Calvary Road Baptist Church

ďTHE CHRISTIAN MAN IN MARRIAGEĒ

 Most people do not realize that David was not recognized as king over all the twelve tribes of Israel immediately after it became known that King Saul was dead. It actually took seven years, astute political maneuvering, and the cooperation of many in the different tribes before David was recognized as not only king over the tribes of Benjamin and Judah, but the other ten tribes as well. While ruling in Hebron, before being recognized as king over all Israel, and before establishing the Jebusite capital of Jerusalem as his capital, David was engaged in a delicate process of wooing men from the other tribes to align themselves with him, at great personal risk to them. That being the case, it must have been an occasion of rejoicing when key men decided to join Davidís cause. The record of such men from one tribe is found in First Chronicles 12.32: ďAnd of the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do; the heads of them were two hundred; and all their brethren were at their commandment.Ē

The chronicler informs his readers that the tribe of Issachar, in particular, had a number of astute men, who had understanding of the times, and who knew what Israel ought to do. Two hundred of the leaders of such men decided to support David. In retrospect, they were proved right in all they did and no doubt helped Davidís cause immensely. It goes without saying that Christians ought to cultivate the same kind of wisdom and discernment, so that we might have understanding of our times, and so we will know what we ought to do and when we ought to act in the perilous times we live in. Such wisdom and discernment does not come automatically. Such wisdom and discernment is not a birthright. Neither is such wisdom and discernment the privilege of men just because they are men or the privilege of the opinionated just because they are opinionated.

You have heard it said that the rising tide lifts all boats. Similarly, a receding tide lowers all boats. If that be true, and it certainly is true, we need to recognize how bound we are to the culture we are raised in, to a degree that we only dimly appreciate. Therefore, this eveningís message seeks to drive a piling deep enough to enable you to be more stable than those do who passively rise and fall with the tide, and who are moved about by this culture without realizing it. I want to address an issue that greatly affects fathers, and that is the pattern of men in marriage. Almost every past and present culture has had some form of marriage, with some islands of Polynesia being openly matriarchal, other marriages along the Pacific Rim being effectively matriarchal while pretending to be patriarchal, but the overwhelming majority of marriages in the various cultures around the world being decidedly patriarchal, featuring male dominated relationships with women. Matriarchal societies are anomalies. Throughout history, the vast majority of cultures have been patriarchal, or male dominated. With that in mind, and so we might better understand our times, I will address a matter of importance to you men in very general terms, because I want you to consider three distinct patterns in marriage:

 First, CONSIDER THE PATTERN OF PAGANISM

 In almost every non-Christian and pre-Christian culture, a hierarchy is and was clearly visible in what passed in each culture for marriage. The husband was the obvious leader with the wife frequently seen as chattel, or property. Though a number of cultures granted legal protections to women in marriage, they occupied clearly subordinate positions and did not enjoy equality under law, with the rights and privileges that were enjoyed most commonly secured by civil contracts agreed upon by the groom and the father of the bride, but not codified into law. The relationship between husbands and wives could be described as a value hierarchy, with the male partner typically enjoying the status of being more valuable in the sight of the gods, and the male being the partner who had a voice in what passed for government, or the tribe, or the clan. Men were expected to dominate and wives were different only in degree from concubines, in that their sons were heirs to their husbandís positions and property, while the less legitimate offspring were entitled to considerably less or were entitled to nothing at all.

Illustrating typically pagan marriages in so many respects is Islam, which even today is a medieval religion that values women less than men. In the book that I co-authored in 2002,[1] I pointed out that the testimony of a Muslim woman in court carried half the weight of a Muslim manís testimony, meaning that for a woman to see her rapist successfully prosecuted she would need two other women witness the assault, herself and one witness to balance the denial of her attacker, and an additional witness to break the deadlock of testimony and persuade the court. As well, a Muslim woman who crossed in front of a Muslim man during his prayers had the same nullifying effect on his prayers, as did a dog or a donkey passing in front of him. Additionally, a Muslim man can easily divorce a wife by saying ďI divorce theeĒ three times in quick succession, while any divorce action initiated by a woman is extremely difficult to bring about no matter what the grounds for divorce happen to be. Add to those religious rules the permission that is given in the Quran for a man to actually beat his wife and you quickly recognize the devalued position of not only Muslim women in that culture, but the general low value of women in most pagan cultures in comparison to men. To this day, in China and India abortions are more likely to be resorted to to end the life of an unborn girl than an unborn boy is.

Perhaps you have seen in the news this last week the efforts of some Saudi women to gain the freedom to drive automobiles, something which no woman in Saudi Arabia has the legal right to do. Yet how different is that from a man who denies his wife permission to drive the family car, or who forbids his wife to visit her family? Several years ago, the occupants of a girlsí dormitory in Saudi Arabia perished when a fire engulfed the building and the religious police of that country refused to allow the girls to escape the flames because they were not properly attired in their attempts to escape the flames that overwhelmed them as they slept. An extreme illustration, to be sure. However, such are the incidents that arise from viewing women as inferior in value to men. It is not uncommon in pagan cultures to sell daughters and not sons, or to pawn daughters off in arranged marriages for money and not sons. This reflected a hierarchy in marriage, a hierarchy based upon the perceived greater value of men over women.

Men are just considered worth more in pagan cultures, with some thought to be human beings, while their wives were simply to be their mates. Thus, it only seemed right for women to be ordered around, to be lorded over, to be subjugated and humiliated by generally larger, stronger, and more aggressively violent males. Men hunted and made war, while women bore children and tended to the hearth. With the only exceptions being Jewish culture and later the Christian culture, male superiority and female inferiority was seen to be the norm, and this was reflected in the educational and business opportunities more readily available for men than for women.

 Next, CONSIDER THE PATTERN OF CHRISTIAN PROPRIETY

When the gospel advanced into the Gentile world from the Jewish world in which it was initially delivered, gospel values certainly clashed with the values of paganism, but not entirely in ways that most people might imagine. Whereas marriage in paganism was built upon the value hierarchy of supposed male superiority and what seemed to men as obvious female inferiority, Christianity reflected a pattern of functional hierarchy that recognized the absolute equality of men and women in the sight of God. At first glance it might appear that a Christian marriage featured the same relationship between a husband and wife as was so common in pagan marriages, since both kinds of marriages were decidedly hierarchical in nature, with men being the leaders in both Christian and pagan homes and wives occupying a subordinate role in both Christian and pagan homes. Past the first glance, however, the hierarchy that exists in a pagan marriage is nothing like the hierarchy that is called for in a Christian marriage.

Consider the important doctrinal realities that are unknown to pagans, but which are vital truths to all Christians: First, God created mankind, both men and women, in His image and after His likeness. Thus, both men and women are made in the image and likeness of God, a reality not seen or reflected by pagan culture. Next, men and women are both eternal and undying souls, something that is not fully recognized in pagan religions, with the Lord Jesus Christ suffering the death of the cross for men and women without any distinction based upon their sex.[2] Finally, when a man or a woman becomes a Christian, he or she becomes a candidate for believer baptism. When the Christian man or the Christian woman is baptized, that person becomes as fully a member of the body of Christ as anyone else does, without any distinction based upon sex.

The fact that these truths are recognized while the functional hierarchy that exists in Christian marriage and in the Christian church is maintained is not in any way inconsistent. Christians understand that a functional hierarchy can exist with equals, since a functional hierarchy exists in the Trinity, with the Lord Jesus Christ functionally subordinate to God the Father while being His equal, First Corinthians 11.3: ďBut 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.Ē God is Christís head, while both God and Christ are absolute equals, which is mirrored by the functional hierarchy of the Christian marriage. The Christian husband is not superior, does not act superior, and the Christian wife is not inferior, and should never be in any way treated as being inferior. To do otherwise is to reflect pagan values and not Christian values.

It is this functional hierarchy, whereby one partner is subordinate to the other for serving and glorifying God that in part explains the lengths Christians are called to go to treat each partner in marriage with respect and with love. It is also why no Christian husband is authorized by God to order his wife around in the manner a Muslim man would order his wife around or a Mormon man would order his wife around. No Christian woman obtains her pass into heaven from her man. Therefore, no Christian woman needs permission from her husband to make routine decisions concerning her daily activities, concerning the company she keeps, or concerning her child rearing decisions. She is a priest of the most high God, and is no less competent to make decisions concerning her own welfare and her childrenís welfare than her Christian husband is. Pagan values, however, do not reflect this reality, with pagan men holding the conviction that they have the absolute right to overrule a wife on any matter at any time. On what basis? Based on their manhood, seeing women as inherently inferior. Let us recognize that it is true that Godís plan is for the Christian husband to provide spiritual leadership in his home, and that the Christian wife is called upon to follow his spiritual lead. However, leadership is not carte blanche authority to shout orders or make demands that void a Christianís duty to exercise good judgment and to make rational decisions.

Allow a personal example from a very flawed man, who think got it right on one occasion: When my wife and I were newlyweds, I came home every day from work expecting a warm welcome. So it was, until I received a very cold reception on one particular day. The next day things improved, so I thought no more of it, until the same thing happened a week later. I am no complete dummy, so I figured out that my cold reception was linked to my brideís visits to her Aunt Dorothy, of the radical feminist and anti-Christian persuasion. Realizing that Aunt Dorothy was greatly loved and very important to my wife, I did not hastily insist that my wife not visit her aunt. How stupid would that have been? By what right could I have insisted that my wife not spend time with a member of her family? I have been in the gospel ministry for more years than many of you have been alive, yet I find no authority granted to any man to deny his wifeís permission to go here and there as if she is no manís slave, because a wife is no manís slave. Rather than foolishly try to forbid my wife from visiting her aunt, I suggested that whenever my wife visit her aunt I accompany her. My wife gladly took me up on my offer, knowing that I was not so pigheaded that I would intentionally cause problems with her family. What kind of a nut job would do that? Guess what? The short version is that the problem was solved, Aunt Dorothyís views did not change in any way, but she did cease and desist from her anti-Christian rants, and we got along with her and Uncle Joe famously thereafter. Inconvenient? Of course. Troublesome? Certainly. However, it is worth it to treat your wife as a human being, and not the way a pagan would treat his woman.

In Christianity, women are treated with respect, are treated as being valuable members of the community and as equal members of the church. Is the functional hierarchy operative in the Christian home and in the Christian church? Certainly, but even then women are not properly seen as in any way inferior. A few illustrations: Read through the gospels and take note of the Saviorís respectful dealings with women. Regardless of the incident, Jesus always spoke respectfully and intelligently to the women He had dealings with, and insisted that others do likewise. Next, consider Lydia in Acts 16. Most people have no idea how unusual the woman in Philippi named Lydia actually was in that day. Remarkably, she owned her own business, she owned her own house, she had emigrated from Thyatira, and she apparently had household servants.[3] Thankfully, the Lord opened her heart to Christ and she became a Christian whose help extended to the Apostle Paul was appreciated. As well, there was Paulís commendation of a woman named Phebe in Romans 16.1, which would have been shocking to those in Rome who were not believers in Jesus Christ, and who grew up in a culture that only saw women in terms of providing sex and bearing children. Yet Paul trusted her and recognized her faithfulness by dispatching her from Cenchrea with his letter to the Romans.[4] My last example is the little epistle of Second John. Notice how it begins: ďThe elder unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth.Ē It was written to an unnamed Christian woman and her kids, who the Apostle John loved. That is an inspired letter, folks, reflecting something about the place of women in Godís eyes in Biblical Christianity that pagan religions, and even men who are influenced by pagan philosophy are blind to.

Judaism in the Old Testament, and Christianity beginning with the Lord Jesus Christ, did not exalt the place of women. Rather, the place of women was recognized, whereas the perversions of paganism had distorted and concealed the value and place of women in Godís plan. Little do women who call themselves feminists realize how much they owe to the influence of our Lord Jesus Christ on peopleís attitudes toward women. If you are a spiritual Christian, you cannot treat women in a demeaning manner.

Third, CONSIDER THE PATTERN OF POINDEXTER

Poindexter is my less than affectionate term for the self-emasculated professing Christian man who seems so much like what is sometimes referred to as the metro sexual male. This is the kind and tender soul who thinks the unpardonable sin is to in any way displease his wife or to pick out his own clothes and dress in such a way as to communicate an image of masculinity to other men. This guy is dressed by his wife for women, and is confused about many things. I will not speak to his wardrobe confusion, but will confine my remarks to his confusion about the functional hierarchy in marriage that is presented as the ideal in Godís Word. Poindexter thinks that all decisions should be arrived at democratically, that leadership is always a matter of consensus building, and that wives should always be given veto power over important family matters. The problem, of course, is that I do not find such a model for marriage in the Bible.

Keep in mind that when the gospel advanced into a pagan world, there was no confusion concerning the hierarchy that was supposed to exist in the home. The difference was that the pagan approach to value hierarchy was replaced only with the underlying truths concerning the functional hierarchy of the relationship between a husband and wife. Hubby is still the leader. Wifey still occupies a subordinate position . . . but for different reasons than the pagans thought to be true. Poindexter does not get that. Poindexterís wife does not get that. They try to order their marriage along the lines of a supposedly modern and leaderless pattern, because they have both been greatly affected by feministís values far more than they both realize, and Poindexter is not courageous enough, and does not have enough confidence in Godís Word, to take a Biblical approach to his marriage.

No one is suggesting that Poindexter be mean. No one is suggesting that Poindexter be harsh. No one is suggesting that Poindexter be unnecessarily confrontational or argumentative. All that is suggested is that Poindexter function within the God-ordained hierarchy (which is the Christianís marriage) as the husband, leaving it to his wife to function as, you guessed it, the wife. What if wifey does not do what Poindexter wants her to do? That is not his problem. That is Godís problem. What if she does not take to being ordered around by Poindexter? No one is suggesting that Poindexter order his wife around, since Poindexter has no authority from God to order his wife around. Guys with strong personalities may find it easier to function along the lines of a pagan type of mentality toward their wives. Guys with weak personalities may find it easier to function along the lines of a Poindexter type of mentality toward their wives. However, a spiritual Christian man will by Godís grace be the leader without being the bully, be strong without being bossy, providing leadership without sacrificing tenderness and wisdom.

Let me tell you what I greatly fear, and what I see evidence of developing in our society, with respect to both the pattern of paganism and the pattern of the Poindexters. Take a guy who thinks he has the right to boss his wife around, to order to do this and not do that, to dictate her behavior while he is at work, and to deny her the freedom as a citizen of the United States of America to go where she wants to go, see who she wants to see, and exercise judgment in the lives of her children according to the dictates of her conscience.

Christians believe in soul liberty. We recognize that believers are priests and kings, and are granted wisdom born of experience, in answer to prayers, by Godís grace. Therefore, Christians recognize that Christians can and do think, though none of us has arrived. Therefore, it is wrong to try to deny another believer in Jesus Christ the freedom to exercise his or her judgment. When a man functions like a pagan, he may find himself exercising no authority over anyoneís life. If she finds his abusive nonsense intolerable, and we find this more and more in our country, she will not only divorce him and secure custody rights over their children, but their children will end up in the company of those he has fits about even more than if he treats his wife the way a Christian should treat his wife.

Imagine if I had forbidden my wife from seeing her Aunt Dorothy. What if Pam was so fed up with my nonsense and divorced me? Then, not only would she see Aunt Dorothy whenever she wanted to, but she could take Sarah there any time she wanted after the divorce. And what if she decided to move in with Aunt Dorothy? How stupid would my belligerence turn out to be then? Better to make peace and exercise wisdom. On the other hand, what if I become a Poindexter and pretend Godís will is not for me to exercise spiritual leadership in the functional hierarchy of my marriage? Talk about confusing the children. How does your marriage reflect the relationship of Christ and the church in that kind of a marriage?[5]

My guess is that society will continue its downward slide in ways that are already evident. In post-Christian cultures, the relationship between men and women strongly resembles what existed in pre-Christian cultures, with male dominance based upon size, strength, and aggressiveness. Women severely degraded and violated in every conceivable way. How did this happen? The value hierarchy of the pagan culture was replaced by the functional hierarchy of the Christian influenced culture, which called for women to be led in the church and in the home, but which also called for women to be treated very respectfully and for their role in the relationships to be treasured. If men and women are equal in the sight of God, and treated as such, what happens when God is removed from the picture? This occurs with feminism, when the functional hierarchy is replaced by no hierarchy. However, once culture is so far removed from Christian values that there is no longer any cultural memory of God, you have paganism once more and the rule of the bigger, stronger, and more aggressive over those who are smaller, physically weaker, and less aggressive while being at the same time burdened by the care of small children. Thus, while paganism offers a very bad program for dominating and degrading women in marriage and in every other aspect of society, the Poindexter approach that has developed from the feminist agenda and attempts a leaderless and non-hierarchical approach to marriage must eliminate God from the equation. However, once you remove God from the equation you have a return to paganism, and the old ways in which conscienceless men brutalize women because they can, being bigger, stronger, more aggressive, and ultimately unconcerned about the needs of small children.

Sir, you need Jesus Christ. So does your woman. With Christ as your savior, you will not demean your wife, but will dwell with her according to knowledge, will give her honor, will cherish her as being valuable to God and to you, will see her as being an heir with you of the grace of life, and will begin to see your prayers to God answered.[6]

I have painted my picture with very broad-brush strokes. However, the mural I leave you with is generally true and has application at large for the Christian community. Men need to straighten up or they will lose everything, all the while insisting on everything. We need no pagans and we need no Poindexters. We need Christian men who will lead and let God deal with those who are supposed to follow them.



[1] R. L. Hymers, Jr. and John S. Waldrip, Demons in the Smoke of the World Trade Center, (Oklahoma City, OK: Hearthstone Publishing, Ltd., 2002)

[2] Galatians 3.28

[3] Acts 16.14-15

[4] Romans 16.1-2

[5] Ephesians 5.21-33

[6] First Peter 3.7



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