Hi, this is Pastor Ken thanks for joining me once again for the Monday Marriage Message where we search God’s instructions to experience a highly successful marriage. We continue today with our look at the scripturally given order and structure of a God shaped marriage.

As I was considering the content for this series on The Order and Structure of a God Shaped Marriage, several ways of approaching the subject came to mind. As always, first and foremost, I want to remain consistent with the scriptures. The word of God is the definitive authority we have access to that offers us the direction we need to obtain a God Shaped Marriage. God determined the primary purpose of marriage to be reflecting Him, therefore any successful marriage will be a God shaped one. Order and structure in a marriage is as vital to making that marriage reflect God and His righteousness, as our skeleton is in helping us to stand upright. If marriage was initiated by God, and is therefore His creation, and if He created it specifically to reflect who and what He is, then His word is the only infallible source we have for how to meet that goal.

Within His word are many instructions designed to help us have God Shaped Marriages. Since that God given structure and order are necessary to marital success, I began this series with the one scripture I am aware of that most succinctly lays out the structure of both marriage and the Godhead it is intended to reflect. 1 Corinthians 11:3, But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.

I cannot think of a better way to move forward with the explanation of this foundational scripture than to follow it just as it is laid out. Paul begins this verse recognizing that it is important for us to understand this framework of authority, and he begins with men. The head of every man is Christ. In the first episode in this series I pointed out to husbands that we have drawn the short straw in this line up. To reiterate, God The Father, (a perfect being) is the head of Christ, (another perfect being). The wife, (an imperfect being) is under the leadership of her husband, (another imperfect being). In the order of authority given in this scripture, it is only the husband, (an imperfect being) who is under the direct authority of Christ, (a perfect being). Last time, I took great care to illustrate from God’s own chosen words that men are not superior to women in any way, shape or form, nor are women inferior to men. There I showed that though we were created with differing abilities, we were also created equal to one another in value. In the scriptural order found in 1 Corinthians 11:3 noted above, It is only the husband who must answer to one superior to himself. So gentlemen, let’s take a closer look at this standard given to us in God’s word, The head of every man is Christ.

The New Testament is full of examples of who Christ is, and how He interacts with us. While all of those scriptures have value helping us to know how we should interact with others including our wives, there are several passages that deal directly with how Christ interacts with the church, His bride. Those are the passages I am going to be focusing on here. If Christ is the authority in direct leadership over husbands, then those scriptures that illustrate how He interacts with the church are of paramount importance to men if we are to know how to interact with our wives in a way that lives up to the standard given to us.

The first of those scriptures we are going to look at is Ephesians 5:25. It reads as follows; 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her…

There are several things from this scripture that I want to point out. First, there can be no mistaking this scripture to be one where the actions and attitudes of Christ are offered toward the church as His bride. There should also be no misunderstanding the fact that Husbands are clearly instructed here to offer their actions and attitudes toward their wives in a way that is reflective of, and in submission to, Christ.

Second I want to highlight that this scripture clearly states that husbands are to love their wives just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her. The male ego would like to focus on the fact that Christ died for the church. The reason for this is that if a husband then commits to being willing to die for his wife (something he is quite certain statistics show to carry a very low reason for concern) then he has just been a husband that is reflective of Christ. Sorry guys…that doesn’t cut it. Yes, if you and your wife are ever in a situation where one of you must choose to die so the other can live, husbands…you must be the one to choose to die. However, pre-committing to that unlikely eventuality is not enough to live up to the standard. Why? Because Christ actually died in place of His bride. So am I saying all men must die for their wife? No. However, Christ laid down His life for His bride in ways that we actually are given opportunity to do every day.

Jesus did not come into existence on the first Christmas night when He was born in a manger. The Apostle John begins His Gospel with the truth that Jesus has always been. Jesus was before everything we understand to be the beginning. Jesus is, according to scripture, the Creator of all that exists. He said of Himself in Revelation 22:13, I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, The First and the Last.” This is but one of His astounding “I Am”statements indicating that He is in fact one of the three persons of Almighty God.

As the great I Am, Jesus has always existed, and until His entrance into this world as one of His own creation, a little baby boy, He existed with the Father accompanied by the Spirit. There for all eternity past, they existed inseparably, reigning supremely, in the perfection of their Heavenly Kingdom. We on the other hand took precious little time upon our entrance to allow our selfishness and distrust in God’s loving instruction to give way to the introduction of sin into the perfect world Jesus had just created for us. With the high price of sin being death…we were eternally lost. When Jesus came into the world He had fashioned, He did so to remedy our sin problem. He came to offer His life as a sacrifice for our sin, lovingly and willingly offered in our stead. Jesus did not have need to come to earth…we had needof Him to come and to do that for us. Christ laid down His life for His bride. He laid down His perfect life that lacked nothing, to give us what we lacked, and could not obtain for ourselves. He laid aside His needs for our needs, His wantsfor our wants, His desires for our desires. Death was not the only way Jesus laid down His life for His bride…it was the final way. His death on the cross was the ultimate sacrifice, but He sacrificed for us every Nano-second He was away from the Father. Husbands, Christ is our example, He is the One in direct authority over us. As unfair as it might be that we are the only ones to have an authority morally superior to ourselves…it is what it is. We must learn to lay down our lives (in every way) for our bride if we want to succeed at having a God Shaped Marriage.

As I said our male egos cause us to look only at Christ’s voluntary giving up of His life as the evidence of His great love for us. We like to think that so long as we are also willing to do that…we have our bases covered. Unfortunately, when we take that attitude we have missed the point all together. The command to each of us is to love our wife as Christ loved the church. The evidence of His love gives us a standard to put the evidence of our love for our wives up against, but the command to us is to love like Christ loves.

According to the passage above, Christ sees Himself as our loving groom. His word instructs us how to be a loving husband, and illustrates that He interacts with us in that very way. In other words, if His word indicates we should treat our wife in a certain way, it is because He treats us in that same way. So when Ephesians 5:25 tells us love our wives, just like Christ loves His bride, we can look to scripture to find out how to do that. One example of that instruction is found in Colossians 3:19. In The Amplified Version that verse reads, Husbands, love your wives [with an affectionate, sympathetic, selfless love that always seeks the best for them] and do not be embittered or resentful toward them [because of the responsibilities of marriage]. When you consider this verse in light of the one from Ephesians 5 it takes on additional meaning. We have to be ready to lay down our lives for our wife if we are going to be able to love them selflessly, as Christ loves us. We should always be most concerned with what is best for them and not what we might think best for us in a particular moment. The continuation of this verse is most important. Men, if we want to be God Shaped Husbands, we cannot be found giving in to the needs of our wife through a clenched jaw or gritted teeth. In fact, that will ruin the entire reflection. For the joy set before Him, the bible tells us…Christ endured the cross. If we are going to be like Christ, laying down our needs, hopes and desires, and putting those of our wives’ first, ought to be the joy set before us. The endurance part is simply the employment of our decision to see our God Shaped Marriage emerge.  Paul cautions us here to avoid allowing our negative emotions to enter into a positive godly position at all costs. If we are going to get it right, we can’t view the responsibilities of a God Shaped Marriage as a thing to be despised. We must see it as a way that we can illustrate our love for our spouse, as Christ illustrated His great love for us.

I want to take time to look at one more scripture that is congruent with those above before I close this edition. In the New King James Version, 1 Peter 3:7 says, Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered. In this passage, we are instructed that a godly husband will interact with his wife in an understanding way. That he will give her honor as to the weaker vessel. This phrase is often misunderstood. Remember that in the last episode of this podcast I went to great lengths to point out that God’s word is clear…men and women were created with equal value. God’s word does not contradict itself, therefore this scripture cannot indicate that the weaker vessel is in any way inferior to the stronger one. I have heard this scripture taught quite literally to mean that a man should be gentle with his wife because her muscle structure is more fragile than his…that’s close, but I cannot fully agree with that to be the meaning. The use of the analogy of a vessel here is of great importance to a correct exegesis. A vessel has one job…to carry water without leaking. A weaker vessel, one made of crystal for example will hold water just as well as one made of iron. Both have equal value when it comes to transporting water. Unless…you knock them into the doorpost on your way into a room. If one is not gentle, and understanding of the limitations of crystal when bumped into a doorpost, the crystal vase will lose its ability to successfully accomplish what it was designed for. On another note, which is more desirable to have placed in the center of the table during a meal? Crystal or iron? The woman is the weaker vessel…the crystal one. She has equal value when it comes to accomplishing the given purpose…but she is different than iron and needs to be interacted with accordingly. Husbands we are being instructed here to understand that our wives will react differently than we do at times. That knowledge is supposed to elicit understanding and gentleness from us rather than harsh intolerance. We each have the same God given purpose…to be reflective of Him. We each have differing qualities that are useful to that end, but neither are more or less important than the other, in fact they are meant to work with each other to complete the reflection. As further proof that our valuation as men and women, husbands and wives are equivalent, Paul points out that both share equally in the grace of God, and they are partners in salvation. Finally, Paul points out that there is greater consequence than broken glass if husbands are not gentle with their wives…God will not honor a husband’s prayers if he does not honor God’s creation of a wife made just for him. Next time we will continue with our look at the God shaped husband, and how he fits into the structure and order of a God Shaped Marriage.

So now doing everything you can, and asking God for more of His power every day to help you have a God Shaped Marriage…Go Be Awesome!