The Bible teaching about Christian marriage is difficult. Intense personal experiences, differing cultural norms, and ideological differences tangle themselves with the Bible. It becomes hard to separate them.
For example, in America the radical feminists, motivated by Marxist ideals, claim that men oppress women, and must be dislodged from that position of power.
Others consider females to be equal to males; consequently, you will hear that neither should be the head of the household, but both should share that role equally. Some cultures consider the women to be property of the male. Who is right?
In this Bible teaching about Christian marriage, I will look at the original design, the core problem, headship, and relationship.
I need to flip back to Genesis to uncover the original creative design of marriage. In the sequence of creation, God first created Adam from the earth (Genesis 2:7). Secondly, He created Eve from Adam (Genesis 2:21, 22).
The purpose of woman’s creation was, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him” (Genesis 2:18). Next, you see the design of marriage (Genesis 2:23-25). There you learn that it involves one woman and one man who permanently unite together in a nuclear family unit.
This leaves room for several generations living together in larger supportive family networks. The “leave and cleave” part does not mean “abandon and neglect.” Family is the bedrock, foundational institution of any society.
The fall of humanity brought turmoil to marriage. The consequent curse fell on people, nature, and marriage. A telling verse reads, “To the woman He (God) said, I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth, in pain you shall bring forth children; yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you” (Genesis 3:16).
Two crucial conditions are contained in God’s pronouncement: desire and rule. Rule refers to the fact of virtually universal male dominance in all creation. This dynamic is as self evident as having to work hard to make a living (Genesis 3:17-19), and pain in childbirth. The second condition is the attraction of the woman for her husband.
The problem is the perversion of these conditions by husbands and wives. The word, “desire,” is the same word used in Genesis regarding God and Cain. God said to Cain, “And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it” (Genesis 4:7).
Here is the picture. Just as sin’s tendency is to pounce upon us to dominate our lives, so do wives sometimes seek to assert dominance over their husbands. The good motive to have a husband turns to an obsession to manipulate and overpower the husband. Rebellion and mutiny reign.
On the other side of the token, husbands may “rule” their wives with ruthless disregard rather than loving concern. A power struggle is set up, and spoils Christian marriages – another self evident fact of creation! But there is hope.
Equal Worth, Position and Access
Paul corrected the unnatural rule of husbands over their wives. It serves as a great liberation to women. He wrote, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ” (Galatians 3:27).
The context is specifically dealing with salvation. There is no discrimination by God based on race, ethnicity, or gender. All can be saved, and all have equal value, status, and access to God. In Christian marriage, both husband and wife enjoy equal status and privilege before God because of their position in Christ.
However, equal status and marital roles are two different things. Paul writes, “For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church” (Ephesians 5:23; cf. 1 Corinthians 11:2-15). The word “head” (Gr. Kephale) teaches two things: origin and authority in a hierarchy.
Recall earlier that woman was created by God from man, while man was created by God from the earth. Consequently, the woman’s derives her being and life from man. She originates from man (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:8, 9).
Man even gave women her name, “And the man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, because she was taken out of man’” (Genesis 2:23).
From God’s creative design, woman was to be a “helper” to her husband. A helper assists, not rules, another. Paul spoke to this hierarchical chain of responsibility, “But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:3).
Paul is speaking of roles, not value nor access. This is seen in the workplace. A helper or assistant helps the boss. The fact of hierarchy is recognized in every part of society – even those cultures who claim to be egalitarian.
The issue here is how husband and wife treat each other in a Christian marriage. Husbands first. Remember, you will answer to Christ as to how you treat your wife. If you beat her, insult her, demean her, and crush her spirit, Christ will be very unhappy with you. It is not your job to force her to submit. She will answer to Christ for her response to you. Here is your role in a Christian marriage.
•Love her as you do your own body, and as Christ loves you (Ephesians 5:25, 28). Keep her best interests at heart always.<br>
•Cherish and nourish her, and help her to reach the full potential Christ has for her (Ephesians 5:29). This also means to support, take care of, and protect her. Treat her as special and important – the greatest gift you will ever have.
•Live with her tenderly, gently, and faithfully. Avoid grudges and bitterness (Colossians 3:19). Give her great honor and understanding (1 Peter 3:7).
•You are the head of the home, but if you are wise, you will listen very carefully to the wisdom God has given your wife. A good general always listens to his advisors.
Remember, you and your wife are two sides of one union (1 Corinthians 11:11, 12).
Be careful how you exercise authority. Just as a worker will quit a domineering boss, a wife will quit a domineering husband.