Saturday, December 20, 2008

Claire Smith on marriage

The guidance [husbands]... are given about how to love their wives doesn't come from romantic movie heroes, it doesn't come from being compared to the husband of their wife's best friend, or from books on how to improve their marriage that their wife gives the for father's day ... They're to be guided by the love of Christ for the church, who expressed his headship in loving the church, and in giving himself up for her to death. ... He's to help her prepare for the future marriage of Christ and the church. ... The blueprint for marriage, the reason God fashioned earthly marriage as he did, was to provide a beautiful, earthly reflection of the eschatological love and the union of his Son with those he came to save. (Claire Smith The Divine Marriage on Ephesians 5:22-33)

What God is looking for is an attitude of trust and respect for our husbands, building up and support of their leadership, deference to their care, letting them look after us, an attitude of service and helping instead of doing our own thing and tearing down what they're trying to do, and if you're anything like me, it will all require lots and lots of repentance. ... The more you know your husband, the more conscious you will be that submission is an act of grace. It's a moment by moment choice. ... It's conscious, active, wilful. (Claire Smith Won Without a Word on 1 Pet 3:1-7)

We are to submit willingly and to happily recognise our husband's authority in everything. ... As wives we are to willingly recognise our husband's headship every day and in everything. That's what it says here [in Ephesians 5:1-7]. I'm not making it up. ... The wife is to fear, or respect, or reverence her husband ... Submission requires an attitude of trust, and respect, and honour, that graciously recognises our husband's authority, and willingly accepts his leadership and his responsibility. ...

None of what I've had to say is easy. The submission called for here is at odds with our culture, but more importantly it's at odds with our sinful nature. Ever since the fall of Genesis 3 a woman's desire has been to control her husband, and we all have ... our own particular ways of doing that. Perhaps we nag. Perhaps we manipulate. Perhaps we put him down in front of our friends. Or perhaps we never say a word, and we keep a long catalogue of all his sins that we carry around and feel quietly angry and self-righteous about. ... Submission is hard, it's counter-cultural, and it's impossible to do without the Spirit of God, but with the Spirit, we can do it.

Now what submission will look like in each of our marriages will be different, but it will be evident. At its heart, submission is an attitude, but it's an attitude that has to be expressed ... It's expressed in respect, in service, in trust, in humility. It means we'll build him up rather than tear him down. It means we'll calm the seas of home life rather than stir them up. It means we'll support his authority with the kids, and we won't whinge about him behind his back, to our mothers, to our friends, to the kids, and we'll accept his leadership and care gladly. We'll rejoice in it when he gets it right, and when he fails, we'll forgive him. In spiritual matters, and in the day to day, right down to the washing up. (Claire Smith The Divine Marriage on Ephesians 5:22-33)

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