Jack Graham - Leader, Lover, Defender and Friend
Take your Bibles, turn to Ephesians chapter 5. And in the passage that I am about to read to you there is for the guys, for men, four times it says three words that will change your life, change your marriage, even change your wife, your family, your kids, three words. They're going to show up four times and they are simple: Love your wife. Let's read it together.
Verse 25: "Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her, that he might sanctify her (which means to purify her, present her), cleansed by the washing of water with the word", verse 27, "so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she...", that is, the bride of Christ, the church, because the church, the relationship that we have with Christ is a model for marriages, "...that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way (here it is again) husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife (three times) loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it (even as we are to nourish and cherish our relationship with our wives), just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast (or cling or stay glued) to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it references to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife (one, two, three, four. Get the point?) love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband".
All in, guys. All in, first of all, in moral fidelity. The writer of Proverbs asks the question: "Who can find a faithful man"?, indicating that it is rare to find a faithful man, a man with fidelity and integrity and purity. Rare! But it should not be rare among those of us who name the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is the calling and the command of every Christian man and woman to be morally pure and faithful to the vows that we have made before God and to one another, to love and honor and cherish as long as we both shall live, forsaking all others and loving one another. That's the promise we made and it is the promise, by God's grace, that we are to keep. And with a faithful man, the writer of Proverbs also tells us that there comes great blessing when we are faithful to God and faithful to our wives; faithful to our family.
"Love your wives" is a promise made; it must be a promise kept. To hold fast to one another, to cleave to one another, that we may be one in Christ. And in God's marriage mathematics one plus one equals one. It is a miracle when God blends our lives beautifully to become one in Him. And, therefore, we must never rip that apart. What God has joined together, let not man tear apart. When it speaks of holding fast together and sticking together like glue, God is the glue. The Scripture says "By Him all things hold together, all things consist". And so you can't just rip this apart, you can't tear it apart. Think of gluing two pieces of paper together. Just glue them together tightly and then try to tear them apart. You know what happens; it all comes apart. Everything is ripped apart.
That's why the Bible says in Malachi chapter 2 that "God hates divorce". There's no reason to divorce. We will not quit on our marriage. The only reason for divorce given to us in Scripture is adultery and abandonment of the marriage. We'll say a little more about that later. But the fact is we are stuck together, we are glued together by God in Christ in the Lord. And you don't just get rid of a marriage like you get rid of a friendship or a relationship in high school. I actually went to my fiftieth high school reunion last Saturday night. Boy, that was an eye opener in many ways! Fifty years later. And you know, in junior high and high school I was always falling in and out of love. You know, that girl, this girl, that girl! I mean it was puppy love but it was kind of real to the puppy, if you know what I'm saying. So I was always giving my letter jacket away or giving a ring, or something you know, but I always ended up taking it back or somebody giving it back.
"When I was a boy, I did childish things. But when I became a man I put away childish things". You don't break up a marriage relationship like giving your letter jacket, taking your letter jacket back. Or getting your ring back. It is a commitment to God; to one another. And so do everything possible that you can do protect this relationship. To build moral fences, if you will, around your marriage, to keep yourself safe and spiritually healthy in a relationship. Here at Prestonwood we have a set of guidelines for our ministers, our pastors, and really, for every staff member. But it's particularly designed for our pastors.
You've heard of perhaps the Billy Graham rule. And in 1947 Billy Graham and his team, Cliff Barrows, George Beverly Shea and others made a commitment that they would do certain things in order to protect their marriages, their families, their relationships and their ministry. And it was known as the Modesto Manifesto. Kept it all the years. Later, it came to light when Vice President Pence said that he lived by the Billy Graham rule. And one of the rules is never to be alone with another woman in the car or at lunch or whatever, and to protect your marriage. He took all kinds of heat and flack for that and was mocked for that. But let me tell you, it's risky business to not protect your marriage in every way possible.
So we have guidelines. I share these guidelines with young pastors. I share them with our staff. And these are moral fences and they are to be kept. These are fireable offenses if they're broken. From time to time we've had people break the moral code or tear down a moral fence, and we've had to take strong and serious action because we are serious about protecting our pastor's wives and marriages and our church! And what we write down and share with our pastors, I believe will be helpful not only to men who are in the ministry, and women in the ministry, but to you as well. Because you need to establish in your own life, and write them down, some moral guidelines, some fences because you love your marriage, your wife enough to protect it! So here's what we say. Again, not all of these apply to you because it may have to do with counseling as a pastor and some other things, but you make your own application:
Number one, do not visit the opposite sex alone at home.
Number two, do not counsel the opposite sex alone in the office.
Number three, do not counsel the opposite sex more than once without his or her spouse being present.
Next, do not go to lunch alone with the opposite sex.
Now, I know this one applies because I see it all the time; and I hear about failures in families as a result of breaking this simple principle. You say this is legalism. It's not legalism; I'm talking about love. Legalism is when you judge a person's heart. This is not legalism; this is a lifestyle that we live as followers of Jesus. Raising the highest standards possible. And I see it often. And I hear about it. Guys taking their secretaries to lunch or friends at work to lunch, or people outside their marriage relationship, females and otherwise. Or going to lunch with your boss, whatever. That's risky business. You say, "Well, it's business I have to do it". No you don't, no you don't. You can do business at your office. You don't need long social engagements at lunch to do business. If you do, take somebody with you.
So that's important. Here's one: Do not get into a vehicle or drive alone with the opposite sex. Sorry, I'm not going to pick you up on the side of the road. I'll call for help. Just not going to do it. It may be pouring rain. I'll give you an umbrella and call for help, but we're not going to take a ride together. Next, do not discuss detailed sexual problems with anyone of the opposite sex. Clearly that's for pastors in counseling. We talk about this. Always refer them to a biblically based counselor of the same sex on these issues. Oh, I missed one. Do not kiss anyone of the opposite sex, other than a family member. Duh! Next, do not discuss your marriage problems with anyone of the opposite sex.
Can I say that typically this is the way of the predator? "Oh, my wife doesn't treat me like you treat me. She doesn't smile at me or respect me like you respect me. We've got such problems at home. I have an unhappy marriage". That's the way of the predator; that's the way of seduction. Don't fall for it! Don't do it! Be careful when answering cards, letters and, we need to add in here, texts and emails from the opposite sex. Don't work late together. You say, "Well, we have to work after hours". No, you don't; not by yourselves. You don't stay in the parking lot. I just read this past week of a well known minister that was having long conversations in the parking lot with an employee after movie nights till midnight. Who does this stuff? People who become victims, that's who does this stuff. So don't work late together. Avoid comments that could have secret or hidden meanings, the double entendre, the profanity.
The profanity in the workplace and in the commonplace is vile these days. The looseness of lips, and the way men and women, men and men, women to women (as far as that goes) Just the way the people converse today is ungodly. Say, "Well, you know, some guys says, 'Hey, I got a really good one for you. Are there any women around?' No, but there's some Christian gentlemen who don't want to hear it". But certainly avoid those comments that could have secret or hidden meanings. Don't flirt with your words, your eyes or your touch. Flirting, I don't have to describe that. You know, just hitting on someone and using your words or your touch to do it. Do what my mother Emogene Graham told me to do, guys, "Keep your hands to yourself". It would solve a lot of problems, wouldn't it? And do not discuss personal problems and be sure, this is positive, to openly convey love for your spouse and your children.
Now I practice these things personally and our ministers do, and I hope you will set guidelines in your own life that will protect you. You say, "Well, you're protecting yourself from those terrible women that are coming on to you"? No, it's not that. It's just you never want to give the devil a stick to hit you with. It's that. It's because I love Deb Graham so much that I would never want to put myself or her in a position to be accused wrongly, or to do something that would be misunderstood and certainly to destroy our marriage by taking more steps in a relationship that is out of bounds. All in in moral fidelity! Secondly, all in in spiritual authority. Now we're going to come to that place where we talk about submission and how wives are to submit to their husbands and what that means and how husbands are to love their wives because these are our roles. We are to love one another, we are in fact to submit to one another because submission is not a word just for wives; it is a word for Christians.
And Jesus is the perfect model of submission. He came all the way from heaven, submitting His life to the will of the Father. He submitted while He was under the roof of Mary and Joseph to the authority of His parents. Jesus understood authority and humility and submission. Fast-forward to the end and Jesus is in the upper room with His disciples, and what is He doing? He is washing the feet of His disciples. He's serving them, He's submitting to them, knowing that all things had been given unto Him, according to John chapter 13. All things were given unto Him. So what did He do? He didn't take up the throne, He took up the towel and He served. Even Judas, the betrayer and Peter, the denier, He washed their feet. That's submission. The servant leader, the leader who serves. The servant who leads.
In Gethsemane Jesus surrendered His will to do the will of the Father in submission under the authority of God. On the cross when He was dying there, He could have called ten thousand angels to set Him free, but love, not nails fastened Him to the cross. And He bled and He died for you and me, that the Gospel could be given to all of us, the good news that our sins could be forgiven. And He rose again on the third day. But in submission to God the Father. He later was able to say "All authority has been given unto Me". The One who had all authority submitted Himself, not because He was inferior to Father. The Father and he Son are One. They are equal, co-equal, co-eternal. But in the divine order, the divine orchestration of the Godhead, Jesus submitted to the will of the Father. In His humanity He submitted to the will of His own parents because it is the spirit of submission and selflessness that enables us to love people. And so when it says "wives submit, respect your husbands" it says in Colossians that wives are to submit as unto the Lord. Colossians 3:18. As is fitting, as is proper in the Lord.
So let me just say very clearly, these texts on submission and wives submitting to their husbands, doesn't give any man the right or the authority to beat or to badger or belittle his wife. As a matter of fact, if a husband abuses his wife physically, she should get out and call the police immediately. Separate from any criminal activity surrounding your life. So this is not carte blanche for a man to say "You have to do anything I say". No, the Scripture says in Acts chapter 5, you must obey God and not man. Your first accountability and responsibility as a woman, as a man, is to obey God! You are a person under authority. Jesus is your supreme authority. And if any man, even your husband, asks you to do something that is immoral or impure or criminal or unethical, you say no, because you must obey God. You must never do anything that dishonors God. You must never do anything that is dishonest before God. You must never allow your husband to lead you to sin. I don't know how I can say it any more clearly.
So respecting your husband, submitting to your husband is not being inferior, it is not cowling down, it is not accepting every kind of behavior. The same Scripture that says submit to your husband, says husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church. And the Scripture, while it says submit to your husband, the Bible never says to men to rule over your wives. We're not to rule over our wives; we're to love our wives as Christ has loved the church. After all, why do you love Christ, because He first loved you. You're to give unconditional love to your wife. Not even because she may deserve it. She may not deserve it. Most cases she does deserve your love. But you don't love her because she loves you first. She will love you back when you love her. I've discovered in life that women respond graciously to a husband who loves her as Christ loves us. Christ loves us and gave Himself for us.
So the love of Christ, what is it? It is sacrificial, it is selfless, it is steadfast, it is constant, it is committed. Not always perfect. Remember, there are no perfect marriages. There are no perfect people in a marriage, but in Christ we are growing and we are developing. We are to sacrifice our lives, men, for our wives. I can tell you the problems when marriages have problems can be reduced to one thing: selfishness, pridefulness. All conflict comes from pride. The proverb says, "Only by pride comes contention". And the conflict and the contention that often is present is because of selfishness. Somebody has to be willing to lay down their selfishness in order to serve and surrender.
Well, we're to submit our lives one to another. We are to serve one another and to give our lives to each other. That's marriage that works. Doesn't mean, again, that the husband is barking orders: "I'm in charge here! You submit to me"! No, love your wife. And if you're smart, guys, men, husbands, you'll consult your wife on the decisions of life, on the direction of life. You know, good leaders do that. If you're a good leader in the business world, in the business community, you'll get good counsel. As for me, I wouldn't want to move forward in making decisions without the wise counsel of my wife. I often ask her, "What do you think about this"? And her counsel is invaluable.
In fact, years ago we decided that she would make all the minor decisions in our marriage and I would make all the major decisions in marriage. Problem is there's just been no major decisions to be made. No, we made decisions together, and that's God's way. Mutual submission. I'm loving she's giving her life to me and responding to the leadership. You are to be the spiritual leader of your home and your family. Say, "Aww, well you know, my wife, she's the religious type. Well, you know, she knows the Bible better than I do. Or she's more spiritual than I am". No excuse! You, sir, are to be the one to say, "Come on, honey, let's pray together".
You husband, are the one to say, "Let's get our family; let's go to church on God's day and worship the Lord together". That's you! That's on you, guys! You want to see revival in our community, in our country? You want to see your children grow up to honor God, to serve the Lord? Then you take the spiritual leadership and ownership of your family as a man! I am a man under authority; I am under the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ. And under His authority to live in obedience to Him, starting with love your wives as Christ has loved the church.
One final thing: All in in moral fidelity, all in in spiritual authority, and all in on personal security. That's the protections that I'm talking about. I dare say that there's not a man watching, listening, viewing, in this room who would not do everything possible to protect your family if an intruder came in. Well, there is an intruder attacking your family. Satan is like a powerful, roaring, roaming lion, seeking whom he may devour. And the primary responsibility is not with mama bear, but with you sir, with me as we protect our families and fight the good fight of faith. That we put on the whole armor of God.
Men, we are to provide a spiritual covering for our families to protect them in every way possible, to stand up to the enemy, to resist with truth and the word of God! So to put Jesus first in our lives is the critical decision that everyone of us must make. Christ, the center of your heart, the center of your home, that you would personally stand guard in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that your family and the future of your family, that your kids would grow up strong in the Lord in the power of His might, that from generation to generation the faith will be transferred and that you as a man will stand before God one day and hear God say, because of Jesus "There's a faithful man. Well done, good and faithful servant". Amen?