Marriage is a complicated endeavor. Whether we have allegiances to certain models of doing marriage or we follow in our parents footsteps, we all do marriage differently. In week 5 of the relatively speaking sermon series, we will learn about what the Bible says about marriage, and we’ll hear what Greg has to say about beautiful submission to one another.
It is important to understand marriage in the Kingdom. In ancient cultures, the males had all the power and women were merely property. This patriarchal structure was the dominant structure of the world. However, Jesus came and flipped the entire structure upside down. Now, we submit to one another out of reverence to Christ, and we seek to undo our allegiances in this world.
People can have allegiances to many different things, and when their allegiances are tested, it can make them angry or defensive. If someone is from Ireland, and they have an allegiance towards Ireland, then they will get mad if someone speaks ill of Ireland. It is the same for our genders. If someone is male, and they have an allegiance to all that being a male entails, then they can become angry or defensive when someone speaks ill of being a male. It is important, as Kingdom people, to have our only allegiance to Jesus and conform our thinking to his Kingdom. In this way, we need to let go of all allegiances that are not a part of the Kingdom.
In the 1st century Jewish culture, being a male and a husband meant a great deal. The male had the power in the relationship. He made the decisions, and his wife was his property. He ruled over her. This stemmed from an understanding of Genesis 3:16 that said the husband would rule over the wife. What is often overlooked is that Genesis 3:16 was part of the curse of the fall of humanity.
Genesis 3:16 was part of a curse. This curse was not prescribed by God. Rather, it is being described by God as what will happen as a result of humanity falling and leaving the garden. This curse was that women will desire for their husbands (desire meaning more manipulation and controlling), and husbands would rule over their wives (rule meaning subdue/tyrannize). However, Jesus reversed this curse. As part of the new world that Jesus was inaugurating, wives and husbands would submit to one another instead of tyrannizing and manipulating one another.
In Ephesians 5, Paul says that we are to submit to one another. This was extremely radical in the 1st century because it was attempting to overthrow the patriarchal structure that dominated society. It was normal for wives to submit to their husbands, but it was extremely radical for the husbands to submit to their wives. The old world and the new world were colliding, and allegiances were being tested. They are still being tested today.
We need to take a long look at our marriages and how we live them. Do we try to overpower our spouse, whether through controlling or dominating behavior? What do we do with the power that we have in our relationships? Taking a look at these questions will show us our allegiances. When we submit to one another, we give up our allegiances to the old world of tyranny and manipulation. Instead of living in bondage to Satan’s ways of relationships, we bring a radically different relationship to Kingdom living. Submission to one another brings love, not control.
Submission does not mean that we enable our partner or manipulate our partner. When Jesus submitted to the Kingdom, he sought to change peoples’ lives for the better. Sometimes, he would come under people and serve their interests that aligned with the Kingdom. However, when the people’s actions were not of the Kingdom (such as the Pharisees and Sadducees), he spoke up and wouldn’t serve their interests. In both examples, he was serving the people and submitting to them because he was serving them in love.
When we live out this submission to each other, we grow the Kingdom in our relationships. Instead of living in the old world’s way of tyranny and manipulation, we live out a life of submission that radically changes how this world operates. Instead of trying to gain power over one another, we give up our power in order to more fully love each other. When we enact submission to one another, we reverse the curse that God described, and we grow the mustard seed of the Kingdom.
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