************ Wedding Sermon on Ephesians 5:21-33 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on January 23, 2010
Wedding Message for Ben & Katrina Crawford
Ben & Katrina, as I mentioned in my office, the number one thing husbands and wives argue about is money. Not because there is not enough money. In almost every home there is plenty of money. Husbands and wives argue about how to spend the money they have. Does the husband get to decide or does the wife get to decide? That's the argument because the number one game played among people, even among husbands and wives, is "King of the Hill." Who gets to call the shots? Who gets to be in control? Who is at the top of the heap?
Do you know what the real problem is? Submission. Submission. How does our passage start? "Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ" (Eph 5:21). If only husband and wife would both follow this rule, there would be no arguments about money, or about anything else when it comes down to it.
Submit ... submit ... submit. There are some who view this as a dirty word. They think it gives husbands an excuse to be authoritarian and domineering. They think it locks women into a second-class status. They think Paul's teaching on submission puts all the burden on wives. They think it shows Paul's hatred for women. None of this is actually the case.
Why do so many husbands and wives misunderstand the Bible's call for submission? The problem is that people confuse submission with being weak and no submission with being strong.
Now, submission is not easy for sinful, stubborn, proud human beings. Even little children want a measure of control. So, I want to ask, is submission even possible?
A few verses earlier, in verse 18, the Bible says it is all a matter of what fills you. If a person is filled with wine (or drugs), then it is the wine/drugs that controls him. But, if a person is filled with the Spirit, then it is the Spirit that controls him.
Ben & Katrina, the secret to a happy marriage is submission. And, the secret to submission is the filling of the Holy Spirit. If you are filled with the Spirit of Jesus Christ, then submission is not only commanded but it is even possible. Make a decision, Ben & Katrina to be filled with the Spirit, to follow the Spirit, to doing what the Spirit wants.
Paul's next point is that submission is a sign of being "in Christ." "Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ" (Eph 5:21). Those who love Jesus and serve Jesus, submit to one another. Submission is a sign of your reverence for Christ. Submission is a true expression of your worship for the Lord. If Jesus is your Lord, then you will do what He wants – and, what He wants is submission.
What is submission? Submission is not a way in which we make people bend to our will. Rather, it is the voluntary way we respond to each other because of our relationship to Christ. Let me emphasize that: Biblical submission is always voluntary, or it is not submission at all. Biblical submission is always mutual, or it is not submission at all. Couples who submit to one another put the other person and their wants and desires first.
Now, it is within this call to mutual submission that Paul discusses the relationship of husbands and wives.
Let's deal with the husband first. Paul makes two comparisons. First, "husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her ..." Do you think this is easy? "Love your wives, just as Christ loved the church" (Eph 5:25). Do you think this is easy? Wives have the easy part – all that Paul commands them to do is submit. Husbands have the hard part – you need to submit and you need to love your wife, just as Christ loved the church. How did Christ love the church? How much did Christ love the church? Christ died for the church. Christ gave up His life for the church. Christ suffered on the cross for the sake of the church.
Think of the implications of this. Any husband who loves his wife the way Christ loves the church, will not force her or neglect her or abuse her. Any husband who loves his wife the way Christ loves the church, will not dominate or domineer her. Any husband who loves his wife the way Christ loves the church, will not insist on his own way.
Ben – and every other husband here – do you love your wife the way Jesus loved the church? Are you not only willing to die for her, but do you also live for her? Does she know how extra special she is to you? Do you tell her? Do you show her?
There is also a second comparison. How come one isn't enough? Maybe because we men are thick-headed sometimes or slow to learn. So Paul tells us again what it means to submit to one another within the context of marriage. Paul says, "husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies" (Eph 5:28). Think of what we do for our bodies – we feed it, we clothe it, we wash it, we exercise it, we doctor it, we take care of it. Have you ever seen a mother bathe her tiny, little baby? What tenderness and care she shows. That is the tenderness and care husbands are to have for their wives.
Finally, there are words for the wife. Within the context of mutual submission, within the context of the husband being like Christ, within the context of the husband showing tenderness and care, Paul says, "Wives, submit to your husband as to the Lord" (Eph 5:22). No wife who is so loved, minds submitting to such a husband. And, Paul tells us why the wife should submit: "For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church" (Eph 5:23). Not domineering, not dominating, not abusive, but in a loving way.
So, Ben & Katrina, follow me on this. Do you love Jesus? In my office you said you do. If you do, then you are filled with the Spirit. And, if you are filled with the Spirit, then you submit to one another. And, if you submit to one another, then the husband loves his wife the way Christ loves the church; and, the husband loves his wife the way he loves his own body. And, if you submit to one another, then the wife submits to her husband. And, if you submit to one another, then the husband's headship is not self-serving, not domineering, not dominating, not authoritarian but sacrificial.
My hope and my prayer and my confidence, Ben & Katrina, is that this is the model for your marriage.
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
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