Marriage As Manifest Glory XXXIII


As we have noted, men as husbands can fail in their calling to be masculine in various ways. But men and women are a fallen race together, and women also stumble in their calling to be feminine. Remembering that folly is a moral category in the Bible, we need to deal with the fact that not only are men stupid, but so are women. And just as Christian men often call their sins by biblical and spiritual-sounding names, so Christian women often do the same.


“That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed” (Tit. 2:4-5)


In the message last week from 1 Peter, the emphasis for men was that they had to learn how to live with their wives according to knowledge. In a corresponding way, women have to be taught how to live with their husbands. Christian discipleship extends into every areaincluding the areas of being a husband or a wife. Young Christian women should learn diligently from older and wiser Christian women, and St. Paul here gives us the basic curriculum. With regard to basic moral categories, the young women need to learn how to be sober, discrete, and good. With regard to their basic relationships, the young women need to learn how to be husband-lovers, children-lovers, efficient homemakers, and obedient to their own husbands. In other words, there is more here than just a simple requirement. There are lessons to be learned here. So in what ways do women frequently miss what they need to learn? In what ways are women stupid?


Many a wife desperately wants her husband to be a “spiritual leader,” but only to the extent that he leads where she thinks he should be going. But if man and wife agree, submission is a non-issue. If you think that your husband is making the wrong decision, or is not acting when he should be acting, that is really the only time that submission (or obedience) could ever become an issue. As we have seen from Genesis, part of the curse for the woman was the desire to master her husband (Gen. 3:16). But in Christian circles, how would such a desire manifest itself? The husband has to be critiqued in very “spiritual” terms. “He is not very much of a spiritual leader.” I would be submissive if he would start leading right. And the whole thing can be couched as a prayer request to a number of sympathetic friends who are in the same boat.


Many women push their husbands to make a decision, and then they push some more. After pushing a little more after that, the husband finallyin an “all right, all right” kind of waymakes a decision to go in that direction. The wife knows that he is only doing this because she pestered him a great deal, but she still wants him to have made this right decision out of the depths of his own heart. So, in order to give him the opportunity to really mean it now, she begins resisting his implementation of whatever it was. This is the point where he just looks at her, not comprehending, not even a little bit.


Many wives push and push, and nothing ever happens. This is because the husband knows he is not much of a spiritual leaderif he were, he would be able to get her to knock that offbut he is enough of a man not to be led into leadership by a woman. And so he just sits there, defining his masculinity in negative terms. “At least I didnt go along with that.” In the meantime, she pushes for fifteen years, nothing happens, and she concludes that he is stupid.


The Bible tells men to love their wives, and wives to respect their husbands. While all human beings should love and respect other human beings, regardless of sex, when it comes to husbands as husbands and wives as wives, the Bible breaks out our fundamental duties. The wives are called to respect their husbands. Love includes acceptance, security, commitment, and sacrifice. Respect involves honor, admiration, and deference. This respect should be directed toward abilities and achievements. Wives who are in a troubled situation should not try to fix it by giving to their husbands what they would like to be receiving. That is not what God said to do.


The use of the word pornography here is just a metaphor. Pornography is to men what temptation x is to women. What would that be? There are several candidates. The first is found in the tenth commandment, which prohibits coveting the neighbors wife, which is obviously a temptation that the husband is to resist. But also included is the prohibition of coveting everything else the neighbor has. Many women need to be aware that they are in as much danger of violating the tenth commandment when they get their Pottery Barn catalog as their husband would be with a copy of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. And oftentimes, the wife drifts into the position where she “hands her husband the apple,” urging him to make more, ask for a raise, etc., or, through foolish debt, she creates a situation where he has to do that kind of thing.


This second use is less of a metaphor. In just the way lust is artificially provoked (and inadequately satisfied) through pornography, so a womans emotions can be artificially stirred (and inadequately satisfied) by sappy romance novels or sappy chick flicks. Just as a man can be tempted to mental unfaithfulness by a pornographic image so a wife can be tempted to emotional infidelity to her husband. This sin, when indulged, introduces additional discontent into the marriage.


Notice the important role that the older women and younger women have. Through their diligent care in how they relate to their husbands, they have the power to protect the gospel against slander. If they neglect their responsibilities in this, then they open the word of God up to slander. And this is why an emphasis on marriage, and responsibilities in marriage, is not a distraction away from the “central things.” It is where we live out the central things.

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