Power, Dominance, Submission, and Jesus-Style Love in a Marriage

929639_40861409On Sunday we explored the potentially difficult passage of Ephesians 5 where Paul writes, “Wives submit to your husbands…Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church”.

What we came away with was an understanding that no healthy relationship is based on power and dominance. We realized that we are all called to submit to each other out of reverence for Christ (Eph 5:21), and that the way Jesus related to others was through submission, humbleness, and sacrifice. The same things are too part of our marriages: submission, humbleness, and sacrifice.

We explored how Paul elevates woman, with the expectation that they are partners in marriage making a choice to be like Christ. Then Paul expects the same thing of husbands reminding them of their obligation to love like Jesus. This means buying flowers once in a while isn’t enough. This means husbands remembering the anniversary every other year isn’t enough. It is not until we have loved our wives with such a depth of self-sacrifice and giving, that all their flaws vanish because of the depth of our love that we haven’t done our job. Paul raises the bar pretty high actually.

We ended up landing on this truth that relationships based in power and dominance lead to division and difficulty. But relationships based in the type of love shown by Jesus Christ lead to life. Marriages based on self-sacrificial and submissive love last.

So we ended off asking ourselves a tough question. Are we sacrificing in our marriages, friendships, and relationships? Are we caring and putting the other person first? Is our love self-centred or sacrificial? Because I believe it’s when we love like Jesus that relationships last and give life.

We ended off by quoting Wendell Berry who I believe is worth quoting again. He writes this: “The proper question, perhaps, is not why we have so much divorce, but why we are so unforgiving. The answer, perhaps is that, though we still recognize the feeling of love, we have forgotten how to practice love when we don’t feel it”.

And I think that’s the challenge for all of us married or not. To learn to practice love when we don’t feel it. I think it’s a practice worth learning.

Sermon Notes:

Big Idea: Marriage based on self-sacrificial love leads to life

Take Aways…

  • Our experience with marriage shapes our view on marriage
  • We have a romantic individualistic view of marriage
  • Jesus gives grace to a messy marriage life in John 4
  • Christ is his relationship with us took on a posture of submission and sacrifice not one of dominance and power
  • Striving for power and dominance in relationships wrecks relationships
  • Women in that day and age weren’t a partner but property
  • Paul elevates wives to a position of a partner with a choice to love like Jesus
  • Paul asks the same of husbands to love like Jesus
  • To be the head means source or origin
  • Marriage isn’t about perfection, but an opportunity of reflection – of loving like Jesus
  • Marriage is based on self-sacrificial and submissive love
  • “The proper question, perhaps, is not why we have so much divorce, but why we are so unforgiving. The answer, perhaps is that, though we still recognize the feeling of love, we have forgotten how to practice love when we don’t feel it” Wendell Berry

Adult / Group Discussion Questions: What surprised you? What made you think? What made you laugh? What did you take away? Was this take on this passage new? Where have you seen relationships based on power and dominance struggle? When have you seen relationships based on love and submission succeed? In your relationships are you loving with self-sacrificial love? Are you learning to practice love when you don’t feel it? What next steps can you take this week to pour love into your significant relationships’?

Discussion Questions for Young Families: Take a moment and talk with your kids what you think marriage is based on. Share with them what matters in it. Share with them why it matters. And then share with them some important things to practice and learn before they get married like loving when you don’t fee like it, forgiving if you don’t want to, and taking the first step even if its hard.

Challenge for this Week:

Love even if you don’t feel like it


What is a Biblical View of Marriage?

All this month we are talking about developing deep roots in our families and friendships. Tomorrow we are hosting our first annual marriage seminar. Our desire is that healthy marriages would turn into healthy families and healthier communities.

Following the seminar, on Sunday I’m going to be sharing on marriage. This is potentially one of the most hotly contested topics because of the wide variety of experiences people have had with marriage. Some are for it, some against it, some want to find one, some want out of one, some are healthy and some are struggling. Through our family, friendships, and the world around us we all have ideas and opinions on marriage.

On Sunday though my hope isn’t to explore our opinions but instead to discover God’s plan for marriage. We are going to be tackling potentially the most misunderstood, and potentially damaging text in the Bible related to marriage. We are going to be exploring Ephesians 5 where Paul discusses marriage in relation to submission, sacrifice, and love.

The point we want to come away with for all of us in marriages, hoping to find a marriage, or even for those happy and single – what is the basis of a strong covenantal relationship? How do you have a healthy marriage? What is it based on?

So before we get there what do you think? What makes a marriage healthy? What makes one last? Which marriages make you think…I want that? What is it about some marriages that make you say, “they are missing the point?”

And while I give you my answer on Sunday…I’ll start with this. Healthy marriages are never based on power and dominance. They are based on something else entirely. And to discover what that “something” is we are going to explore Ephesians 5 in context and culture and realize that one decision can move your marriage from struggling to life giving.