A godly marriage is built on love and trust. It takes hard work, and desperation. More importantly it takes a work of the Holy Spirit and genuine faith in Christ’s finished work.
The Gospel At The Center
A godly husband needs to believe that he, as the spiritual leader, is following in the difficult footsteps of Jesus Christ. He needs to take his cues from Him. A godly wife needs to believe that the church’s submission to Christ is actually a beautiful thing. She needs to take her cues from the Church. These are God’s desires that we find in the Bible. That’s where we see the gospel on display. When pursued genuinely and repentantly, the root of sin can be dealt with, and a healthy marriage can take shape. The Gospel needs to be in the center.
What He Needs to Believe
The most common sin of a man in marriage is the pride of thinking too highly of himself. He wants to be important. He wants to be trusted and followed. These are desires that God designed. Apart from Christ these desires are confused with innate human rights. The man who wants to be trusted and followed, but does not follow Christ’s example of leadership and love begins to twist this design into harsh demands. No woman wants to follow a demanding and self-righteous husband. What he must do is begin to believe the truth. Believe that obedience to Christ’s Word demands selflessness and sacrifice. These are Christ’s qualities of leadership. Hard things that do not serve or please self must be done for the good of his wife, not once, but every day. There is not enough overtime, a big enough paycheck, or a large enough house that can replace what it means to a woman to see and feel that her husband prioritizes her (and the whole family’s) spiritual and emotional well-being.
Are you a married Christian man and you see that your marriage could be better? Much better? Here is what you need to do! STOP acting like you deserve your wife’s submission and begin to make every effort to humbly love her like Christ. Get out of your own way. Do the hard work of prioritizing her and your children, second to Christ. Change jobs if you must, put down the TV or gaming controller, and go to bed when she does. Pray with her for Heaven’s sake. Stop ignoring what God commands you to do to fix this while pretending like the rubble of destruction around you is not a product of your own making. Want submission from her? Be someone worth submitting to. Make every effort to slay your pride and show her the love of Jesus, and her joyful submission should soon follow.
What She Needs To Believe
I will not try to find the most common sin of a woman in marriage. I would not want to get that one wrong, or presume. Instead, I will say that what Scripture indicates is that women will struggle with submission. Her desire would be to rule over her husband, according to the story of Eden. Interesting. Pride is at the root of this as well. Adam (man) would struggle to cultivate and give, while Eve (woman) would struggle to respect God-ordered headship. She was going to need to respect a person who was as sinful as she was. Christ is needed here as well. There are qualities of the Church’s submission to Christ that a wife must believe and learn to emulate with God’s help. She needs to believe that the submissiveness she has in her heart as a member Christ’s body is a submission that God wants to work into her for her own husband.
Ladies, the true Church delights in submitting Christ. The true Church responds with willing obedience when Christ takes initiative to lead her with His Word. If you see your husband making an effort to lead you well, even if he does not do it the way you would (remember the curse?), you are obligated by Scripture to submit to his lead. If you said to me that he makes no effort at all, maybe that is true (that’s for a different article), but I would be willing to bet that if you married a godly man, one who trusts in the risen Christ, then there are opportunities to emulate the biblical submission of the Church. As I told him, do whatever it takes. Pray when he tries to lead prayer. Defer decisions when you should. Serve, both in response to his love and provision, but also proactively in light of Christ’s love for you.
It Works When Both Work
As you probably know, none of this can work if both husband and wife are unwilling to submit to Christ and His Word. Struggles that exist on both sides will remain, and increase, until the glory of God and the work of Jesus Christ becomes the reason your marriage exists. Look to Christ, and humbly ask Him for the willingness and the strength to surrender your will to His. Begin to obey today and delight in His plan. Let the mind of Christ be in you so that you never grasp for a self-seeking position. Rather, keep the Gospel at the center of it all.