Ray (my husband) and I were watching a video from a series called The Art of Marriage by Family Life. The segment was called “Love Dances”. When I first read the title it conjured images in my mind of flowing dresses, pressed tuxedos, and ballrooms (thanks Turner Classic Movies). But about 14 minutes into the video, those images faded and transformed into ones less desirable; flailing limbs and the awkward movements only produced by two sets of left feet. The topic of the segment was about roles in marriage.
[You know what…I am not going to use that word…roles. I don’t know about you but that word makes me feel an instant burden, like someone placed a pile of wet blankets on my head; heavy and unpleasant. I am going to use the word, ‘calling’. Oh that’s much better.]
Ok…so the segment was about the different callings in marriage, as outlined in Ephesians 5. Here’s the one for wives:
22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
Head of the wife? Submit? Everything??? YIKES!
Here is the calling for husbands:
25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church,
Guys…what would you say to a woman who told you if you wanted to be with her you would have to love, nourish, cherish, and give yourself up for her ALL the time???
Who can live up to these expectations? Why would anyone want to?
Some of you may now have the same images in your mind that I did …two people…two callings…two sets of left feet…very bad (and painful) dancing.
I admit, when I first read Ephesians 5, I instinctively honed in on my own calling, what are the requirements for me, what would be the impact/cost/risk to me if I applied this to my life. I was reading through the lenses of my own self-interest. Big mistake!
When Ray and I took dance lessons a few years ago, you know what I learned? You can’t dance if you are watching out for your own feet. You can’t dance if you are watching your partner’s feet. The only way you can dance is if you and your partner are both focused on the same thing: the dance you are creating together and how you can make it easier for your partner to do their part of the dance. I can turn, twirl and pivot better when Ray gently queues me with a hand squeeze. Ray can give timely queues if I don’t let go of his guiding hand.
So what happens if I read the callings in Ephesians 5 like a dance; a collective, coordinated, single calling for a single purpose? Ahh…now I see a new image…two people…one calling…one unified purpose…one beautiful dance!
Look at Ephesians 5:22-29 again and count how many times you see “as Christ”. Quite a few, right? The calling for married couples in Ephesians 5 is not just about who does what but more so how two people can collectively give the entire world a very tangible expression of the most romantic and beautiful relationship of all time; Christ loving, cherishing, protecting, sacrificing Himself for us, the church.
In Christ, marriage is a Gospel dance. So dance like the world is watching!