The Roles God Calls Us To

Ingrained in Christian marriage is the expectation that the husband will lead and the wife will submit.

Ephesians 5:21-23 –And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord.  For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church.

I have to admit that I still prickle at the verse. As a woman that grew up climbing trees, playing Little League baseball with the boys, and attending a male dominated engineering school, I have to remind myself that this verse is not about holding women back. The verse is about bringing order to human relationships and about loving each other by denying ourselves.  And even though the verse prickles me, deep down I want my husband to lead. In fact, it is a real turn on for my husband to lead, and I constantly hear other women say the same thing.

Wives want their husband to lead spiritually by praying over them and encouraging their walk with God. They want them to lead the family by protecting them, setting up healthy boundaries, and through active involvement raising the kids. They also want them to lead as lovers by pursuing them, planning awesome dates and even by their sureness in the marriage bed.

Women often express their dismay at the lack of leadership their husband takes in their marriage.  But honestly, this is a two-way street. How can a husband lead unless we let them?

Letting my husband lead does not come naturally.  I always seem to have a better idea about everything, but I am learning that sometimes the little things make a huge difference. For instance, when my husband drives somewhere, I don’t have to question his route. I can relax and enjoy the scenery on a new path.

Many women share, that they just wish their husband would plan a date. I remember having the sudden realization that maybe my husband always delegated decisions for our dates, because I had spent years sharing my “better ideas.” Whenever he would plan something, I would say, “well, I would really rather go to ….” And then we did.

I had to repent, and say, “I am sorry for always having a better idea. I want you to plan things that you think we would enjoy. I promise I will be thrilled with whatever you plan. “

It is not that he always has to decide where we go. Recently I planned an overnight getaway for the two of us and it was awesome. But when my husband makes the plans, I don’t need to second guess him, I just get to enjoy it. If you want your husband to lead, if you want him to plan a date, then you have to let him. And you have to thoroughly enjoy it – even if you end up laughing together about a unique adventure like this.

Men leading and women submitting, really does not make a lot of sense.

Husbands are great at focusing on one thing, letting go, being spontaneous and not worrying – and God calls them to lead.

Women are great at multitasking, controlling things, making plans, and seeing the big picture – and God calls us to submit.

I think God calls us to one of the hardest things we will ever do, and I can only come to one conclusion…

God wants us to learn what does not come naturally so that we realize we cannot do this on our own, but we must depend on Him.

Come to Me

God woos us. He calls us to come to Him. To lay down our burdens and our worries and to find Him with arms open wide. He doesn’t force us. He doesn’t manipulate us. He doesn’t barter with us. He just says “Come”.

  • Rev 3:20 – Here I am. I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.
  • Psalm 23:6 – Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.
  • Matthew 11:28 – “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

God loves us, even in our sin.  He loves us even if we ignore Him, or reject Him. He loves us though we forget him or get distracted. He loves us no matter what.

Romans 5:8 says, But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.

God gives us free will to choose. He could have forced us to love him. He could have forced us to serve him. He could have commanded us to bow down in worship. He could have made us into robots to do his will – but He doesn’t. He wants us to choose Him. He wants us to Come to Him.

So, if we are supposed to love our spouse like Christ loved the church then…

We must love our spouse even when they are not having sex with us. We must connect with them emotionally and serve them. We must forgive them over and over and extend grace to them. Loving them cannot be conditional on how they are loving us.

For years, my husband wooed me even when we were not having much sex. He served me by helping with the kids and the house. He rubbed my tired feet and massaged the tension out of my back. He held my hand and worshiped beside me. He took me out on dates and when we did have sex, my enjoyment always came before his. My husband loved me well even when I was not loving him well. He wooed me and one day I woke up.

Our spouse has free will. We cannot force them to want sex with us or to enjoy it. Coercing and bartering will only lead to resentment and bitterness. Guilting them into having sex because of your needs will not satisfy the deep longing in your soul for connection.

Woo them…

Song of Songs 2:10 –  Come away with me, my fair one!

 

ASK

Sometimes the burden feels so heavy because there is so much brokeness and so little truth about sex- and then I remember that God does the heavy lifting. 

Matthew 7:7 – Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. 

And so I am asking you to join me in prayer for 4 specific things.

Pray for God to raise up women warriors to speak the truth about sexuality…Whether sharing with a friend, facilitating an Awaken-Love class, or starting their own ministry, I am asking that God would light a fire of urgency in sharing God’s truth about sex.

Pray for church leaders to wake up to the need for wholeness in sexuality… Pray for pastors to be equipped with good resources. Pray for open doors to share about Awaken-Love and the impact it has made in marriages. Pray for opportunities for you to share what you have learned on your own journey.

Pray for Godly men to rise up to lead…I believe that an important part of turning the tide about sexuality is men rising up to become protectors of women. Men taking a stance against sexualizing girls to sell products, men showing other men how to live without lusting,  men speaking about the dangers of pornography, and husbands learning to articulate the truth about sex in loving ways to their wife.

Pray for everyone involved in pornography…From kids, men and women that daily battle to stay pure, to actors whose past wounds led them to involvement, to the film crews, stage hands and set designers that make a living somehow numb to what they are creating, to the producers caught in a money trap. Pray that God would wake them up to what they are doing and that He would show them what is good and true and pure, and that God would provide a way out.

Fervently ASK God to do the impossible

and when He does

give Him all the Glory. 

 

It’s About the Heart

God has always been more concerned with our heart than with our actions.

  • Matthew 5:8 – God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God.
  • Proverbs 23:26 – Give me your heart. May your eyes take delight in following my ways.
  • Joel 2:12-13 – …Give me your hearts…Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead.
  • Matthew 15:8 – These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.

God wants our heart. He wants us to fall head over heels in love with Him and when we do, our actions flow out of that.

I spent years trying to do the right things – going to church, studying the bible, serving – and it wasn’t until I stopped striving and just fell crazy in love with God that I really got it. God loves me so much, no matter what I do. Because He loves me, all I want to do is know Him more. I talk to Him, I go where He sends me, and I lay down what He asks me to lay down. I run to Him when I am broken. I worship Him because I must, and I cannot imagine my life without Him.

Based on Ephesians 5:31-32, if our sex life mirrors our relationship with God…

Then sex is not about going thru the motions, but it is about the heart!

I cannot tell you how many marriage books I’ve read that say, “you need to do it for your husband.” As if our husband wants us to just go through the motions – to show up and take care of his physical needs.

Honestly, I don’t think husbands are any different than God. I think they are much more interested in our heart, then in us going thru the motions. As Jim and I have taught Awaken-Love Men’s Edition, I have been struck by the singular message that men do not want their wife to just show up for sex. They want them to be engaged, to desire connection and to enjoy sex as much as they do. They want sex to flow out of their wife’s heart.We have to understand that sex is much more than a physical urge.

Sex is a way that we express what is in our heart.

Naked and Unashamed

Sex in marriage is supposed to be a little taste of what God intended in the Garden of Eden  –  To Be Naked and Unashamed.

God created us for intimacy – to be fully known – to Him and to our spouse. Because Jesus died for our sins and paid the price, we can have a face to face relationship with God, but it is not easy.

I spent years trying to follow the rules, do the right thing, and take care of myself. I also spent years afraid to fail, say the wrong thing, or really show who I was. When I finally understood just how broken I was, how incapable of doing anything on my own and how much I needed a savior, I was released from the burden of trying to be perfect. I was set free – to fail, to let God work through me, to cry out to Him and to be myself. I let God fully know me and it has allowed me to be naked and unashamed with Him and with others.

But just like we are supposed to be Naked and Unashamed with God, we are supposed to be Naked and unashamed in marriage.

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Hidden Struggles

You cannot always tell how people are doing, or what kind of shape their marriage is in.

I remember more than one marriage at church that imploded and nobody had a clue until one spouse completely threw in the towel.

A few months ago we received this letter from a women that participated in an Awaken-Love Class.

When I was asked to be apart of a 6-week Awaken Love class, I thought to myself what in the world was God thinking! Turns out he knew what he was doing. My marriage of 24 years was on the brink of divorce. There wasn’t any thing that was going to change my mind, I was done. During this class, I learned a lot about how much God loves marriage and how much he’s involved in our marriage beds. I will forever be grateful for the class and the other 6 women, who have become sweet friends. I cherish the time we shared together. The books are awesome too. I plan to read them from front to back. Oh and by the way, my husband was disappointed when the 6 weeks was over. He looked forward to each weeks homework. Our intimacy, our sex life, our love for each other has grown. He told me just this morning that we’re making love more now than ever before. We have both been changed.
Thank you again from the bottom of my heart,

This woman had been involved in church and marriage ministry for years, and my guess is that few people knew what was really going on in her life.

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Getting Away

Getting Away feeds our souls.

It was important to Jesus, it is important to us as individuals, and it is important to our marriage.

Jesus made it a habit to get away by himself and pray…

Luke 5:15-16 ….vast crowds came to hear him preach and to be healed of their diseases. But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.

In the midst of busyness, serving others and feeling overwhelmed Jesus escaped to find refreshment with his Father. He knew that in order to care for others, He had to care for himself by communing with God. He withdrew to quiet places where no one could find him. Places without the distraction of the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Places where no schedule existed and no phone rang. Jesus withdrew alone. He did not take his disciples – not even Peter, James or John. He knew that true communion happened when it was just Him and His father and sometimes He even spent all night praying.  I think these moments of solitude with God fed his soul so that He could pour himself out again.

Have you ever gotten away with God? Extended time, free from the noise of life, where just you and God exist. It might have been a solitude retreat, a day in bed, 15 minutes of quiet or a hike through the woods. God speaks so clearly when the noise is gone. Time with God leaves me refreshed to be a better mom, wife and friend,  and I could not do ministry without it.

If intimacy in marriage mirrors intimacy with Christ…

Then it is important for us to have times where we as a couple withdraw to a quiet place to commune.

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