Storm Strong Families – Leader Guide #4
LEADER TIPS for
Storm Strong Families love well
Ephesians 5-6 – Love in a marriage, love in a home
Thanks for leading this week’s study in your Connect Group.
NOTE:: Should your group discussion head into the matter of Ephesians 5:22-33, and the matters related to “the husband loving” and “the wife submitting,” consider having the following thoughts from Russell Moore (Chapters 6 “Man and Woman at the Cross”) at the ready:
ü The freedom of the gospel means that we submit “to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Eph. 5:21) and, at the same time, means that we “do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (Gal. 5:1). Women are never called to submit to “guys” or to “boyfriends” or “lovers,” or to men because they are men. Rather, a wife rejects all other claims in order to cleave to her own husband. A cross-shaped marriage is one in which a wife cultivates a voluntary attitude of recognition toward godly leadership.
ü Likewise, “headship” in Scripture is not defined in terms of Pharaoh-like rule but Christlike sacrifice. Men and women are given dominion, over the creation around them, but they are never given dominion over one another. A wife submits to her husband, Paul wrote, “as the church submits to Christ” (Eph. 5:24). In order then to know what that means we must look not to sociobiology or to gender-war power struggles but to the way Jesus leads the church. Headship does not refer to power but to responsibility. A man who accepts the calling of husband and father bears a special accountability for the spiritual direction of his future family. This does not mean that a mother bears no responsibility (far from it), any more than it means a father does not nurture. Rather, the father is to be a visible sign of responsibility.
ü How does Christ love and lead his church in these ways? He does so by laying down his own life to the point of crucifixion. A husband’s leadership is about a special accountability for sabotaging his own wants and appetites with a forward-looking plan for the best interest of his wife and children. Headship is not about having one’s laundry washed or one’s meals cooked or one’s sexual drives met, but rather about constantly evaluating how to step up first to lay one’s life down for one’s family. Headship will not seem often to the outside world to be “being the head of one’s house” at all. Headship will look, in many cases, like weakness. So does the cross.
ü A man does not exercise headship by giving directions and serving himself but by planning to pour himself out for the best interest of his family. A man is “head of his household” not when he “tells” his wife what to do but when he, for instance, crucifies his pornography addiction, seeking help to do so, not simply because he is looking out for his own soul but also because he loves his wife and wants what’s best for her The fact that we see this language of headship in Scripture as being about “who is in charge of whom,” instead of what it is, a question of where the primary burden of self-sacrifice falls, tells us much more about our own selfish inclinations than it tells us about the gospel. All leadership in Scripture is different from that of the world—instead of Roman “benefactors” who give orders, Jesus said, the heirs of the kingdom serve one another, and lay down their lives for one another (Luke 22:24–30).
ü In this present darkness, masculinity is often defined as “winning”—whether in terms of sexual conquest or physical domination of another or economic advancement. This is hardly new, but goes all the way back to Lamech’s prehistoric song boasting of his many women and the vengeance he enacted on his enemies. A wounded and insecurely held sense of masculinity often becomes a weaponized masculinity, as one seeks to prove one’s “manhood” against all challengers, to “win” at all costs. And yet, Jesus does not “win” at all by such a definition. He loses. He does not, though, lose intentionally. “No one takes it [my life] from me, but I lay it down,” he said (John 10:18). Unlike the fragile masculinity of those who overcompensate with theatrical toughness, Jesus had full confidence in his identity and his future, enough that he could plan to win by losing, by offering himself up for his church. A man who keeps his vows to his wife, who prays with his children, who visits the lonely, who shelters the poor, who serves his church, is more masculine than someone who can outfight everyone in the bar or out-orgasm his fraternity with countless women.
ü To say that a husband and wife are like a head and a body is not to say “head” as we typically think of “head of state,” but, more literally, as a head with a body. Marriage, then, is not to be a Darwinian power struggle with the man asserting himself and the woman going along, or vice versa. Again, this is not a business model or a corporate flow-chart or a political arrangement, but rather an organic unity—“one-flesh.” The more a husband and wife are sanctified together in the Word, the more they, like the nervous system and the limbs and organs of a human body, will move and operate smoothly, effortlessly, holistically. In so doing, the marriage will point away from itself, toward the blueprint after which it was modeled, the gospel union of Christ and his church.