Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. Although some would tell you otherwise, there's no higher view of the role of a wife than that expressed in Christian marriage. Marriage portrays just how much Jesus loves His church. A woman loved like that is elevated far above the so-called liberation offered by our culture.
Stay with us. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, it seems that unless a wife is filled with the Spirit, it can be hard for her to submit to her husband's authority.
Well, Dave, I have to say with a heavy heart that there are many women who find it difficult to submit because they have been mistreated and hurt by men. But at the same time, we have to recognize that the Bible puts forth an ideal, and in an ideal world where both are filled with the Spirit, the man and his wife, they are able to live together in harmony, even resolving differences. What a wonderful opportunity we have to represent God to the world through our marriages. I want to thank the many of you who support the ministry of Running to Win.
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Go to rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Here at Running to Win, we are committed to the Scriptures. No matter how countercultural they might be, we believe that this teaching comes to us from God. So listen carefully. It's so oppressive. Sometimes I think I'm in a concentration camp, yet he expects to make love with me.
It's like a guard at Auschwitz wanting to have a sexual relationship with a woman prisoner and expecting her to enjoy it. That's a verbatim quote from a wife who spoke to me some time ago about her relationship with her husband. She tried to be a good wife. She tried to be submissive, and she thought that if she was submissive and a good Christian woman, God would change her husband. But evidently, God did not do that.
So the question is, what do you do? Well, as you know, this is the second in a message on the relationship between husbands and wives, and the purpose of the messages is really grew out of an exposition of the book of Ephesians. So if you take Ephesians chapter 5 and turn to that passage, you'll be with us in the text. Ephesians chapter 5, as we continue speaking about husband-wife relationships. Last time in the message, I emphasized the fact that it was God's intention that there be in the world a man who had a wife, and together they were to rule over all the things in the world.
Genesis chapter 1 verse 26, it says, God created them male and female and said, let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the fowl of the air. Let them do it, God said. And of course, sin messed all that up as we learned, and now Jesus Christ comes who is the second Adam, and God is seeking a bride who will be able to sit with him on the throne room and on the very throne of the universe. God is seeking for a bride and the bride is his people.
It is the collective group of the people of individuals who have been saved and redeemed by Christ. Christ dies for the bride and then of course he purifies the bride and eventually the bride will be in heaven to reign. Now one of the things we learned is that the whole intention of marriage, the whole intention really is to illustrate this, and that God in his sovereign desire and plan said that he's going to give the responsibility of representing Jesus to the husband. And therefore, we have the responsibility as men to show that to our wives and the wife is to play the part of the church and therefore it's God's intention that every home, especially every Christian home, somehow represent what God is about in the world, calling people out as his bride and that the church is to be submissive to Christ.
Now this leads to a couple of conclusions. First of all, that marriage therefore is not based on some sociological studies. Even if you had an arrangement where the wife was the head of the home and it happened to be a happy home, the simple fact is that would not be consistent with the biblical message that is found in the scripture.
It would violate the intention that God had to illustrate something. It also means that you can't just make up a family with a collection of individuals willy-nilly. The Southern Baptists, they came up with a statement on what a family is, and I was asked the other day whether or not I would sign it and I signed it very gladly.
It's an excellent statement and you can imagine the flack that they took from the liberal media as well as the gay rights organizations and radical feminists and the whole bit, but listen to what they have said about the family. God has ordained the family as the foundational institution of human society. It is composed of persons related to one another by marriage, blood, or adoption. Marriage is the uniting of one man and one woman in covenant commitment for a lifetime. It is God's unique gift to reveal the union between Christ and his church and to provide for the man and the woman in marriage the framework for intimate companionship, the channel for sexual expression according to biblical standards, and the means for procreation of the human race. The husband and the wife are of equal worth before God since both are created in God's image. The marriage relationship models the way God relates to his people. A husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church. He has the God-given responsibility to provide for to protect and to head his family. A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ. She being in the image of God as is her husband and thus equal to him has the God-given responsibility to respect her husband and to serve as his helper in managing the household and nurturing the next generation.
And then it goes on to have a short paragraph regarding children. You can't have a marriage just because two men decide to get married or two women decide to get married. You can't have a biblical marriage, whether the state recognizes it or not. God says it is the man who is to play the part of Jesus, the woman is to play the part of the church, and those are the roles that he has laid out for us. Well, it's very clear now, and now you ladies can hang on to your seat belts. And by the way, if you're here today and you are not a married person, if you are single, if you stay with us once again, we'll see its wider application to all of us. But notice what it says in Ephesians 5, 22. Wives, submit to your husbands as 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, could this be any clearer, by the way?
Now, as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. You say, oh, no, not again. You visitors who were not here last week, you're saying, we really picked a dilly of a Sunday to come to Moody Church.
This is it. You mean to tell me that you're going to lay something this archaic on us? Someone says, why doesn't somebody quietly take Pastor Lutzer by the hand and lead him gently into the 20th century and let him know what's going on? You mean to say that we're going to get to heaven, us wives, by hanging onto the feet of our husband as God gently glides them through the skies? Is this what you're telling us? Are you telling us that we have to be a doormat because it says to submit in everything?
Let me ask you something. Why is it that there are so many unhappy marriages even among Christians where the husband is to represent Jesus and the wife is to represent the church? There are two reasons. The first is the husband and the second is the wife.
Those are the reasons. Let's talk about husbands, first of all. All kinds of men out there who demand a submission, the submission of their wives, and yet they are subject to nobody, subject to nobody. You know, it says in 1 Corinthians chapter 11 that the man is the head of the woman. And they say, there it is right there in the text.
Underline it. Put your finger on the verse. And they neglect the fact that the verse also says, and the head of every man is Christ.
The head of every man is Christ. So you see, there are many men who say to themselves, they never ask themselves, am I loving my wife as Christ loved the church? Do I cherish her? Do I love her as my own body? Is she one to whom I am Jesus? Am I a servant to her? Am I ministering to her? They never ask themselves that question.
Their big issue is whether or not she submits. And some of you wives live with men like that, boorish, self-centered, egotistical, very, very selfish, and oftentimes perverted in various and sundry ways. And you're living with somebody like that.
Do not now look at him by the way, after that mouthful. And you're supposed to submit to him. And by the way, you know that oftentimes daughters marry men who are like their fathers.
And that explains, by the way, why there are so many mothers who cry at weddings. You understand? So first of all, you have men. They're the problem. They're the easily identifiable problem. Exercising authority without really earning the right to do so, simply thinking that because they have the title husband, that in itself should grant them that authority. And therefore, you can understand the sense of injustice that women oftentimes feel. And that's the second problem. And that is women.
Stay with me. You know that many women enter into marriage with all kinds of latent anger towards men. And the reason that they are angry is because they have been mistreated. They have been abused. They have been lied to. They have been misused sexually.
And now suddenly, they come into this arrangement. And oftentimes, all that they can do is to think about male domination in very negative terms. And certainly, using that word is negative and unscriptural. But all that they can think about is the fact that they are married to someone who's so hard to get along with and all the resentment and the anger that they have towards men comes to the surface sometimes at the slightest provocation. My dear friend, you don't have to live very long before you begin to understand that while we might not agree with the goals and the method of the women's liberation movement, we do agree with its sentiment. You'd be surprised at the number of wives who are misused, abused, and even battered. And I'm talking now physically, there are other ways to abuse, even within Christian contexts, living with men who are very difficult to get along with and very inconsiderate and angry themselves. Now, dear friends, I'd like to say to you today that even though you have that explosive union of two sinners coming together trying to find unity, we cannot, in some sense, water down the text of scripture. We must say to the men, it is your responsibility, husbands, to live in such a way that you win the respect of your wives and to provide an environment in which it is okay for them to submit without fear.
That's our responsibility. But we must also say to the wives here that the text of scripture is very clear, very clear. And all attempts to water it down, you know, there are people here who even are known as Christians who want to take the text of scripture and twist it like pretzels to make it fit contemporary society, but we can't do that. We need to look at it in a balanced way. So what I'd like to do today is to say some words about submission, and then we'll discuss the question of abuse and some of the other matters if the scriptures have been improperly used and twisted in that sense to bring about a sense of dominance and conflict in the marriage. First of all, regarding submission, the text is very clear.
I just read it a moment ago. Now as the church submits to Christ, verse 24, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. It makes sense, doesn't it? We've talked about the fact that the man is to represent Jesus, the wife is to represent the church, and the church certainly should be submissive to Christ. Can you think of any area in which the church should not be submissive to Christ?
Is there any area in which we should say, no, we can't submit to Jesus on that? Now strictly speaking, what the text is saying is there should be no issue upon which the wife says, I cannot submit to that. It says, just as the church submits to Christ, so wives should submit to their husbands in everything, in everything. And of course, God arranged this because of the harmony in the home, because of the protection of the husband. It was God's intention, you know, that the husband be the one who be like a buffer between the world and his family. God is going to hold the husband accountable. You say, well, my husband does not live at all like Jesus, and we'll get to that in a moment, but the simple fact is that God is going to hold him accountable for that, and there's no way that he can escape that. And therefore, it is your responsibility to recognize that God is the one who will hold him accountable for whether or not he has made Christ the head of his life, like the scripture says he should do.
So there's submission in everything. That's what the text says. Now I can imagine there's someone here saying, well, Pastor Lutzer, you just really got me off the hook, because not only is my husband not Jesus, I guess every wife would want to say that, probably with a great deal of more enthusiasm than I just did, but she would say not only is my husband not Jesus, but it's far worse than that. He doesn't even acknowledge Jesus. He is not a Christian. And therefore, there's no reason for me to submit to him, because he's not even a believer.
He's not even saved. Well, good argument, but unbiblical. Take your Bibles and turn to 1 Peter for just a moment, and you'll notice it says in chapter 3, if there is to be submission in everything, notice also that there is to be submission in faith, if we can put it that way. Wives are to submit because they believe in God. 1 Peter chapter 3, we pick it up at verse 1, wives in the same way be submissive to your husbands. In what same way? In the same way that Jesus was submissive to the will of God and died.
Wow, how do you like that? So that if any of them do not believe the word, in other words, they're not believers, they may be won over without words, or like the King James says, or the New American says, without a word, without a single word. That doesn't mean that you don't talk to him. It means that you don't talk to him about religious things, because when you do, he's going to find his masculinity threatened and he's going to back off anyway. They may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornments such as braided hair and wearing of gold, jewelry, and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of the inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master.
You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear. And later on, in a moment, I'll comment on what it says about husbands in verse seven. Notice what the text is saying. You're living with a man who does not obey the word of God. He does not believe the word and you are to submit, first of all, without manipulation.
You'll notice that the text says without words. You don't try to throw religion in his face. You don't try to manipulate to get him to believe. You don't do like one woman did and that is to paint the word repent on his beer can. You don't do it that way, especially when his friends were coming over for a football game and they all saw it.
That's not the way it's done. What you do is you simply say, I'm going to submit and I'm going to pump the ball to God. There are some of you wives who are listening who ought to give your husbands to God and then say, good riddance, good riddance. You no longer try to be God in his life. You let God play God in his life and you might be surprised that God can do what your manipulation and your attempts at changing him cannot do. That's what the text is saying and while I'm sure that there's no guarantee that it will happen and sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn't, there are some remarkable stories of how God used this kind of submission to win a husband and to break his heart and bring him to faith in Christ. Well this is Pastor Lutzer and of course I'm old enough to know that oftentimes in marriages there is abuse and when that happens I urge you to go for help. No marriage should put up with abuse in their relationships.
So even as we interpret the scripture we have to recognize here that there are certain realities and certain limitations and other passages that help us to navigate these difficult human relationships and of course in a special way the relationship of marriage. I'm so thankful for the many of you who continue to support the ministry of running to win. It's because of you that we are expanding. We have just recently signed a new agreement to go into three more languages.
We are in four right now and throughout the world we are being heard on the internet. Would you consider becoming an endurance partner? That's someone who stands with us regularly with their prayers and with their gifts. Now here's what you can do go to rtwoffer.com. That's rtwoffer.com and when you're there click on the endurance partner button or you can call us at 1-888-218-9337. I like to think of endurance partners as those who become a part of the running to win family and even as this ministry expands you are a part of that expansion.
Go to rtwoffer.com click on the endurance partner button. Time now for another chance for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question about the Bible or the Christian life. Marriage as we've known it since the dawn of history is under attack.
One running to win listener from Chicago has this question. In your book the truth about same sex marriage you discussed civil unions. While I'm against same sex marriages and the sin of practicing homosexuality I don't oppose civil unions.
What are your thoughts? Well thank you so much for writing about this but I find it a little bit troubling that you say that you recognize the sin of homosexuality and you're opposed to the sin of practicing homosexuality and yet you don't oppose civil unions. Now the point is that in a free society people can pretty well do whatever they please. If two homosexuals want to live together they have the ability to do that in the United States of America. But when you talk about civil unions you're talking about some official recognition of them and you're talking about some legal implications here if officially recognized by the state. As a matter of fact civil unions turn out to be marriage just by a different name. So that's why I'm opposed both to same sex marriages as well as civil unions. In their own private lives people sin and can do whatever they like so to speak but let's not recognize it by the state. Let's not sanction it. Let's not promote it by giving it the same status as marriage.
And I believe that civil unions would do just that. Some wise counsel from Dr. Erwin Lutzer. Thank you Pastor Lutzer. If you'd like to have your question answered you can. Just go to our website at rtwoffer.com and click on Ask Pastor Lutzer. Or call us with your question at 1-888-218-9337. You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60614. Pastor Erwin Lutzer has brought part one of What God Wants Wives to Know, the 18th message in his series Between Heaven and Earth, taken from Ephesians. On our next Running to Win we'll tackle the tough issue of submission head on. This is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
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