Always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; and being subject to one another in the fear of Christ. (Ephesians 5:20-21)
Now look here — this isn’t talking about wives to their husbands. This isn’t talking about children to their parents. It’s talking about everybody.
This is the groundwork. This is what makes meaningful marriages. It’s a spiritual issue.
It’s not a matter of cleverness. It’s not a matter of scheduling events. It’s not a matter of buying her gifts, or cooking his favorite meal. Those are nice little things to do, but with two people who live according to the standards that we have just read, it wouldn’t matter if you did those or didn’t do them. That’s not the stuff that makes for lifelong joy in a relationship.
Submission does, though. And we are talking about a generic kind of submission, without regard for any specific relationship within the context of a family. The word “submit,” by the way, is very graphic. Hupotasso means “to rank under.” It’s a military term. We are called on to place ourselves under each other. Here is what makes for meaningful relationships.
You look at our society today, and you can see that’s exactly why meaningful relationships won’t happen. Because the mindset today is self-centered pride, isn’t it? “I am going to stay with you as long as you give me what I want, and when you don’t give me what I want, I’m out of here.”
Today the emphasis is on individualism, rights, freedoms, liberties, and self-esteem. All of that individualistic thinking is absolutely deadly to any meaningful marriage and family relationships. In gaining the rights that the humanists have sold us, in gaining the rights of individual freedom, we have lost the privileges of meaningful relationships. The price for our sought-after freedom, in the end, is going to be isolation and loneliness.
People become like objects to be used and discarded. They become like strangers, and families are more like a bunch of disconnected people living in a boarding house. They are more interested in self-fulfillment than giving, more desirous of material goods than relationships. They have more longing to be independent than dependent. They are more concerned about themselves than anyone else. They see wives or husbands as a burden — an obstacle in their path toward personal freedom and fulfillment. They see children as a barrier to the fulfillment of their overwhelming selfishness.
The Bible is saying, “If that is the way you choose to live, you can kiss meaningful relationships goodbye.”
Families, which are so essential to society and its preservation, are only possible where you have unselfish attitudes. Where personal desires are constantly sacrificed for others. And if that is not happening, there cannot be meaningful relationships.
Somebody at this point might misunderstand and say, “If everybody is submitting, then nobody is in charge.” But God has designed authority into the family. In 1 Corinthians 11:3, Paul says this:
But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ.
We aren’t saying that there is no authority in the family. There is. There is authority at the father’s level and there is authority over children at the parents’ level. We understand that. We are not talking about the responsibility of leadership. We are not talking about the responsibility of caring and protecting, which is what that authority is.
What we are talking about here is this kind of mutual submission that says, “Although I may be your leader and your protector and your provider, your longings and your heart desires and your needs compel me more than my own.” That’s what creates the balance that is necessary.
I am not abdicating my responsibility as a husband to lead, to preserve, to protect and care for my wife. I am not abdicating my responsibility as a father to provide for my children, and to give them direction and leadership and discipline. But I do that with the passion of my heart being to serve their needs. And whatever other needs they would have, I would eagerly desire to meet them, to the sacrifice of my own.
Before we can talk about the role of the wife or the role of the husband or the role of the parents or the role of the children, we have to talk about the role of everybody. With Christ, we see equality with God and yet submission. And in all of our relationships there will be spiritual equality, there will be spiritual authority, and there will still be a spirit of submission.
This post is based on a sermon Dr. MacArthur preached in 1996, titled “A Plan for Your Family: God’s vs. the World’s, Part 1.” In addition to serving as the pastor of Grace Community Church and the voice of Grace to You, Dr. MacArthur is the chancellor of The Master’s University in Santa Clarita, Calif. You can learn more about TMU at masters.edu.
|cookielawinfo-checkbox-analytics||11 months||This cookie is set by GDPR Cookie Consent plugin. The cookie is used to store the user consent for the cookies in the category "Analytics".|
|cookielawinfo-checkbox-functional||11 months||The cookie is set by GDPR cookie consent to record the user consent for the cookies in the category "Functional".|
|cookielawinfo-checkbox-necessary||11 months||This cookie is set by GDPR Cookie Consent plugin. The cookies is used to store the user consent for the cookies in the category "Necessary".|
|cookielawinfo-checkbox-others||11 months||This cookie is set by GDPR Cookie Consent plugin. The cookie is used to store the user consent for the cookies in the category "Other.|
|cookielawinfo-checkbox-performance||11 months||This cookie is set by GDPR Cookie Consent plugin. The cookie is used to store the user consent for the cookies in the category "Performance".|