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Restoration and Relationship: Marriage in Ephesians 5

By Ed Marcelle

If Genesis two is all about marriage's design, then Ephesians five is all about restoration and relationship.

Butchering Ephesians Five.

A lot of people (especially my more liberal Christian friends) will start at Ephesians 5:21 with “submit to one another” and stop right there. And this is where they get their view of marriage: that it is this two-headed beast, where man and woman submit to each other and no one is really the head.

The conservative and fundamentalist Christian’s favorite marriage verse is Ephesians 5:22 – “wives submit to your husbands.” They stop here and miss the big picture.

Ephesians Five Brings the Gospel to the Broken Genesis Design for Marriage.

But if we go through the whole chapter, we see that the discussion on marriage is all about restoration and relationship. It’s this gospel stuff that fixes what went wrong in the fall in Genesis. “For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church” – it’s not just about you and your wife, it’s about Christ. All the references to a husband’s duties are in relation to Christ’s treatment of the church.

Men and women, because of the fall, have very different needs. Men need respect because Eve didn’t listen. What was Adam’s problem? He didn’t love her and didn’t step in; and then when she was hurting from sin, knowing what she did and that God knows what she did, Adam blames her. So what does he need to do, restoration-wise? Love her. But all of these words (submit, love, head, etc) just become about us unless they become about Christ.

Marriage is for Pointing to Christ, Not Self.

When it comes to marriage, so many people believe this: “my life will be better, fuller and more complete if I have someone, and Jesus, make them good-looking!”

Where do we get the idea that two sinners living in close proximity for a long time will make happiness? I have no idea. If you think through the good Reformed theology of this, it seems like a bad idea for happiness. This is why Luther said marriage is better than a monastery for working the rough edges off of someone; it’s two stones in a tumbler.

It can’t be about “I’m going to love you because I want you to do this.” That’s not serving, it’s selfishness. You’re taking the God stuff without God.

You're Not the Savior, Jesus Is.

You have to triangulate to Jesus. She is going to do stuff that makes no sense to you, and vice versa, and it’s not your job to fix and address it. It’s your job to keep looking to Christ because if you keep moving towards a fixed point, the One who never changes, you will both get there. This is the rallying point of restoration for the entire world (everything Matt Chandler was talking about in his session at the Orlando Boot Camp); we all come from different places but we’re all moving towards the same fixed point, Jesus.

It’s not going to be solving what he or she thinks, or making sure that you’re doing enough so you can get something – it’s going to be triangulating back to Jesus. That’s the important piece.

Adapted and excerpted from Ed Marcelle's Orlando Boot Camp message, "The Church Planter's Marriage and Family".

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