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bad. It is what our homes need more than anything. For all your meekness and all your servanthood and all your submission to your wife’s deep desires and needs, you are still the head, the leader.
What I mean is this: You should feel the greater responsibility to take the lead in the things of the Spirit; you should lead the family in a life of prayer, in the study of God’s Word, and in worship; you should lead in giving the family a vision of its meaning and mission; you should take the lead in shaping the moral fabric of the home and in governing its happy peace. I have never met a woman who chafes under such Christlike leadership. But I know of too many wives who are unhappy because their husbands have abdicated their Godordained leadership and have no moral vision, no spiritual conception of what a family is for, and therefore no desire to lead anyone anywhere.
A famous cigarette billboard pictures a curly-headed, bronze-faced, muscular macho with a cigarette hanging out the side of his mouth. The sign says, “Where a man belongs.” That is a lie. Where a man belongs is at the bedside of his children, leading in devotion and prayer. Where a man belongs is leading his family to the house of God. Where a man belongs is up early and alone with God seeking vision and direction for his family.
If you think your husband’s vision is distorted or his direction is unbiblical, you will not sit in dumb silence, but query him in a spirit of meekness, and you may often save his foot from stumbling. The husband’s headship does not mean infallibility or hostility to correction. Nor does a wife’s involvement in shaping the direction of the family involve insubordination.
There is no necessary correlation between leadership and intelligence or M A R R I AG E between submission and the lack of intelligence. A wife will always be superior in some things and a husband in others. But it is a mistake to ignore that Godordained pattern of husband leadership on the grounds that the woman is a more competent leader. Any man with zeal to obey the Word of God can be a leader, no matter how many superior competencies his wife has.
A small example: Suppose the husband has a hard time reading. When he tries to read the Bible aloud, he gets it all twisted and pronounces the words wrong. His wife, meanwhile, is a gifted leader. Leadership does not require that he do all the reading during family devotions. Leadership may consist in this one announcement: “Hey, kids, come on into the living room. It’s time for devotions. Let’s pick up where we left off last time. Mama will read for us.” Dad may even be an invalid and still be recognized as the leader. It has to do with the husband’s spirit of initiative and responsibility and with the wife’s open support for this spirit.
But what if a Christian woman is married to a man who provides no vision and gives no moral direction, takes no lead in the things of the Lord? First Peter 3:1 makes plain that submission is still the will of God. (“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.”) Yet the form of submission in this case will be different.
Under the lordship of Christ, she will not join her husband in sin even if he wants her to, since she is called to submit to Christ, who forbids sinning (Ephesians 5:22). But she will go as far as her conscience allows in supporting her husband and doing with him what he likes to do.
Where she can, she will give a spiritual vision and moral direction to her children, without communicating a cocky spirit of insubordination to her unbelieving husband. Even when, for Christ’s sake, she must do what her husband disapproves, she can try to explain in a tranquil and gentle spirit that it is not because she wants to go against him, but because she is bound to Christ. Yet it will do no good to preach at him. At the root of his being, there is guilt that he is not assuming the moral leadership of his house. She must give him room and win him in quietness by her powerful and sacrificial love (1 Peter 3:1–6).
REDEEMING FALLEN HEADSHIP FALLEN SUBMISSIONAND I have argued that there is a pattern of love in marriage ordained by God. The roles of husband and wife are not the same. The husband is to take his special cues from Christ as the head of the church. The wife is to take her special cues from the church as submissive to Christ. In doing this, the sinful and damaging results of the Fall begin to be reversed. The Fall twisted man’s loving headship into hostile domination in some men and lazy indifference in others. The Fall twisted woman’s intelligent, willing submission into manipulative obsequiousness in some women and brazen insubordination in others.
The redemption we anticipate at the coming of Christ is not the dismantling of the created order of loving headship and willing submission,15 but a recovery of it. This is precisely what we find in Ephesians 5:21–33. Wives, redeem your fallen submission by modeling it after God’s intention for the church! Husbands, redeem your fallen headship by modeling it after God’s intention for Christ!
The point of all of this has been to give direction to those who are persuaded that married love is the pursuit of our own joy in the holy joy of our spouses. I find in Ephesians 5:21–33 these two things: (1) the display of Christian Hedonism in marriage and (2) the direction its impulses should take.
Wives, seek your joy in the joy of your husband by affirming and honoring his God-ordained role as leader in your relationship. Husbands, seek your joy in the joy of your wife by accepting the responsibility to lead as Christ led the church and gave Himself for her.
Not that my personal testimony could add anything to the weight of the Word of God, yet I would like to bear witness to God’s goodness in my life. I discovered Christian Hedonism the same year I got married, in 1968. Since then, Noël and I, in obedience to Jesus Christ, have pursued as passionately as we can the deepest, most lasting joys possible. All too imperfectly, all too halfHeadship and submission did not originate with the Fall, as so many people claim, but in their pure form were part of God’s intention from the beginning of creation before the Fall. See Raymond C. Ortlund Jr., “Male-Female Equality and Male Headship: Genesis 1–3,” in Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, 95–112.
M A R R I AG E
heartedly at times, we have stalked our own joy in the joy of each other. And we can testify together: For those who marry, this is the path to the heart’s desire.
For us, marriage has been a matrix for Christian Hedonism. As each pursues joy in the joy of the other and fulfills a God-ordained role, the mystery of marriage as a parable of Christ and the church becomes manifest for His great glory and for our great joy.16
16. I have tried elsewhere, with others, to give explanation and justification for the vision of manhood and womanhood in this chapter. See Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. I commend to you the work of The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (www.cbmw.org), whose mission involves “helping the church deal biblically with gender issues.” Most men are not satisfied with the permanent output of their lives.
Nothing can wholly satisfy the life of Christ within his followers except the adoption of Christ’s purpose toward the world he came to redeem.
Fame, pleasure and riches are but husks and ashes in contrast with the boundless and abiding joy of working with God for the fulfillment of his eternal plans. The men who are putting everything into Christ’s undertaking are getting out of life its sweetest and most priceless rewards.
J. CAMPBELL WHITE
SECRETARY LAYMEN’S MISSIONARY MOVEMENTOF THE
WHAT IS FRONTIER MISSIONS?
Most men don’t die of old age, they die of retirement. I read somewhere that half of the men retiring in the state of New York die within two years. Save your life and you’ll lose it. Just like other drugs, other psychological addictions, retirement is a virulent disease, not a blessing.1 These are the words of Ralph Winter, founder of the United States Center for World Mission. His life and strategy have been a constant summons to young and old that the only way to find life is to give it away. He is one of my heroes. He says so many things that Christian Hedonists ought to say (although he wishes I would not use the word hedonist)!
Not only does he call on retired Christians to quit throwing their lives away
1. Ralph Winter, “The Retirement Booby Trap,” Mission Frontiers 7 (July 1985): 25. For those who want to take Winter’s words to heart, I would recommend visiting the website of Finishers Project: www:finishers.gospelcom.net. The Finishers Project is a service designed to provide adult Christians information and challenge for processing and discovering ministry opportunities in the missions enterprise—shortterm, part-term, or as a second career. The vision statement says, “The Finishers Project is a movement to provide information, challenge and pathways for people to join God in His passion for His glory among the nations. Boomers are and will be the healthiest and best educated generation of emptynesters ever. This generation is skilled and resourced with a multitude of talents. We can either give them to Jesus to lay up as treasure in Heaven or lose them.”
on the golf course when they could be giving themselves to the global cause of Christ, but he also calls students to go hard after the fullest and deepest joy of life. In his little pamphlet “Say Yes to Missions” he says, “Jesus, for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame.… To follow him is your choice. You’re warned! But don’t forget the joy.” In fact, in all my reading outside the Bible over the past fifteen years, the greatest source of affirmation for my emerging Christian Hedonism has been from missionary literature, especially biographies. And those who have suffered most seem to state the truth most unashamedly. In this chapter, I will tell you some of my findings.
But first, back to the issue of retirement. Winter asks, “Where in the Bible do they see that? Did Moses retire? Did Paul retire? Peter? John? Do military officers retire in the middle of a war?”2 Good questions. If we try to answer them in the case of the apostle Paul, we bump right into a definition of missions, which is what we need here at the beginning of this chapter.
As Paul writes his letter to the Romans, he has been a missionary for about twenty years. He was between twenty and forty years old (that’s the range implied in the Greek word for “young man” in Acts 7:58) when he was converted. We may guess, then, that he is perhaps around fifty as he writes this great letter.
That may sound young to us. But remember two things: In those days, life expectancy was less, and Paul had led an incredibly stressful life—five times whipped with thirty-nine lashes, three times beaten with rods, once stoned, three times shipwrecked, constantly on the move, and constantly in danger (2 Corinthians 11:24–29).
By our contemporary standards, he should perhaps be “letting up” and planning for retirement. But in Romans 15 he says he is planning to go to Spain! In fact, the reason for writing to the Romans was largely to enlist their support for this great new frontier mission. Paul is not about to retire. Vast areas
of the empire are unreached, not to mention the regions beyond! So he says:
Now, since I no longer have any room for work in these regions, and since I have longed for many years to come to you, I hope to see you in passing as I go to Spain, and to be helped on my journey there by you, once I have enjoyed your company for a while. (Romans 15:23–24) Paul was probably killed in Rome before he could fulfill his dream of preaching in Spain. But one thing is certain: He was cut down in combat, not in retirement. He was moving on to the frontier instead of settling down to bask in his amazing accomplishments. Right here we learn the meaning of missions.
How could Paul possibly say in Romans 15:23, “I no longer have any room for work in these regions”? There were thousands of unbelievers left to be converted in Judea and Samaria and Syria and Asia and Macedonia and Achaia.
That is obvious from Paul’s instruction to the churches on how to relate to unbelievers. But Paul has no room for work!
The explanation is given in verses 19–21:
From Jerusalem and all the way around to Illyricum I have fulfilled the ministry of the gospel of Christ; and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation, but as it is written, “Those who have never been told of him will see, and those who have never heard will understand.” Paul’s missionary strategy was to preach where nobody has preached before.
This is what we mean by Frontier Missions. Paul had a passion to go where there were no established churches—that meant Spain.
What is amazing in these verses is that Paul can say he has “fulfilled” the gospel from Jerusalem in southern Palestine to Illyricum northwest of Greece!
To understand this is to understand the meaning of Frontier Missions.
Frontier Missions is very different from domestic evangelism. There were thousands of people yet to be converted from Jerusalem to Illyricum. But the task of Frontier Missions was finished. Paul’s job of “planting” was done and