MARTIN CHEMNITZ DOCTRINAL BULLETIN
A MIGHTY FORTRESS LUTHERAN CHURCH
Pastor Gregory L. Jackson, Ph.D.
6421 W. Poinsettia Drive
Phoenix, Arizona 85304-2419
Ephesians 5:22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. 24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. 29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: 30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. 31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
KJV Ephesians 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. 2 Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;) 3 That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth. 4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
GOD CREATED THE FAMILY
The Creation of the universe by God can be viewed in terms of the natural world, as well as government, the Church, and the family. Government, church, and family are called the created orders, because God intended that our society would be harmonized by the structures He instituted.
Although this concept is almost entirely forgotten, it remains true. All government comes from God and provides relative justice and peace, as we can see from times of anarchy, when people murder, loot, and rape at will. In contrast, even a police state is better and more just.
The foundation of all society is the family. God created the family with certain assumptions. They are no different from the owner’s manual of a car, but they are aimed at a much higher purpose. God only plans what is good for us, so His gracious will is that we enjoy His presence now and in eternity. God will not stop being God, so those who rebel against God will make Him their enemy now and be vanquished in eternity.
When the apostle addresses children, he teaches that the Fourth Commandment is the first one associated with a promise. Honor your father and mother, and your life will be pleasant and long. This applies to all figures of authority. Only in Hollywood films can someone fight authority and come out well. In real life, respect for teachers, police officers, and parents will earn unexpected dividends.
I had the chance to hear a teenaged girl when she came home from school. She shouted how she told off her teacher and then the dean in no uncertain terms. I suggested that being polite and respectful would be more effective. This only got her more excited. She declared in the grossest terms what she would do to the dean. All I could imagine was a constant battle where all her energy would be drained by anger, resentment, hurt feelings, and the physical effects of stress. Many angry teens then look for various kinds of escape, mostly destructive.
When children are disrespectful, it is a mark against them. If they are old enough to talk, they are old enough to talk politely. If they are strong enough to throw down clothes, they are physically fit to pick them up as well. The key is not in doing only what is necessary, (the Law) but in finding happiness in serving (the Gospel).
That is the challenge of growing up, to move from total self-love (the tantrum) to self-denial. Parents must be patient in teaching their children to think about the needs of others. In doing so, we are following the example and command of Christ. Jesus said,
Matthew 16:24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
For children to have a chance in this world, they need to know the truths of the Bible. For that they need spiritual leaders, mother, father, grandparents, ministers. Not every child can enjoy the whole constellation at this time, but people can substitute for others.
We can see that there is an almost complete breakdown in God’s created order. The Holy Spirit teaches, through Paul, that wives should be subject to their husbands. Or, as I often told my wife and son, one bad general is better than two good ones. One major step in destroying the family came when liberals began attacking Paul for being anti-female, turning his words into a joke. Once a rebellious attitude is set up and encouraged, the normal level of conflicts between men and women will be raised to thermo-nuclear levels.
I saw one example when a wife was furious with her husband because he did not obey her in running the farm the way she thought it should be run. He was a former professor of agriculture and perhaps knew something about farming.
But this is not only a problem of ego, but also of misunderstanding. There are two types of people in the world, as Andy Rooney has noted. As and Bs.
1. As balance the checkbook. Bs cannot.
2. As arrive at the airport one hour early. Bs run down the hall at the last minute.
3. As roll the toothpaste tube from the bottom and cap it. Bs push it out the top and leave the cap on the bathroom floor, where it fell.
4. As fill up the ice-cube trays. Bs let As fill them up.
As always marry Bs. (I have tested groups and this is consistently true.) The differences that attract become the annoying characteristics of a lifetime.
However, we can learn from the dandelion and grass if we cannot read the Scriptures. The dandelion grows a long taproot in one place and spreads through seed. Grass has shallow roots and spreads through stolons. No one has ever gotten rid of dandelions. They bloom all over America every spring. But dandelions are also grown commercially, for wine, for rabbit food, and for salad greens. The biggest problem is that grass invades dandelion patches.
Why is that so? Grass and dandelions grow well together because they are different and actually help each other. The dandelion taproot punches a hole in the soil, for earthworms and rain. Grass thrives in a high nitrogen soil and sheds a lot of organic matter, making the sod a wonderful place for dandelions.
Husbands and wives, as opposites in personality traits, can be successful in all areas of life, from raising children to business. When men make partnerships, we often see that one is an accountant type and the other is a salesman, or one is an engineer and the other is a businessman. Male partnerships seldom last, because of the personality differences and the refusal to live with differences. In a Christian marriage, these annoying differences can be seen as a strength rather than a weakness.
If there is an atmosphere of confession and absolution, of contrition and forgiveness, a marriage will become stronger through working out differences. Without forgiveness, no one can associate together. We cannot even have friendship without forgiveness, let alone a marriage.
Forgiveness comes through Christ alone. We always need to remember that He died on the cross because of our sinfulness, our pride, our self-involvement, our rebellion against the Ten Commandments. In Luther’s sermons we find a consistent message repeated. First of all, that the treasure of forgiveness was created by the atoning death of Christ, since His innocent blood paid for the sins of the world. Secondly, this treasure can do no one any good unless it is preached, or distributed through the proclamation of the Word. When the promises of God are proclaimed, they create faith through the power of the Holy Spirit working in the Word. Faith, created by God, receives the forgiveness or treasure offered by God. Those who refuse to believe the promises do not receive the blessings of the Gospel, forgiveness, eternal life, and all the fruits of the Spirit.
Husbands in America have failed their families to an amazing degree, because they have refused to be the spiritual leaders of their households. The longest section in this epistle is devoted to the men.
Notice the lack of “ifs.” It does not say “Love your wife if she buys you a shotgun, never shops, and quietly leaves the room during the football season.” Husbands love your wives is a direct and clear command, followed by Gospel motivation. Marriage makes a husband and wife one flesh; therefore, one cannot hate his wife, or he would be hating himself. In fact, those who hate their partners or treat them with contempt and scorn are in open defiance of God’s Word. (I have only seen one wedding where God’s Word was absent.)
The love exemplified is not romantic love, but the love Christ has for the church. Once again we see the miraculous unity of the Bible. This reference reminds us of Jesus at the Wedding of Cana in John 2, and what John the Baptist said:
John 3:29 He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled.
And the picture of the New Jerusalem:
Revelation 21:2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
Jesus as the bridegroom
Matthew 9:15 And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from them, and then shall they fast.
Matthew 25:1 Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.
Jesus has given all husbands the highest possible ideal to follow, to love their wives as Christ loves the Church. This does not exclude romantic love in marriage. It is the foundation for self-less love, for romantic love, and for the best wool of the sheep, children born of that love.
Our son’s godfather is in his 50s and has earned two doctorates from Yale. He has served as as adjunct professor at Harvard. He has published in noted journals and worked in famous scientific labs. But he was proud to the point of bursting at the birth of his son a few weeks ago. Whatever joy one might have in life, nothing is greater than having a child.
Paul’s lesson can be summarized very easily because it is so clearly stated. The Holy Spirit commands what does not come so easily to our sinful nature. Wives tend to be loving by nature, so Paul does not command them to be loving in this place. They are told to subordinate themselves to their husbands, and not be like the Dow Corporate wife who said, “I don’t care what you do. I never want to leave this house.”
This is top-secret and not known to liberal feminists and the spineless men who liberated them: feminine women have far more influence over their husbands than Amazons do. They are also far happier and enjoy a great sense of peace and harmony.
Children are commanded to obey their parents. That does not mean to be dragged along the way a dog is dragged to his bath, moaning and whimpering, but to follow parental wishes cheerfully, and seek out other things to do without being asked.
Husbands are not commanded to be commanders, but to show a Christ-like love and tenderness, toward their wives and toward their children (not provoking them to anger). This Gospel attitude will bring so many rewards that no one can count them all, not so much in avoiding all trouble, but in turning problems into blessings.
We saw a 25 year old handicapped man, who was more like a boy in many ways. He had the same little smile on his face as we talked and laughed around him, reminding us of our daughters enjoying and participating in a conversation with their smiles. An unbeliever looks at weakness, sickness, and trouble and says, “Get me out of here.” A believers says, “All things work together for the good for those who love God.” (Romans 8)
God puts us in families to honor His Name and to receive forgiveness through the Word and through the visible Word of the Lord’s Supper. Nothing destroys relationships faster than people pretending to be perfect. Nothing draws people together better than knowing we need to be forgiven, receiving forgiveness through Christ, and practicing that forgiveness.