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Series:  Till Death Do Us Part - Part Two

Pastor Stephen Muncherian
October 4, 2009

This morning we're going on with our look at marriage that we began two Sundays ago - the Sunday before Family Camp.

Marriage takes work.  It's an ongoing process.  Someone said, "A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person."  We never quite "arrive" in marriage.

"When you've been married a long time, you get to know what the other person thinks."  "No you don’t."

Our desire - looking at marriage - is to see more clearly God's design for marriage - and to see more clearly from God's word how our marriages can keep getting better.  What I'm sharing here comes out a process of growth that God's leading me through.  It comes from years of my listening to a lot of pain in a lot marriages.  And out of seeing success in marriage.  There is hope.

Whether you're married or you know someone who's married or you might get married someday - what we're looking at here are the basics of male female relationships - what makes marriage work or not work.  This is bottom line stuff that we all need to know.

I'd like to reintroduce some of what we looked at two Sundays ago - back before Family Camp - to make sure we're all on the same page - to make sure that we're all up to speed together.  Two Sundays ago we began looking at marriage by looking at the first three chapters of Genesis.

We saw God create humankind in His image.  Male and female equally the image of God.  Yet with differences.  The male image - Adam - comes first - is given a headship role - a leadership role.  The female image - Eve -  is created second to be Adam's "suitable helper" - meaning that Eve corresponds to Adam.

Like a pair of shoes - one left shoe - one right shoe.  Each is reflective of the intent of their creator - the purpose for which they've been designed.  Both are individually different - left and right - and yet they correspond.  Each is made for the other.  Without the other there's no pair.  To work well they need to work in tandem - in partnership - fulfilling their individual roles.

God gives to humankind - male and female - Adam and Eve - equally -  two main purposes.  The first is relational:  Be fruitful and multiply - which focuses on who we are - the quality of our relationship lived out together with God and how that relationship is passed on to future generations.   The second purpose is vocational:  Subdue and Rule - which is what we do in God's creation on God's behalf.  Manage what's living on God's earth.

The bottom line of that is that God brings these two individuals together to become one - which we saw as an incredible depth of intimacy - and openness and honesty and depth of knowing each other that's expressed with the words, "the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed."  God brings these two individuals together to become one in marriage - to live out God's purposes for them.  Purposes that God enables them to accomplish - that God desires for us to be successful at.

We're together?  Yes?

Then we saw the newlyweds head off on their honeymoon in the Garden of Eden.  Talk about vacationing in paradise.   And how the serpent leads Eve to take that leadership role away from Adam and how Adam lets her take that leadership role.  Eve disobeys what God has commanded - communicated through Adam - the leader - "don't eat from that tree."  And Adam - standing next to Eve let's that happen - even accepts the fruit from Eve.

Sin enters their relationship.  Ravages their relationship.  Utterly destroys any depth of intimacy they have with each other and God.  Sin takes our differences - our maleness and femaleness - differences that God designed to energize us as we work together to accomplish God's purposes - sin takes those differences and uses them to weaken us.  To turn us against each other rather than for each other.  That's a reality of sin that we struggle with today - in our relationships as husbands and wives.

God - explaining the consequences of sin to Eve - in Genesis 3:16 - God nails the bottom line of our struggle.  God says to Eve, "yet your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you."  Literally - the Hebrew has this idea:  "Your desire is going to be to control your husband.  And He is going to exercise control over you."

In visualizing our struggle we looked at two cycles.  Remember these?  Walk with me through these.

Cycle one is the Energizing Cycle - what happens when a husband wife relationship is working well.

The number one need of a man is what?  Respect.  The number one drive of a man is to provide and protect.  As a husband is giving himself to do that providing and protecting thing - he needs the unconditional respect of his wife.

The number one need of a woman is what?  Love.  She desires love and relational security.  Security coming from a husband who will be there for her in the way she needs him to be there for her - unconditionally loving her.  That love provides the protection she needs to feel - what allows her to feel secure.

Look at the Energizing Cycle.  As the husband loves his wife it motivates her to respect him which motivates him to love her.  That builds one flesh - energizes us to do what God has purposed and enabled us to do.

The second cycle - the Weakening Cycle - is the opposite - what's gone wrong with the honeymoon.   Without love - Adam protecting Eve from the serpent - Eve insecure - reacts without respect for Adam - takes leadership away from Adam who's let her down - and Adam - not respected by Eve - because she's taken the role of protect and provide away from Adam - Adam reacts without love towards Eve.  Adam demanding to exercise control over Eve.  Eve desiring to control her husband.

Do you see how that just might tear apart one flesh - weaken us for what God has purposed and enabled us to do?

Are we pretty much together.?

Okay.  Let's turn together to Ephesians 5 - starting at verse 22 - which is the passage we want to focus on this morning.

There actually is a third cycle - that's new to us this morning - which is where we want to get to.  That's the Rewarding Cycle.  Which is when our marriage - our relationship - our partnership - is firing on all eight cylinders - just humming along.

In reality these cycles should be in a different order.  Because the idea - what we want to look at this morning - here in Ephesians 5 - is how we can cut short the Weakening Cycle - work for each other on the Energizing Cycle - so we can experience together the Rewarding Cycle.  How can we get there together? 

Still with me?  Okay.

Look with me at Ephesians 5 - starting at verse 22:  Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord.  The first "How can we get there together" focuses on wives:  "Wives be subject to your own husbands"  Let's say that together, "Wives be subject to your own husbands." 

For - reason being - for the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body.  But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.


"Be subject" is the Greek verb "upotassetai."  By definition it's a military term describing order of rank.  In other words, a private obediently subjects himself to the authority of a corporal who subjects himself to a sergeant and so on all the way up to the commander in chief.

Lets be careful.  Paul is not saying that the husband is the commander in chief and the wife is the private - who blindly obeys every whim and order that's barked out.  Paul is writing about wives respecting a God designed order of leadership in the marriage.

Let's grab that:  Submission is respect.  Let's say that together:  "Submission is respect."

Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 11:3:  "I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of the woman, and God is the head of Christ."

Do you see the order there?  God to Christ.  Christ to man.  Man to woman.  It's the example of what Paul is getting at here - the husband being the head of the wife - the wife being subject to her husband. 

Looking through how Scripture describes that relationship of God the Son with God the Father - what's meant by God being the head of Christ - let me give you four examples of what that looks like.

First is identity.  John 10:30 - Jesus says,  "I and the Father are one."  Both are God.  Husband and wife are both created in the image of God.

Second is cooperation.  Jesus said - John 5:17 - "My Father is working...and I Myself am working."  The Father and the Son work together - same purpose.  Husbands and wives correspond.  They work together.   They're partners in parenting and in ruling over the earth.

Third example - honoring.  Jesus said, "I honor My Father" and, "My Father glorifies Me." (John 8:49,54)  Jesus acts respectfully of the Father's will.  The Father testifies - praises - lifts up the reputation of the Son.  The way that husbands and wives speak of each other and act towards each other - publically or privately - demonstrates a valuing of each other - lifts up the dignity and worth of the other person.

Fourth, Jesus said, "The Father is greater than I."  (John 14:28)  With common identity, cooperation, and honoring - there is also a difference of authority.  Jesus said, "I always do the things that are pleasing to Him." - to the Father (John 8:29).  Subjection to authority - rank - the one who is given by God the role of leadership in the marriage.  God has created the man - designed men - physically - emotionally - psychologically - to be in that role of headship.

So Paul writes that the wife - also created in God's image - corresponding to her husband - honoring her husband - is to voluntarily subject herself to her husband.  Of course - always excluded from that is anything that's disobedient to God.  But in all other areas the wife is to subject herself to her husband.

Remember Rodney Dangerfield.  "I don't get no respect."  What's the number one need of a man?  Respect.  Ever been in a position where you had all the responsibility and no one gave you the respect you needed to fulfill that responsibility? 

That'll drive a man nuts.  Trying to provide and protect - to lead - to be the head in the home - God's designed me this way - and not getting any respect.  Its the weakening cycle.

With no respect the husband demands what he needs.  The wife doesn't feel loved or secure so rather than submission - respect - she demands what she needs - tries to take over the relationship so she can feel secure.

Let me share with you an example of respect.  Turn with me to 1 Peter 3 - starting at verse 1.  There are tons of examples in Scripture of what Paul is getting at here.  This is just one.

1 Peter 3 - verse 1:  You wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that - sound familiar?  Same words.  Be submissive.  Show respect.    So that even if any of them are disobedient to the word - even when they're not being submittable - respectable - they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives. 

We know this.  A man uses about 15,000 words a day.  A woman uses about 30,000 words a day.  Imagine a man - desiring to provide and protect - needing respect - in conversation already feeling inferior.  In an argument he's already toast.

Nagging is not respect.  Shredding your husband in front of the kids - or someone else - is not respect.  Winning the argument over how clean the house - or any other argument - is not going to win the heart of your husband.  Burying your husband in words is not respect.  Win an argument - lose a marriage.

Here's how you win their heart- here's how you show respect - verse 2:  as they - husbands - observe your chaste and respectful behavior - behavior that's pure - free of flirting - with other guys.

Did you see what both Paul and Peter both said, "Be subject to your own husbands."  A husband should never feel like he has to compete with some other guy - or be compared to some other guy - real or imagined - for the respect of his wife.  Your husband should know that he is - without question - number one and there's no number two.

That's not easy when your husband doesn't look and act like the guy of your dreams.  But its respect.

Verse 3:  Your adornment - what you wear - must not be merely - just -  external - braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses…  Wives are suppose to adorn themselves.  Frump is out.  Combing your hair - wearing jewelry - even putting on a dress is in.

The number one need of a man is respect.  Right?  Not sex.  But men are wired visually for sex.  Its part of how God put men together.  If you read the Song of Solomon you'll read that Solomon's lover - his wife - pursued him sexually - even dressing provocatively to get his attention.

Respect how God has wired your husband in how you present yourself physically.

Verse 4:  But - meaning more importantly than just the external - let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight God. 

Just about any woman can turn the head of a man depending on how much clothing she isn't wearing.  That's why women will play at sex to get relationship.  And why men play at relationships to get sex.  In marriage turning the head of your husband is good thing.  Turning his heart is even better.

A gentle and quiet spirit literally has the idea of not arguing and disputing - constantly debating - wrangling over who's right - who's opinion counts - who's going to lead the marriage wherever its going.  Husbands don't like competing for headship in marriage.

At the core of who you are - wives - live in a way that God values - is precious in God's sight.  The depth of your relationship with God - being able to trust Him with your husband - your marriage and family - learning to rely on God for security - that all shows.  Those qualities of the heart leak out in ways that are attractive - respect from the heart.

Does your husband know that - whether you agree with him or not -  you're "for him" from the heart?  That he's got your full support.

That's the energizing cycle.  Wives respecting their husbands breaks the cycle of weakness.  Respect motivates love. 

Let's go on.  Ephesians 5 - verse 25:  Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her,

How do we get there number two.  Husbands Love Your Wives.  Let's say that together,  "Husbands love your wives."

How did Jesus love the Church?  He gave - what?  Gave Himself up for her.  That's how husbands are to love their wives.  That's what love is.

Not this.  Love isn't giving in.  But giving up.  Giving up ourselves for our wives - sacrificial headship.

Jesus said, "No one is taking my life from Me.  I'm laying it down by choice.  I have authority to lay it down and I have authority to take it up again."  (John 10:18)

The word "to give up" is "paradidomi" - being handed over to someone else - especially in some act of treachery.  Judas kisses Him and Jesus hands Himself over to be arrested.

Jesus gave up everything for the Church - by choice.  He set aside all of His Godly attributes - His prerogative to be God - King of kings and Lord of lords - in charge and the head of it all.  By choice set all that aside - was born in the humility of a manger - lived and experienced life like we do.

Jesus - in the Garden of Gethsemane - praying with blood sweating from His pores - looking ahead to His death on our behalf - the mockery - the beatings - the crown of thorns - the nails - the crucifixion - death.  Jesus, who loved the Church - each one of us - so much that He - by choice - sacrificially gave up His life for us

Husbands - that's our example.  To sacrificially love our wives as Christ loved the Church.  Husbands are - by choice - to sacrifice themselves - to give up ourselves - for our wives.  Sacrificial headship.

Verses 26 to 31 are a honey do list - how to be a honey of a husband.  Men need lists.  Don't confuse us with a whole lot of details.  Just tell us what you want and we'll conquer it.  How do we give up ourselves?

Three "To Do's" - sacrifices - in giving ourselves up for our wives.

First "To Do":  Verse 26:  Jesus gave Himself up for the Church - so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,

First To Do:  Sanctify Her.  Men - let's try that together.  "Sanctify her." 

To sanctify has the idea of setting something apart for God.  Jesus went to the cross so that we could be saved - put into a right relationship with God - to live sanctified lives - lives lived uniquely for the purposes for which God has created us as men and women to live life.

To sanctify our wives is an invitation to discover and champion the uniqueness of our wives - all that God has created her to be.

That means quality time listening to our wives.  Engaging in "con-ver-sa-tion" - that's a four syllable word.  Men let's try it together:  "con-ver-sa-tion."  That’s sacrificial?  Isn't it?  Disengage from the remote.  Letting go of the mouse.  Putting down the power tool.  Actively listening - from the heart - while you hear about every picking detail of a story in search of a bottom line.

What moves the heart of your wife?  What has God created your wife for?  She's a unique creation of God.  For what purpose?  How has God used your wife?  How does she see God using her?  What are her spiritual gifts?  What unique perspective - attitudes - emotions - does she bring to the marriage?  How has God uniquely blessed your marriage through her?  If you don't know you need to find out. 

Jesus sanctifies the Church - having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word.  

Reading the Greek this has the idea of taking a bath with water and words.  First - it signifies baptism - declaring outwardly that inwardly we've trusted Jesus as our Savior so that we're clean before God.  Emphasis - Paul is writing about the importance of wives who know Jesus personally.

Second - it means that we're cleansed by words - what Jesus spoke to His Church - His teaching - His instruction - helping His disciples and us to understand God's truth and how to live as God's people.

What Paul's talking about is a husband taking spiritual leadership in the marriage.  That's tough - uncomfortable - exposes us on a deep level.  Definitely sacrificial.

That means that as men we need to first be spoken to - to go deep in our relationship with God - studying His word - praying - opening ourselves up to God.  How are we going to encourage our wives in their relationship with God if we're not going there ourselves?

Then to share with our wives from what we're learning - to open up our hearts and discuss with our wives - what will encourage them to grow and become more of who God has created them to be - sanctified - for His purposes. 

It means taking initiative and praying with our wives.  Seeking God together.  Developing convictions and actions in our marriages based on prayer and the study of Scripture.

Husbands are to give themselves up for their wives so that their wives may fulfill the purposes for which God has created them.

Second To Do - verse 27 - Jesus gave Himself up for the Church - that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot of wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless - literally that she would be without any moral blemishes or be damaged goods - but instead she'd be worthy of honor - without fault.

To Do Number Two:  Present Her.  Say that with me.  "Present her."

There is nothing more glorious than a bride on her wedding day - that moment when the doors open at the back of the sanctuary - and the bride stands there - having spent hours - days - months - in preparation for that one moment - stands there in white - framed by the door - radiant - presented for marriage.  Its her moment.  Its her day.  She’s honored.

Our 21st wedding anniversary was this last week.  A lot of things that went on 21 years ago are kinda blurry in my mind.  But I remember clearly Karen standing at the head of the aisle - standing there in white - hanging on to her dad's arm.

When God brings Eve to Adam - Adam's response put simply is what?  "Wow!"  He is totally taken.  Totally impressed.

To present has the idea of standing next to someone - just honored to be next to that person - this incredible woman who's my wife - in all her glory - and presenting her to others. 

As a husband its our responsibility to provide for and protect our wives  this incredible woman that God has blessed us with.  To guard their dignity - their character - their reputation - their relationship with God.  To lift encourage them.  To lift them up when they're weak.  To be there with them through the hard stuff of life.

That means little things that add up.

Paying attention to the kind of words that come out of our mouths - colorful metaphors that she has to put up with.  Criticisms - harsh words we level at her.  The kinds of words and attitudes we allow our children to speak to their mothers.  What we allow in our home - the music or what's on television or the internet.  What are forcing our wives to be dragged down with because we won't change our behavior?

It means standing up for them and with them.  Wives need to know that we're there and that we'll remain there for them.  It means words that are honoring and encouraging and specific.  It means checking in with our wives during the day - letting her know your schedule - listening to how their day's going - and helping in ways that they actually need help.

All that - and more - probably means changing our behavior - getting pushed out of our comfort zone - giving up ourselves.  But that’s sacrificial headship.  Sacrificially giving everything of ourselves so that our wife is honored - displayed as the awesome woman she is.

Verse 28 - third on the list:  So husbands - following the example of Jesus - husbands ought 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.  For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife - literally glued to her - super glued - and the two shall become one flesh. 

Third To Do:  Join Her.  Let's say that together, "Join her."

In Armenian culture the bride-to-be - during the engagement - she'd come and live with the groom’s family - so that she'd could learn from her future mother-in-law how to cook and keep house in a way that her future husband would be accustomed to - what would please him.  Here a man leaves what’s familiar and joins his wife.

The quote in verse 31 is from Genesis.  Point being that a man leaves his family and joins to his wife because they're created by God to be one.

The word "ought" translates the Greek word "opheilo" which has the idea of duty - obligation.  To love our wives is a compulsion.  Its as integral to our being as loving ourselves.

To nourish is to do the things necessary to keep our bodies going - food - sleep - even exercise.  To cherish means to keep warm - put on clothing - a warm coat on a cold day.  Food and clothing - the basics.

We do that for ourselves.  At the very least because we have this compulsion inside to stay alive.  But - honestly - for most of us it goes way beyond that.  We're pretty self-loving.  We provide a whole lot of things for ourselves - creature comforts and foods that go way beyond mere self-preservation. 

Jesus goes beyond the basics.  He loves us - continually.  He's devoted to us - provides for us - cares for us - listens to us - intercedes for us - protects us - and on and on.  Sacrificially for us.  He loves us - continually.  Because we're a part of Him - Christ's Body - the Church. 

May we as husbands learn to sacrifice what is familiar and pleasing to us - in order to cherish our wives with same kind of devotion we lavish on ourselves.

Verse 33 is Paul's Application.  We'll come back to verse 32 next Sunday.  Verse 33:  Nevertheless - after everything I've written - bottom line - each individual - husband - among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it - literally - husbands love your wives in order that - so that - she respects her husband.  Her respect is her response to his love. 

Paul's bottom line point of application - stay with me - here it is:  Just Do It.  Repeat that with me, "Just do it."

Just Do It - is the Rewarding Cycle - what moves us from weakness to energy.

God gives headship - leadership - to the husband.  Paul begins with wives - which is really about their response to  being loved.  Paul begins with wives but spends most of his time writing to husbands.  Coming to his application - verse 33 - he begins with who?  Husbands. 

Jesus didn't wait until we we're lovable to love us unconditionally - sacrificially - on the cross.  Sacrificial headship means the we husbands go first - we risk everything - rejection - disrespect -  to love our wives.

Marriage isn't about getting our spouse to conform to our needs or grousing when they fall short - and then we'll love them.  Those are conditions placed on love.  That's the Weakening Cycle.

There's a To Do list here.  Husbands don't wait.  Just Do It.



Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture taken from the New American Standard Bible®, © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation.  Used by permission.