by Mike Ratliff
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. (Ephesians 5:15-21 ESV)
My wife and I just completed viewing the recently released movie Fireproof. It is the third movie made and released by a church in Albany. Georgia. We own all three, which are Flywheel, Facing the Giants, and now Fireproof. Kirk Cameron plays the main character who is a Fire Station Captain. His marriage is falling apart. The movie is about how God worked through Biblical truth to breathe life into what was dead. The main characters are unbelievers, but as Christians all around them pray for them, God draws them both to Christ. Through His miraculous heart surgery, creating faith where there was only doubt and resentment, their marriage is saved.
I do not want to give to much detail and spoil it for you. However, I do recommend the movie to all married couples and any preparing to be married. Why? The father of Kirk Cameron’s character gives him a diary that is 40 days of working to change how the one going through it relates and interacts with his or her partner. It does not go well for most of the 40 days until Christ breaks through and changes his heart, teaching him what real love is. Then as he walks closer and closer to His Lord he learns the “secret” of what it takes to make a marriage work and that is to love your partner unconditionally as Christ loves the Church. It is at this point in the movie that his wife begins to see the change in him. My favorite scene took place as she lay sick in bed and he sacrificially took care of her. I also liked the scene where they are reconciled. She tells him that she wants whatever it is that he has and he takes her to the cross.
This is not rocket science my brethren. It is all laid out for us in God’s Word. Our natural bent is to be self-focused and self-centered. However, God’s call for each of us is to submit to one another. In v21 in the passage I placed at the top of this post the word “submitting” in Greek is a participle which is dependent on the verb in v15, which is “walk.” In vv15-21 we learn what it means to walk in wisdom. The wise believer walks through each day continually being filled with the Spirit. This walk is marked with worship, graciously interacting with others, all with a thankful heart. This walk is also marked with submission to others out of reverence for Christ. This submission is intentionally not forcing others to submit to you. This walk does not insist on its rights, but joyfully submits as Paul outlines in the following passage.
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. (Ephesians 5:22-33 ESV)
The husband-wife relationship is crucial. While our society would frown on these words about a wife submitting to her husband, we need to be clear what this really means. This is not a command for a wife to be submissive to an abusive, ungodly husband. No, this is submitting to a husband who loves His wife as Christ loves the Church. Christ went to the cross for the Church. He is continually building it. He loves it sacrificially and that is how the husband is to love his wife. This love is active not passive. It is not emotionally based. This Greek word for love is ἀγαπάω or agapaō. This is a love that does not do what the one loved wants, but what is best for him or her. This will naturally evolve into affection on both sides won’t it? The husband is to love his wife the same way he loves his own body. He who loves his wife loves himself. Now if this is expressed sacrificially and unconditionally how will the wife respond my brethren?
A husband-wife relationship built upon submitting to one another this way will be fireproof my brethren. It will contain reciprocal affection because that is how real love in marriage works. It is never selfish. In fact all is focused on loving the other instead of demanding things for self-gratification.
In the movie there is emphasis on the damage pornography does to a marriage. It, along with drugs and alcohol, are shown to be addictions that are spiritual parasites that destroy trust and kill mutual respect. I am glad they did not flinch from this issue. The Christian is not immune from these parasites and, in fact, it can be quite a battle to mortify these sins. Again, I highly recommend all married couples that have not seen this movie already to purchase it and watch it together.
Soli Deo Gloria!