Monday, February 23, 2009

Workplace Spouses



Adam, thank you for yesterday’s program!

The final segment with Scott Brown, President of The National Center for Family-Integrated Churches in Wake Forest, North Carolina, was particularly encouraging. Your willingness to examine biblical applications for the Christian family in the context of yesterday’s San Antonio Express News article “Workplace Spouses” was both important and courageous.

[Take a moment to read the article; it's important. Here's a small bit of it.

According to a survey by, a career information Web site, some 23 percent of workers reported having a work spouse. What is a work spouse? It's a co-worker of the opposite sex with whom one shares an extremely close yet platonic relationship that in many ways mirrors a real marriage. Here are some signs that you have (or are) a work spouse: You know about each other's personal lives and share private information freely. You share inside jokes. You know how the other person takes his or her coffee. When something eventful happens at work, your work spouse is the first person you seek out to dish.

A work spouse is a close confidant who makes going to the office more satisfying. Work spouses can be found in any office setting, from blue collar to corporate.

"I trust him with a lot of stuff I don't trust anybody else with," says Beltran, a tall, strapping woman who shares a jocular relationship with her work spouse. "We fight sometimes, we get mad at each other, then 20 minutes later we make up."

Just like in a marriage.]

As I listened to the discussion with your guest and callers, a couple of issues came to mind which I believe are foundational to a proper Christian understanding of these issues.

As you and Scott Brown discussed, we find a description in Genesis of the proper husband/wife relationship. In the context of the creation order, God created woman to be a helper suitable to man and He gave Adam and Eve a dominion work to perform together. This co-labor in God-ordained dominion activity was central to their relationship as husband and wife.

It should never surprise us that affections are directed toward one with whom we labor or one who helps us in our labors. It is central to the relationship and affection between a husband and wife that they labor together for the glory of God.

When women other than our wives are our helpers in our God-given work, or when we send our wives out to be helpers to other men in their work, we have entered dangerous and unbiblical territory – territory designed by God to build closeness and affection between a husband and wife.

In Genesis 3, we also find a description of the respective roles of men and women in performing dominion work in a fallen world. We find this in the context of the respective curses under which men and women labor. Of course, these curses are the result of man’s sin and rebellion against God.

The wife’s curse is twofold: pain in childbirth and the requirement that she submit to her own husband when her desire is to do otherwise. The husband’s curse is the difficulty encountered in providing.

While these curses are the result of sin, they are also God-given duties to men and women. When we are faithful in these duties, we experience blessing. When we seek to avoid these duties, we experience a curse. We pervert these God-given duties as husbands transfer their curse to their wives in asking them to provide, which wives often willingly do in order to circumvent the difficulty of one of their curses – the duty of submitting to a husband over whom they desire to rule.

The wife takes authority over her husband by taking over his duty of provision, and she removes herself to situations of autonomy or submission to others – men and women – anyone but their husband. In so doing, women actually take on part of the curse of the man along with their own curses.

The respective roles of men and women are consistently reinforced throughout Scripture, as you and Mr. Brown discussed.

Ephesians 5 and Titus 2 instruct that women are to submit to their own husbands (Emphasis added). Titus 2 goes so far as to say that a woman’s failure in this duty results in the word of God being blasphemed. This begs the question of how the word of God can be blasphemed by such sin.

Ultimately, following the cultural pattern which has become so common among Christians (the feministic pattern which says there is no difference in the roles of men and women) reflects what we really believe about Christ and the church.

The church is the bride of Christ, which He purchased with His own blood. Anyone who says a Christian ethic suggests that women enjoy an inferior role is gravely mistaken. The model of Christ and His bride is an example of the groom giving Himself for the bride.

The instruction to Christian husbands of Ephesians 5 is to love our wives like Christ loves His bride, the church. This involves the most sacrificial, unselfish love ever contemplated or modeled.

Nothing has ever elevated the value of a woman like the teaching and example of Christ. Christ protects His bride and provides for her – protecting her very soul in eternity by giving Himself for her sin, and providing for her salvation. He provides the ultimate example of a Groom – one willing to love His wife so much that He gives His life for her.

She is to be faithful and submissive to Him, not rushing around looking for autonomy or self-rule or seeking some other husband or improper authority to whom she may submit.

Christ relates to us in terms of family, and He has given us families and marriages so that we can better understand Him. Our marriages are important, Great Commission tools by which we proclaim to a lost world our belief and faith in Christ. Our marriages are to reflect the relationship of Christ and His church.

To do otherwise, for either a husband or a wife, reflects a groom who is not faithful in protecting and providing for his bride and a bride who is not true and submissive to her groom. This, I believe, is central to what is meant when perversion of a woman’s role is described as “blaspheming the word of God.” It is no coincidence that the struggles of the church so often parallel those of the family in our society.

Many raise practical objections to obeying God’s commands regarding our marriages. These concerns were reflected in some of the calls to yesterday’s program.

If we allow a bad economy or a desire for a bigger house or whatever practical obstacle arises to justify disobedience to God’s command in our marriages, it speaks volumes about our faith (or lack of faith) in our Groom.

He has given us His commands regarding our marriage relationships. The Christian walk is about faith, and sometimes steps of faith are required in obedience. Scripture is sufficient to answer these concerns.

As the church and the family function biblically, each problem which can arise is clearly addressed, and God the Father of our Groom and Savior, Jesus Christ, is faithful to bless those who obey Him.

Thanks again for your courage and faithfulness.

In Christ,

Don Hart, member of The Vision Forum Ministries Board of Directors

The Don Hart Family

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