My wife and I will be sharing in a cell group tonight. The topic is marriage and the scripture is Ephesians 5 about submission and love.
Most of us can understand love in the same way that a husband is to love his wife just as Christ did and gave himself to and for the Church.
This is an ancient truth that never runs out of date. Postmodernism or otherwise, some truths are timeless, eternal.
You see, love is a simple, universal concept to understand; nothing too abstract, nothing too high brow.
The recipient of it through words and deeds cannot mistake it for anything else. It is always encouraging, empowering and reassuring.
Husbands are to love their wives with Christ as their affection template. And let me just say that it is no easy task for mortal men who have to contend with ego, ambition, pride and lust. I am sure husbands know what I am talking about.
Love takes time. Love takes sacrifice. Love demands perseverance. Love calls for giving yourself to another. Love exacts a price. Love always humbles itself. Love seeks to be peacemakers. Love strives to put the other first.
Love fails not. The greatest of these is still love. And we husbands are call to that lofty standard.
When we enter into a marriage, love is our signpost, doorpost, headpost, lamppost, guardpost, gatepost and goalpost.
It is the beginning and end of our marital relationship, and very well the whole middle of it too.
If that is not high calling, to love ceaselessly, even in our imperfections, our stumbles and failures, then I don't know what is.
And if we merge the profound mystery that is Christ giving his life up completely for the Church to make her beautiful and holy, blameless and pure, and our marriage with love as the common denominator, what we get is an infallible union both between Christ and Church and between husbands and wives.
The failings of the Church and the rise of divorces do not change the fact that Christ loved his way to the Cross and husbands are to do likewise to take the union from one level to the next in unfailing devotion.
Alas, Christ assured us that there will be trouble but take heart, he has overcome it. That is the same overcoming love he promises to husbands in a marriage.
For if we follow in his footsteps and walk in the path he has taken, we too will overcome in our own ways and time.
Ultimately, this love is motivated by nothing else but to be faithful to the call. In the faith, it is Christ laying his life down at the Cross for his beloved, the Church. In marriage, it is the husbands ready to put his own life down for his beloved too, his wife.
This has always been the price of the Cross and the price of marriage. Not lavishness in celebration, but lavishness in affection. Not extravagance in the preparation, but extravagance in our daily devotion. And not an event, but a journey, a lifetime journey.
Once you as the wife take that all in, that is, the Cross, the sacrifice and the undying love in faithfulness and truth, you then see how easy and natural it is to embrace your part as written:
"Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands."
Any protest in the mind of a liberal feminist that such is antiquity and dated, oppressive and primitive is misconceived because they often only see one side of it and not the whole picture.
Any marriage that endures uses power and exercises authority at the expense of his own self-interest because love exacts a price remember?
Marriage is no less equal just because one is called to be the head and the other is called to submit. Just as love conquers all, it also equalises all. The high price of love neutralises even the perception of inequality.
In fact, I dare say love's sacrifices make submission a form of liberation and not oppression. For there is nothing in love that one should ever worry that the other's intention is ever self-serving and self-exploitative. Love is always inclusive, never exclusive or extractive.
In the end, when love and submission merge, a reasonable bystander cannot tell them apart; that is, he would struggle to draw the line as to who is submitting and who is loving.
For over a lifetime, the couple without knowing would turn this balance into a seamless dance with such mutuality of passion and devotion that they become one, indivisible.
When love thus takes the hand that submits and she who submits embraces him who loves, this marital union is indeed complete, and they can then truly declare this concluding verse of Ephesians and relish a foretaste of this profound mystery:-
"For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church". Amen. Cheerz.