The “S” Word
August 28-29, 2005
Today we are talking about authority in marriage. Singles, don’t check out on me, because this one is also for you. I have to give some introductory remarks before I get into the depth of this talk.
It’s going to be very, very tempting for the wives here to think about their husbands when we go through this material. You’re going to be like, “Oh get him, Ed, get him. Hit him a lick, hit him a lick. Harder, harder!” But don’t go there.
Men, it’ll be very tempting for us as husbands to go, “Ha, ha, ha! Oh, man, I’m so glad she heard that. I’ll just smile confidently and just sit back and listen.” Don’t do that.
We all carry a bunch of baggage and junk and funk and presuppositions to the table when we think about authority in the home. So I’m going to ask you to press the delete button, to clear the decks of all of that junk, and to simply say, “God, show me your truth.”
We’re going to open God’s truth, His Word, and talk about what the Scripture says regarding authority in marriage. This is a towering topic with huge implications.
I hate to carry umbrellas, I really do. I don’t like them. Lisa always carries an umbrella. A while back it was raining cats and dogs. I mean, it was coming down in sheets. Lisa had her umbrella and we had to walk together from one building to another building.
So, with her holding her umbrella she said, “Honey, come underneath my umbrella and I think we can make it to the building without getting wet.” So she’s holding the umbrella and here I am like walking hunched over like this. And I’m getting drenched. And she said, “This is not working.” I said, “No it’s not.”
So she handed me the umbrella. I took the umbrella and she got close to me and we walked in concert together to the other building. We even got a couple of kisses in. It was a beautiful thing.
What is a husband’s job description in Scripture? One word. It can be summarized in one word. This is our job description. If you’re single and you’re a student or if you’re married, this is our job description in this beautiful relationship called marriage. One word: Sacrifice. Men, say it with me. Sacrifice. One more time. Sacrifice. That’s our job description.
Now let’s talk to the ladies. Women, the Bible—I’m talking about God’s word—says that your job description can be summarized in one word. Women, say it with me. Submission. I know it hurts. Smile when you say it. Let’s go. Submission.
Now when you said the “S” word, a lot of you—I’m talking to women now—have these whacked out views of what the word means. And hopefully as we unpack the depth, the richness, of Scripture and of authority in marriage, you’ll leave this worship service with an “A-ha” in your mind; like, “A-ha! Now I get it. Now I see the genius of God.”
A man, though, is superior to a woman…in being a man. A woman is superior to a man in being a woman. God made us different for a reason. Men are to be men and women are to be women. God does not want any she-men or he-women. We’re unique and we’re different so we can be one.
God always works through authority. We’ve been talking about that around here. God is all about authority. It’s who he is. The Trinity—God the father, God the son, God the Holy Spirit; equal in form, unique in function. We have authority and submission going on in the nature and character of God Himself. And God always works through authority.
We need to get under those things that God has placed over us so we can get over those things God has placed under us. But most people live this one and only life without realizing that whole concept. They just walk around like this [holding the umbrella at arm’s length]. Here’s the authority of God and they’re getting hammered by hell—H‑E-L-L. They’re getting pelted by all the problems, drenched in dysfunction. How crazy does this look? “Okay, there’s the authority of God. But I’ll do my own thing man, yeah. I’m ready for life.” No you’re not. No you’re not.
How do we understand God’s authority in marriage? We understand God’s authority in marriage as we stand under his authority. We stand under his umbrella of authority. God uses authority figures and authority systems to mold us and to make us and to shape us into greatness.
Some of the guys are saying, “Well, man, I want to control my life. I want to call the shots.” Listen very carefully. If you want to control your life; if you want to gain control of your life, you’ve got to give up control. Because the moment you give up control, that is when you gain control. Men, it’s all about sacrifice. That’s your job description. That’s my job description.
The Scripture says in 1 Corinthians 11:3, “Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.”
As I’ve said before, anything with no head is dead and anything with two heads is a freak! You’ll get that later, some of you.
Husbands, I’m not, nor is God, talking about rights. I’m talking about responsibility. God in His sovereignty has placed the leadership of the relationship, he’s placed the umbrella of authority, in the hands of the man. The husband is to be the leader of the relationship.
Just the word “husband” comes from two words, house and band. The husband is to band the house together. We’re to lead. We’re to hold the umbrella. The wife is to come alongside the husband under God’s authority and under the husband’s authority as we do life together. It’s a beautiful, beautiful picture. Scripture says the head of the woman is man. It’s our responsibility.
Do you remember when Eve ate the Sunkist orange and sinned? Do you remember that? Adam and Eve tried to play this cosmic hide-and-go-seek game with God. What did God say to them in Genesis 3? You know what God said? Adam, where are you? He didn’t say Eve. He said to the man, “Where are you?” Adam was the guy holding the umbrella, the guy who was responsible. “Adam, where are you?”
And that’s the same question I want to pose to all of the guys in the house, especially the husbands and those singles who are thinking about hooking up and walking down the wedding runner. Men, where are you? Husbands, where are you? As I talk about this topic a lot of things are going through our minds. A lot of things are kind of rebounding back and forth, and we’re going, “Whoa, this is some serious stuff. This is going to call for some change and some tweaking and….”
Yes, it will. But if you want the best for your life—and God, believe me, wants the best for you—it’s all about standing beneath his authority.
You’ll never achieve your ultimate position until you live a life of submission. First of all, guys, submission to God. Secondly, submission to others. And then you’ve got to do a white knuckle grip on the umbrella, because you’re the leader.
Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” The playing field is level at the foot of the cross. It’s level. We’re different in function. We’re different because of this oneness thing.
Ephesians 5:25—man, this is a cool verse, but a very convicting verse to me as a husband—”Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Or you could put your name there. I would say “Ed, love Lisa just as Jesus loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Whoa! That’s my job description. I’m to love Lisa how? Like Jesus loves the church.
We’re the church. What’s the church? A colossal collection of moral foul-ups. We’re fallen and fallible. Jesus loves the church. Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so. I’ve got to love Lisa—that’s my example—as Jesus loved the church.
Well how did Jesus love the church? I’m glad you asked that question. He loved the church sacrificially. Sacrificially.
Check this out. There was a cosmic chasm caused by sin. Jesus lived a perfect life, died a sacrificial death, and rose again. He took the initiative to bridge the gap to bring me to God.
As a man, as a husband, I’m to take the initiative in spiritual things, in leadership things. Obviously, Lisa is superior to me in many areas. I’m superior to her in a few areas. We have authority and submission going on. I submit, she submits. But the buck has to stop with someone. There’s got to be a leader. And the buck stops with me, as the man, as the husband. And the buck stops with you.
But a lot of guys are going, “Whoa, man, that’s too heavy. Forget that stuff.” And you’re getting hammered by hell, H-E-L-L. Drenched in dysfunction. You can’t even see the umbrella anymore. You’re just doing what you want to do.
“Yeah, I think I should do this and we should do that….” And you’ve got battles going on. Now and then you might find an umbrella. “Whoa, found an umbrella!” And maybe your wife finds an umbrella and then you go “En guard!” How crazy does that look?
Sometimes, guys, we’ve just said, “Okay honey, you take the umbrella.” And we’re trying to do life like that [all hunched over and getting drenched]. How nutty was it when I let Lisa hold the umbrella? It didn’t work out.
Other times we give the umbrella to the kids. “Oh, it’s about you. Hey, kids, you take it. You’re our authority. We will orbit our lives around you. It’s all about the kids. It’s all about the kids. Where do you want to eat? Where do you want to go to church? What do you feel like doing? How are you? Oh really? Is that what you feel? Well, who cares about us? No, no, no, we’re not leaders. We just are your buddy or your friend. We’re your coach. No, no, we’re not your parents. We’re not leading.”
Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church. He loved it sacrificially. He gave it all. He took the initiative. And that means if Lisa is 99.9 percent wrong and I’m 0.1 percent wrong, as the spiritual leader, as the umbrella fella, I have to take the initiative and reconcile the relationship. I don’t say, “Hey Lisa, you blew it. You’re 99.9 percent wrong, I’m only 0.1 percent wrong. Ha, ha, ha!”
No, I don’t do that. I say, “Honey, I was wrong. Will you forgive me?” Jesus loves us sacrificially. He gave it all for you and for me. He put it on the line. And ladies, if your husband is loving you like that? Mmm, mmm, mmm, mmm, mmm!
Husbands, love your wives sacrificially. Ed, love Lisa sacrificially.
Also, husbands love your wives selflessly. Selflessly. That’s the second way we should love our wives. Jesus loved us selflessly.
What did he do? The Bible says He submitted His will to the will of the Father. He lived this perfect life, died on the Roman cross, and rose again. He submitted His will to the Father’s. So I, as a man, as a husband to Lisa, have to submit my will to God’s will. What’s God’s will? For me to love Lisa like Jesus loved the church. That’s God’s will. And I’ve got to be willing to die for her and die to myself. I die to Ed’s wishes, Ed’s wants, Ed’s ego, Ed’s sins, Ed’s rebellions, Ed’s authority issues. That is my job description.
Whoa! I’m to love Lisa sacrificially, selflessly. I’m also to love her steadfastly. Steadfastly. Jesus loves us with a love that’s consistent. It never stops. I ask you, when does Jesus ever drop the umbrella and walk out on the church? Answer me that question. Never. Never, ever, ever. He’s totally committed to us.
And guys, husbands, too many of us have dropped the umbrella and walked out on our marriage. We’ve treated the marriage like a contract, not a covenant, always looking for loopholes.
“Yeah, but it’s better for the kids.” Ask the kids.
“Yeah, God just wants me to be happy.” No he doesn’t. He wants you to be a covenant-keeper.
“Well, it’s better that way.” You’re a liar. It’s a covenant before God. You don’t feel your way into a commitment. “Yeah, I feel it, so it must be real. I’ll go ahead and stay in the game.”
It’s not about feelings. It’s not about emotion. It’s not about the quiver in the liver. It’s about commitment, and feelings will follow. Until you get that down, you will never, ever, ever, ever, ever understand God’s beauty, His authority, or your responsibility as a man.
When did Jesus walk out on the church? When does Jesus turn his back on us? Never. Ever. We have too many weak men. Too many guys are just going, “Okay, no. I don’t want to lead. It’s too much, man. Too many responsibilities.”
Also there’s some men and some women when the man wants to lead, the wife will say, “Oh yeah, I want my husband to be a spiritual leader.” But ladies, you will not let him. You say, “Oh, I want leadership,” but down deep you don’t want to be led. And you’ve got to deal with that junk.
First Peter 3:7, “Husbands, likewise dwell with them”—them, being women—”with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel.” Whoa! As the weaker vessel? That’s true about women. [the verse continues] “…and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.”
The weaker vessel. Question—and ladies, you answer it—what’s weaker, steel or gold? Gold. You’re gold. You’re not steel. Husbands are steel. Steel-headed. The men of steel.
What’s more expensive? What’s more precious? What’s weaker? Silk or old blue denim with holes in it that you pay for? Ladies, you’re silk. You’re precious. You’re awesome. You’re beautiful. Guys, we’re just like old blue denim.
Treat and love your wife that way. Put her on a pedestal. She’s looking for someone to lead, someone to protect her, someone to love her passionately and with purpose and power and strength.
“Well, Ed, are you saying that I, like, lose my personality?” No, ladies, no. You discover who you really are. And guys, you discover who you really are as well, because here’s the beautiful picture: When you walk together under the authority of God and when the husband is the leader, what happens? You get closer and closer to each other and you become one. God made us different for a reason. What’s the reason? Oneness. Think of the Trinity. God the father, God the son, God the Holy Spirit. What do you have? Oneness.
When a man and woman have sexual intercourse, what do you have? Oneness. Before God they are one. They walk and talk in concert together. Spiritually, they’re on the same page. Emotionally, they’re on the same page. Physically, they’re on the same page. In every realm and every slice of life. That’s the beauty of marriage. So husbands, what’s our job description? One word: Sacrifice. Hey ladies, what’s your number one job description? Submit.
If you had a choice, would you rather sacrifice or submit? I’d choose submit any day of the week. But it first starts with the husband. We’re the initiator. It first starts with us.
Now let’s switch gears and talk to the ladies here. We’re going to talk about submission. Here’s what I feel like as a pastor. I feel like I’m in a tiny wooden rowboat. And I’m rowing up to all these women at Fellowship Church in this big, honking battleship. And ladies, you’re behind those giant machine guns aimed at my tiny wooden rowboat, and I take out my tiny little Bible with “Ed Young” embossed on the front; and I read Ephesians 5:22 which says, “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.” Let me say that again. “Wives, submit to your husbands….”
The word “submit,” do you know what it means, ladies? It means “to come under.” That’s all it means. “Wives, submit to your husbands”—don’t miss this part—”as to the Lord.”
Do you remember, husbands, what I read to you out of Ephesians 5:25? “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church.” So, men and women, we’ve got to get our “as” in gear.
Husbands, how do you sacrifice? As Christ. Ladies, how do you submit? As to the Lord. Look at Verse 23, “For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church…” That’s his responsibility now. “…His body, of which He is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.” In everything.
Whenever I talk about the “S” word, women man the battle stations on this big ship, and you can hear, “I am woman. Hear me roar. Numbers too big to ignore.”
Let me tell you what submission is not. Ladies, submission is not mindless obedience. It’s not, “Well my husband tells me to jump, I say, ‘How high?’” That’s not it. Don’t even go there.
It’s not this manipulative deal. “Well, I’ll wine and dine and seduce him into my way of thinking.” Because I know women are smarter than men; that’s a fact. And they’re so smart they can make us think we’re leading, but in reality we’re not. So it’s not about manipulating your husband. That’s not submission.
It’s not about masquerading like, “Yeah, on the outside I’m like the Stepford wife. I will submit. But on the inside, I’m screaming, ‘He’s a self-centered jerk!’ Women who are aiming for equality with men are aiming too low.”
That’s not it. It’s your job description. First, if your husband is being the spiritual leader and loving you sacrificially, selflessly, steadfastly; you have no problem coming under his authority. And your personality will go to the next level. You discover, ladies, who you were wired up to be.
I’ll say it once again. I am inferior to Lisa in many areas. And in those areas I submit to her. And in the areas where maybe I’m superior, she submits to me. We have the mutual submission going on. But the buck stops with me. I have got the umbrella. I lead out in spiritual things. I lead out in reconciliation. I lead out (I should) in conversation and all those things.
I’m not perfect. I have a long way to go. Many times there are holes in my umbrella and I’ve got to go, “Whoa man I’m getting wet.” But it’s about sacrifice and it’s about submission.
Genesis 3:16—after the fall of man, after Eve ate the Sunkist orange, after God said to Adam, “Where are you?” check out what he said. This is the result of sin in the marriage. I just found this out this week as I studied this stuff.
To the woman God said, “Your desire (in the Hebrew it’s teshuqah) will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” Now most of us would think, “Oh, what’s so big about that? Teshuqah—that means surely that I should, you know, go after a man. I’ll have a desire for a man. I want to, as a woman, be with a man and get married.”
It doesn’t mean that. This word “desire,” “teshuqah,” means to usurp his authority. Because of sin, because of man’s rebellion, we will have this struggle, this classic struggle in the home over authority, over authority issues.
“It’s my umbrella!” “No, it’s my umbrella!” And then we start fighting. This word “desire” also means that husbands will be tempted to take authority and abuse it in the home. So these are some serious issues.
And if you have authority issues in your marriage, you have an issue with God. If you have an issue with leadership, an issue with sacrifice, an issue with submission—whatever it is—you have an issue with God.
THE SPIRIT OF SUBMISSION
Well how does this stuff play out on the rugged plains of reality? How does this stuff play out when you’re walking through the rain? Let’s talk about the big three.
Let’s talk about finances, authority and submission over finances. Financial turmoil is one of the number one causes of divorce. Usually when two people hook up and they walk down the wedding runner, one is more of a free-spender and the other one is more conservative. And all that causes us to start fighting.
“I want to spend money and forget the umbrella. You save too much and you try to control me with finances and….” Let’s get ready to rumble! Call in the lawyers to pick up the pieces. That’s what happens, isn’t it? Yeah it is.
One of the biggest mistakes Lisa and I ever made happened before we got married. We did not receive premarital counseling. Please, please, get some premarital counseling. I didn’t read any books on marriage. I didn’t listen to any tapes on marriage. I didn’t see a Christian counselor. That’s why we talk about marriage so much here.
And we’ve written a book called The Creative Marriage. It’s in its fourth printing. It’ll be coming out again soon. Read a book like that or one of the marriage books you can find in our bookstore. Or go to a great Christian counselor. We have a list for you available on our website.
Before you get married, please, I beg you, talk about finances. Because here’s what happened to Lisa and I. We walked down the wedding runner, we’re married for a couple of months, and financially we said, “Man, what’s wrong with us? Something’s happening.”
We had arguments over finances. I was in seminary and she was working full time and I was trying to work full time, too. It was an authority issue. We both had to get beneath God’s authority for financial freedom.
God says the first thing we’re to do is we’re to bring the tithe into the local house of worship—10 percent. I’m not talking about giving. We’re not giving. We’re bringing it. You will not be under the authority of God until you bring 10 percent of your income to your local church. It’s not going to happen for you. So we started doing that 24 years ago. Ten percent. “Okay God, here it is.”
The Bible also says we should save. S-A-V-E, save. We began to save just a little bit of money. Twenty-four years ago we began to save. Ten percent. We started, really, about 5 percent, then we worked up to 10 percent.
And then you have 80 percent that you can enjoy. And don’t freak out over that. Enjoy the 80 percent. You can shop and spend money for the glory of God. Some of you are all conservative and tight. Loosen up. Some of you are like, “Okay, I’ll go buy this and buy that, ching, ching!” Don’t do that. There’s a balance there. 10, 10, 80. And for us to get to that point 24 years ago, we had to sell one of our cars and downsize in our home. But now, because we’ve developed that pattern and live by that pattern, we’re enjoying the fruits of God’s blessings, even financially.
Are you doing that? Have you submitted to God’s authority? I don’t know. It’s a big issue.
How about kids? Kids are amazing. They can divide and conquer, can’t they? “Dad what do you think? Well, Mom…oh, really? Hey, Dad, Mom said this and….” They’ve separated. They’re dividing. They’re trying to conquer.
What do you do? It’s all about authority. Kids want authority. They’re screaming for authority. They want to see authority and submission in marriage. So as wise parents, if we have kind of a sticking point, we huddle up away from the kids and say, “Okay, you said this, but… Okay, that’s great. We will present a united front, because we’re under the authority of God and because we walk in concert together. Here is the deal.” Together.
And then your kids, who are screaming for authority and boundaries, will see that you are on the same team. Then when they start dating, they’ll look for that in the person they’re dating. The little girls will say, “Hey, he is holding the umbrella. This guy is an umbrella fella. I like that. He reminds me of my father.” The guy will say, “Whoa, look at her! She has a servant’s heart, a heart of maturity. I like that. I like that.”
When we become a Christ follower, what happens? We say, “Jesus, I’ve been ambushed by your grace and mercy and power. Jesus, I want to serve you. I submit my all to you, Lord.”
God does not want our cold-hearted servility. He doesn’t need the manipulation thing, ladies. He doesn’t want us to masquerade around. He doesn’t want us to have this mindless obedience. We want to serve him. We want to love him. And that’s this beautiful thing that we’re talking about. This sacrifice thing and this submission thing. Finances and kids. Don’t give the umbrella of authority to your kids.
Let’s talk about sex. I hear now and then in marriage one is in the mood and one’s not in the mood—sometimes. Does that happen? Surely that’s just a rumor.
Everybody always gets quiet, you talk about sex. I’m doing a series on sex, beginning the weekend after Labor Day. It’s called Love Affair. You do not want to miss this one. It’s the second most important place we all talk about sex. First in the home; secondly at church. So, if you have a problem with it, build a bridge and get over it.
What happens when one is in the mood and one is not in the mood? What do you do then? What do you do? Well the Bible says to stop depriving one another, except for time of prayer. And it goes on to say that both the husband and the wife must agree to pray together. And that’s the only reason you should say “no” to your spouse’s sexual advances. That’s the only reason. Mutual, agreed-upon prayer. So I guess the excuse now will not be, “Honey I’ve got a headache,” but, “Honey, let’s pray.”
Whenever one party is in the mood and the other isn’t, don’t just say, “No!” Don’t ever do that. You can say “no,” but say “no” with a 24-hour rule. “No, tomorrow morning. No, tomorrow afternoon. No, tomorrow night.” Don’t just say “no.”
The act of marriage is the glue, it’s the superglue. “For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother and shall cleave to his wife and the two shall become one flesh.” That’s why I laugh so much when people talk about sex in a casual way. “Yeah, they just had sex.” I mean, making love and sex is so holy. It’s so powerful. It’s so incredible. When the sperm and the egg meet, you have the beginning of an eternal soul. How profound is that?
So what do you do when one’s in the mood, one’s not in the mood? You can say “no,” now and then, but not very much. “No, tomorrow morning; tomorrow afternoon; tomorrow evening.”
Authority and submission. You’re submitting one to another. First of all you’re submitting to God. You’re submitting to the other desires of the mate. And it works financially; it works with the kids; it works in the life of intimacy and every other way. Every single way.
Men, sacrifice. Women, submit. Men, love your wives as Christ loved the church. Wives, submit as to the Lord. As to the Lord.
When does Jesus force you to do anything? He never does. We do it because of love. He first loved us. Guys, you see the picture? I don’t know how Scripture could do a better job at spelling it out. It’s God’s Word.
How about singles? Some of the singles are saying, “Well man, when are the Newsboys coming back?” [The Newsboys led worship for this service.] Singles, you had better listen to this so carefully. I mean you better be on the edge of your seats.
Ladies, you look for a guy who’s an umbrella fella. He better be standing under the authority of God, because that’s the place of blessing, the place of protection, the place of peace, and the place of uniqueness. You had better look at this guy you’re thinking about dating or maybe you’re dating him now. Is he an umbrella fella? “Well, he is,” (you say).
Well wait a minute. Go through the seasons—the fall, the winter, the spring, and the summer. Watch him weather some storms and see if he’s still under the authority of God. See if he’s still that umbrella fella.
Now some ladies, some Christian ladies, have a vice grip on the umbrella. And they want to get married so badly that when they just see somebody with pants on, they don’t care about an umbrella or not. They grab him around the neck and drag him. “Oh, we’re walking down the aisle together.” No, no, no.
Some singles come to church and the umbrella is at arm’s length. They’re being pelted by problems, drenched in dysfunction. All the junk and funk and then, Whoa! Did you see that man? Girl, look at him! Did you see what kind of car he was driving?” But if you’re like that, then you can’t even find the umbrella. It’s got to be all about the umbrella.
So in a great dating relationship, the man should have the umbrella and the woman should have the umbrella of God’s authority. Then, when they date, the man takes the umbrella. It’s his responsibility. The whole sacrifice thing going. And then the woman is submitting.
So you have a picture, a microcosm in dating, of a healthy dating relationship that should reflect a healthy marriage that should reflect Christ’s relationship to the church.
And let me say this. The best place to meet your spouse is in church. The church should be a social place. It is a social place. That’s why we call ourselves Fellowship Church. Fellowship is all about relationship and community and all that.
Hey guys, where are you? I mean, that’s the question I’ve got to ask you. Where are you? That’s what God said. Ladies, where are you? Are you trying to walk through life like this [holding the umbrella at arm’s length]? Is the wife holding the umbrella and, husbands, are you walking hunched over like this? Are you fighting each other with the umbrellas? Are the umbrellas gone? Have you given the umbrella to the kid?
Or guys, husbands, are you holding the umbrella? Are you leading in love and loyalty and passion and purity, the way God wants? Because we’ll never understand marriage until we stand under God’s authority.