In the beginning we see God creating life. He started with the heavens, the planets, the plants and animals, and then, finally with people. Isaiah 43:7 says he did this for his glory. God received glory by creating people. This comes to him because people make him famous through various means. We praise him, thank him, give him credit for what he’s done, we imitate him, agree with him, walk like him, talk like him, obey him, and strive to please him in all we do and say. God had a plan in creating mankind—to receive glory.
But you say, “Why does he not?” Because the LORD was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. “For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the LORD, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the LORD of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.” (Mal 2:14-16)
Our text says that God also has a plan for our children, his children, that they be godly. But our sin messes up God’s plan for our children. The text also says that our unfaithfulness to our wives and husbands is directly tied to the fact that our children are not godly. It uses words like faithless, divorce, and violence. Sin has always gotten in the way of God’s plan for his people. When we look around and see children being rebellious, hating God and hating one another, we can attribute that directly to the fact that they don’t have godly parents.
Belief in Jesus’ death and resurrection and all that that entails changes everything. It puts us back into a position where we can live the kinds of lives we were created to live. Jesus’ death and resurrection clears the deck for a new life. It doesn’t automatically fix life, it makes it possible for new life to begin; or for life to begin again with a clean start. It takes away the guilt and shame of having lived a life without purpose and in rebellion. It makes us one with God, the God of the universe, and it gives us a new platform to start again.
God’s Plan: Godly Offspring:
God’s plan has always been to have godly offspring. This included Adam and Eve and all of their children, which of course includes our children. He wants us all to be godly. Again, this is so that he will gain glory, fame, and honor in creation. In our text God connects godly offspring to godly parents and this in logical turn moves us back to godly husbands and wives and then further back to godly individuals. At the end of the day we agree with Paul when he tells us that whatever we do, do all to the glory of God. (1 Cor 10:31). When we, as individuals, walk with God—working, playing, living in accord with God’s decrees and standards—we are fulfilling God’s desire of being godly offspring. But we need to go one step further. We aren’t just disconnected individuals, who happen to live with other people in the same house. Our text specifically connects godly children to our being godly husbands and wives.
If we want to fulfill God’s plan we need to come up with a plan of our own. We need to begin with planning to be godly husbands and wives. We’ll start with husbands because 1 Corinthians 11:3 tells us that the husband is the head of the wife. This means, among other things, that he is the leader, the initiator, the big kahoona. There are many men, who upon hearing what I just said think I’ve just said that men are the boss of the wives, or of women in general. But wait a minute and see if that’s what you think I’ve said when I’m finished. That’s what an ungodly Christian husband looks like. What does a godly husband look like?
Representing Christ to the Home by imitating him:
The first thing I want to point out is that in 1 Corinthians 11:3 the man being the head of the wife is akin to Christ being the head of the man. This means that the man must be the same kind of leader to his wife as Christ is leader to the man. Phil. 2:5-8 says,
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Christ is the kind of leader who leads from the bottom and from the front. He is an example and a servant, not a pusher and a boss. Jesus is humble and kind, not mean spirited and coercive.
In line with this Paul told husbands in Ephesians 5:23 to love their wives like Christ loved the church, and gave himself up for her. So, husbands, give yourselves up for your wives. Lay aside your goals, dreams, hobbies, and desires if they keep you from loving your wife as Christ loved the church. Pray for her (1 Pet. 3:7-8). Consider her more important than yourself (Phil 2:3). Treat her as a valuable and infinitely fragile piece of very expensive pottery (1 Pet 3:7). Work hard to study her so that you understand her (1 Pet. 3:7). Make her life a joy, love her, care for her, nurture her, praise her (Pro. 31:31), make her the joyous mother of children (Psa. 113:9).
Likewise wives are given directions. In Ephesians, Paul tells wives to submit to their husbands as to the Lord (5:22-24). This is because Christ is the head of the church, which is his body, of which he is the savior. The text goes on to talk about the relationship between the husband and the wife is very much like the relationship between Christ and the church. Notice the covenantal language that links the wife’s salvation to the husband. This is a mystery, but it is still clear that relationship between the husband and the wife is tied to salvation. So wives are to submit to their husbands, as unto the Lord.
What if their husband is a fathead? You so politely ask? Peter answers that question when he says,
Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. Do not let your adorning be external– the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear—but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening (1 Pet. 3:1-6)
Notice three things about this text: 1) the likewise at the beginning. A wife can’t submit to God in this command, nor to her husband unless or until she is imitating Christ as he is presented in the second chapter. 2) Notice the fact that the text assumes her husband is in sin. This is exactly what you just asked about. “What if the husband is a fathead?” Verses 3-6 is not explaining how you are treat your husband when all is great, it is how you are to treat your husband if all is not great. 3) when a wife applies this text with the attitude the context requires, this is an aggressive action of the part of the wife. It is not a laid back, submissive, let him walk on me attitude. It is a spiritual attack on a sinful man. It does two things; it takes the wife out of the equation, leaving the man with no excuses for his sinful behavior and it pours burning coals on his head (Rom. 12:20)—thus driving him to Christ.
One other short note. Wives are required not only to submit to their husbands but also to respect them (Eph. 5:33, 34). Husbands loving wives gives the wives what they need. Wives respecting husbands, which is what real submission is, is giving him what he needs.
God has a plan for creation—to receive all glory and honor. Part of this plan is fulfilled when his desire for godly offspring is fulfilled. He gains godly offspring when parents are godly and live godly lives together in front of and with their children. When children see their parents loving one another like Christ and his church love one another they are covenantally caught up in that relationship and in turn they learn to love one another and their future spouses with that same kind of love. So, love one another. Lay down your lives for one another. Submit to one another in love, wives by submitting to your husbands, husbands loving your wife and treating her like you understand her eternal value. Have a plan.