One of the biggest traps we as Christians can get into, is to ignore or sidestep clear unambiguous words and meanings of Scripture. Ellen White explains “The language of the Bible should be explained according to it’s obvious meaning, unless a symbol or figure is employed” (Great Controversy, p.598). Additionally brother Houteff says the same thing, “Hold not to what fabricated ideas seem to make Scripture say, but grip tenaciously to what the word, in simplicity, plainly says” (Tract 10, p.13).
We needed to lay that foundation first because this topic is somewhat controversial and therefore we must hold “tenaciously” to the obvious meaning and not use any of the often used sidestep explanations to throw out the plain obvious meanings.
It is obvious that today we live in totally different customs than was in place back in the early Christian days. Today we have seen an ever evolving change among the relationship between man and wife. With the main stream media, via TV, internet, radio, and written literature, we can see a tidal wave of “liberal” ideas put forth for the family unit.
While I am not a anti-womens liber, I do refer always to the hand book of life–the Bible. And as I have mentioned many times during our “posting career”, the Lord strictly guides me and certain subjects appear in my walk that leads me to discuss it. Recently the issue of the man-woman relationship has risen before me and therefore I would like to point out some clear Biblical understandings in these matters.
In Ephesians 5:22 we read, “Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands as to the Lord.” Obviously we know that to many women today, especially the women libers, these are inflammatory words. Yet of course to those, the Lord’s word generally doesn’t ring true on many aspects of their lives that –they don’t like.
The dictionary defines the word submit as follows -”To yield or surrender (oneself) to the will or authority of another.” As we are well aware we must always read the Bible verses in context. After reading the above quote, our brother apostle Paul explains the order in which man and woman are to be established in a relationship. “For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their husbands in everything.” (Eph.5:23-24)
So we see that this “order” is to be firmly established in the man being the leader of the relationship. And who said this order? Our all-knowing Lord. The one who understands how everything works. Today the divorce rate is truly astronomical. In the well researched book, “Marriage, Families, and intimate relationships” the statement is made –
|“Married adults now divorce two-and-a-half times as often as adults did 20 years ago and four times as often as they did 50 years ago… between 40% and 60% of new marriages will eventually end in divorce. The probability within… the first five years is 20%, and the probability of its ending within the first 10 years is 33%… Perhaps 25% of children ages 16 and under live with a stepparent.”||”|
|—Brian K. Williams, Stacy C. Sawyer, Carl M. Wahlstrom, Marriages, Families & Intimate Relationships, 2005|
Wow! 40 to 60 % new marriages will end in divorce! After reading this, let’s see what our Lord thinks about it. “For the LORD God of Israel says that He hates divorce, for it covers one’s garment with violence,says the LORD of hosts.” (Mal.2:16)
Could the fact that our divorce rate is so high be that we haven’t listened and obeyed the word of the Lord? Absolutely. Now I am not saying that the reason for such a high divorce rate is all the woman’s fault, because we learn in Paul’s writings that the man has a big responsiblity as well. He’s to love and respect His wife. “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her.” (Eph 5:25)
So we see that as “head” of the relationship, the man has to establish a household of “love”. In fact this love is to be truly strong as we read, “..love His own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” (Eph5:33) Also we notice, again, the wife’s responsiblity to “respect” her husband.
So clearly, any breakdown of these responsibilities, can hurt the relationship. But as we have learned, there is a rightful process to all this and it’s to follow our Lord’s counsel–The man is to lead and have the authority. Does that mean women have no say or can’t have their desires and wishes met? Of course not, but if the man deems something important that should be done, and the wife disagrees, the man’s will should take precedent. This, I’m afraid, is why the divorce rate is so high–the chain of authority is broken!
Again, we read in (1 Cor.11:3) that the Lord has established delegation of authority. “But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.” In this liberal world it’s very easy to fall trap to the devil’s ploy. They have to a large degree tricked the women into thinking ,”You have just as much authority in your marriage as the man!” And even more sadly, more than a few men, drop down from this authority and willfully submit to the woman!
Think of this relationship as a circle. The man starts it by requesting something and the wife obeys. Then the man is very happy and respects his wife, and wants to “love” her even more. And she feels this strong love and gives it back to the husband. A perfect chain of love and unity before the Lord. True Biblical submission leads to true love!
Our customs, as we mentioned, are quite different today as they were back in the early Christian days, but has men and women’s relationship to God changed? No. Likewise the relationship of man and wife hasn’t changed either, from the Lord’s point of view(His word).
Has our Lord usurped God the Father’s authority? Have we men quit acknowledging that Christ is our authority? Then the final layer of that authority chain must be kept as well–woman looking to man for his leadership and authority.
Recently I’ve had to call it quits in a personal relationship, to a woman who was my fiance. It was tough to do but I came to the realization that I could not be the authority of the household. The arguments, the interruptions, the ignoring of my requests, all got too much to handle. I could see unfortunately, that should I go ahead and marry, the Lord’s chain of order and authority would not be there and struggles would frequently occur.
Let us always refer back to our Lord’s word for advice. His words are so plain in regards to the man-woman relationship. If we obey them we will be blessed, if we ignore them, then we have no one to blame but ourselves.
Let’s close with a brother Houteff quote, ” There could be nothing more pleasing to God than for one of His children to ask in sincerity the way of the truth; therefore, such a one shall not be left in darkness, ‘Ask, and it shall be given you, seek and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you.” (Matt 7:7) (Shepherd’s Rod, vol 2, p.90)
May the Lord give us all true wisdom and understanding and understand that true Biblical submission leads to true and eternal love!