See if this comparison rings true with you: “The space
shuttle Discovery was grounded recently—not by
technical difficulties or lack of governmental funding, but
Yellow-shafted flicker woodpeckers found the insulating foam
on the shuttle's external fuel tanks irresistible for
foam is critical to the shuttle's performance.
Without it, ice forms on the tank when it's filled
with the super-cold fuel, ice that can break free during
liftoff and damage the giant spacecraft.
The shuttle was grounded until the damage was
Marriages are frequently damaged not only by big
things—infidelity or abuse or abandonment—but also by the
Criticism, lack of respect, and taking each other for
granted peck away at the relationship and keep us from
reaching the heights of love” (Rowell).
Maybe this poem entitled “Marriage!” will resonant with you:
Anybody who says it isn't has never been married.
Marriage has far bigger problems than toothpaste
squeezed from the middle of the tube.
Marriage means ... grappling, aching, struggling.
It means putting up with personality weaknesses,
accepting criticism, and giving each other the freedom to
fail. It means
sharing deep feelings about fear and rejection.
It means turning self-pity into laughter and taking a
walk to gain control.
Marriage means ... gentleness and joy, toughness and
fortitude, fairness and forgiveness, and a walloping amount
of sacrifice” (Swindoll).
We'll finish this poem at the end of our lesson.
Theodore Roosevelt once made this good remark: “No
other success in life—not being president, or being wealthy,
or going to college, or writing a book, or anything
else—comes up to the success of the man or woman who can
feel that they have done their duty and that their children
and grandchildren rise up and called them blessed.”
Hopefully, by now you've figured out that today's
lesson will be on the Christian home and maximizing your
marriage based on Paul's inspired advice to the brethren in
apostle Paul approaches marriage in an entirely new way for
his day and age.
Notice how Paul puts Christ at the very center of
marriage; he doesn't want Jesus just to affect your Sundays,
but He wants Him to be touching your life every day in your
Someone has rightly noted: “It is not that the
relationship of husband and wife is a picture of how Christ
and the Church are to relate to one another [with some
couples you've probably known, that plan could lead to
Instead, Paul says that the relationship between Christ and
His Bride is a model for the Christian couple. ... If you
want to know how Christian people ought to relate to one
another, the model is the way Christ and the Church relate
as a Groom and His Bride” (Bond).
There are some of you listening that are single.
Others of you are widows or widowers.
Some of you are or have been divorced.
It is not always comfortable for all of you when we
start talking about the Christian home.
But don't we all, regardless of marital
circumstances, have a stake in good, long-term marriages?
Don't we need to honor that, even if it is not always
our personal experience? (modified Thomas).
So let's look today at Paul's advice to the wives, to
the husbands, and then to both.
The first and last piece of advice that Paul gives to the
wives is found in verses 22 and 33: “Wives, submit to
your own husbands, as to the Lord” and “... let the wife see
that she respects her husband.”
“Submit and respect” are not positive verbs in
Some of you may view submission and respectfulness as
negative terms showing weakness and joylessness.
“If I give up my rights, I'm going to get walked all
over, and I'll never be happy.
I need to protect my rights and guard them if I'm
going to experience any joy in the world.”
Uh oh, beloved sisters, if this is your approach,
you've got it all wrong.
You’re like the wife who said, “I will willingly
submit to my husband as long as he doesn’t cross me.”
But that is not submission.
There is no “as long as” in submission. There is
instead, according to Paul, “as to the Lord.”
Christ as the center, remember?
Now was Christ submissive in His lifetime?
Did He submit to becoming human?
Did He submit to His parents?
Did He submit to the authorities of His day?
Did He submit to death on a cross?
Was He a weakling and joyless Person because of His
was not forced in any of these things, but did so willingly
because of His desire to glorify the Father and [because of]
His love for you” (modified Kircher).
Ladies, submission and respect are a big deal with us males.
You see, “God, in his wisdom, has given to man as his
primary need the need to feel respected.
This is why he tells wives to respect their husbands;
it fulfills a God-designed need.
Did you know that 75% of men will say that they would
rather feel alone and unloved than inadequate and
The truth is that when you give respect to your husband and
submit to him, you are loving him, and he visibly sees it.
So, what can you do to show that respect” (Kircher).
Here are a few suggestions: Do you pray for your
Do you remember that God will lead you through your husband?
Do you think about your husband's good and strong
you criticize your husband before your children and others?
Do you try to find the positive side in those areas
where he irritates you?
Do you tell your husband you appreciate him?
Do you ask for an explanation when your husband make
a decision that confuses you (modified Hamley)?
“God's way for wives is submissive fellowship, while
God's headship for husbands is nothing less than loving
Respect your husband and recognize your husband.
Verses 23-24 advise: “For the husband is head of
the wife, also as 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.”
You need to recognize his God-ordained and
Christ-modeled leadership in your family.
Here's another idea: “Shakespeare wrote: 'If two men
ride on a horse, one must ride behind.”
It is not a matter of inferior horsemanship but of
Even so in the home, it is not a matter of inequality
or inferiority; it is a matter of practical and biblical
has ordained that the wife be the one to 'ride behind'”
apostle Paul states in 1 Corinthians 11:3: “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.”
“When a wife refuses to honor her husband's
authority, she ceases to be his completer and becomes his
frustrates her husband's desire to fulfill his God-given
role as leader in the home.
He cannot lead if she will not follow. ... When is a
train really free—when it leaves the railroad tracks and
rambles across the pasture, or when it stays on the tracks?
A wife who stays on God's tracks is never freer
[because His truth is what makes you free].
True liberty for maximum enjoyment of [your] marriage
comes only as [you] yield to [your] husband's protection
[and] provision ... in every aspect of [your] life.
What if the husband is an unbeliever or openly
violates God's teachings?
Does being subject “in everything” [those are Paul's
exact words] include that as well?
Wives, here a simple guiding principle: Submit in
everything unless it violates God's will. ... When
you recognize your husband's leadership, you will find
genuine satisfaction and security as your husband's
Now, what is Paul's advice to husbands?
Beloved brothers, we really need to listen up here
because Paul's advice to us is about twice as long as
his advices to our wives!
First of all, Paul urges in verse 25: “Husbands,
love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave
Himself for her.”
The word used for “love” here does not refer to erotic
love, nor friendly love, nor the biological love you find
The word used here means an affection that looks
beyond your wife's faults and sees her needs.
It is a selfless love that seeks your wife's best
interest and will sacrifice all that it can give towards
maintaining that best interest (modified DeVine).
We love our wives as Christ loved the church and gave
Himself for her.
Brothers, you're not to be a dictator, but you're to
serve your wife!
“Christ made the church submissive by loving the
church and dying for it, not by barking out commands and
defending His rights.
Some [of you] husbands are so wrong in standing for
You believe that you have to dominate, to be macho, and to
exert your authority by using the Bible as club to beat your
wife into submission.
You know what, if you keep doing that, you'll wreck your
God-given position is to be a loving leader who serves your
spouse” (modified Bullard)!
“Now some of you brothers are thinking: 'I [serve] my
wife and family.
I work long hours to provide.
I would lay down my life to protect them from harm.
I didn’t go out with my buddies after work but came
Yeah, I [serve] her.'
Listen, we need to understand what [service] is.
[Service] is not doing what we feel is [service].
It is doing what others think is [service].
[Serving] our wives is going to look more like this:
going to the mall and shopping with her, spending some time
talking about your day and her day after work so she can
feel connected to you, really listening to her and
remembering what she said, giving her some deep
understanding rather and quick solutions, studying her and
acting upon the things you learn, you know, like knowing her
list of favorites and catering to those regularly. ... God
has designed your wife with a need to feel love [and
service] from you.
God has given you [the] responsibilities to meet that
need in your wife ...” (Kircher).
“You see, we men are [often] so self-centered that we
are very insecure with the idea of being a servant.
It takes guts for a man to serve his wife and
children. ... A husband, who loves his wife so much that he
pushes self-love off the throne, will then do everything in
his power to see to his wife's needs. He serves her, as a
servant, willingly and graciously and happily because he
loves her, and not himself” (Williams).
So do your marriage a favor and serve you wife!
Not only serve her like Christ, but also save her like
verses 26-27: “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
Jesus is not only preparing a place in heaven for us, but
also He's working right now to prepare us for heaven!
He wants His bride to be holy and without blemish!
Now, beloved brothers, is one of your primary goals
in life helping your wife to get to heaven?
Are you preparing her?
Are you helping her to be holy?
Are you helping her to live unspotted from the world?
A brother wrote a book entitled What Most Women
you know what it was?
More sex, hardly, that's how we men think.
Good guess, but still not right.
Here is the answer: “They want male spiritual
They seek a strong spiritual man with whom to share
their lives—a man who knows God, who prays, who reads God's
Word, who makes family decisions with an eye to God's
leading” (F. G. Smith).
“Save her” means that “you lead her, teach her, and
protect her spiritually.
You do all in your power to maintain her holiness,
virtue, righteousness, and purity.
You never put her in a compromising situation where she
would be provoked to anger or sin.
You never expose her to anything or let her indulge
in anything that in any way would bring impurity into her
As Christ is working to save the church, so you,
Christian husband, should be working to save your Christian
wife or to convert your unbelieving spouse!
Serve her, save her, and sustain her.
Notice verses 28-29: “So husbands ought to love
their 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.”
“What does a man do
with his own body?
He tries to satisfy it. ... When it's hungry, he
feeds it. When
it's hurt, he nurses it.
This is the way you're to love your wife.
You're to anticipate her needs, and you are to meet
those needs and satisfy her.
Your great aim in your marriage is to try to please
your wife as you try to please your own body.
Not many women will rebel against being in subjection
to a husband whose entire marriage is built upon satisfying
his wife's every need.
The problem in many marriages, though, is that the
husband doesn't see his wife as an extension of his own body
but rather as a possession.
He sees her as something like a new car to show off
to his friends—that is, until her paint starts to fade and
her engine does not have the power it used to.
Then he wants to trade her for a new model!
But no man ever did that to his own body!
His body may get old and wrinkled, but it is his
body, and he loves it and cares for it even more!
That is the way you need to love your wife!
When you don't meet your wife's needs, and nourish
her, and cherish her, you commit spiritual suicide because
she is one flesh with you” (Bullard)!
“A group of six to eight year olds were asked to
Rebecca, age eight, observed, 'When my grandmother got
arthritis, she couldn’t bend over and paint her toenails
anymore, so my grandfather does it for her all the time,
even when his hands got arthritis too. That’s love'”
One author shared this interesting principle: “The
more sacrificially you love your wife, the more respectfully
your wife will respond to you in every category of life.
Now here is the negative to that principle.
If you withhold love from your wife by withholding
attention, compliments, understanding, and appreciation,
then you're making a big mistake.
Because your wife is you, then when you neglect her,
you are actually neglecting yourself” (Williams).
Serve your wife, save your wife, and sustain your
he last piece of advice for husbands is found in
verse 33: “Nevertheless, let each one of you in
particular so love his own wife as himself.” Beloved
brothers, support your wife!
As a leader who longs to support your wife, try
living by these mottoes: “I chose to lose!”
“I won't quit!”
“No pride and no job with which I cannot try to help”
Someone wrote a book on love and respect, and he compared
love and respect for men and women to food and water.
You need both to survive, but just like you can live
longer without food than water, both men and women have a
Is everyone listening?
For men, respect is like water, while love is like
food, and for women, love is like water, and respect like
food. You see,
brothers, your wife needs your support in every way in order
to keep functioning properly!
Serve your wife, save your wife, sustain your wife,
and support your wife.
“Brothers, if you will make a diligent effort to love
[your] wife as Jesus loves the church, [you] will find a new
emotional bonding to [your] wife, and you will enjoy a
[wonderful] marriage” (Bullard)!
Now let's look quickly at pieces of advice which can apply
to both wives and husbands.
The first is seen in verse 30: “For we are members
of His body, of His flesh and of His bones.”
Remember, how in
chapter 4, Paul talks about the church as a body and each
member contributing to the growth of that body?
So the idea is that both husband and wife need to be
strengthening one another!
The apostle Peter tells us that we are joint heir of
God's grace, so let's work to build up each others' faith,
as we both keep our eyes on heaven.
Isn't it wonderful that Christian couples can each
work to help their spouse in their areas of weakness so that
we can both be prepared to meet Jesus when He comes again?
Christian couples can strengthen one another!
Paul then does something interesting for his next advice.
He quotes from the book of Genesis: “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 another universal truth and transcends all cultures.
One commentator states: “This statement from the
creation story is the most profound and fundamental
statement in the whole Scripture concerning God's plan for
Remember how Jesus used this passage to show that
God's plan from creation has been the marriage of one man
and one woman for a lifetime?
This passage also shows that Christian couples can
supply one another.
No longer do they lean on their parents, but they
lean on one another.
They supply one another's intellectual, emotional,
sexual, and spiritual needs.
Someone else makes this remark: “The commitment of
one's life to the life of another, the oneness that results
daily from this mutual giving [or supplying], fills one's
heart and life with positive moral thoughts and Christlike
Christian couples can supply one another.
Paul then affirms his central basis for marriage in verse
32: “This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning
Christ and the church.”
What is the nature of this relationship between
Christ and His church?
In Ephesians, Paul says it’s like a head and a body.
The head is dependent upon the body to accomplish
actions, while the body is dependent upon the head to give
Likewise, Christian couples can supplement one another.
There is a beautiful interdependency that takes place
in marriage as each spouse lives to complete, to fulfill,
and to enrich the life of his or her spouse.
Someone else makes this good observation:
“The bottom line is this.
A lot of people don’t believe Christ’s love because
they have never had any reason to believe in real love of
Followers of Jesus, it is your job to show them that real
love in your marriage.
Maybe, once they see the human kind of love, they
will begin to look for the heavenly kind.
That’s what your marriage is all about!
This IS a profound mystery” (Thomas)!
Remember that poem on marriage.
Here's the end of it:
“Marriage means ... learning when to say nothing,
when to keep talking, when to push a little, when to back
off. It means
acknowledging 'I can't be God to you—I need Him, too.'
Marriage means ... you are the other part of me.
I am the other part of you.
We'll work through with never a thought of walking
means ... two imperfect mates building permanently, giving
totally, in partnership with a perfect God.
Marriage, my love, means [all three of us]--Jesus,
you, and me” (Calkin).
Did you hear about the new reality show: Extreme Home
There's a Master Carpenter who produces, directs, and stars
in it, and He fixes terrible messes from the inside out!
Some of the transformations that He has brought about
to troubled homes have been truly amazing!
He has helped many a home get rid of their yellow
shafted flicker woodpeckers, of their personal rights, and
of their mistaken cultural trappings.
As a Husband Himself, He lets others know that His
bride is what He loves the most!
He challenges people: “Put Me at the center of your
home, and you'll see life improve, and attitudes will really
get a good makeover!”
“If you want to know how Christian people ought to
relate to one another, the model is the way Christ and the
Church relate as a Groom and His Bride” (Bond).
Wives, learn His kind of respect and submission!
Husbands, learn His kind of love and service!
Families, learn His kind of strength and sacrifice!
Let Jesus makeover your life, your home, and your