"Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church -- for we are members of his body. 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.' This is a profound mystery -- but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband." NIV
I am profoundly saddened by the number of affairs and breakups going on in Christian marriages all around me. I can't tell you how many have happened just in the last year. And it begins with one or both of them consciously or unconsciously turning away from these commands God has clearly placed on the marriage relationship. And it's not all that hard to keep these promises -- submit and love. Be committed and do not turn away from that commitment. Period. No options, no plan B, no "if it works out." You make it work out! And if you have a "conciliatory attitude," you can make it work.
So where does it all begin to fall apart? How do we avoid that first pull away? Go back to the command in verse 18, "...be filled with the Spirit." If we are living in our new self and putting off the old self, if we are living to please God, if we are living "not as unwise but as wise," if we seek God's will daily and are filled with the Spirit, then we can build a relationship of love and submission that is lasting and reflects the love that Christ has for His church. That is one strong bond that no one can tear apart.
- Read Genesis 2:18-24 -- the first marriage. What was unique about Adam and Eve's marriage that is symbolic of the marriage covenant?
- What is the correlation between the success of our marriage and our daily walk with the Lord?
- Read Hosea 1-3. Here is the story of a marriage that symbolizes the love Christ has for His bride, the church. What can we learn from Hosea for our marriages? List the attributes of Hosea. For a contemporary novel based on Hosea, read Francine Rivers' book, Redeeming Love.
- Read 1 Corinthians 13 again and spend time thanking the Lord for the spouse you have the privilege of loving and ask Him to help you to love even better.
- Is your marriage hanging on by a thread? Humble yourself before the Lord, confess and ask forgiveness for your part of the problem, pray for your spouse, and be sure you stay right with the Lord every day. You can't control your spouse's spiritual walk, but you can control yours. Remain humbled before the Master and be filled with His Spirit. Love and submit to your spouse.