It is true, the Apostle Paul really did pronounce that married, Christian men should subsist as if they were not married, although he was not talking about pretending. In order to appreciate Paul’s hard saying, we need to put it into context with God’s Word and for that we can go back to Genesis.
To the woman He said: “I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children; Your desire shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you.” Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ’You shall not eat of it’: “Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, And you shall eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread Till you return to the ground, For out of it you were taken; For dust you are, And to dust you shall return.” Genesis 3:16-19
Recognize the Curse
At first glance we might say that God’s imposition of curses is not a very loving thing for a loving God to do, but that is not the case at all. In actuality, God, in His grace and mercy, metes out the curse as a protective device, the means by which a married couple might survive in their sinful condition. These are not curses imposed for the sake of retribution, but rather characteristics laid down leading towards restoration.
Man cannot change woman and woman cannot change man—period. Books such as John Gray’s ‘Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, ’ and Meribell Morgan’s, ‘The Total Women, ’ are nothing more than temporary, duct-tape fixes to problems that cannot be fixed by mankind. The fact that Morgan’s own marriage failed is all the fruit (or lack of fruit) a Christian needs to see. God imposed these specific attributes for our protection and as we operate in accordance with God’s plan, it is then and only then marriages thrive.
So What Does Paul Mean…?
Simply said, the Apostle Paul is declaring to the Christian, married-man that in regards to his relationships, he must put Jesus Christ first. In other words, we will love best when we love Jesus first. Similar to the gap between man and the Father, there exists a gap between man and woman—a gap that can only be filled by the Last Adam, Jesus Christ. Perfect in every way and lacking nothing, Jesus took the curse to the grave so that through Him we are made whole.
God is Interested in Saving Souls
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her…Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. Ephesian 5:22, 25
In marriage, as we examine the distinctives of sinful man and adhere to the principles set forth by God, we see by example a picture of salvation through unity with and faith in Christ Jesus. For those who struggle through, or battle against God’s formula for a blessed marriage, there likely exists an uncertain faith and a resistance to obedience towards God’s Word.
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, My soul shall be joyful in my God; For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. Isaiah 61:10