You have a 100% chance of success in marriage. The Lord has a perfect plan for marriage and when we choose to live this plan out, our marriages thrive like a well-watered garden. Every marriage needs ongoing attention: weeds need to be pulled, soil needs to be cultivated, and the right amount of sun and rain are necessary for growth. Like a garden, the Lord has created our marriages to produce an abundance crop of goodness and life.
Lessons from the USS Indianapolis
The USS Indianapolis played a critical role in ending World War II. On July 26, 1945, she sailed to Tinian to deliver components of the two atomic bombs that were to be dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan. Without an escort, the ship departed for the Philippines to prepare for the expected invasion of Japan. But at 12:14 am on July 30, 1945, a Japanese submarine torpedoed the ship in the Philippine Sea. It sank in just 12 minutes, and almost 300 of the men aboard went down with the ship. Few life rafts were deployed, and only some crew members had time to grab a life jacket.
When the sun rose the next morning, many of the men already had succumbed to the injuries they sustained from the explosions that had rocked the ship. That’s when the sharks arrived. The men tried to stay in packs as they watched the fins encircle them. Although they fastened their life jackets together, often a man would drift away, panic or hallucinate and swim away from the group. The survivors of this horrific event were the ones that fastened their life jackets together and fought against the currents that were seeking to tear them apart. This is the same type of current that life will use to draw us away from our spouse unless we proactively stay connected to them.
God’s Plan for Marriage
God made marriage to succeed. The reason why marriages are failing is because we are rejecting the Word of God. Ephesians 5:21-33 is the most revelatory writing ever on marriage the world will ever hear. This is the only place where we see God’s mystery and perfect plan for marriage. While it is the most important text in the world concerning marriage, it is also very unpopular to some. Most Christian people like what it says about their spouse, but we don’t like what it says about us. Many also fear being the first one to do it because we want our spouse to go first.
Ephesians 5:21-33 is God’s perfect plan for marriage and it works for everyone that does it. There is no backup plan. Consider how it starts, “submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:21). The most powerful principle in any great marriage is mutual submission. This means both parties laying down their expectations and only looking at the other’s needs. This means focusing on being a person that lives in humble submission toward their spouse. You will find this model played out in every happy marriage.
Men and women are completely equal. Jesus is the boss of our relationship. Husband and wife are equal in value, yet each has a different contribution to that equation. Authority is about creating and sustaining life. Husband and wife share the authority. To submit means to put your spouse’s needs, wants, and expectations above your own. Submission is a military term that means to give up our individual rights for the goal of making the whole better.
Notice that Ephesians 5:21 says, “submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Some would like to rewrite this passage to say, “submitting to one another when they deserve it.” God never asks you to put your spouse’s needs above your own because they deserve it. It says, “out of reverence for Christ”. Out of respect and fear of the Lord, we submit to one another. If you have Christian marriage, you’ve invited Jesus into your marriage. This means that Jesus wants you to take the same posture of service as Him. Do you remember when Jesus washed the disciples feet? Got on a cross? Did you deserve it? We take on the same servant posture when we put our spouse’s needs above our own.
“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22). Wives, don’t do it because your husband deserves it, but unto the Lord. Do you know how many husbands don’t deserve their wives to submit to them? 100%. In her book, WarRoom, Beth Moore says: “Ladies, submission is you ducking so God can hit your husband.” A wife’s submission means:
- A heart attitude of love and service.
- Attitude of honoring, of expressing respect.
The head serves, the submitted honors. God made them the husband to be the head of their household. To be the head is to be a servant leader, not a dictator. To be the head of the household means:
- Going first by taking risks and going out in front.
- The head “saves” by creating an environment that the wife is able to rise to her potential.
- The head serves by loving and loves by dying.
Every organization needs a head coach or quarterback, so things are not left up to chance. This means you are most responsible that the relationship stays healthy and connected.
”Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25). The word that Paul uses for love is agape. The word agape is loving someone regardless of how they act or if they deserve it. It is the highest form of love. This is the type of love God has for us. Men, I want you to agape your wives as Christ agape’s the church. Jesus died for His church, and this is what it looks like for us men – die to ourselves, die to our expectations, and hobbies.
What’s harder, to submit to someone or lay your life down for them? The word submission shows up 157 times in the Bible. Of these, 41 are to women, and 116 to men which is a roughly a 25% to 75% split. When you find a couple that lays their expectations to meet the others, you find that both people’s expectations begin to be met.
Three reasons why Ephesians 5 is God’s perfect plan
- It makes us attractive to our spouse and cause them to open their hearts to us.
This is the key to your spouse’s heart and they won’t open their hearts to you until you do live your portion of Ephesians 5. Men’s number one need is respect. Respect is so powerful in a man that he will change his behavior for the one who respects him. It is the most powerful need in a man’s life. When a woman becomes respectful to a man, it is precious in the eyes of the Lord. Women’s number one need is security. A sacrificial husband will nourish and treasure his wife. When you are relational, kind, patient, affirming her character and beauty, not looking at other women, listening and engaging. When live out Ephesians 5, we become attractive to our spouse.
- Releases the potential in our spouse.
Both husband and wife should reach full potential. If we could reach our potential without marriage, it would not have been said that it is not good for the man to be alone.
- Disables our sin nature and keeps them from destroying our marriages.
Our sin nature is angry, divisive, harsh, and irritable. We all have a sin nature that can’t get along with other people. Unless it is crucified, it will kill our marriage.
The reason why many people don’t like Ephesians 5 is because of their sin nature. The sin nature rises up and takes matters in its own hands. If we are going to have thriving marriages, we must declare war on our sin nature. We must acknowledge the deeply rooted selfishness that hates to die. We must walk in the Spirit and no longer satisfy the cravings of the flesh (Galatians 5:16). When you have two people that come together and commit to Ephesians 5, you will live victoriously.