Hi this is pastor Ken with my Monday Marriage Message…“You’re Not The Boss Of Me!”

As the parents of five children, my wife and I heard the title of today’s edition proclaimed loudly between siblings more than a few times. If you have children or remember being one, you have undoubtedly heard the same forceful declaration broadcast a time or two yourself. Perhaps it has escaped your own lips. In most marriages this, or some variation, has been uttered from one spouse toward the other, even if only on the inside. There are countless times when we have all resisted being told what to do.

The problem begins when we resist obeying a command because of a case of mistaken identity concerning where the command originated. If we think the command has come from our spouse, we revolt, almost as a default reaction. No one likes being told what to do, how to act, how to respond, especially if we know the one requiring such action from us has failed to do so appropriately in the past themselves. The very natural (though unwise) reaction is to become defensive and dig our heels in…no matter how wrong we may be. One great way to avoid such self-righteous, self-induced failure is to correctly identify the one giving the command so we might respond as we should.

Ephesians 5:22-33 in the New King James Version reads, Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”  This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.  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.

First, let’s identify the commands found in this passage of scripture:

  • Wives – submit to your own husband as to the Lord.
  • Wives – be subject to your own husband in everything like the church is subject to Christ.
  • Husbands – love your wife just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her.
  • Husbands – love your wife as you care for your own body. Meet her needs and give her what she needs.
  • Husbands and Wives – treat your spouse like you would treat Jesus because they are members of His body.
  • Husbands – Love your wife unconditionally.
  • Wives – Respect your husband unconditionally.

Many women do not like the verbiage at the beginning of this passage. They find it to be degrading or demeaning and derogatory. I really wish more people had a fuller understanding of the true meaning of this scripture. I think if it were not misunderstood by both wives and their husbands, there would be a much greater acceptance of it. First let me point out that it speaks of a voluntary position the wife chooses to take. It should not be misunderstood as being an optional position, but it is taken voluntarily. In other words, power and authority are not being extracted from her, rather, she is entering into a submissive role of her own volition. Her submissiveness is not something the husband owns it is something the wife loans. It is actually a reflection of great strength that a wife is able to give her submissiveness to her husband. Likewise choosing to be subject to her own husband is a decision on the part of the wife to support her husband in the decisions he makes (hopefully after consulting her as I mentioned he should several weeks ago).

Husbands often get the meaning of verse 25 all wrong because they interpret ‘Laying down their life’ through the lens of their own bravado. They view this as being willing to ‘take a bullet’ for their wife if it came down to it (which they are certain they will likely never have to do), just so long as she gets the whole submissive and subjective thing right. Wrong. What we are called to do as a husband is lay down our needs, our desires, our comfort, for our wife…just as Christ did for us. Allow me to repeat myself from an earlier episode, Jesus didn’t leave the comfort of heaven because He had need to…He did so because we had need of Him to do so. He gave up everything so we could have what we needed. He lowered himself that we might be exalted. Husbands, we are each instructed to do the same for our wife.

Furthermore, the scripture goes on to point out in verse 30, that as husbands and wives, we must recognize that our spouse is a part of Christ’s body. If we mistreat our spouse, if we do not give them the consideration this scripture prescribes, we are mistreating Christ. If as a husband I am not loving my wife, I am not loving Christ. If my wife does not respect me, she is disrespecting Christ. To take this concept one step further, is your spouse a child of God? If so, who is your father-in-law? Perhaps we all need to take note of that one.

Final thought: Who commands husbands to love? Who commands wives to respect? Who commands husbands to lay down their lives? Who commands wives to submit? God does; it is from His word that we get these commands. Is God the boss of you? I hope so. So ladies, when you are submitting, respecting and bringing yourselves under your husband’s authority, you are doing it for God, not for your husband. Husbands, when you are loving, meeting her needs all while laying down your own needs, your desires and your comfort, you aren’t doing it for her, you are doing it for God, who already did it for you.

Colossians 3:18-19, 23-25 says:  Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them… And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. But he who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done, and there is no partiality.

Don’t get caught shaking your fist at God screaming “You’re not the boss of me” …not even on the inside!

Questions to Answer:

  1. What misconceptions have the two of you had about this scripture from Ephesians 5 pertaining to the roles of a husband and wife?
  2. How do you view them now and what changes can you envision happening in your marriage as you move into your new understanding?

Actions to take:

  1. Talk about some of the reasons (misunderstanding, ignorance, past personal experiences, families of origin, etc.) that have caused you to look at scriptures like this in a negative light.
  2. Discuss some of the things the two of you can do to help ease those concerns as you both align with what God is asking of each of you.
  3. Discuss how learning to be obedient to what God is requiring of each of you could cause your oneness to increase.
  4. When you are each finding it difficult to comply because of a case of ‘mistaken identity,’ ask God to remind you that He alone is the one who gave you these commands.

So now, choosing to do all the Lord has asked of you especially when it comes to your marriage because He is the boss of you…Go be Awesome!