Family Bible Study lesson for May 9: Loving Spouses : Friday, April 16, 2004
April 16 2004 by Vic Ramsey

Family Bible Study lesson for May 9: Loving Spouses : Friday, April 16, 2004
Friday, April 16, 2004

Family Bible Study lesson for May 9: Loving Spouses

By Vic Ramsey
Focal Passages: 1 Corinthians 7:1-6; Ephesians 5:22-25,28-33

There's nothing uniquely Christian about marriage. After all, almost everybody gets married. However, when Christians marry, we bring our unique understanding of life, love and faith to this most intimate of relationships.

Love and Respect

Ephesians 5:22-33

Verses 22-33 are governed by verse 21: "Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ." The verb "submit" literally means "to place under, to yield to," and implies "a readiness to renounce one's own will for the sake of others." It is used in a variety of settings: the submission of all creation to Christ, the submission of citizens to governing authorities, and so on. The word may be used of forced submission, but in most instances, the submission is voluntary.

Verses 22-24 concern the responsibility of wives. For women, particularly women whose husbands are not believers, the temptation would be to rebel against the husband's authority. Paul instructs wives to yield to their husbands "in everything." Modeled after the relationship between Christ and the church, Paul argues that the proper response of the gospel is voluntary submission.

If women would be tempted to rebel against authority, men would be tempted to abuse it. Paul argues that the responsibility of husbands is modeled after the relationship between Christ and the church: husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church, and "gave himself up for her." Paul further argues that a husband should treat his wife with the same care and tenderness with which he treats his own body.

He summarizes by saying that wives should respect their husbands and husbands should love their wives. While Paul uses different words, there is but one thought - husbands and wives are to live together in mutual and reciprocal submission.

The first century household was organized around a pattern of male dominance. How that translates today is an issue we all wrestle with. Paul does not give specific and universal guidance as to who works and who doesn't, which duties are the husband's and which are the wife's, or even how decisions are made between them.

What is clear is that selfishness is utterly foreign to a marriage between Christians. Selfishness is acid to our union and poison to our common life.

Sexual Exclusiveness

1 Corinthians 7:1-2

In 1 Corinthians, Paul speaks to a series of issues the church had raised in a letter they had sent to Paul. Among them was a question about sex and marriage.

The sentence: "It is good for a man not to have relations with a woman" may be Paul's own words, but more likely is a quote from the church's letter. The word "have relations" ("touch," KJV) is a euphemism for sexual intercourse.

It is unclear whether the issue is marriage per se, or a misguided desire to abstain from sexual relations within marriage. Regardless, Paul's response is that, due to the strength of sexual desire, and the need to avoid immorality, "each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband."

Sex requires an exclusive, enduring relationship. Only within the confines of such a sturdy relationship can sex function between a man and a woman as God intended.

Some view sex merely as recreation, and think Paul's instruction are outdated and old-fashioned. However, even among non-believers, sexual betrayal is universally greeted with shock, anger and bitterness. Adultery may make interesting TV, but in real life it is always tragedy.

Marital Intimacy

1 Corinthians 7:3-6

Marriage is, at its base, a sexual relationship. The Bible expresses this in the phrase "the two become one flesh."

In verses 3 and 4, Paul instructs husbands and wives not to neglect each other sexually. Boldly, he declares that in the bedroom both the husband and the wife have a reciprocal obligation to meet each other's needs. Naturally, this does not mean that a partner is obliged to fulfill our every fantasy. What we ask for, and how we ask, is just as much an expression of love as the physical act itself.

Couples have sex to express love, to make up, to forgive, to play, to conceive a child, to reassure, to grieve and to celebrate. The marriage bed should be marked by generosity, by sensitivity to each other's needs, and by a mutual celebration of the couple's love.

4/16/2004 12:00:00 AM by Vic Ramsey | with 0 comments

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