Ephesians 5:22-33Theme: Love and submission.This week’s lessons teach us the only path to marital bliss. LessonI have called this study of Ephesians 5:22-33 “Loving Husbands, Happy Wives” because of Paul’s clear instructions and desire in the passage. But I admit, as I begin, that this or any other title commending marriage is a bit of an embarrassment in our day. It is because many of today’s marriages are in dreadful shape, and anything other than pessimistic comments makes many people uneasy and even hostile when the subject comes up.
Let me give some examples. My wife and I have been married for twenty-three years. A few weeks after we were married Linda was with a group of her friends, all of whom had been married for a couple of years, and she said something about being happy to be married. The reply of one friend was a put-down. She retorted, “Whom are you trying to convince, us or yourself?” Not long ago I was with a friend, and we were discussing the upcoming marriage of a certain couple. Both are Christians; they have known each other for a reasonable length of time; they are both in early middle age, so they should know their minds in the matter. But my friend’s comment, a natural one for many today, was: “I sure hope it works out.” It was a pessimistic assessment with no real cause except the general failure of so many marriages in our time.
I have heard young people say, “I am never going to get married, because I have never known a married person who was happy.”
What is the problem? Part of the problem is that we live in a sinful world where nothing is as perfect as we would like it, and marriage by its very nature opens us up to deep hurts. We are vulnerable in marriage, and we are therefore disappointed and hurt by its failures as we are not equally hurt by shortfalls in other relationships. The chief problem, however, is that we have forgotten God’s guidelines for marriage. So we suffer marriage breakdowns just as we would suffer the breakdown of our automobiles if we disregarded the manufacturer’s instructions for their maintenance.
The place to begin in any discussion of marriage is with the fact that marriage is God’s idea and that it is a good idea. It is a good idea, because it comes from God who never had a bad idea.
I remind you of the Creation account in Genesis where marriage is first established and described. Up to this point God had been calling each of his creative acts good. But when he looked at the man in his aloneness, God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him” (Gen. 2:18). The one thing in all creation that was not good in God’s judgment was the man in his aloneness, without the woman. So God’s creation of the woman was the completion and perfection of his creative acts. Marriage was the great “good” that topped Creation. It follows, therefore, that marriage is good – regardless of what we make of it – and that failed marriages, which we see all about us and which seem to be increasing, are the result of our failures rather than God’s.
What is the chief cause of an unhappy marriage?
Why is the postmodern mind pessimistic toward marriage?
How do we know that marriage is good?
Key PointMarriage is good regardless of what we make of it.