Ruth Graham was once asked is she had every thought about divorcing Billy. She responded, “Divorce no. Murder, yes.”

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” Eph. 5:25-27

Love is the overflow and expansion and completion of joy in God, which gladly meets the needs of others. Love is not merely the passive overflow, but the aggressive extension and expansion of joy in God, reaching even to the poor in Jerusalem. –John Piper, commenting on the love of the Macedonian Church, The Dangerous Duty of Delight

Our Purpose: God planned marriage so that a man and a woman might find a fulfillment so joyous and complete that it would reflect the glory of our Lord’s love for his Bride, the Church. He intended marriage to be a lifetime commitment between a man and a woman, based on the principles of biblical love. The relationship between Jesus Christ and his Church is the supreme example of the committed love that a husband and wife are to follow with each other. As we follow his example we will find joy and Jesus will be glorified. (Ecclesiastes 9:9; Malachi 2:14; Matthew 19:3-6; Mark 10:6-9; 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a; Ephesians 5:21-33).

I.  Man’s ways verses God’s ways:

Man’s ways: Marriage is entered into for the convenience and is focused upon getting. Its love is driven by attraction and powered by feelings. When the spouse no longer attracts or when the feelings end divorce becomes an acceptable option.

“When I got married I was looking for an ideal. Then it became an ordeal. Now I want a new deal.”

God’s ways: Marriage is patterned after Christ’s love for the Church and is lived for his glory. It is driven by giving and powered by commitment. In God’s strength and for his glory, marriage is a place for finding joy in the sacrificial service to our life long partner.
An archaeologist is the best husband any woman can have; the older she gets, the more interested he is in her. –Agatha Christie

II. A Biblical basis for a God-glorifying, soul-satisfying mystery of marriage.

As God made man in His own image, so he made earthly marriage in the image of His own eternal marriage with His people. –Geoffrey Bromiley, God and Marriage

A. The following scriptures give us insight into the purposes of marriage.

1. Man and woman are created in God’s image:  Genesis 1:26-27.

Gen 1:26-27 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

We are created with the ability to have the same kind of satisfying relationships that God enjoys within the Trinity. Luke 3:22 “And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased .” John 17:22-23 “I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.”

2. The woman is given to man to be his compliment and intimate friend. Genesis 2:18-24

3. The curse of sin introduces a spirit of alienation into the marriage. Genesis 3:16
Gen 3:16 To the woman he said, “I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”
Gen 4:7 But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.”

4. Christ came to reverse the curse and restore God’s original intention. Ephesians 5:21-22

       B. The following definitions help us to understand Ephesians 5:21-32.

Mystery: Something hidden in the past, but, in the fullness of time, God has revealed its divine purpose and meaning.

Headship: The divine calling of a husband to take primary responsibility for Christ-like, servant leadership, protection, and provision in the home.

Submission: The divine calling of a wife to honor and affirm her husband’s leadership and help carry it through according to her gifts.

Mutual submission: Two servants seeking to out- do each other in the loving task of caring for and building up the other in the knowledge and joy of the Lord Jesus Christ.

C.  The God-glorifying, soul–satisfying roles in marriage:

1. The wife’s calling: Ephesians 5:21-24

a.  The wife submits to the husband’s headship as the Church submits to the headship of Christ.

b. She submits to her husband “as unto the Lord” so she can’t follow him into sin.

c. Submission means that she has an inclination to say “yes” to the husband’s leadership.

e. The husband is fallible and the wife is gifted, so she respectfully shares her wisdom.

f. When she disagrees with a decision her husband is about to make, she shares her concerns in a way that endorses male leadership and affirms her husband’s role as head.

g. When a husband makes a decision that goes against her better judgment, she places her trust in the Lord and refuses to give way to fear (1 Peter 3:6).

h. The wife seeks the same kind of joy that the Church does in submitting to Christ by seeking to support and honor her husband.

2. The husband’s calling:

a.    Loving like Christ means that the husband leads by laying down his life for his wife.

b. Headship (“source”) means that the husband has the primary responsibility to provide guidance, provision, and protection to the marriage. Ephesians 4:15-16

d. Headship (“leader”) means that the husband has the primary responsibility for setting the direction for the marriage and the family. Ephesians 1:22-23,

e. The husband desires and seeks the counsel of his wife and will be very reticent to go against her judgment.

f. If the decision he must make goes against the will of his wife, he does so based upon his primary responsibility as head to lead and guide the marriage for the Lord’s glory and his wife’s good.

g. The husband’s great task in marriage is to devote himself to seeing his wife become a radiant testimony to the grace and the glory of God.

h. The husband finds his own pleasure through loving and tender service to his wife, his body.

If you live for your private pleasure at the expense of your spouse, you are living against yourself and destroying your own highest joy. But if you devote yourself with all your heart to the holy joy of your spouse, you will also be living for your joy and making marriage after the image of Christ and His church. –John Piper

Closing Illustration:  Robert McQuilkin

President of Columbia Bible College, whose wife was suffering from the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s disease: March 1990 wrote his resignation with these words:
My dear wife , Muriel, has been in failing mental health for about eight years. So far I have been able to carry both her ever-growing needs and my leadership responsibilities at CBC. But recently it has become apparent that Muriel is contented most of the time she is with me and almost none of the time I am away from her. It is not just “discontent.” She is filled with fear- even terror- that house has lost me and always goes in search of me when I leave home. Then she may be full of anger when she cannot get to me. So it is now clear to me that she need me now, full-time.

Perhaps it would help you to understand if I shared with you what I shared at the time of the announcement of my resignation in chapel. The decision was made, in a way, 42 years ago when I promised to care for Muriel “in sickness and in health…till death do us part.” So, as I told the students and faculty, as a man of my word, integrity has something to do with it. But so does fairness. She has cared for me fully and sacrificially all these years; if I cared for her the next 40 years I would not be out of debt. Duty, however, can be grim and stoic. But there is more; I love Muriel. She is a delight to me- her childlike dependence and confidence in me, her warm love, occasional flashes of that wit I used to relish so, her happy spirit and tough resilience in the face of her continual distressing frustration. I do not have to care for her, I get to! It is a high honor to care for so wonderful a person.