Marriage in the New Testament

Ephesians 5:33 (NKJV) 33 Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Over the last two weeks, we have been studying the topic of biblical marriage. We looked at the beginnings of marriage in Genesis chapter 2. Today I want to look at the most familiar scripture about marriage in the New Testament, Ephesians chapter 5.

From the Old Testament we learned that God created marriage. We found that God literally took the woman out of the man. He separated humanity into two genders and then brought them back together in marriage. Today, our culture is trying to redefine marriage. Many cultures look at marriage differently than Americans do. However, we are looking at what the bible says about marriage not what any culture, including American culture, says. God created the woman for the man and the man is necessary to the woman. The creation of children tells us that. Marriage is between one man and one woman.

I know that our current culture does not always accept that idea. It is seen as intolerant. I would say once again that if you do not believe in God or in the Bible as the Word of God, my words would mean little to you. If you are a bible believing Christian, the culture of God’s Word must supersede any other cultural influence. We are talking about biblical marriage.

There were a number of other things we learned from the Old Testament, but let us turn to the New Testament. In Ephesians 5, we see some of the same things that we saw in the Old Testament but we also see more of how marriage is supposed to work. I chose to quote the last verse in this scripture first because I believe it is the point of the whole discussion in Ephesians 5.

We often focus on this idea of submission. This is another one of the things that our culture does not like. The idea that there is an order in marriage and that men are to have the lead role is anathema to many. The argument is that men and women are equal. Why should one be dominant over the other? I agree that they are equal. This has nothing to do with equality or who is better. It has to do with order.

In any relationship where people have to work together there has to be order. Is the boss better than the worker is? Some foolishly think that is the case. There may be a difference of education or social position, but the boss is not much good without the worker. The officer in the military is not much good without the soldier. The pastor has no purpose without the congregation. Leadership is necessary and in human society, we have allowed a “quality distinction” to develop in some cases. That is man’s influence not God’s.

To God it is simply a matter of different roles that must be filled to get the job done. The ultimate job for the church is to win the lost and make disciples. That is what he created the church to do. In the family, it is to be a viable unit of the church. The family is where child disciples are raised to become adult disciples. Marriage is where female and male disciples learn to work together to build the Kingdom of God. When it is working correctly, it is also a graphic example of the kingdom of God to the world.

Everyone in the church is important. There are now small pastors and great apostles. Leaders in the church are no more important than the people in God’s economy. I was in a teaching on leadership once and the man teaching said, “You have to remember, God calls the people sheep for a reason. Sheep are dumb creatures. That’s the way the people in the church are too.”

I knew he did not mean his words to sound the way they did. He went on to explain a valid point. I had a hard time getting past his description of God’s children as dumb sheep. I thought of how I would feel if someone said something like that about my children. There would be a problem! My friend from Puerto Rico likes to say, “I’ll give him the fivefold ministry!” That is five fingers folded into a fist, if you know what I mean. That would be my reaction if you talked that way about my children. I do not think God likes it any better.

What does this have to do with marriage? There is an order in marriage so that we can work together to build the Kingdom of God. God says that the order is husband, wife and children. It is obvious why the children are not called to lead. It is less obvious why the husband is called to lead. We will try to touch on that in this space if time allows, but the most important reason is because that is how God created it. Things work when we do them God’s way. Get ready! I am about to give you a major revelation!! God is smarter than we are!!!

There is a myth about Ephesians 5 that the bible says women are to obey men. It does not. It says women are to submit to their own husbands in the Lord. It never says all women are to obey all men. The bible says that women are not to usurp authority from men. That means they not supposed to take authority over men. It does not mean they cannot have authority over men. Ephesians 5 does establish an order. It also establishes much more than that.

That brings me to the last verse in this section of scripture. There are many things alluded to and spoken of in these few verses. I think if we apply them as God intended, we will have a great marriage. The point of all of it is what he says last. In verse 32, he points out that the mystery of marriage is the mystery of Christ and the church. The relationships are very similar. Then he sums up the whole marriage issue in one sentence.

Men need to love their wives as themselves and women need to respect their husbands. If we do that, marriage will work. Both partners need both things. Men and women both need love. Men and women both need respect. However, a woman can live without respect and a man can live without love. A woman cannot live without a sense of love and a man cannot live without respect. If we get these two things right, the rest will fall into place.

Ephesians 5 is God’s formula for getting those two things in balance. If we follow what it teaches, we will find that love and respect will be in the proper order and marriage will work. So what does Ephesians 5 teach us? Come back tomorrow.


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