Excerpt on Marriage from the book, Counter Culture, by David Platt

Posted: March 9, 2015 in Current Events

In the picture of marriage, God intends to portray Christ’s love for the church and the church’s love for Christ on the canvas of human culture. So how is this picture portrayed? The Bible explains, saying, “The husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.” Moreover, “as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands” (Ephesians 5: 23-24). In other words, God designs husbands to be a reflection of Christ’s love for the church in the way they relate to their wives, and God designs wives to be a reflection of the church’s love for Christ in the way they relate to their husbands. But talk about countercultural! Or maybe more aptly put, talk about politically incorrect! The husband is the head of his wife? Wives should submit to their husbands? Are you serious? God is serious, and he is good. In our limited understanding, we hear words and phrases like the ones in Ephesians 5, and we recoil in disgust. But if we pause for just a moment to consider the picture of marriage from a gospel perspective, our reaction may be different. When the Bible says that “the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church,” we immediately need to ask the question, “What does it mean for Christ to be the head of the church?” The Bible answers that question by saying, “Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her to make her holy, cleansing her with the washing of water by the word. He did this to present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or anything like that, but holy and blameless” (Ephesians 5: 25-27, HCSB). What a breathtaking picture. For Christ to be the head of the church is for Christ to give everything he has for the good of the church. Christ takes responsibility for the beauty of his bride, ready to lay aside his rights and willing to lay down his life for the sake of her splendor. So this is who God has designed a husband to be: a man who gives everything he has for the good of his wife. A man who takes responsibility for the beauty of his bride, ready to lay aside his rights and willing to lay down his life for the sake of her splendor. God has designed a husband to be the head of his wife like this so that in a husband’s love for his wife, the world might see a picture of Christ’s love for his people.

Likewise, “as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands” (Ephesians 5: 24). As soon as we hear the word submission alongside the previous picture of headship, we immediately think in terms of inferiority and superiority, subordination and domination. But that’s nowhere close to what the Bible means with these terms. As we’ve already seen, God made clear from the start that men and women are equal in dignity, value, and worth. Submission is not about denigrating the value of another’s life. Instead, this biblical word means to yield to another in love. Such submission throughout Scripture is a wonderful, if not inevitable, component of human relationships. I am a dad, for example, with four children . They are in a position of submission in their relationship to me (though they unfortunately don’t always acknowledge it!). But this is a good position for them as I love, lead, serve, protect, and provide for them. Their submission to me in no way implies that I am superior to them. Instead, their submission shows that they trust my love for them.

This, then, is what the Bible means when it talks about the church submitting to Christ. As followers of Christ in the church, we are in a position of submission to Christ. Is this a bad thing? Certainly not. It’s a great thing! Christ loves, leads, serves, protects, and provides for us, and we gladly submit to him in the context of close relationship with him. God has designed marriage to display this relationship. God desires people to know that following him is not a matter of begrudging subordination to a domineering deity. God longs for people to know that following him is a matter of glad submission to a loving Lord. So he calls a wife to submit to the loving leadership of a husband who lays down his life for her good. And as this portrait of marriage is portrayed all around the world, God shows men and women that he can be trusted to lead them by his love.

This is why biblical marriage is worth defending in the face of cultural redefinition , and this is why biblical marriage is worth displaying even when it may mean cultural confrontation. For God established marriage at the beginning of creation to be one of the primary means by which he illustrates the gospel before a watching world. As husbands sacrifice their lives for the sake of their wives—loving, leading, serving, protecting, and providing for them—the world will get a glimpse of God’s grace. Sinners will see that Christ has gone to a cross where he has suffered, bled, and died for them, that they might experience eternal salvation through submission to him. They will also see in a wife’s relationship to her husband that such submission is not a burden to bear. Onlookers will observe a wife joyfully and continually experiencing her husband’s sacrificial love for her and then gladly and spontaneously submitting in selfless love to him. In this visible representation of the gospel, the world will realize that following Christ is not a matter of duty. Instead , it is a means to full, eternal, and absolute delight.

Platt, David (2015-02-03). Counter Culture: A Compassionate Call to Counter Culture in a World of Poverty, Same-Sex Marriage, Racism, Sex Slavery, Immigration, Abortion, Persecution, Orphans and Pornography (pp. 138-143). Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

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