married Life – Week 3 (Roles in Marriage)
Jason White


The various roles we expect our spouse to carry out or that we believe the Bible says our spouse should carry out can cause a lot of conflict in our marriages. What does the Bible really say about our roles in marriage? It’s probably not what you think.



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Sermon Audio Transcript
So this mng we are headed into wk 3 of our msg series on married Life and today we are going to be looking at the roles we have in marriage…so I thought it’d be kind of fun to start off by asking about the roles that you already fill in your marriage…If you aren’t, think about how you view what roles you would have and what roles your spouse would have if you do get married one day.WE - Who is the planner in your marriage? the shopper?... the cook? …the cleaner?... the driver?... Who does the finances?... buys the gifts?... does the yardwork?...Who is the spiritual leader?So, yeah…we all have these roles that we have taken on in some way, shape, or form. Maybe you volunteered to do it…maybe you were asked to do it… maybe something wasn’t getting done & you had to step in & start fulfilling this role…but somehow you took on the roles you have in the marriage. But, there’s more to it than even that…See, there were probably expectations you brought into the marriage about HOW those roles were to be carried out…For example:• The towels are supposed to be folded a certain way• The socks are supposed to be folded a certain way• You are supposed to drive a certain way (10/2, slow, fast)• Toilet paper put on roll a certain way (over top or under)• Finances (budget…use cash…or use of credit cards)• Spiritual ldr (pray before eat? Pray together? Family devo?)So aside from the roles we step into, there are ways we expected ourselves or our spouse to carry those roles out…The problem is…what if those expectations were different? What if you expected the T.P. to be a certain way & it’s not? What if you expected the finances to be done a certain way & they aren’t? What if you expected spiritual leadership a certain way & your spouse isn’t carrying it out or you feel like you aren’t allowed to carry it out?So roles in marriage can cause a lot of fights/arguments/unhappiness in our marriages…roles we are in or roles we expected our spouse to fulfill and they aren’t…or even if they are fulfilling them but they aren’t doing it right, that can really cause a lot of problems. So this I think is an important topic for us to dive into today. And so I want us to examine what the Bible says about our overall roles as husbands / wives & we’ll use that to determine if that says anything to us even about all of these various kinds of roles that need to be fulfilled in our marriages and how they are to be carried out. Ephesians 5:22GOD 22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 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. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Well that pretty much just sums it up right there…Wives are to submit to their husbands in everything and the husband gets to boss the wife around…SO, happy mother’s day and thanks for coming, we’ll see y’all next time LOL! So unfortunately, this is the message that can sometimes get communicated when we see these verses in Scripture and don’t take into consideration the rest of the passage nor the rest of the Bible. I have a friend of mine who went to a premarital counselling class with his fiancé at their church and the topic was Women’s Roles in Marriage, and the instructor walked up to the front and said… “Ladies, the best way to remember your roles in marriage is to remember the 3 S’s… SEX, SUPPER, & SUBMISSION.” Can you believe that? I mean people were being taught that if you are a woman that your only 3 roles or at least your main 3 roles in marriage are…to be there for your husband to meet his sexual needs…to put supper on the table for him… and to submit to his leadership. This again is what happens when biblical passages get stripped out of context and also don’t take into consideration what the rest of the Bible says. I mean we can go all the way back to the creation account in Genesis to see that God’s initial design in creating men and women was not one over the other. Let me show you what I mean…In Genesis 1:27 it says…27 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. So the first thing to notice is just that both men and women are created in the image of God. Nothing else in all of creation was created in the image of God…but men AND women were. Which means WE BOTH have value and worth…and in the next ch. we see this in more detail…2:18…18 The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” 19 Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals. But for Adam no suitable helper was found. Okay so the text will go on to describe in more detail how God created Eve, this “suitable helper” for Adam…but for time’s sake I’m not going to read the rest of it b/c I want to spend a little time on that phrase “suitable helper.” What you might be tempted to think is that the word “helper” here implies “inferior”… I mean a helper sounds like that is not the main person…a helper is like the assistant right? I mean there is the President & there is his little assistant that runs around & gets his coffee or whatever…AND so we think hierarchy (one over the other)…but that isn’t what is meant hereThe Hebrew word is “ezer.” Now, here is what is interesting…the majority of times this word is used in the O.T. it refers to God being Israel’s “helper” b/c HE IS THE STRONGER ONE…And so I doubt that anyone is going to argue w/me that if “ezer” is used as a reference to God being a helper as the stronger one that “ezer” all of a sudden in Gen. 3:20 meant that the female was going to be inferior to the man b/c she was just going to be a helper of his. And here is the other thing, anytime that this word did not refer to God, it referred to someone w/superior military strength or superior size who was coming to help out. Again, you wouldn’t consider the superior one in size or military strength to just kind of be a little assistant to someone. Now the other word here is “suitable,” & this word in Heb. is neged, which means “like opposite him.” God was going to create someone LIKE ADAM BUT OPPOSITE HIM.They would be different…they would be physically & emotionally different… BUT at the same time, there was still a sameness to them…they were both created in the image of God, there is a strength to both of them being made in His image. So there is no hierarchy…one doesn’t have authority over the other… which means that what we see in Eph w/the man being the head & the woman submitting to him can’t mean authority over. So let’s go back & look at the rest of Eph & see if we can figure this out.25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church—30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. Okay so we see a lot more here now than just wife submit to husband and husband lead as the head…and keep in mind while we are looking at this that we also have to keep this in context with the Genesis account and how there was no authority structure established by God according to gender when He first created men and women. So let’s look at all of this together in this chart when it comes to roles:A wife… A husband… VerseIs to submit to her husband in everything Is to sacrifice himself for his wife Eph. 5:22, 24, 25Is the body of her husband Is the head of his wife Eph. 5:23, 28, 31, 33Is to see to it that she respects her husband Is to love his own wife as himself Eph. 5:331st SET…Okay so a wife is to submit to her husband in everything and the husband is to sacrifice himself for his wife… The role of the wife is to voluntarily “come under” her husband in order to lift him up…to place his desires and needs ahead of her own to lift him up and encourage him and support him…this is the role of the wife…But look closely at the role of the husband now…in Eph. 5:25 Paul says that husbands are to “love” their wives sacrificially, just as Christ also loved the church and “gave Himself up for her.” So we have to think about how Jesus gave himself up for us. Now certainly Jesus ultimately died for us…but Jesus not only sacrificed his life on the cross but he also…sacrificed the comfort/riches of heaven…sacrificed his right to never have to feel pain…his right to never have to experience humiliation…Jesus knew nothing of hunger / thirst / loneliness & he sacrificed his right to avoid those things to come here out of love for us… When it says “Christ gave Himself up for the church,” it means:Jesus gave up life as He knew it in heaven and willingly put our needs ahead of His own needs all throughout His earthly life and journey to the cross.So follow this out with me…if we as husbands are to sacrifice ourselves for our wives the same way Jesus sacrificed for us…then that means that we are to deny ourselves…it means that we sacrifice our needs, our wants, our desires, and focus on meeting her needs, her wants, her desires. This is the husband’s role…to sacrifice his own life for his wife’s… But then as we saw earlier, the wife is also to “come under” him in order to lift him up and encourage him and support him…which sounds similar to the husband’s role…and listen, it sounds that way, b/c it is!One of the verses that is most often left out of a discussion of the husband and wives roles in marriage in Eph. 5 is verse 21 which says, “21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” I mean right before Paul says “wives submit to your husband,” he says “submit to one another.” In other words, submission is not a female role it is the role of a Christian period! Phil. 2:3…3 …in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others. So what Paul is doing here is showing how mutual submission works specifically when a husband submits to his wife and a wife submits to her husband. 2nd SET…Eph. 5:23 says the husband is the head of the wife in correlation with Jesus being the head of the church. And we see Paul giving this picture throughout Scripture of Jesus as the head and us as the church being his body…we see the union that we have w/Christ… we are one, we are spiritually united to Him, a unit, a body that works together. And here, Paul shows us this is true about marriage too!Is the body of her husband Is the head of his wife Eph. 5:23, 28, 31, 33Implicitly we see that if the husband is the head of the wife that the wife is the body of her husband. This concept gets reinforced in v.28 where Paul says that husbands are to love their wives as their what? Their own bodies! And it makes even more sense when Paul quotes Genesis 2 in v. 31 saying “the two shall become one flesh.” Listen, head and body form one flesh! And then the other half of v. 28 makes more sense now…remember it says “he who loves his own wife, loves himself.” Makes sense…a husband and wife are one…so when we love our spouse, we are loving ourselves too! In other words, we see intimacy and unity here, right…we see mystery. When Paul talks about the mystery of marriage and the mystery of the Christ and the church, he is talking about intimacy and union…And there is mutual submission required when you are a unit, to work together as one requires mutual submission…and that is why these are our roles in marriage. 3rd SET…Look at the last set of things in the chart as far as the wife and husband are concerned… Is to see to it that she respects her husband Is to love his own wife as himself Eph. 5:33Paul kind of just sums up what the mutual submission looks like…a wife will submit to her husband through showing respect to him…respecting who he is, respecting his needs and desires and dreams which builds him up and encourages him…And a husband will submit to his wife by loving her as he loves himself…I mean, he would love for his own needs, desires, and dreams to come true but he sacrificially loves her to support her needs, desires, and dreams as well.So when it comes to roles, even though you are seeing Paul break it down a little differently for a wife and a husband, we are basically seeing again that our main role is to submit to each other…to place the other person’s needs and desires above our own. And we can do that! You know why? B/C as I said in my first message a couple of weeks ago and reminded you of at the beginning of this message, “Christ is our Life…” and all of our needs and desires are ultimately being met in Him…so that frees us up to be able to submit ourselves to our spouse…to sacrificially respect the other and to sacrificially love the other.YOU – So let’s talk about what this looks like practically…So, let’s start w/this: A lot of times what I hear people say is that the man’s role is to be the head of the household…the spiritual leader …the one who makes the final decisions. But if we see through the creation account and in context with the Eph, account, that there is no hierarchy or authority over another based on gender…then the man’s role is NOT “authority of the household.” If submit is not just command to females but applies to all Christians, which Eph. 5:21 makes clear that it does, then the male is also called to submit…not to make the final vote b/c he has a position of authority by God in the marriage. So ultimately, marriage is a partnership of equals… Practically it means that you both talk about it and you both seek to understand the other’s position, and you both realize that your needs are met in Christ…SO you are free to sacrifice & submit to the your spouse’s point of view in the decision making process if you get the sense that is how the Lord is leading you both!Which also doesn’t mean that the man is the spiritual leader of the house. Now, before all of you guys check out then, that doesn’t mean that you are not supposed to be involved…you are! As a matter of fact, I think one of the biggest problems we have in our families is our dads not being more involved in leading spiritually…But what I am saying is that it is not a position established by God since head doesn’t mean authority and we are both called to sacrifice and submit. You are both to lead each other spiritually….it’s a relationship God has put you in whereby He uses a husband to point his wife to Christ throughout life situations/circumstances and for the wife to point her husband to Christ throughout life situations/circumstances. I mean listen, I’ve seen and heard of men who had just become a Christian as they got married and their wife had been a mature Christian for like 20 yrs but all of a sudden they were expected to lead their spouse spiritually…how is that even possible? It takes time to grow/learn about this new creation in Christ that you’ve become and how to live out who you are now in Christ. So why wouldn’t God want to use a wife who is a mature Christian to help her husband grow up in Christ? He would! God doesn’t need a male body to work through…He needs just a human body! So both the wife & the husband are looking to Christ to use them to spiritually lead each other and to spiritually lead their children!Okay, so overall what we see scripturally means that we live this out as a partnership of equals…both looking to the H.S. to lead, guide, & empower us to lead each other…Now, let’s talk about what that means quickly with all of these other specific roles that have to be fulfilled…If Christ is our Life and He puts us together in marriage to be lived out as a partnership of equals, does it matter who cooks?… who washes the dishes?…who does the finances?…who takes out the trash?…and on and on and on? And the answer is NO! It doesn’t matter.Sometimes one of us is going to be more wired w/our personality and gift set to accomplish certain roles in the marriage & so we step into that role…but other times things just have to be done, & as a ptnrship of equals whose role is to mutually submit to each other, then we step in & serve when given the opportunity. And if there was a role that is our spouses but they are incapable of doing it for some reason, or they are just crazy busy and stressed then we look for the opportunity to carry out their role for them…or we do it just to serve them/support them even if they could have done it. I heard another pastor say one time that the best marriages are 2 people who are looking to Christ to use them to out serve the other. Now, that doesn’t mean we are trying to do it to find value/hold it over the other person’s head…we have all of our needs met in Christ & are just freed up to serve/support our spouse in any way we can. So go home & have a great discussion about roles & how the house would work best based on who is in those roles…but be looking for the Spirit to lead you to support/encourage each other in those roles or even to step into those roles as you partner together as one.