room. Her existence and purpose is defined by her ability to handle the household chores. Her life-long aspiration is to have one of her recipes make it into the next online edition of the Betty Crocker cookbook. Her friends Dipstick Danielle and Bobblehead Betty are eager to connect and share tips on cleaning techniques and the latest shopping strategies.

Then there is Baby popping Bertha. Bertha aims to have 26 kids. As a matter of fact popping out kids is the only goal and purpose to Bertha’s existence. The more kids she has, the more spiritual she is, so the more the better! Bertha does not use contraceptives or family planning, just have as many kids as you can as fast as you can. Bertha is best friends with Megan the marriage monger. Megan’s only goal in life is to be married. She’s pushing 50 and has done absolutely nothing in her life except complain about being single and is waiting for “Mr. Right” to come along.

Finally, there is repressed Rita. Rita has gifts and nowhere to use them, because her repressive and narrow-minded church will not let her preach on Sunday mornings. She is forever destined to sit in the back pew and do nothing. Silent. Frustrated. Repressed. She’s not into teaching Sunday school, facilitating a women’s community group, or mentoring and discipling women, or even serving the pressing and profound needs of the community, because she wants to do something really important- not something as menial as ministering to other women and children.

This first area of confusion that surrounds the stereotypes of women is compounded by a second area of confusion that can often arise when we talk about leadership and authority within a marriage relationship, which is the tendency in our culture to confuse value and roles. However, the letters that make up the Bible assign value and worth to who we are as human beings, not as human doings.

For example, let’s look at the relationship between members of the Trinity. All three members of the trinity possess the same nature. God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit are all equally divine in terms of their nature. Yet while every member of the trinity has the same nature, essence, and value, they have different roles, responsibilities, and authority. God the Father is the first among equals; God the Father exercises the leadership and authority role in the relationship amongst the Trinity. Jesus and the Holy Spirit, while equal in value and worth to God the Father, fall under and follow His leadership. We see Jesus do this throughout the gospels. And we see Paul talk about this reality throughout his letters that he wrote to various churches.

Another example is the twelve disciples. While there were twelve disciples, and all twelve were equal in their value and worth as disciples, Peter was the first amongst equals. Peter was the leader that the rest of the disciples followed in terms of leadership and authority. We see this throughout the book of Acts.

This same principle also applies to God’s design for relationships in humanity when it comes to men and women within marriage. Tomorrow we will see this principle applied to men and women in marriage…