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Monday
August 26th, 2019

gary damronMY PERSPECTIVE, Gary Damron

 

We’re on the mailing list for a church whose pastor announced he’ll be preaching a series of sermons all this month on marriage. I’m not that brave. When I was a new instructor at the local college, an opportunity opened up to teach a class called “Marriage and Family”. Enrollees that semester were all female, and I must say the subject was approached by the teacher with caution and some fear and trembling. One class session we started by listening to George Strait’s “The Chair” and went from there. 

For quite a few weeks, we’ve been studying themes from Ephesians, a small book in the New Testament. Two thousand years ago, the apostle Paul wrote letters to new churches in Asia Minor wrestling with marriage, family and other interpersonal relationships. Now in June 2019 – and us having two close family members going through recent divorces - this subject seems even more important. 

An ancient scripture provides the foundation for each scenario. “Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?” (Amos 3:3). Believers’ relationships are different from any outside the faith. As Christians, both parties learn to subordinate themselves to the highest authority, God. Before Him, we are all equal and all must learn to obey. We believe all will be judged, and we live accountable to the future. There’s also the practical argument of what’s “right” or “good”. 

The first section of Scripture (Ephesians 5:22-33) deals with relationships between husband and wife. I came across a humorous quote: “Marriage is psychological – one is psycho and one is logical; now please don’t try to figure out who is who.” We can joke, but conflicts are inevitable, and learning to be proactive will help transform and reconcile marital partners. 

Paul’s writings are specific, and we shouldn’t make the first verses in chapter 5 apply to all women being submissive to all men, or indicate that females are inferior to males. The passage does, however, give a blueprint for marriage where a wife – whose husband loves her like Christ loves the church – looks to him for the last word. As each submits his or her own wants and desires to the other, out of reverence for Christ, the outcome is guaranteed to be mutually beneficial. 

We can’t pretend to be experts on marriage, but after fifty years my wife and I have become complementary parts of a whole. Our hope in churches is that older couples will come alongside young married people to act, not just as role models, but to actively help them find harmony. 

In Ephesians chapter 5, Paul wrote three verses pertaining to wives, while nine are for husbands. A man patterning himself after Christ will be self-giving and most concerned about his wife’s dignity and well-being. He will try his best to help her bloom and grow, sometimes nudging, encouraging, always sustaining and caring for her. A smart guy will realize that his wife is not external and separate, but she is a part of himself – so everything we as husbands do affects our family life. 

In the next section, Ephesians 6:1-4, Paul established principles that will be wholesome and satisfying for the entire family. Most of us as parents know what will exasperate our children, or “provoke them to wrath” as the King James reads. Obedience is key for the child, and nurturing and kindness by parents will lead children to an honorable life. Present-day Americans chafe at terms such as authority, structure, order and control, but the lack of each is one reason things seem so chaotic in our world. 

Finally, Paul addressed the subject of slaves and masters. During the Roman period, there may have been as many as 60 million slaves. Hopefully no one reading this sees himself as a slave in the workplace, yet we do have a responsibility to our employer and even more to God. Should we ever find ourselves in a supervisory position, the letter to the Ephesians can help us be a better boss through tolerance and nonthreatening management of each employee. 

Before each of our roles as husband or wife, parent or child, employee or manager, the most important consideration is to be Christlike. The behaviors developed with the Spirit’s help affect relationships in our family, our workplace, and the church. “In Christ” each of us can find dignity, equality and unity in every interpersonal relationship. 

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