Valentine’s Day has been and gone for another year. We have celebrated love and eaten a few extra chocolates. But what about the rest of the year? In my last post, I talked about how I was challenged this year to look at Valentine’s Day as a celebration of marriage and ultimately marriage as a celebration of the relationship between Jesus and the church. It got me thinking… how does this relationship between Jesus and his church translate into the relationship between a husband and a wife? What is there to be learnt from Jesus and his bride that can be implemented into our marriages, even after the roses have wilted and the love-themed chocolates are on a half price discount at the local store?
In Ephesians 5:22-24, wives are told to submit to their husbands, as the church submits to Jesus. Often this type of submission feels like it is preached as a life sentence and in post-feminist culture submission is a weakness. This is so far from the beautiful, biblical view of submission. Biblical submission means, for us as wives to “recognize and honor the greater responsibility of your husband to supply your protection and sustenance; be disposed to yield to his authority in Christ and be inclined to follow his leadership” (Piper). It is a beautiful thing to come under the protection, spiritual leadership and nurturing love of our husbands.
In Ephesians 5:25, husbands too are instructed to love and treasure their wives, as Christ does the church. Husbands are to copy Christ’s example of love- sacrificial love. Jesus served his disciples by washing their feet, serving them and loving them so fiercely it took him to the cross. Likewise, husbands should treasure their wives with sacrificial love. When as women we are nurtured and loved in this way, submission becomes a desire and serving a joy. Sure, there are days when we are both feeling empty and it is hard to give, yet in relationship with Jesus and partnership together, we can reach the fullest measure of fulfilment and blessing as we experience exactly what marriage is meant to be. It is a daily choice- to love through sacrifice and submit through humbly living out the reality of the ultimate sacrificial love in our lives.
This morning, so soon after Valentine’s Day, I found myself arguing with my husband about clothes left on the floor. I ended up declaring that from now on, he could wash his own clothes. As I loaded the washing machine (with his clothes left out) I started bolstering my resolve- telling myself in self-righteousness that I was in the right- after all, it isn’t like I enjoy doing the washing! But in the middle of this inner tirade, you know what happened? The Holy Spirit convicted me of my sin and made me question how I was showing love to my husband through this. How was I honouring him? How was I helping and supporting him? How was I respecting him as the church respects Christ? If I continued with my resolve, how would that impact our day, week, month and how easy would it be for bitterness to come storming in through our door and into our relationship? Oh the depth of his mercy and grace that we should be called children of God (even though we have these moments of irritation) and that when we confess our sins he is faithful and just and forgives. (I ended up sneaking back into the laundry and throwing his clothes into the load 😉 )
It is my prayer that God would grow me in this journey of being a wife and work through me by graciously allowing me to model godly submission to my daughter. It is my prayer that God will use me to empower my husband to be all that he can be as he leads our family in the ways of God. It is also my prayer that my husband will love me as Christ loves the church. I also pray that the Holy Spirit will continue to convict us both as individuals of sin in our lives, so that we can know the grace and forgiveness that flows from the cross.
Extra Reading? Valentine’s Day is for Getting Drunk, Jon Bloom, Desiring God Blog
photo credit: via photopin (license)