The great Russian writer, Leo Tolstoy, was very skeptical of the “great men drive human history” theory that most historians seem to ascribe to. In his magnum opus War and Peace, Tolstoy told the story of Napoleon’s invasion of Russia through fictionalized characters. He also wove in his philosophy, at various points in the novel, as to what force or forces were driving history. Tolstoy came to the conclusion that certain events in history are so bizarre that they defy reason, so there must be some indefinable force that drives events. Specifically, he was writing about the disintegration of Napoleon’s army after reaching Moscow, which was expected to be a glorious victory. But the reality of what happened to Napoleon and his army seemed to defy all sense. In spite of all his power, war expertise, intellect, and cunning, Napoleon did not attain the glorious victory that he expected upon reaching Moscow. And, his return back to France was a debacle, a morality tale for the ages, with an army of 615,000 dwindling to 110,000 from cold, disease, hunger, and guerilla warfare inflicted by Russian army, militia, and civilians. It would seem from this event especially, that there are forces which we don’t understand influencing human history. For those of us who believe in God and walk with Him in fellowship, this is not breaking news. We know how He intervenes in our lives in so many ways, doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves, and helping us in times of need. So we understand the forces that influence events, some of them from our God, and some of them from the enemy, Satan and his demon followers.
And such influences are directed at families as well as individuals. Although the family is sometimes no more stable than the other two institutions mentioned before, it is arguably the most important of these institutions since societal stability depends on family stability. As noted above, the family is established in Genesis 2:24 with the union of the man and woman as husband and wife. Out of this foundation of love and unity, the family grows, adding children for those who are so blessed (and children are most definitely a blessing despite what the sinful world believes). Moreover, this foundation of man and wife should be a marriage of equals. I’ve quoted from the Matthew Henry commentary before about whom the wife should be to her husband. I think this quote bears repeating: “The woman was made of a rib out of the side of Adam; not made out of his head to rule over him, nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be beloved.” Looking at the multiple verses about marriage in Scripture, I believe that the true good purpose of marriage is for the husband to be a servant-leader, watching over, cherishing, serving, encouraging, and protecting his wife, while the wife should be loving him, honoring his leadership, encouraging him in his work and life challenges, and serving Him in love.
Of course, I don’t have to tell you that marriage often does not operate in this way, leading us to a regretfully large number of divorces across our nation and other parts of the world. Because we are inherently selfish and sinful creatures, we often do not fulfill roles of loving service in our marriage. We, instead, tend to selfishly seek our best interest rather than the best interest of our spouse. And instead of serving sacrificially in love, turning to God for the power to do so, we turn our marriages into a power struggle, trying to have our way or to make each other live up to whatever images we have in our mind as to what they should be. In such situations, neither partner will submit, although submission is required for a happy, healthy marriage. And, submission is one of the most loving acts that we can commit as it follows in the footsteps of our Lord Jesus who served with love during His time on this earth and submitted “even unto death on the cross” despite the fact that He was and is God Almighty (Philippians 2:5-11). If we avoid pride and always seek the best interest of our spouse, trying to “out-love” him or her, as guided by and empowered by God, then our marriages cannot fail. But God most definitely must be a part of the marriage, with both spouses seeking God for themselves and both spouses committing to maintain a marriage that will be pleasing to God. The main reason that marriages fail, as Jesus taught, is “because of the hardness of your hearts” (Matthew 19:8). We have a tendency to not humble ourselves, not submitting to our spouse in loving service to their needs, nor forgiving them for their faults and failures (we have faults and failures ourselves, so who are we to judge?).
More on this tomorrow. I pray that you will walk in peaceful, comforting fellowship with our Amazing God this day.