Monday, October 18, 2010

Gleanings from the Pastor's Perspective: Obey and Submit

The Pastor’s Perspective
“Obey and Submit”
First Published: August 15, 2006

For the past three Sunday mornings we have been focused on a timely topic as a part of our larger study of God’s New Family: An Exposition of Ephesians. This mini-series is called: God’s Household Rules: Marriage and Family. In it, we are working through a section of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians (Ephesians 5:22-6:9) that deals with our household relationships from a Christian perspective. It is directly connected to Paul’s big theme that we are God’s new family, new society, new community in this way: Paul is asking (and answering!) “if we are God’s new community, then what should our family life look like. How are we to be different from the world?”

So, Paul deals with husbands and wives, parents and children, and masters and servants – the sphere of the household in biblical and Mediterranean culture. The timeliness of this for us is obvious.

Two weeks ago, in Ephesians 5:22, we began to tackle the very politically incorrect teaching of the Bible on wives submitting, or subjecting themselves to their husbands. We began by noting that all Christians are called to serve one another, to subject themselves to one another. Then we noted the unique aspects of God’s call in this area to Christian wives. We also found John Piper and Wayne Grudem’s definition of this helpful – “Submission refers to a wife's divine calling to honor and affirm her husband’s leadership and help carry it through according to her gifts.” (Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood)

Then, this past Sunday, we got even more specific on this uncomfortable issue. We observed that when Paul said to us : “Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” He meant at least three things. To submit here clearly means for Christian wives to (1) acknowledge, (2) follow and (3) respect their husband’s spiritual leadership of the home. Practically, this means:

  1. A glad recognition of the divinely given order of the household. God has made the husband head. (See v. 23).
  2. A willing embrace and following of one’s husband’s spiritual authority and leadership, under God.
  3. A joyful respect for your husband’s person and position in the home (see v. 33).

This biblical, willing, glad submission might manifest itself as follows. By a Christian wife endeavoring, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, to:
  1. Make home a safe place for her husband: one of encouragement, comfort, understanding and refuge (Prov31:11,20);
  2. Be trustworthy and dependable (Prov 31:11-12);
  3. Maintain a good attitude (Prov 31:26, 28, 29);
  4. Discuss things lovingly, openly and honestly (Eph 4:25);
  5. Be content, satisfied with her position, possessions, tasks and her husband’s provisions (Phil 4:6-13);
  6. Be patient, forgiving and forbearing (Col 3:12-14);
  7. Be industrious for the sake of husband and family (Psalm 128:3; Prov 31:10-31);
  8. Offer suggestions, advice, counsel and correction to her husband in a loving way that shows respect (Prov 31:26);
  9. Cultivate inner beauty (1 Peter 3:3-5);
  10. Pursue God and his glory (1 Cor 10:31);
  11. Build loyalty to her husband in the children;
  12. Be grateful and express thanks often to her husband;
  13. Show confidence in his decisions
(thanks to Wayne Mack, Strengthening Your Marriage, for many of these great ideas).

We also listened to some thoughts and questions from Betsy Ricucci regarding a wife respecting her husband in thoughts, words, deeds. She asked Christian wives to ask themselves: What thoughts spring to my mind when I think of my husband? Are they honoring of him? How do I speak to my husband when we are alone? In public? How do I speak of him to others? Do I show my husband respect through my actions? How? Do I freely show him physical affection? Do I listen when he is speaking, in public and private? Or do my deeds communicate a lack of respect, inattentiveness or even indifference - interrupting him, looking away when he speaks, forgetting or failing to do the things that he has asked.

Your friend,

Ligon Duncan

editorial note: Dr. Duncan's sermons on Ephesians may be found here

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