By Pastor Ed Marcelle
If Genesis 2 is all about marriage's design, then Ephesians 5 is all about restoration and relationship.
Butchering Ephesians 5
A lot of people (especially my more liberal Christian friends) will start at Ephesians 5: 21 with "submit to one another" and stop right there. And this is where they get their view of marriage: that it is this two headed beast, where man and woman submit to each other and no one is really the head.
The conservative and fundamentalist Christian's favourite marriage verse is Ephesians 5: 22 - "wives submit to your husbands." They stop here and miss the big picture.
Ephesians 5 Brings The Gospel To The Broken Genesis Design For Marriage
But if we go through the whole chapter, we see that the discusion on marriage is all about restoration and relationship. It's this gospel stuff that fixes what went wrong in the Fall in Genesis. "For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church" - it's not just about you and your wife, it's about Christ. All the references to a husband's duties are in relation to Christ's treatment of the church.
Men and women, because of the Fall, have very different needs. Men need respect because Eve didn't listen. What was Adam's problem? He didn't love her and step in; and then when she was hurting from sin, knowing what she did and that God knows what she did, Adam blames her. So what does he need to do, restoration-wise? Love her. But all of these words (submit, love, head, etc.) just become about us unless they become about Christ.
Marriage Is For Pointing To Christ, Not Self.
When it comes to marriage, so many people believe this: "My life will be better, fuller and more complete if I have someone, and Jesus, make them good-looking!"
Where do we get the idea that two sinners living in close proximity for a long time will make happiness? I have no idea. If you think through the good Reformed theology of this, it seems like a bad idea for happiness. This is why Luther said marriage is better than a monastery for working the rough edges off someone; it's two stones in a tumbler.
It can't be about "I'm going to love you because I want you to do this." That's not serving, it's selfishness. You're taking the God stuff without God.
You're Not The Saviour, Jesus Is.
You have to triangulate to Jesus. Your spouse is going to do stuff that makes no sense to you, and vice versa, and it's not your job to fix it and address it. It's your job to keep looking to Christ because if you keep moving towards a fixed point, the One who never changes, you will both get there. This is the rallying point of restoration for the entire world; we all come from different places but we're all moving towards the same fixed point, Jesus.
It's not going to be solving what he or she thinks, or making sure that you're doing enough so you can get something - it's going to be triangulating back to Jesus. That's the important piece.
ABOUT ED MARCELLE
Ed Marcelle is the Lead Pastor of Terra Nova Church in Troy, New York (state) in the USA, and a Regional Director of the Acts 29 Church Planting Network.