Calvary Road Baptist Church

“ADVICE TO A SINGLE MAN ABOUT MARRIAGE” Proposition #9


Proposition #9: “Purpose to conduct your marriage as a spiritual leader.”


Proverbs 31.3; First Corinthians 11.3 & Ephesians 5.23-24

 

Allow me to restate the propositions that I have presented and thoroughly developed with scripture so far in this series of messages to you single men:

 

·  Proposition #1: “Tending to eternity is more important than tending to matters of marriage.”

·  Proposition #2: “Consider marriage only if you need to consider marriage.”

·  Proposition #3: “Recognize the wisdom of planning for marriage.”

·  Proposition #4: “Recognize the potential for danger when dealing with women.”

·  Proposition #5: “Commit to finding a woman to marry, rather than being found by a woman to marry.”

·  Proposition #6: “Expect no woman who will not follow you prior to marriage to follow you after marriage.”

·  Proposition #7: “Consider no woman for marriage who does not love your God, embrace your Savior, and like your pastor.”

·  Proposition #8: “Recognize the danger of anyone marrying soon after conversion.”

 

It is reasonable to understand that this world in which we live, populated by so many who are openly opposed to Bible-based Christianity, as well as the thoroughly feminized evangelical approach to Christianity that so dominates the professing Christian landscape, will oppose these principles and the underlying Bible truths that support them. As well, let me state up front that I did not consciously follow these principles in my own life experiences, except for the proposition that I will develop this evening. I can only plead ignorance. I had planned to testify at our church’s Thanksgiving dinner Friday night that I am more happily married after thirty-four years than I have ever been, though I think my wife and I will both admit that had I known to then practice what I now preach our marriage would have been so much easier for us than it has been.

Up to this point in this series of messages from God’s Word I have directly challenged single men, with the understanding that there is not much that can be done with these matters once you have married. Tonight, however, it is a different story.

 

Proposition #9: “Purpose to conduct your marriage as a spiritual leader.”

 

It is very wise for a single young man to purpose to conduct his marriage as a spiritual leader, and to develop his relationship with the young woman he intends to marry with that end in mind. However, most people do not enter into marriage in this fashion. Most marriages in the United States are begun with the pattern of the man following the woman firmly in place. I find it amazing that men will so frequently sit quietly by as their wives defiantly insist that there was nothing wrong with her exerting leadership in both establishing their relationship that led to marriage, as well as cultivating that same relationship all the way to the altar, and even after the wedding day. Watch the body language of this type of couple, and notice who follows whom in social situations, who leads whom in dictating where the vacations will be taken, where the dining out will occur when it happens, and such things as that. Then, if ever there is any suggestion that the wife is the leader rather than the husband, the husband jumps to his own defense with a determination and a tenacity that should have been displayed in his leadership in the first place, but which is typically seen only in his own defense for not leading his wife.

Before I make anyone angrier with me than you already are, please allow me one more developmental comment before turning to God’s Word. Should a man come to his senses by understanding that he is not the functional spiritual leader in his home after having already married, he needs to realize that he is in a most precarious predicament, that requires great wisdom to correct, and is not at all likely to succeed.

When two people marry, there is an unwritten set of conditions that exist, really a set of undiscussed agreements that have settled into place. After all, you simply cannot talk about everything, and so many men reach an understanding with their wives about matters that they have never really honestly discussed with them. That nonverbal contract is structured in such a way that the husband is not the spiritual leader, but functions much as his wife’s oldest child, with her consent to such an arrangement in return for control. Therefore, should the husband unilaterally decide to attempt to exert leadership in the marriage he is guilty of violating, or at least severely bending an agreement that is already in place. Of course, this threatens the wife’s control. Therefore, unless your wife cooperates with you in this alteration of the arrangement you two have with each other, it could very well be a marriage breaker.

An example to illustrate: One of our men recently gave testimony that he and his wife were not Christians when they married, and that they came to Christ after they started attending church here. While dealing with his wife about her spiritual condition, she became convinced that God’s plan was for her husband to be the spiritual leader in their relationship. May I point out how difficult it was for that transition to take place in their marriage? Let me say that, from my perspective, they both responded very well to God’s Word and complied with God’s will when His will was made clear to them. However, like so many of you women here in our church, her relationship was not initially established with Ken being the spiritual leader. As he assumed his proper role of providing spiritual leadership, it was very frustrating for her.

Imagine, then, the reaction of an equally strong-willed woman who was not convinced it was God’s will for her husband to be her spiritual leader, and who was not particularly interested in participating with his efforts to lead her in marriage, thereby ending her effective control of the marriage? In most cases, either the husband has not the strength of character to pull off this realignment, and so gives it up altogether, or a combination of the husband’s clumsiness and the wife’s rebellion results in a severely broken or destroyed marriage. I am thankful that this fine couple never exhibited anything to me that ever suggested their marriage was in trouble.

Even when a husband exhibits tremendous spirituality and wisdom, there is no guarantee that his wife will be cooperative. After all, by her way of thinking, particularly if she is a lost woman, he has deceived her and is changing the relationship from what they had at least tacitly agreed to. And, indeed, so he is changing the relationship. However, the Christian man has no choice. Why not? Because it is not his marriage. Neither is it her marriage. It is God’s marriage. Remember, I am speaking to single Christian men about marriage, and perhaps to Christian men who are now married. On what basis do I assert that it is not your marriage, but God’s? There are two: First, God is not only your Creator, but the Originator of the institution of marriage. Therefore, He alone has the right to establish the nature of the relationships that are proper in marriage. Thus, God exercises rights and prerogatives in marriage even over those who are not Christians. When we learn that we are not compliant with God’s order for a marriage we should do the right thing and conform to God’s plan and to God’s will. As well, if the husband comes to Christ he is, therefore, bought with a price, First Corinthians 6.20: “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” Therefore, for the shed blood of Christ to have value in his life and testimony, that husband must seek, however gently and cautiously, to provide spiritual leadership in his home.

“You don’t understand, preacher. This works for us.” However, it does not work for God, and He is the only One who counts. “Preacher, this headship thing is a cultural matter, and in our culture men don’t lead women any longer.” I will grant you that men do not lead women in most marriages in our culture any longer. However, the principle is a universal principle and not a merely cultural one, as you will see.

Three passages will suffice to establish the proposition that you, sir, should “Purpose to conduct your marriage as a spiritual leader.”

 

First, CONSIDER PROVERBS 31.3

 

As you make your way to that verse, you will remember that it is a verse we have addressed before in this series of messages. As well, you will remember that Bathsheba’s warning to her son Solomon, who I think she addresses by her pet name for him of Lemuel, in verse 1, is based upon her own experiences with King David. She cautions her son by saying, “Give not thy strength unto women, nor thy ways to that which destroyeth kings.”

In context, there are two things to point out before we consider the verse we have just read. First, the context shows us that this advice is given by a mother to her son to prepare him for leadership as a king. Thus, the principle involved in this verse is very applicable to any man considering marriage, since the parallels of various leadership positions are universal. Next, the context also shows us that the effect of ceding leadership to a woman is similar to the effect of wine on one’s judgment, verses 4 and 5:

 

4      It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink:

5      Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted.

 

Just as a drinker will insist that his drinking has not impaired his judgment, so will a man who has ceded to a woman his role as the leader wrongly insist that his judgment remains intact.

These things established, what does this verse tell us? It is obvious that Bathsheba is warning her son about the enticements of women, which enticements Solomon certainly succumbed to during his reign. Her warning is very much consistent with the warnings about strange women that Solomon passed on in earlier chapters in Proverbs to his son. However, I think the warning found here extends beyond warnings about strange women, immoral women, since there is no qualifier found in this warning. This young man is being cautioned about the influence that any woman might have over him, even a woman he is not romantically involved with. I am reminded of the time King Asa deposed his own mother from being queen, a step I am sure he needed to take to prevent her influence from adversely affecting his rule.[1] Do you occupy a place of leadership? If you are a man, you certainly do once you are married. Therefore, whatever else you do, do not cede your position and your role as the spiritual leader to your wife, or to your mother, or to your mother in law. In short, give not thy strength unto women, any woman, no matter how benign the woman seems to be. Do you discover that you have already ceded your strength to a woman? What you have foolishly done do not try to foolishly undo. Be smart for once in your life and seek good counsel from someone who understands the issues and appreciates what is at stake.

 

Next, CONSIDER FIRST CORINTHIANS 11.3

 

As we read this verse, take note that this verse addresses an issue that is extremely volatile, the concept of what I have termed functional hierarchy: “But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.”

This verse brings three relationships to our attention: First, there is the relationship between a man and his head, Jesus Christ. Next, there is the relationship between a woman and her head, the man. Third, there is the relationship between Christ and His head, God.

Throughout the Bible we see testimony of the equality that exists between the Lord Jesus Christ and God, the Father. No orthodox Christian would deny that the Father and the Son of God are equal. Therefore, what Paul refers to in the last phase of this verse is not the superiority of God the Father over Jesus Christ, His Son. On the contrary, what we see here is an acknowledgment of the functional hierarchy that exists between the Father and the Son.

This is not to insist that a man and his head, Jesus Christ, are equal, by any means. Certainly, no creature is equal with His Creator. Therefore, though we understand that Jesus Christ is our Lord, and our Creator, what Paul is calling attention to in this verse is not the existence of superiors and inferiors, but to the place each person occupies in a functional hierarchy.

What this means is that though God the Father and the Son of God are equals, Jesus occupies a subordinate position in the functional hierarchy God has established in His economy. In like manner, no woman is in any way spiritually inferior to any man. Galatians 3.28 is clear in this: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” Thus, though the ground is level at the foot of the cross, and every Christian has equal standing in Christ before the throne of God, God has sovereignly chosen to establish a functional hierarchy in the home, not completely unlike the functional hierarchy existing between the Father and the Son. Though the protests are loud in our culture about such a hierarchy in marriage, it is clear that God’s Word shows such a hierarchy to be God’s will for your life if you are married.

 

Finally, CONSIDER EPHESIANS 5.23-24

 

23     For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.

24     Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.

 

Once again, the Apostle Paul sets forth this concept of the functional hierarchy. Only in this passage he shows us what is at stake in the functional hierarchy. In Ephesians 5.23, he declares that “the husband is the head of the wife,” not that the husband should become the head of his wife. The husband is as assuredly the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church and the savior of the body. Would anyone dispute that Christ is the head of the church? It is in Ephesians 5.24 that we see what is at stake. The marriage is supposed to picture the relationship that exists between Christ and the church. As the church is subject to Christ, so wives are to be subject to their own husbands in every respect. The certainty of one functional hierarchy relationship, the wife being subject to her own husband, illustrates another functional hierarchy relationship, the church being subject to Christ.

So you see, sir, what is at stake in this marriage that you envision. You have on your mind a certain set of expectations in marriage that you anticipate. However, God’s Word shows a set of realities associated with marriage that you are duty-bound as a Christian to abide by. It does not matter who in the relationship is a better natural leader, you or her. It does not matter who in the relationship feels more comfortable making decisions, which is what leaders do. The fact is established that God has established a functional hierarchy in marriage, meaning He has made a command decision about who the leader in the relationship is to be. You do not have the option of deciding between you and your sweetheart who will be the leader, who will make the decisions, who will be the responsible person. God has already decided that it is to be you, with a whole host of undesirable consequences resulting from your refusal to shoulder the burden of that responsibility.

 

Did you know that leaders are made and not born? Do you also realize that there is a big difference between God’s will that you lead a wife and your ability to lead a wife? I wonder what a guy ought to do who would like to get married someday and lead about a wife? Do you think he ought to begin preparing himself to be a spiritual leader, or should he just assume that once he has convinced a woman to marry him it will all turn out all right? Does a man not owe it to the woman he loves, or plans to love, the woman he plans to marry, or is already married to, to address this matter of whether or not he has any concept of how to lead? I think he does.

Though this series of messages are not leadership training seminars, I would think you married guys should love your wives enough to ask for some help on how to lead them. As well, I should think you guys who would like to someday marry might want to ask your pastor how you can become an effective spiritual leader.



[1] 2 Chronicles 15.16



Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org