That Might Work for You, But Not My Marriage

“BGR, (my wife and I refer to you as Bigger Guy, phonetically pronounced), Just a word of encouragement, we decided over a year ago to switch the dynamic of our marriage to a more Biblical approach. Your blog has inspired a lot of the changes that we have implemented. We were “happily married partners” for many years. Since the change, our marriage has grown and flourished like never before.

I lead a men’s ministry at our church and have been trying to slowly introduce this way of thinking into my curriculum. (Biblical way of thinking I might add.) I have had many great comments about it but I have had one comment that left me dumbfounded. “That might work for you, but not my marriage.” So, God’s way isn’t the right way? We (I mean Bible believing churches) have swallowed the world and Satan’s lies about equality to the point of reading the Bible and ignoring it. Especially Titus 2.

Long and short, you are doing a great job. Thank you. We who believe as you have a long uphill battle before us. But we should not grow weary in doing good.”

What you just read was a recent comment I received from a man calling himself “AscendedHusband”.

First of all, I just want to say thank you to AscendedHusband for your prayers and your encouragement.  I can truly say that when I receive these kinds of comments and emails God is using people like yourself to pour courage into me to continue to preach the word in a time when Christians “will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears” (2 Timothy 4:3).

And we need men like you, both in their own marriages and families as well as in church ministries in which they work to reintroduce the Biblical doctrines concerning gender roles that have been neglected for so many years.  This really must be a grass roots movement.  And when enough families join together in each local church, they can take back our local churches from the feminism that has poisoned them for so many decades.

And now in regard to the comment you mentioned from someone in your men’s ministry group that left you “dumbfounded”.  Below is a story I wrote to illustrate why the “That might work for you, but not my marriage” response to Biblical gender roles in marriage is wrong.

A Tale of Two Home Builders

A wealthy land owner comes to two builders.  He has already laid the foundation for two homes.  He presents them with the requirements for building materials that must be used and rules for how they must build.

The first rule is that they may only build on the foundation that he has already laid and they cannot add to it or take away from it.  The second rule is that they must build the home with uncut stones and grind up limestones and mix that with water and dirt to make the mortar.

Beyond the building materials, he leaves them with the basic requirements that the home must have a door, at least two windows, a kitchen, a living room and of course a bedroom.

He gives the builders freedom within these requirements to build for him the most beautiful homes they can.

The wealthy land owner says he is going on a long journey and will not return for three years.  He tells the two builders they are free to live in the homes they build for him until he returns.  And when he returns, he will judge their work.  He says each of their homes must pass a test that he will reveal when he returns.  If their home passes his test, they will receive great reward and honor.  If it does not pass his test, their shame will be upon their own head.

The first builder decides that stone homes are out of fashion. And it would be grueling and time-consuming work to lift and carry all those heavy stones. He reasoned that wood homes were much more in fashion and would take only a fraction of the time to build.  He would use that time savings to add more rooms to make the home more attractive.

The first builder finishes his home in only six months.  And it is a beautiful wood home.  He built not only a kitchen, living room and bedroom, but he also made a large dining room as well as a family room.  Of course, to build these extra rooms he had to add to the foundation that was already laid to make the house bigger.  But he was sure the wealthy land owner wouldn’t mind the few “minor” deviations he made from the building requirements.

The first builder is very impressed with the home he has built and he moves his family into this new home and throws great celebrations each week with his family and friends to show them the beauty of this home.

The second builder was not even half way through building his home when the first builder finished his. The second builder had set out to build the home following the express requirements of the wealthy land owner.  He searched for the best uncut stones to build with and limestone that he could grind and mix with dirt to form the mortar.

The first builder who had finished his wood home came to mock the second builder.  He told him how he was working too hard and his home was out of fashion.  “No one is building these stone homes anymore; you need to get with the times and build a wood home like me.  It is easier, faster and more attractive.”

But the second builder continued in his work.  His aim was to please the landowner who had contracted him to build this house. He built a door for the home using a stone that could be rolled away.  He built shutters from stone that could slide to and from the windows.  He only built a living room, kitchen and bedroom as required and he did not add one inch to the foundation that had already been laid. The second builder faced great difficulty in building a stone roof for his home but eventually the home was completed after two years at which time he moved his family into the home he had built.

One year later, after three years of being away, the wealthy land owner returned to test the homes that the two builders had built.

He came to the first builder’s wood home.  The wealthy landowner took note that the foundation had been added to.   “Why have you added to the foundation I laid?” he asked.  The first builder said “So I could build you a better home of course.  I added a beautiful family room and dining room”.  The land owner then asked “Why did you not use stone as I asked?” to which the first builder replied “Because wood homes are what everyone now builds.  It is more beautiful than stone and is able to be built which much less effort”. The first builder asked the wealthy land owner “Can I show you the inside of the house, I think you will find it very pleasing?” to which he replied “No – your home must first be tested before I will enter it”.

The wealthy land owner then took torch oil and spread it all over the four outer walls of the first builder’s wood home.  The first builder protested “why are you spreading torch oil all over the home I have built for you?” to which the land owner replied “To test it as I told you I would”.  He then lit the torch oil on fire.  The wood home was immediately engulfed in flames and the home quickly burned to the ground. The first builder screamed in agony “Why have you done this? Why have you destroyed what I have built for you?” to which the wealthy land owner responded “Why did you not follow my instructions?” He continued “If you would have followed my instructions your home would have passed my test and you would have received great honor and reward from me.  Now you have escaped the flames with only your life and the shame of what you have done here will be remembered by all who see these ruins.”

The wealthy land owner then came to the second builder’s stone home.  He took note that home was built exactly on the foundation which he had previously laid and nothing had been added to it or taken away from it.  He then took his torch oil again and spread it on the four walls of the stone home as he had on the wood home before it. He lit the stone home on fire.  As the oil burned off the stone walls of the home the home stood firm fully surviving the fire.

As the flames died out the wealthy landowner looked and saw the beautiful stone door and stone window shutters covering the two windows that had been built.  He rolled away the stone door to enter the home and saw just as he required that there was a living room, kitchen and bedroom.

He then turned to the second builder and said “Well done good and faithful builder. You will receive a great reward and honor for what you have done.  You have done well with this one home; I will now set you over all the other builders as they build homes on my land”.

We Must Follow God’s Design Requirements for Marriage

When someone’s response to hearing God’s design of Biblical gender roles in marriage is “That might work for you, but not my marriage” they are doing exactly what the first builder in the story you just read did. Many people truly believe that God just wants them to be happy in their marriages by any means they choose.  Like the first builder and his wood house, they want to take the easy way out.  They want their marriage to look like the world’s marriages. They don’t want to do the hard work in marriage that God’s design requires.

But God’s blue print for marriage is clearly spelled out in Ephesians 5:22-33.  He tells us that in marriage “the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church” and that “as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing”. God created marriage to model the relationship of himself to his people.  In this model men are to represent God in their love, sacrifice, leadership, provision and protection toward their wives as God does these things toward his people.  And women are to model the people of God by their service, submission and reverence to their husbands (Proverbs 12:4,1 Corinthians 11:7,Ephesians 5:33,1 Peter 3:5-6).

When we stand before God one day and he looks over our marriage he is not going to judge our marriage by how happy and peaceful it was. But rather he will judge our marriage by how we attempted to follow his design no matter how difficult it was to follow.

Is it wrong to have happiness and peace in our marriages? Of course not.  Happiness and peace may result from following God’s design for marriage, but these things should never be the goal of marriage.  The goal of marriage must always be bringing glory and honor to God by modeling the relationship of God to his people.

Will Your Marriage Survive the Trying Fire of God?

Every Christian husband and wife must face the sobering reality that one day all of our life’s work, including our marriages will be tested as to whether we followed God’s design.  The Bible reveals that just as in our story above, our works will be tried by the fire of God:

“10 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. 11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; 13 Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.

14 If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. 15 If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.”

1 Corinthians 3:10-15 (KJV)

All of our accomplishments in this life whether in our marriage or outside our marriage will be burned up if they are not done in obedience to God’s design.  And we do not get to choose how we bring God glory, but rather we must follow his rules and his design for how we are to bring him glory if we are to one day receive the reward that he has in store for us.

Conclusion

The “That might work for you, but not my marriage” response to Biblical gender roles in marriage reveals a lack of trust in God and a complete misunderstanding of the primary purpose of marriage.  God did not create marriage for the mutual happiness of men and women, he created it for his glory.

Wives, how long will you continue to deny that God created you to be in subjection to your husband rather than being his equal partner (Ephesians 5:22-24)? How long will you continue to deny that God created you to bear and care for your husband’s children (1 Timothy 5:14)? How long will you continue to deny that God created you to be a keeper in the home rather than a keeper in your career (Titus 2:5)?  How long will you continue to deny that God created your body for your husband’s sexual use and satisfaction (Proverbs 5:18-19, Romans 1:27, 1 Corinthians 11:9)?

Husbands, how long will you continue to refuse to rule over your home as God commands (Genesis 3:16,1 Timothy 3:4)? How long will you continue to deny the responsibility you have to provide for your wife (Ephesians 5:29)?  How long will you continue to neglect the spiritual teaching, washing and correction that God requires of husbands toward their wives (1 Corinthians 14:35, Ephesians 5:25-27, Revelation 3:19)?

On a final note, I want to mention a way in which the “That might work for you, but not my marriage”  response would actually not be wrong.  If it is not in opposition to Biblical gender roles, but rather it is in response to leadership and teaching styles within the framework of Biblical gender roles then it is not wrong. I myself have used the phrase “That might work for you, but not my marriage” when speaking to other Christian husbands when we compare our leadership styles in marriage.  But it certainly was not said in any way that rejects Biblical gender roles.

God loves variety.  That is why he had so many men from different backgrounds write the various books of the Bible. That is why he had the four Gospels written showing his life from four different perspectives.  God has created us all, both men and women with different personalities and styles.

This is what I wanted to show in the Tale of Two builders story when I stated “He gives the builders freedom within these requirements to build for him the most beautiful homes they can”.   And in the same way God gives us as husbands certain latitude and freedom within the bounds of his requirements for marriage in how we go about our duties as husbands and fathers.

In other words, I may be genuinely attempting to follow Biblical gender roles in my marriage and you as a  husband might be as well, yet the style in which we conduct our marriages and our homes might be different in many ways.

But at the end of the day the most important question we must ask ourselves is “Will my marriage survive the trying fire of God when I stand before him?”

9 thoughts on “That Might Work for You, But Not My Marriage

  1. We might need to rethink what we mean by a successful marriage. I submit that a successful marriage is one that images the relationship of Christ to His church. Such a marriage would feature a wife’s / church’s unconditional respect for her Lord/husband and the unconditional love of the husband/Christ for his wife/church. Her joy completes his joy, his sacrifice is for her sanctification. His presence is her comfort and her comfort is his joy. He is her Lord and she is the object of his love.

  2. @ Jonah
    At the risk of sounding sappy, I think your description of marriage is beautiful and something we should all strive for. We may not be perfect in our quest but it certainly would be a admirable goal and very pleasing to God, I imagine.

  3. >That Might Work for You, But Not My Marriage

    Sometimes I wonder if the direct answer is the best:

    Then, plainly put, you are doing it wrong! Go see the instruction manual (the Word) for directions on how to do it right.

    It isn’t about what “works”, it is about what is “right before the Lord”.

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