“Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge. Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’” Hebrews 13:4–5

What sets marriage apart for Christians is the fact that Christian marriage is never just a relationship between husband and wife. Christians recognize that God is always with them, so their marriage has God as an important part of everything. He will never leave us nor forsake us!

There have always been some who think that celibacy is more holy than marriage. As in everything, there is a time for celibacy, remaining a virgin. This text tells us that sex outside the marriage bond is not sanctioned by God. But within marriage, it is a blessing from God for a couple to share, both for mutual pleasure (1 Corinthians 7:3–5) and for the prospect of offspring.

Obviously, people are not animals; we are both physical and immaterial. You are an eternal soul and therefore your relationship with God has a direct bearing on how you treat others. Marriage between Christians is supposed to be a little taste of heaven in the sense we have the high privilege of always treating one another with Christian grace. Marriages of two unsaved individuals will do well if they follow the Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12) while behaving virtuously, but Christians have the added advantage of the convicting promptings of the Holy Spirit and the living, godly nature within!

The first precept of Christianity is the fact the Jesus is Lord of your life, meaning that you have submitted to Him and promised to obey His commandments. Submission is a very important word upon which to build a marriage. Without it there will always be vying for dominance, perceived power, and victory over your spouse instead of love, cooperation and mutual goals.

Submission is a misunderstood word in our culture today. It has also been commonly misapplied by Christians. The Bible word for submission is hupotasso. It is a compound word of hupo (under) and tasso (to arrange). It has a military connotation of “lining up in order of rank.” In other words, the word alludes to leadership, orderliness, and mutual cooperation. It is incumbent upon each spouse to humbly embrace his God-given “rank” and be an integral part of the team.

Where this word has been abused in Christendom is when a husband commands his wife, orders her about, commands her to sin, or even lashes out at her at the slightest perception that she is not “in subjection” to him. Ephesians 5:21 completely demolishes that idea, “submitting to one another in the fear of God.” Christian grace is to be exercised among all believers, but especially in that closest of believing relationships, that of husband and wife.

If God does not mean that a husband “lords it over” his wife, then what does submission mean? Ephesians 5:22ff does say, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.” Here we find that there is a heavenly purpose to the institution of marriage and a spiritual meaning in how your marriage functions.

In the economy of God, the Son of God submits to the Father. In the economy of the home, the wife submits to the husband. Though each is equal with the other, headship requires that there is one head of the “organization.” The father in a household has the unique role of representing the heavenly Father (I believe this is the reason that wives and children have a very hard time trusting, even God, when fathers abuse their own family members). The wife has the privilege of representing the Church in its relationship with Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:25ff explains, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies, he who love his wife loves himself.”

When a godly husband, in everything he does and says, imitates the self-sacrificial love of Christ (laying down His life for His Church) then it is a joyful experience for a godly wife to “line up in order of rank.” Guys, if you want to be followed, provide something valuable to follow! It is so important that it ought to humble you, force you to swallow your pride, pray for wisdom, and put effort into Christ-like love for your bride. A husband would be a fool if he does not organize his household in such a way that each spouse’s strengths are able to shine, and reduces his own weaknesses!

In keeping with the wife’s obligation to “respect” her husband (Ephesians 5:33) her submission to him has two components. The attitude of submission is of “subordination to the one considered worthy of respect, either because of his inherent qualities or because of the position he occupies.” The action of submission is “an orderly and voluntary yielding to the admonition, advice, and godly leadership lovingly, selflessly, and thoughtfully expressed by he who is the object of her love and commitment.” In doing these she will provide a living example (including to her own husband) of how a Christian is to submit to the Lord Jesus Christ! Trust and obey.