A Biblical Liturgy of Marriage, Part 2: Role of the Wife
Before I go to bed (it’s been a long night at UPS), I’d like to get in the next part of the wedding liturgy. Without further ado, I present to you Part 2.
(In this section, I personalized a short transition from the scripture to the homily for the wedding in which this was first performed.)
You may remember an old school contemporary Christian song by D.C. Talk. In that song they said that “luv is a verb.” How true that is! Love is action, and that is the heart of the roles given to both of you by Scripture. Your action, your behavior, towards each other is the center of your relationship. Your love is the heart of your marriage.
B) Role of the Wife
[BRIDE], I hope that you appreciate the position I’ve just put you in. From what Scripture says, you as [GROOM]’s wife are to put him first. That is what submission truly means. Many people in the world today have twisted what Scripture means to make it sound as if you are to be [GROOM]’s slave. Never let it be so! Instead, you are commanded to put [GROOM] first just as you as a Christian put Jesus first. Among all your worldly relationships, none is more important than your marriage to [GROOM]. As the head of your marriage, failure to submit to him is similar to failure to submit to Christ – it is called sin! And in this world few sins are more deeply felt than sin by one spouse against another. Hold him up as your example of Jesus in this world. Let him be your knight in shining armor in the way God has intended, not as you desire. If Jesus is truly your King, let [GROOM] be the king of your heart and none other, not even yourself. Give your heart to him and do not keep it from him, in the same way that we give ourselves wholly to Jesus.
I think it was very important for me to emphasize that love is action. My grandfather once told me that “love is the way you treat someone,” and that has held true over the years. I’ve often read in relationship and marriage books that love isn’t some abstract feeling, but it is an action towards another. Dirty diapers have quite often been used as the example that illustrates the point. If you really love the baby, you’ll clean up the poop, even though you certainly don’t feel loving at that particular moment! This allowed me to impress upon the couple that their love was a living and active thing, not just something that burned in their hearts.True submission involves putting another first.
The CEV translated it in a way that I feel really worked: “a wife should put her husband first, as she does the Lord…wives should always put their husbands first, as the church puts Christ first.” Very often people trip over the word “submit,” and sometimes I wonder if that trip is deliberate. Feminism has ruined it for women, as the bride in this wedding once told me. Any hint of a man possibly having authority or position greater than (or God forbid over) a woman is viewed as a great sin against society.
Granted, Paul called himself a “slave to Christ,” but is slavery to Christ in any way similar to the type of position feminists claim evangelicals are assigning them? Not a chance. Remember, “if the Son sets you free, you are free indeed.” True freedom for a woman in a relationship comes when she puts her man first, just as true freedom for the Christian comes from putting Jesus in the #1 slot. No other human relationship is to take priority over her husband. When she fails to make him first, the result is or can be sin against her husband and a damaged marital relationship.
Think about that for a moment. Sin against one’s husband. Sin against one’s wife. Could any sin be more grievous? Marital sins have the potential to destroy not only marriages, but entire families, from the nuclear unit on down through the extended family. The entire community, by extension, is affected by marital sins. Henry VIII of England is a good example of how sins against his spouses affected not only a family but an entire nation (and for years afterwards as well).
I would love it for wives to see their husbands as outfitted in the shining Armor of God, not in the armor of their Prince Charming fantasies. Could anyone be more handsome than a man adorned in God’s power and glory? Therefore women should and must abandon their fanciful and unrealistic images of what they expect their husbands to be, and instead exchange this lie for the truth of Scripture.
Wives, give your hearts wholeheartedly to your husbands, as they are clothed in God’s armor for one specific purpose: to love you as Christ loved the church!
Next time, we’ll look at what exactly such an armor-clad husband looks like.