The Gospel Shaped Marriage
Topic: Marriage Passage: Ephesians 5:22–23
Community Group Questions: Family Matters - Ephesians 5:22-33 - "The Gospel Shaped Marriage"
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Read Ephesians 5:22-33 aloud as a group, and work through the following discussion questions:
- In our series on “Family Matters,” this week we’re looking specifically at the Bible’s teaching on marriage. What unique perspective do you bring to this conversation? Are you single, married, widowed? What kinds of marriages did you observe growing up? Would you say that your experience of Christian marriages has been largely positive or negative? How so?
- Ephesians 5:22-23 teaches a rather counter-cultural concept for marriage, namely that husbands and wives are completely equal in their value and worth as image bearers of God. And yet, they each play different “roles” within marriage. How is this idea of complete equality, together with defined roles, reflected in the nature of the Trinity? (see John 5:19, 1 Cor. 15:28)
- In verses 22-24, wives are commanded to “submit” to their husbands. This is certainly not everything a wife is commanded to do in Scripture (see passages like Proverbs 21!). Rather, this is that special thing she can do to demonstrate the church’s glad submission to Christ. While fully collaborating with her husband, submitting means supporting and deferring to his weighty responsibility of leading the marriage as the “head” (see vs. 23). In your opinion, how has this command been abused and misapplied in Christian marriages? On the other hand, who have you seen play this role well? What does it look like in practical terms?
- In verses 25-27, husbands are commanded to play out their role as the “head” by loving their wives as Christ loved the church. In what ways has Christ uniquely loved the church, according to these verses? Practically speaking, what does it look like for a husband to love his wife in a Christ-like manner?
- In verses 28-30, the husband is commanded to love his wife in a second way: he should love her as he loves himself! In what ways do husbands “love themselves” in daily life? What would it look like to turn those very activities of self-care toward their wives?
- Verses 31-33 tell us how the “roles” in marriage work together. The “one flesh” union seen in Genesis 2:24 points to the spiritual union between Christ and his church. Paul calls this picture of unified-diversity a “mystery.” Marriage points beyond itself! So, when husbands love their wives with Christ-like love, and wives respect their husbands with church-like submission, a picture of unified-diversity results. People can actually see a living illustration of Christ’s union with his bride, the church. In your own life and experience, what marriages have you seen that illustrated the gospel well through love and respect? Why were these marriages so compelling?
- Sometimes our marriages get stuck in a “crazy cycle” of love-lessness and lack of respect. Each person criticizes, blames, and frustrates the other. One way out of this cycle is to begin to love and respect your spouse not for their sake, but for Christ’s sake! In your opinion, how does Jesus make a difference in marriage? How have you seen Jesus empower your own marriage?
- Pastor Tim Keller once said that in marriage, we’re constantly illustrating the power of the gospel because we’re always either asking forgiveness, or giving forgiveness. Have you found that to be true?
- As our culture continues to dismantle traditional concepts of marriage, Christians have a unique opportunity to “stick out” as a witness by founding their marriages on Biblical principles. In your opinion, what things can Christians do to showcase their marriage for a watching world, so that people can see how Christ makes a difference?
- Singles in the church are vitally important for the body of Christ. Married couples need the friendship, support, and encouragement of their single brothers and sisters, and vice versa. How can married folks in the church do a better job of welcoming single brothers and sisters into their lives? How can single folks do a better job of encouraging their married friends?
Prayer suggestion: Spend time praying for the marriages in the community group. Pray also for members who are single by calling, those who desire marriage, and those who are widowed.