God’s Perfect Design for Marriage
There is a popular Christian graphic that shows a series of umbrellas, each covering a smaller umbrella beneath it.
It was developed many years ago as a depiction of how God designed us to live within the leadership framework of marriage and family – with Christ at the top.
And it’s a good illustration. Let’s face it, it would be strange, dangerous even, if a teenager were making all the decisions for the family. Similarly, it would be awkward if a wife made all the decisions while the husband sat idly by, passive and indecisive.
The truth is, God’s Word has clearly spelled out each of our roles within the family structure. In order for a family to run smoothly, there must be a hierarchy of leadership, and God has provided that design. Take a look at Ephesians 5:22–33…
“Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.”
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church—for we are members of his body.”
“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”
Does this mean that the husband and wife are unequal before God? Well, yes and no. They are most certainly equal in dignity. They have equal access to His grace, love and mercy.
But equality dignity and acceptance does not mean equal function or purpose.
God is a God of order, not chaos. And without a structure, a hierarchy of leadership – in a society, an organization, or in this case, a family – chaos reigns.
Men, by God’s design, are to be the head of the household. The spiritual leader, protector, and provider. But notice how they are to lead… as Christ did. This means they are to be servants, sacrificing themselves for the sake of their wife and their children. And when they lead in this manner, a wife can willingly submit to her husband’s leadership because he is following God and acting for her good and the good of their children.
As Christians we are called to submit to this biblical model of leadership. When we do, our families thrive and flourish, because we are operating the way God designed us to function.
On the other hand, when we fight this model, our families flounder, falter, even fail.
There are, of course exceptions, and the Bible allows for them. No one should have to remain in an abusive situation. There are plenty of cowardly men who rule their homes through fear and intimidation. They are tyrants, abusers, and manipulators who force others to capitulate to their will.
Make no mistake about it, these men are not true leaders. They are certainly not loving their wives as Christ loved the Church, nor are they loving their wives like their own bodies as the Bible commands of them.
When a woman finds herself or her family in danger because her husband has rejected his God-given mandate to love and protect her, she needs to seek safety.
But even when safety is not an issue, a relationship can still break down from lack of obedience to God’s blueprint for marriage.
A wife who lacks respect for her husband and constantly tries to control him in every aspect of their marriage shows contempt for God’s design.
This does not in any way mean wives are expected to be passive, lowly women with no voices of their own or ability to lead. On the contrary, wives are essential leaders in areas of the marriage in which they are most gifted. But they are, at the end of the day, called to submit to the leadership of their husband as part of cultivating a thriving marriage.
And to the same end, husbands are to submit to Christ and lead their home by His example.
When we resist God’s design for our marriage, we are disobeying Him, and it will ultimately cause chaos and disorder in the household.
But if we follow God’s perfect design, not only will our family and our marriage thrive, it will shine the light of Jesus to those around us, painting a picture of Christ’s sacrificial love for the Church and opening doors to share the Good News of the gospel.
By Victor Marx
To learn more about Victor Marx be sure to visit his website here.