The Mathematics of Marriage

Ephesians 5:22–25 (NKJV)

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her,

I always try to work in a math lesson whenever I can. So, I used to play a lunch game with our son, Joshua. It’s called, “You cut, I choose.” (Or I cut, you choose.) We’d cook up a box of macaroni and cheese mix and add some meat to bulk it up. Joshua would divide the food into two bowls, but I got to pick which bowl was mine – thus guaranteeing a fair allocation. It’s a clever math-hack.

Being fair isn’t easy with two people. You get a lot of tie votes, which can turn into battles of strength.

Today’s passage is similarly clever. It could be called, “You decide, I win.” (Or I decide, you win.)

Unfortunately, it loses something in the translation. The command, “Husbands, love your wives,” is actually, in Greek, “Husbands, agape your wives.” Agape is loosely translated as love, but it really means sacrifice for. In other words, the husband gets to decide, but he’s commanded to favor his wife.

This works marvelously in practice. My wife understands that in any matter of simple preference, she gets to pick. She generally gets her way but trusts me to decide when some other factor is more important than simple preference.

She also knows that her needs are favored over mine when the decision is at that level.

Needs get priority over preferences. Safety gets priority over needs. I get to decide which is which, but that’s rarely a tough call. It’s a beautiful system.

People shouldn’t struggle with this passage. It’s just a clever math-hack.

There’s an amusing application of this, which comes up whenever my wife and I go on a long drive. I’m driving, but she has the smartphone with all the map and traffic apps. She tells me what’s going on, and I act on her recommendation. So, who’s in command?

Google. How scary is that?

Just kidding, but this shows how things can work well together when the roles are clearly defined.

Today’s passage is the quintessential marriage advice. It’s the secret to a happy marriage – from the guy who invented marriage. Just imagine if the Lord had chosen to keep silent on this issue, leaving couples to fight it out.

Thank God He didn’t.


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