IN MARRIAGE WHO S THE BOSS?

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1 Explanatory Notes: IN MARRIAGE WHO S THE BOSS? Message title: Topic: The roles of husbands and wives in marriage. Introduction: Who is the boss in your marriage? Who makes the decisions? Who has the power? If we look around the world, we find that there are two types of marriages. In one type of marriage, the husband is the boss. We will call this the traditional marriage. In a traditional marriage, the husband makes the decisions. The husband tells his wife what to do. He works and provides food for the family and expects his wife to raise the children and keep the home in good repair. If the wife disagrees with the husband, she must submit to him. What is important for this family is order and control. But there is a dark side to traditional marriages. Often men have used this power in marriage to control and use their wives unfairly. The men make the women do too much work. The men don t accept enough of the responsibility for the home. And many men abuse their wives by insulting them, shouting at them or beating them. This is offensive to God. In another type of marriage, the husband and wife seek to share power and responsibility equally. We will call this the companionship marriage. In companionship marriages, husbands and wives are both bosses. They negotiate with each other in order to divide the work of the family fairly and equally. Either of them may work outside the home, or both. What is important for them is to have equality and balance in their marriage. Producers: you need to think about two questions before you prepare this message: 1. What do your Christian listeners think about the roles of men and women in marriage? That is, How are decisions made? W ho has the power in marriage? Do husbands and wives share authority in the home? Do you think these attitudes are faithful to the Bible? 2. What do your non-christian listeners think? Do Christians and non-christians agree on this topic? Or are there sharp differences between the way unbelievers understand men s and women s roles and the way believers understand them? Your answers to these questions will shape your message. Here are a few questions to get you to think about men s and women s roles: a. Are there tasks that wom en are not allowed to perform? Why not? Are Page 1

2 But companionship marriages have difficulties, too. It is very difficult for husbands and wives to find a perfect balance of responsibilities. They must be speaking to each other continuously about decisions. Who will do this? Who will do that? This takes time. And it requires both partners to be expressive enough to communicate their needs and desires to the other partner. And if the husband and wife disagree about a decision, there is no one to help them decide. They can t vote about their disagreement, because the vote will end in a tie! Does the Bible have anything to say about power and responsibility in marriage? Yes, it does. One of the most important messages from Scripture about marriage is found in the Apostle Paul s letter to the Ephesians. This is what he writes:... you will submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. You wives will submit to your husbands as you do to the Lord. For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of his body, the church; he gave his life to be her Savior. As the church submits to Christ, so you wives must submit to your husbands in everything. And you husbands must love your wives with the same love Christ showed the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by baptism and God s word. He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man is actually loving himself when he loves his wife. No one hates his own body but lovingly cares for it, just as Christ cares for his body, which is the church. And we are his body. As the Scriptures say, A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are there tasks that men refuse to perform? W hy not? b. Do husbands and wives make decisions together? Or does the husband make decisions by himself? c. Do women make money outside the hom e? Or only men? d. Do women manage the family s money? Or do men? Or do they share this responsibity? e. How much do fathers get involved in raising and educating their children? Domestic Violence: One of the most widespread sins that occurs in the world is violence at hom e in the fam ily. Domestic violence is the violence that husbands inflict on wives and that family members inflict on children. It can be verbal (insults and shouting), physical (beatings), or sexual (fondling, rape). If a husband forces his wife to have sex when she does not want to, it is still rape even though they are married. Our homes ought to be a refuge, a safe haven from the stresses and dangers of life. But for many people the home is the most dangerous place in the world! Governments cannot control what goes on in people s homes. Armies protect us from invaders, police protect us from criminals. But who can protect us from our own families? Many women and children suffer silently. They are afraid to tell anyone that a fam ily mem ber is Page 2

3 united into one. This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one. So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. Ephesians 5:21-33, NLT There are several important things to notice about these verses: 1. First, notice that Paul gives a word to wives. He tells them to submit to their husbands. Just as the church obeys Jesus Christ, wives should obey their husbands. Paul doesn t want wives to be rebellious. He wants them to promote harmony in the home, not conflict. He wants them to be dressed with the virtues of humility, patience and cooperation. Submission seems like serving under pressure. But the kind of submission that Paul calls wives to show means offering oneself lovingly and freely to cooperate in the tasks of life. Wouldn t every husband desire a wife that submits to him as if he were Jesus? Wouldn t every family have less conflict and anger if wives were submissive in this way? These words sound a lot like the traditional marriage. The husband makes decisions and the wives submit to their decisions. But wait! Paul has more to say. 2. Second, notice that Paul gives a word to husbands. He tells them to love their wives as Christ loves the church. But this is not simply a matter of having feelings of kindness for wives. Jesus gave up his life for the church! He died on a cruel cross because of his love for the church. In the same way, husbands should dedicate their lives to caring for their wives. Paul even says that husbands should care for their wives with the same careful attention they give to caring for their bodies! So we see that, according to the Bible, husbands are not bosses who selfishly order their wives around. They serve their wives and care for them with a sacrificial attitude. Wouldn t every wife desire a husband who loves them with the same level of devotion with which Christ loves the church? Think of how much abusing them. They have nowhere to turn. According to the Fam ily Violence Prevention Fund, one in every three women in the world has experienced sexual, physical, emotional or other abuse in her lifetime. The W orld Health Organization (WHO) reports that in forty-eight surveys from around the world, 10-69% of women stated that they had been physically assaulted by an intimate partner (a spouse or sexual companion who lives with them) at some point in their lives. The WHO also reports that studies from a range of countries show that 40-70% of all fem ale murder victims were killed by an intimate partner. A 1997 UNICEF publication reports that between a quarter and one half of women around the world have suffered violence at the hands of an intimate partner. How can your messages bring hope to these women and children? Will you show them verses like 1 Peter 3:1-2? These verses can give women hope that their Christian commitment will persuade their husbands to follow Jesus. Will you challenge husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church? W ill you speak forcefully against abuse, just as the prophets spoke against the evils of their time? Will you challenge churches to be loving families of God, in which victims of abuse can find help and Page 3

4 more pleasing life would be to women around the world if their husbands loved them with the love of Jesus. 3. Finally, notice that Paul has a word to both husbands and wives. This message is that husbands are supposed to submit to their wives just as much as wives are supposed to submit to them! Remember the first sentence, with which Paul began? you will submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. People who love sincerely and unconditionally submit themselves to the person they love. The Bible doesn t support a traditional marriage in which the husband is the boss. Nor does the Bible support a companionship marriage in which both partners are bosses who have to negotiate with each other as people negotiate in business and legal matters. Rather, the Bible teaches us to have marriages in which Jesus is the boss, and both partners submit to each other because they love and serve him. Both spouses pray together. They work side-by-side as fellow servants of Jesus. They make plans and decisions based on what they believe God s will is for them. There is nothing they won t do for each other. Their love for Jesus prompts them to submit to each other in love. They each consider their faithfulness to their spouse to be part of their worship of God. Do you have a marriage like this? Would you like your marriage to be more like this? Then let me repeat the Bible s words to you one more time: submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Jesus is our model and example for true companionship and harmony in marriage. protection? Will you encourage victimized women to find the strength and courage they need to get help and support from loving Christians? No wife should have to suffer at the hands of her husband. You should encourage your women listeners to speak out against abuse, confront their husbands and even, if they are in danger, to leave them. The traditional culture and customs may pressure a husband not to change or apologize to his wife for wrongdoing. But in some cases husbands apologize to their wives. This is good. And Jesus said to forgive people who sin against us. So wives should forgive their husbands. In cases of abuse, however, women still need protection. Repentant husbands must rebuild their wives trust in them. They must show their wives by their changed lifestyle that they will not abuse their wives again. They must realize that this will often take a long time. [Conclude with an appropriate prayer] Page 4

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Obey: to follow the commands or guidance of; to conform to or comply with (as in obey an order ).

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