I have had the same pair of glasses for some years now. I wear contacts every day, so there is not the need to stay current every few years with a fresh pair of lenses.
Over the years, I have noticed that what used to be crystal clear to me has taken on a general fuzziness – still good enough to help with distance but yet a bit distorted. Like the picture above, I can make out shapes of people, buildings, and lights, but what is lacking is clarity.
Distortion found in a marriage
This same type of phenomenon happens often within a marriage.
It happens every so slowly over time. As a couple, we can often forget that our marriage is designed by God to picture something far grander than two people falling in love. Like glasses that have lost clarity in their lenses, so too can a marriage lose its clarity. And when a relational “fuzziness” begins to be the norm, it leaves the door wide open for all kinds of problems and conflict.
The world has put such a focus on spousal equality that to even talk about “roles” of a husband and wife can seem antiquated. A husband leading? A wife submitting? Please.
And if that is the level at which the discussion stays, it is no wonder marriages are in such turmoil today.
We have to see the bigger picture. And I would like to briefly define it in a way that has provided great clarity in how my wife and I view our marriage.
I cannot recall where I first heard this, but it is a simple idea that conveys incredible meaning.
Ephesians 5 is pretty clear:
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. (verses 22, 25)
But in our brokenness, we read “love” and “submit” without also taking the time to understand why these exist.
The much bigger picture
So where is the grander example of why a husband is to love his wife? Here it is, simply laid out:
God loves His Son ——> Jesus loves His church ——> A husband loves his wife
Do you see the picture more clearly now? As God loves His Son, so Jesus loves His bride as Antone should love Stefanie.
My love for my wife works its way all the way back to the bigger statement that God loves His Son.
So what about the grander example of why a wife is asked to submit to her husband? Here is it, also simply laid out:
Jesus submits to His Father ——> The church submits to Jesus ——> A wife submits to her husband
Again, do you see this picture more clearly now? As Jesus willingly and only does those things that please His Father, so the church submits to King Jesus just like Stefanie should submit to Antone as her husband.
This isn’t a hierarchy thing. It is not a who is better or more valued concept. No one gets jacked up over Jesus loving His church. But plenty of husbands do not want the sacrifice and service of authentically loving their wives. No one gets bent out of shape that the church willingly submits to Jesus, but there are many wives who do not want to faithfully live out their role with their husbands.
And so what happens? You have broken marriages that look nothing like the relationship between Jesus and His church. Jealousy, conflict, passivity, bickering, a me-first agenda. My role of loving my wife takes no less intervention by the Spirit than for my wife to lovingly submit to my leadership. Both are impossible unless God changes affections and desires. And that is the point.
So if you are struggling to make this “marriage thing” work well, start with the picture described above between God, His Son, and the bride of Jesus. God just might know what He is talking about.