Hedonism for Husbands and Wives

Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. (Ephesians 5:24–25)

There is a pattern of love in marriage ordained by God.

The roles of husband and wife are not the same. The husband is to take his special cues from Christ as the head of the church. The wife is to take her special cues from God’s design for the church as submissive to Christ.

In doing this, the sinful and damaging results of the fall begin to be reversed. The fall twisted man’s loving headship into hostile domination in some men, and lazy indifference in others. The fall twisted woman’s intelligent, willing submission into manipulative obsequiousness in some women, and brazen insubordination in others.

The redemption we anticipated when the Messiah finally came in Jesus Christ was not the dismantling of the created order of loving headship and willing submission, but a recovery of it. Wives, redeem your fallen submission by modeling it after God’s intention for a joyful church! Husbands, redeem your fallen headship by modeling it after God’s intention for the lavishly loving Christ!

I find in Ephesians 5:21–33 these two things: (1) the display of Christian Hedonism in marriage and (2) the direction its impulses should take.

Wives, seek your joy in the joy of your husband by affirming and honoring his God-ordained role as “head” or leader in your relationship. Husbands, seek your joy in the joy of your wife by accepting the responsibility to lead as Christ led the church and gave himself for her.

I would like to bear witness to God’s goodness in my life. I discovered Christian Hedonism the same year I got married, in 1968. Since then, Noël and I, in obedience to Jesus Christ, have pursued as passionately as we can the deepest, most lasting joys possible. All too imperfectly, all too half-heartedly at times, we have stalked our own joy in the joy of each other.

And we can testify together after over 50 years of marriage: For those who marry, this is the path to the heart’s desire. For us, marriage has been a matrix for Christian Hedonism. As each pursues joy in the joy of the other and fulfills a God-ordained role, the mystery of marriage as a parable of Christ and the church becomes manifest for his great glory and for our great joy.