Love and Submission
About the Guest
God made men and women different. These differences are maximized as they play different roles in the marriage. Tim Savage, senior pastor at Camelback Bible Church, talks about Paul's admonition in Ephesians for wives to submit to their husbands and husbands to love their wives. Husbands, he explains, are to love their wives sacrificially like Christ loves the church. Wives, on the other hand, are to serve and honor their husbands, meeting his needs and helping him become all God wants him to be.
Tim SavageTim Savage is a pastor, preacher, author and conference speaker. He has served as the senior pastor at Camelback Bible Church in Paradise Valley, Arizona for over 27 years. Tim has written several books, the most recent being No Ordinary Marriage, about how marriages can — amazingly — become showcases of the glory of God. Tim has been married to his wife Leslie for over 35 years and they have two grown sons. Tim was raised in San Diego County where his loves g...more
Tim Savage, senior pastor at Camelback Bible Church, talks about Paul’s admonition in Ephesians for wives to submit to their husbands and husbands to love their wives.
Love and Submission
Bob: If you’re a husband, are there some habits or patterns in your wife’s life that you just wish weren’t there? Well, here’s some counsel for you from Tim Savage.
Tim: We men—we think we change our wives by pointing out their defects and shortcomings, and their lack of discipline, or whatever it might be. Well, you do that over the course of a lifetime—you produce a hen-pecking wife. Why?—because she has no other defense—the hen has come home to roost, and you’re the cause of it! Paul is saying: “Men, you don’t get it! Love your wife as Christ loves the church and look what she will become!”
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, April 5th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. We’ll spend time today exploring the power of self-emptying love in sanctifying a relationship. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. I’ve heard you say for years that one of the reasons God gives us kids is to finish the process of us growing up—not just growing them up—but us growing up, as parents. Don’t you think that one of the reasons God gives us each other is the same thing?—that—
Dennis: Are you talking about marriage?
Dennis: Absolutely! I think that begins the process of growing up and sets the table for us to move to the graduate school.
Bob: I am a different man today than I was when I married Mary Ann. But I’m also a different man than I would be if Mary Ann hadn’t been an influence in my life.
Dennis: Yes; I saw a bumper sticker one time that said, “My children save me from toxic self-absorption.” I think that could read, “My marriage saved me from toxic self-absorption.”
Well, we have with us a guest, back on FamilyLife Today, Tim Savage. Welcome back, Tim.
Tim: It’s good to be with you Dennis.
Dennis: Tim is the pastor of Camelback Bible Church in Paradise Valley, Arizona. Those of you looking for paradise, you can go to Arizona to find it. He’s been there for 27 years—married to Lesli for the past 35 years / they have two grown sons. He’s a graduate of the Dallas Theological Seminary.
Bob: He loves to throw the in front of that, you know.
Dennis: And also a graduate of Cambridge—got your Ph.D. from Cambridge, over in England.
Tim: Yes. Bob, I want to say—he’s quite right to throw the—we need a definite article in front of Dallas Theological Seminary.
Dennis: We do need a definite article. [Laughter]
He is the author of No Ordinary Marriage. I want to talk with you about something you point out in your book—you say that there are three things that undermine marriage—gender discord, easy dissolution, and annoying differences. I want to focus on the first one—gender discord.
What do you mean by that?
Tim: I mean by that that men and women are different. Those differences are often difficult for each gender to understand and they promote discord.
Bob: You’re doing gender stereotyping, here on FamilyLife Today.
Tim: I thought that’s what you were paying me to do. [Laughter]
Dennis: I don’t know if you checked; but we’re really not paying you, Tim—[Laughter] —your church is, but we’re not!
Bob: Just to say that men and woman are different in our culture today sets you up for all kinds of people saying, “Oh man, there he goes with that stereotyping.” What do you say about that?
Tim: Well, I think that most people appreciate that there are differences and are encouraged to see that there are differences. I don’t run into much flack because of that. Let’s just take my own marriage. I tend to be uni-focused—I’m very intent on getting one thing done at a time.
My wife is multi-focused. Because I’m uni-focused and I’m intense, when she comes and wants to talk to me or makes suggestions about what to do in the evening, I can hardly, sometimes, be interrupted because I’m so focused on what I’m doing. She appreciates that I am uni-focused because I do well at one thing / I appreciate that she’s multi-focused—but boy!—can those two cause sparks to fly.
Bob: There are days you don’t appreciate the other one’s gifting or temperament in that regard because it interferes with what we’ve got going on. But when we pull back and see that our differences can blend into a greater masterpiece than we’d ever see if it was one of us alone, that’s huge; isn’t it?
Tim: I find that often opposites come together for a reason. If you put two Tim’s in our house, it would be a disaster.
Tim: Lesli is too precious for me to say that about her.
But yes—I mean, we are very different. That’s the genius in what God has done in bringing us together.
Bob: Some of those differences are personality differences but you’re making the case that some of those differences are hardwired into the gender that God assigned to us when He creates us. Not only do we have differences related to gender, but we have responsibilities that are tied to gender in marriage; right?
Tim: Yes. This is really interesting—of all the things the Apostle Paul might want to marshal, in terms of instructing marriages / marital partners, he isolates on one thing. In fact, not only does he have only one thing for the wife and the husband, he has one word for each—the word for the wife is “submission” / the word for the husband is “love.”
Dennis: You just caused over 50 percent of our audience to bristle because submission is not a politically-correct word in our culture and has so many varied meanings.
A lot of people don’t really give it a chance because they have ascribed so much abuse around the term that they don’t find it easy to hear what the Bible teaches about submission—because it’s not talking about blind submission / it’s not talking about not-saying-anything submission. It’s talking about submission within the context of a relationship, where a husband is commanded to love--L-O-V-E--his wife and to do it in a self-sacrificing way as Christ loved the church.
Let’s talk first about the husband’s responsibility because, when guys get it right—Tim, you know this—it makes it a whole lot easier for a wife to fulfill her assignment and her responsibility.
Tim: It sure does. When I think about the two words, you’re right—submission does cause us to bristle because we’ve undergone two hundred years of women asserting their equal rights.
Much of what they’ve done has been good but the last thing they want to hear is that they should be subordinate to anyone. I think we need to give the Apostle Paul an opportunity here to say exactly what he means by both words. We might be surprised, at the end of our study, that what he has to say about both is very, very exciting. I would imagine that 50 percent of our listeners would not be bristling after they hear what Paul means by submission.
But your question about the husband and love—husband’s don’t bristle when it comes to loving their wives because what comes into their mind are all sorts of things that they think they want to do. However/truly to understand what Paul means by love—when he says, “Husbands love your wives,”—it is a much harder, a much more demanding, and a much more intimidating word than the word he’s given to women. So, if anybody should be bristling, it should be the husband.
Bob: There’s a sacrificial nature to this love that Paul is calling us to that’s sacrificing all the way to death. I know a lot of men who’d say, “Yeah, I’d take a bullet for my wife”; but they don’t want to get up out of the La-Z-Boy® for their wives, day in and day out. It’s that daily death that’s the hard thing to do; isn’t it?
Tim: Yes it is: “Husbands love your wives just as Christ loved the church when [emphasis added] He gave Himself up for her.” We know when He gave Himself up for her—He gave Himself up on a cross.
How do we take the measure of the love that a husband is meant to bring into his marriage? I think we need to go to the starting point of that love and the end point of that love—and the gap between them is the measure. Christ left heaven to love us—a place so exalted and beautiful it escapes our capacity to understand. He went all the way to a cross—all the way at the other end / a place so ugly and horrific we can’t understand it.
Christ gave everything He had for us. It is one thing to see what our wife’s need is / it’s another to do something about it. It’s quite another to venture everything you have to do it.
Bob: We’re talking with Tim Savage, who’s written a book called No Ordinary Marriage: Together for God’s Glory, and exploring the unique assignment that God has given to husbands to love their wives. That’s the one word you said—“love”—for men.
Dennis: Yes. In fact, open your Bible to Ephesians, Chapter 5, and start about—well, about verse 25. You’ll see that there’s three times God says, through the Apostle Paul, “Husbands love your wives,”—He wants us to get the point.
Bob: But if you back up a few verses—to verse 22—
Dennis: Yes; you’re going to get controversial now. We’ve got to hit the politically-incorrect—
Dennis: Nobody’s arguing with husbands loving their wives today; right?
Bob: Right. So Tim—“Wives submit to your husbands…”—you said that, “If a wife understands that, she’s not going to bristle.”
Tim: I haven’t found any who do.
Bob: Okay; so help us understand it so that—
Dennis: Well, I promise you—you’re talking to some now!
Tim: Well, we haven’t explored exactly what Paul’s saying here. [Laughter]
Dennis: We haven’t / we haven’t. Maybe it’s in the explanation, and you can do a better job than Bob and I have done. [Laughter] This is three men, however, talking about—
Dennis: Yes. Let’s not forget that. Explain it to the other half of our audience.
Tim: Well, first of all, let’s make the problem even harder. Paul uses the word hupotasso here for “submission.” It’s a compound word—it has a preposition, which means “under” / hupa. It’s got a verbal form, tasso, which means “to align.” Put the two together—“to align under” was used of the military, back in those days, to line up under the General.
Bob: And you thought that this would help your case to explain that?
Tim: I said it was getting harder first; yes. [Laughter] So the best English word would probably be “sub-ordinate”: “Wives subordinate yourselves to your husbands…”
Dennis: That sounds even tougher than “submission” to me.
Tim: It does; yes. I mean “sub” / submarine—under—that’s the meaning of the preposition there. What does this mean? Well, immediately, we’re scandalized by the fact that—after all the advances we’ve made for women in women’s rights—that they should be asked now to subordinate themselves to anything, let alone their husband.
But Paul—let’s give him a chance to speak to us here because, in both cases, the one word he gives to each partner has a clause after it that qualifies what he means by that. You know, “Husbands love your wives…”—well, that doesn’t mean just to love them romantically. He tells us: “…just as [emphasis added] the Lord loved the church when He gave Himself up for it.”
For the women—subordination has a clause too: “Women subordinate yourselves to your husband the same way you do to the Lord.” How do we subordinate ourselves to our Lord? Well, we want to serve Him, we want to honor Him, we want to dignify Him, and we want to exalt Him—we could come up with many more adjectives. All of these adjectives are what we could call proactive.
I mean, we look at submission as a passive state, where we kind of almost become a doormat and just do what our husbands says when we are in disagreement. No—Paul is talking about something here that is very proactive. He’s saying: “Women, I want you to take your one thing into your own hands. It’s for you to apply this proactively all the time: serve your husband, dignify your husband, and exalt your husband.”
Let’s make it really practical—
—I think what Paul is saying here is: “Find out what your husband’s interests are / what his needs are and do whatever it takes to meet them.”
Bob: This is a part of how we—we’re back to what we talked about earlier—how we glorify God, how we put on display what the glory of God is because the Son, Jesus, did this with the Father throughout His ministry / throughout His life. He said: “All I want to do is what pleases the Father. All I want to do is what will honor the Father. I don’t live to do anything else.” When a wife takes that responsibility, she’s being like Jesus.
Tim: You know, that is so profound, Bob—it is so good! Because what you’re saying is: “It’s exaltation through subordination.” Jesus subordinated Himself to the Father and, in some sense, He subordinated Himself to us in that He took our sins off our shoulders / He put himself almost at a lower level than us.
What was the result of that? “God highly exalted Him, gave Him the name above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee would bow…every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is the Lord… [Phil. 2:9, 10]. We need to stop thinking the way the world thinks because—it’s not only wrong—it the opposite of right!
Listen—can I just say one more thing? When a woman seeks to dignify her husband, she does not lose! She is exalted by being used by God to create a man much better than the one she married. She, through her subordination then—she is exalted.
Of course, it is the same thing for the man—he loves his wife like Christ loves the church. Look what we have, here in Ephesians 5—what happens? Well it says: “…that He might sanctify her,”—that means: “Set her apart by his love,”—“that he might cleanse her by the washing of water… [Eph. 5:26]”—not sure what that means / commentators wrestle with that one—
—but it has to do, certainly, with taking the dirt, and the grime, and the dirty baggage that she once had, and because you love her unconditionally, starts to clean up / it starts to go away. Instead of being critical of our wives for her past, we love her and watch the sully-ness disappear from her. It goes on: “…so that He might present the church”—of course, He is referring to the church here as well—”in splendor, without spot, wrinkle, or any such thing; that she might be holy without blemish.”
Husbands—we love our wives—like giving ourselves up for them / making their lives more important than our own—we don’t hurt ourselves. We present back to ourselves a woman in radiance / in splendor. Love is the most powerful transforming agent this world’s ever seen.
Dennis: It is.
Tim: Especially when it’s Christ’s love in us.
Dennis: It is.
Bob: And you tell a story in your book that illustrates that. We want you to share that with our listeners.
Let me first of all just mention we do have copies of Tim Savage’s book, No Ordinary Marriage. You can go to FamilyLifeToday.com to order from the FamilyLife Today Resource Center. Again, FamilyLifeToday.com is the website; or you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY to request your copy of the book—so the website, FamilyLifeToday.com; or call 1-800-358-6329. That’s 1-800-”F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
Dennis, I know some of our listeners share with us the burden that we have to see more and more marriages aligned with what the Scriptures teach. It’s one of the reasons that we have encouraged listeners for several years now to host an Art of Marriage® event or an Art of Marriage small group in your home, in your community, or in your local church.
This week and next week, if you order The Art of Marriage video event kit or the small group series kit, we’re going to include a ministry pack of marriage resources—a collection of books and other resources that you can use for an effective marriage ministry in your community, in your home, or in your church. Find out more when you go to FamilyLifeToday.com; or call if you have any questions about how you can host an Art of Marriage video event or an Art of Marriage small group. Our toll-free number is 1-800-”F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
Dennis: Well we’ve been talking about No Ordinary Marriage and, when you call men to die to self, that’s not ordinary. Men don’t want to die to self—they want to live for themselves. We’ve been talking about wives submitting to their husbands; and certainly; from a political correctness; that goes totally against the grain.
You know, there’s almost a sense here in which what we’re talking about is—because both of those things go against the grain of men and of women—it’s almost like it has to be the Scriptures because God is calling us away from ourselves and from our own rights. I appreciate the way you’ve explained this, Tim.
You tell a story in the book—that Bob referred to earlier—about a man who took on an assignment of loving his wife—an unusual assignment.
Tim: Yes. He’s one of my best friends. He was getting married, and we got to know his wife a little bit. Immediately, concerns rose in our minds that she probably wasn’t the right person for him.
Bob: You saw some yellow flags in this?
Tim: Saw some yellow / saw some red flags. She was somewhat abrasive, very opinionated, controlling. Some of the things she said demean the person she was talking to right there.
I scooted up the courage, as a godly friend ought to do, to go to him and just reason with him. It was hard for me to do this—I don’t like confrontation, but this was something that was needed to save this man from a very bad marriage. And I did—I went and I said, “Listen, these are the things I’ve been observing in this person you’re about to marry.” After I had finished, he looked at me; and smiling, he said, “Well, Tim, all I can say to you is, ‘I love her.’” At the time, I thought: “Of all the sentimental drivel, haven’t you wrestled with anything I’ve just said?! Can’t you respond to any of the things that I’ve seen?” All he could say was, “I just love her.” It was clearly—he wanted that to be his answer.
Shortly, thereafter, Lesli and I went to England. We were in England seven years. One of the people to invite us over to their home was this couple—they’d been married seven years now.
As we sat down to the dinner table—and we listened to the conversation / them with us—it was immediately arresting because this woman was still a very strong personality but there was a tenderness, and a gentleness, and a sweetness, and a caring that we didn’t ever see in her before. Lesli and I were actually sitting across from each other at the table, and we’re hitting feet. I was touching her toe every time this woman would say something so out of character from what I remembered. We’d been kicking each other all night, just in amazement, for this woman had changed so much.
I couldn’t wait to get in the car and say to Lesli: “What’s going on? What happened here?” When we did get in the car, and before I started the ignition, I turned to my wife and I said, “Honey what happened to her?”
Her answer was: “He has loved her. He has loved her. He has taken up her life and made it his own.” I thought to myself: “Of course, that’s what’s happened. Why did I ask?” This is what Paul says in Ephesians 5—he says, “When we love our wives as Christ loves the church, watch what happens to her. She’ll become more beautiful than you ever imagined could be possible.”
Dennis is right—we husbands / we men—we think we change our wives by pointing out their defects and their shortcomings, and their lack of discipline, or whatever it might be. Well, you do that over the course of a lifetime—you produce a hen-pecking wife. Why?—because she has no other defense than to defend herself—the hen has come home to roost; and you’re the cause of it, men. Paul is saying: “Men, you don’t get it! Love your wife as Christ loves the church and look what she’ll become—radiant / beautiful.”
Dennis: “Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.”
And Tim—thanks for your book, your life, your ministry and for being real, here on FamilyLife Today. Appreciate you.
Tim: Thank you. Thank you, Dennis. Thank you, Bob.
Bob: I’m just sitting here, thinking about all of the couples we have been celebrating with this year as they celebrate their wedding anniversaries. Tim, you probably don’t know this; but this is our 40th anniversary as a ministry, here at FamilyLife. In honor of that, we have been acknowledging the anniversaries of some of our listeners—like today: Greg and Katy Mead, who live in Cheyenne, Wyoming / 19 years of marriage. And on this same day in 1997—Ray and Ivy Rickhouse in Gatesville, North Carolina, were married / so both the Rickhouses and the Meads—celebrating 19 years today.
Dave and Sunshine Hint from Fayetteville, North Carolina—celebrating 32 years of marriage today / Don and Vickie Hudson in McKinney, Texas—41 years of marriage today. That’s a lot to celebrate.
At FamilyLife, we are Proud Sponsors of Anniversaries™. The reason we exist is to help more couples live their lives according to God’s design for marriage so there will be more anniversaries celebrated for more years to come. We appreciate those of you who partner with us to make this happen—thanks for your support of this ministry.
If you can help with a donation today, we’d like to say, “Thank you,” by sending you a copy of Barbara Rainey’s -new book, Letters to My Daughters: The Art of Being a Wife. It’s our thank-you gift when you go online at FamilyLifeToday.com to make a donation or when you call 1-800-FL-TODAY and donate over the phone.
Or you can mail your donation to FamilyLife Today at PO Box 7111, Little Rock, AR; and our zip code is 72223.
Now, tomorrow, we’re going to spend time talking about the fifth commandment—the commandment to honor your father and your mother. Why is it such a big deal? We’ll explore that tomorrow. Hope you can tune in for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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