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January 19, 2011

On November 11 I bookmarked 2 blog articles. Bookmarks usually last about 24 hours before they get a) archived b) used in A La Carte or c) erased. But these ones are still sitting there. Several times I have gone back to read the articles and each time I’ve wanted to think about them a little bit more. There is nothing in them that is earthshaking to me. And yet the way they are phrased has given me a lot of food for thought (just ask Aileen if you doubt me).

The first article I read was by Amy Scott and it was titled simply “Be You.” In her article she references another, one titled “Just Whose Wife Am I Anyway?” They both deal with a common them: submission. In particular, they deal with the biblical command that a wife submit to her husband. Those are fighting words in many parts of the Christian world, not to mention outside of the Christian world. I won’t allow that to distract me here.

Both women write about their own struggles with what submission really looks like in a godly marriage. And as I read their thoughts, here is what struck me: We spend a lot of time talking in general about how men and women complement one another—generic men and generic women. This complementarity is obvious from a physical standpoint, but also from many others. But I wonder if we spend far too little time talking about how this husband and this wife complement one another. When we move beyond the generalities of gender roles, we find that the specifics may look very, very different from one couple to another. Within the Bible’s general guidelines, there are many ways to work out the details. Amy puts it like this:

My own husband would knock me silly (…figuratively) if I called him yesterday from the flooring store to solve and negotiate the huge issue that came up. He trusts me. He knows I am capable, and we are a team. (On the flip side, many husbands feel very respected to have their opinion asked about how to handle disasters.) We found a rhythm that works for us.

Greg has one Patriarchal rule for me. He will not let me use a paintbrush under any circumstances in our house. But I am OK with this.

December 11, 2010

With a friend I’ve been reading through R. Kent Hughes’ book Disciplines of a Godly Man. This week we read the section titled “Relationships.” This section is comprised of 4 chapters and offered all kinds of good food for thought. I wanted to point out just one brief excerpt that kicked me in the gut. It comes in a section discussing “The Discipline of Marriage.” Here is what he says:

Men, we are called to a divinely appointed self-love: to love our wives as our own bodies, to care for them as Christ does the Church. Loving our wives’ bodies as our own demands a triple incarnation: physical, emotional, and social. We are to devote the same energy, time, and creativity to our wives as to ourselves. We are to cherish our constant souls. Envy the woman who is loved like this. Even more, envy the man who loves like this—for he is like Christ.

Men, what a challenge Ephesians 5 presents us—sacrificial love (love is like death!), sanctifying love (love that elevates), and self-love (loving your wife as much as you love your own body). If this calls for anything, it calls for some holy sweat. As Walter Trobisch said, “Marriage is not an achievement which is finished. It is a dynamic process between two people, a relation which is constantly being changed, which grows or dies.”

We are to devote the same energy, time, and creativity to our wives as to ourselves. That one line convinced and convicted. And that was just one line in a long book.

November 20, 2010

A few days ago Randy Alcorn posted a quote from a book I’ve often recommended—William Farley’s Gospel-Powered Parenting. In this brief excerpt Farley says that your marriage preaches, that it exists to declare something. And here is what he says:

“This mystery [marriage] is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.” Here is Paul’s point. From before time began, God had marriage on his mind. He was preparing a bride for his Son, whom he would marry forever. It would take the crucifixion and resurrection of the Groom to bring this marriage to pass. Think of it. God created the most intimate human relationship, marriage, to speak of the intimacy of his relationship with his church.

God created the institution of human marriage to reflect, or mirror forth, this eternal union. In other words, human marriage exists to point men and angels to the eternal marriage of Christ and his church. The gospel made this divine marriage possible. Here is our point: human marriage exists to preach the gospel. It exists to illustrate the fruit that should follow the preaching of the gospel in the church.

To whom does our marriage preach? Of course, the first audience is God and his angels. They watch and rejoice, or if our marriage is a war zone, they grieve.

Who is the second audience? Most of us think first about our non-Christian neighbors. Maybe they will see our attempts to model Christian marriage and want the gospel? They might, and we hope they will, but actually they are the third audience.

The second audience, usually overlooked by most Christians, is our children. What is our marriage telling them about Christ and his bride? They see it all. They hear our fights. They absorb our attitudes. They know who or what really sits on the throne of our lives. They watch how we handle resentment. They hear the way we talk to each other. They know when we hear the Sunday sermon and apply it. They also know when we ignore it.

The message that our marriage preaches either repels or attracts our children. God wants your child to watch your marriage and think, “I want a marriage like that, and I want the God that produced it.” Or, “When I think of the beauty of the gospel, I think of my parents’ marriage. I want to be part of a church that is loved by God the way my dad loves my mother. I want to be part of a church that finds its joy in submitting to Christ as my mother joyfully submits to my father.”

March 22, 2010

You know the words of Genesis 2:18. There God, having completed his work of Creation, having declared the excellence of all that he has made, says “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” It is useful to consider the context of the creation of Adam’s helper. God declared that it was not good for the man to be alone and that he had need of a helper. And yet he did not, at that moment, create such a helper and neither, as far as we know, did he say anything about this to Adam. Instead, he commanded Adam to name the animals. And he was obviously not just to name them, but to consider and evaluate each one. And as he did so, he must have realized that none of them were like him—none bore the image of God. An ache of loneliness must have developed within as he studied and pondered and realized that he was so much different from each of them. And there, in that context, God caused Adam to fall asleep and from his own body created a woman. And when Adam opened his eyes it is no wonder that he burst into praise. He looked upon this woman and saw at last his companion, his helper, and he cried out

This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
because she was taken out of Man.

It was after coming to an understanding of his loneliness, his incompleteness, that Adam was able to offer God heartfelt praise for such great provision. Having experienced loneliness even in perfection, he knew the greatness of his gift.

December 04, 2009

This is the fifth and final part of this series on leadership in the home. You can read the first part here, the second part here, the third part here and the fourth part here. Having looked at the husband’s responsibilities in leadership and protection, we turn today to provision.

December 03, 2009

This is the fourth article in a series dealing with leadership in the home. You can read the first part here, the second part here and the third part here. We’ve seen a brief defense of male headship and we’ve seen that God calls men to be leaders in the home. Today we look at the husband’s role in protection.

December 02, 2009

This is the third article in a series dealing with leadership in the home. You can read the first part here and the second part here. As we saw yesterday, a husband is called to lead his wife. Though this is an unpopular statement in this day and in this culture, it is one that Christians must affirm. Male headship is taught so clearly in Scripture that to deny it leaves us prone to fall into any number of other radically false teachings. If we can read the Bible and walk away denying male headship, we can walk away denying any doctrine that offends our sensibilities.

December 01, 2009

Yesterday I began a series dealing with leadership in the home (read part one). Today I want to continue the series by providing a brief (and undoubtedly inadequate) defense of male headship.