A good friend of mine that I highly respect once told me over lunch that if he ever writes a book pertaining to Christianity he would open by saying "there is nothing new in the book that you are about to read." In the spirit of being creatively (or not so creatively) repetitive I want to start by saying that there is nothing new in this or any post that you will read here. Laura pointed out again tonight that there are some people that learn by reading or being taught and others learn by processing, writing things out or teaching and I am the latter. With that being said most of what I say will probably just be repeating Scripture and trying to wrap my mind around it. I am sure it will be painfully nonlinear at times but just hang in there with me, I will try to bring it full circle. So here we go :)
I learned a while ago that there is no need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to Bible teaching. We do not need to look in the most obscure of places to try and pull out some creative presentation of the Gospel. There is nothing wrong with the thorough simplicity of John 3:16 and further more I have grown to love the simple, straight forward texts. In my reading on marriage I started with the classic marriage text of Ephesians 5:22-33. When I have read this part of Ephesians I have always been left thinking in a cycle; husbands love your wives, wives submit to your husbands, and then husbands will be better able to love their wives and wives will be better able to submit to their husbands. As I have continued to think about this text I have found two main flaws in my thinking: first, there is not an initiation within the cycle, second, one of these actions does not lead to the other. Let me try and explain.
There is not an initiation within the cycle. The more accurate way to put those two actions is "Husbands, love as Christ loved" and" Wives, submit as unto the Lord." A man cannot love his wife until he has learned how he is loved by Jesus and in the same way a woman cannot submit to her husband until she has learned to trust the Lord and fully submit to him. These things are personal to the husband's life and personal to the wife's and then they bring it to their marriage. I feel as though we, as Christians, try to impose the outward signs of Christianity on ourselves when we have no source for those signs to come from. For a long time I would read texts that say " do this and don't do that" and I felt like I had to make myself conform to those things. This never works. I have come to understand that these actions will only come from a heart that is in love with Jesus and humbled by what He has done for us. That love and humility then naturally brings about the actions that resemble Christ and his ministry only causing to love him more, the beginning of a beautiful cycle.
Actions lead to another. This may not seem incorrect at a quick read through but I believe it is. If the husband is to love ad Christ loved then he is to love unconditionally. There should be nothing that can cause him to love his wife more but rather only cause him to fall in love with her more/again. CS Lewis makes the distinction in Mere Christianity in his chapter on "Christian Marriage" that being in love is an emotion that we do not have control over but loving someone is a decision that is made every day to love them and to put their well-being first in all of your decisions. In light of that concept there is nothing that a woman can do to make her husband choose to love her more but rather only have him be deeper in love with her. Wives are instructed to submit to their husbands as unto the Lord and to that I would ask is there any situation or point in time that we, as Christians, are not to submit to the Lord? I don't ask this in an overbearing, authoritative tone but if we love the Lord as we should there should be nothing but a desire to do what he asks because we have perfect trust in the person of God. This same concept applies to the marriage relationship, the only thing that is different is that God is perfect and therefore will never let you down while a husband is a fallen man so somebody is going to be hurt somewhere along the way.
Marriage seems as though it is a pretty simple equation but this basic arithmetic has turned into a sort of differential equations due to the fall and the effects of sin. I trust Laura with everything that I have and I know that somewhere along the way she will hurt me, possibly deeper than anybody else because she will be closest to me and because of the fall. I know that she is not perfect but I am in love with her and if for some reason that stops I have made the choice to love her until my final breath.