This post is meant to offer guidance to common “what now” or “but what about” questions that could emerge from Pastor J.D.’s sermon “God’s Laboratories: Ephesians 5:21-6:9,” preached at The Summit Church Saturday-Sunday March 18-19, 2017.
In this post, I want to provide resources that address three subjects that are often points of confusion or concern based on the teaching of Ephesians 5:21-33:
- Christian Marriage is More Than Gender Roles
- “How” Is More Important than “Who” in Marital Decision Making
- How to Address the Abuse of Gender Roles
Christian Marriage is More Than Gender Roles
In the Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage: Foundations seminar, I provide a job description for a Christian husband (PDF) and wife (PDF). When you compare these two job descriptions what should jump out at you is that 3 of the 4 sections are exactly the same, with the exception of the gender pronouns; only the fourth section is unique between husband and wife. Here is the outline for these job descriptions.
1. Character: Qualities required of every Christian which provide the foundation for a flourishing marriage. This section allows both husband and wife to examine how they are evidencing a balanced expression of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-24), cautioning against both the aggressive and passive distortion of each character quality.
- Big Idea: We all have weaknesses and shortcomings. Either we will be pro-actively honest about these with our spouse or re-actively defensive when our spouse is hurt or disappointed by them.
2. Friendship: Expectations of a Christian in all relationships. This section takes 10 “one another” commands of the New Testament and asks both husband and wife to consider their strength, their weakness, and what is most important to their spouse for each one.
- Big Idea: Marriage should be the example, not the exception, to the marks of Christian friendship.
3. Functionality: Mutual responsibilities of a husband and wife towards one another in marriage. This would look at the paragraph that introduces Paul’s most famous writing on marriage roles – Ephesians 5:15-21 – which concludes with the description “submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.” These responsibilities of the job description look at the components of married life that are shared and do not contain any biblical precedent for gender preference.
- Big Idea: Most of the functional responsibilities that make a marriage work should be delegated based upon the skills, interests, and availability of each spouse; meaning there is no biblical “his” and “hers” list of household chores.
4. Gender Specific: Unique roles of husband and wife. This section looks at the unique roles that God assigns to the husband and wife in marriage.
- Big Idea: The more faithfully and skillfully a husband and wife are fulfilling their shared roles in sections 1-3, the better they will know one another and the more they will enjoy the unique roles of section 4.
Video segments 4-6 in the Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage: Foundations seminar walk through these job descriptions.
“How” Is More Important than “Who” in Marital Decision Making
Too often the debate over headship causes us to miss more functionally-important questions like: (a) How do we do a better job of cultivating consensus so that headship is needed less often? and (b) When headship is needed in the decision making of a family, how is it utilized so that trust increases, instead of decreases, in the marriage?
In the Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage: Decision Making seminar, I provide guidelines for how to approach consensus decision making (PDF) and headship-submission decision making (PDF) in marriage.
The focus in each of these resources is to help couples identify the values and lifestyle that allow for good decision making. Too often we neglect the lifestyle practices of good decision making and allow too many important decisions to be made in crunch-time moments. Whether a couple adheres to biblical gender roles or not, allowing too many decisions to be time-pressed will result in a low level of marital satisfaction.
- Big Idea: Obedience in the area of gender roles does not make up for obedience in the area of life management.
Video segments 4 and 5 in the Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage: Decision Making seminar walk through these two decision making processes.
Husbands – lead your families well by initiating important conversations about how you will approach important decisions and the life systems that need to be in place in order to make big decisions well.
- Big Idea: Leadership doesn’t mean having all the answers. It does mean initiating the important conversations.
How to Address the Abuse of Gender Roles
Every good thing God created gets affected and distorted by sin. Marriage and gender roles are no different. The Christian response to these distortions is not to abandon God’s teaching, but to seek to restore what God intended (material above) and respond wisely when those distortions are damaging to ourselves or those we love (material below).
Below is a list of resources that address different aspects of how to respond to abusive relationships.
- Blog Series: Marriage with a Chronically Self-Centered Spouse
- Seminar: Overcoming Codependency – for marriages or relationships marked by addiction or abuse
- Manipulative Repentance: 8 Red Flag Phrases
- Why We Should Always Teach Romans 13 with Romans 12
- To Argue or Not to Argue: Conflict Resolution from Safe to Dangerous
- How to Develop a Safety Plan for Domestic Violence
- Four Principles for Thinking Well about Boundaries
- Posts from Leslie Vernick
- Domestic Violence Awareness Month (Catalog of 30 posts and videos)
- Does God Want Me to Submit to Mistreatment According to 1 Peter 3?
- The Emotionally Destructive Marriage (Video Series)
- The Emotionally Destructive Relationship (PDF Assessment)
For the various counseling options available from these materials visit www.summitrdu.com/counseling.
If this is an area you want to grow, I would invite you to attend one or more of the upcoming Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage seminars. Dates, times, location, and RSVP are provided at this link.
If this post was beneficial for you, then consider reading other blogs from my “Favorite Posts on Marriage” post which address other facets of this subject.