Today we are going to talk about making love. It is my hope that at the end of this sermon you will have gained new insights and skills for love making. And now that I have everyone’s attention let me explain what I mean.
Writer Robert Fulghum once interviewed Alexander Papanderos, director of the Orthodox Academy of Crete. In Crete the custom of arranged marriage continues to this day. Papanderos had stumbled over a concept he found in Western literature. It was the phrase, “Making love.” It confused him. “What is ‘making love’?” he asked.
Fulghum explained that making love was a popular euphemism for sexual intercourse.
Papanderos replied that for Cretans, “Making love” is a much more serious idea. When two families agree that a son and a daughter would suit one another, it is expected that over time the man and woman will work at becoming compatible partners in the same spirit one might work at achieving competence in a life’s vocation. This is making love.
Time and experience, mistakes and difficulties, are all part of the equation, the sum of which is a lasting, fulfilling relationship. Love is not something you fall into, Papanderos explained. Love and marriage are “made.” Thus, on the isle of Crete, when a married couple is working at improving their communication skills, at understanding one another, at struggling through conflicts, maybe even arguing with one another, the Cretans would observe that couple and smile knowingly and say, “Aah, they are making love.”
Given the current statistics for divorce, knowing the huge numbers of young people who believe traditional marriage is no longer viable and simple living arrangements seem to be the norm, it is little wonder we see so few solid, joyous, fulfilling marriages. Everywhere we turn today it seems that the state of marriage is under attack.
Some groups are attempting to legalize same sex marriages. No fault divorce has wrought havoc upon families and children. The messages of the media tend to undermine God’s way for husbands and wives. Considering the state of marriage in our society, it is time people moved away from their preoccupation with sex and got serious about making love. It is time people stopped using each other for pleasure, power and profit and invested themselves in making love. It’s time for couples to live up to their promises to one another and make love.
I want to let you in on a secret. The problem isn’t that traditional marriage — the design that God gave us — doesn’t work. The problem is that people are either ignorant of the principles for making love, or they are apathetic about those principles. You know the difference between ignorance and apathy? I don’t know and I don’t care.
We are going to look at our text from Ephesians 5. It is my hope that when we are done, you will know and care enough to make love with your spouse, your child, your parent or whatever other relationship needs strengthening. While Paul talks about marriage here, you can apply what we are going to learn to almost any relationship. Our focus, however, will be upon the marriage relationship. Therefore, all of us who are married, all of you who may be married some day, need to learn and live with God’s principles for making love.
First and foremost, we need to know that God has made love to us. That good news is unfolded for us in the first two chapters of Ephesians. Listen to how God made love to us:
– Blessed us with every spiritual blessing
– Chosen us to be His holy people
– Made us acceptable in Christ
– Gave us redemption through Christ
– Sealed us for eternity with the Spirit
He needed to do that for us because we were dead in sin. If He had left us in that condition we would have lived a life without a future and a hope. Our days would have been filled with the goal of satisfying the desires of our sinful flesh.
But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love for us, even when we were dead in sin, made us alive together with Christ. He made love with us by giving Himself to us. He set aside His feelings, which, because of sin, must have run eternally deep. Nevertheless, He loved us, brought us back from the clutches of sin and death, bought us with the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ. He went the extra mile, He forgave when He didn’t have to, and He made the first move to draw us back. He could have sat in heaven and waited until we came to our senses, turned from our sin, and returned to Him who loves us. But that is not the way He makes love with His beloved.
He came to us and won us back, not by force but by loving us even when we were unlovable. God is determined to love us and He hopes and longs for our love in return. He will do anything in His power to influence us to love Him — anything, that is, except to force us to love Him, because that wouldn’t be love. A loving relationship is not brought about by the exercise of power but by the influence of love.
Salvation, grace, redemption, forgiveness, new life are all free gifts from God. There is nothing you or I need to do to receive His love. He has freely given us His love and continues to do so in the hope that we will respond to the power of His love.
So the natural question for us is, how should we respond? We should be like the people whom Joshua challenged. Choose you this day whom you will serve. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Joshua was inviting God’s people to submit their desires, their lives to the will and wishes of Him who loved them and saved them. We know how much God loves us. We have received the blessings of Jesus Christ. There is nothing in the entire world that can separate us from the love of God. Note there is no compulsion here, no power play on God’s part. He has no intention of beating us into submission. He says He loves us. He shows us that love and continues to love us no matter what we do or how we respond. He asks us to give up our self-willed desires and assume His desires for our lives. This is the way God has made love to us.
Knowing how much He loves us, that He will do nothing to harm us and has our good in mind at all times, our response ought to be to submit ourselves to His authority. As we do, He blesses us even more.
Paul extends the same invitation to us when He says, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. The word translated, submit literally means to line up under or with. We are encouraged to line up under the lordship of Jesus Christ, and the way we display that allegiance is to submit to one another. Paul could have said, “This is the way we make love with one another.”
The apostle then went on to apply this principle to marriage by describing what the ideal marriage looks like. Here is the ideal: Wives submit to your husbands as to the Lord. Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church.
He first tells wives that their relationship to their husband should mirror that of their relationship to Christ. He specifically says to submit to your husbands as to the Lord. Note first what Paul is not saying. He is not saying wives, give in to your husband’s every whim. He is not saying, wives become a doormat. He is not saying wives, you are second class citizens in relationship to your husbands. That is not the relationship Christ expects with His people, having won us with His love.
He asks us to give up our selfish desire to control our eternal destiny and let Him direct our lives for our blessing and good. Our Lord has invited us to line up with Him, with His will and Word, so that He can bless us.
Then He says to husbands, love your wives as Christ loves the church. He did not say give them anything they ask for. He did not say when they are groveling at your feet then love them. He says that we are to love our wives with a Christ-like love. We should be willing to sacrifice ourselves for their good. They should feel so confident of our love and devotion they never doubt for a second that anything and everything we do will be for their good. That’s the way Christ loves the church.
Consider the metaphor Paul uses here. He says that Christ is the head of the church which submits to His authority. Jesus was given the position of leadership because of His willingness to make love with the church, because of His desire to share Himself with His people, because of His all consuming passion to present His church, His people, as perfect in His sight.
Any organization or organism which functions with more than one head is in trouble. Any time the church mistakenly thinks that we know best for ourselves and can function without the leadership of our Lord Jesus we run into trouble. When the church wrestles for control of itself, denying or ignoring the One who has been placed in authority, it is out of control.
In marriage, this wrestling for authority dates back to the Garden of Eden where God said to the first woman, your desire will be to control your husband but he should rule over you. It is part of the curse upon human kind that men and women fight over who should wear the pants in the family. This desire to control one another is sinful, wrong and harms our relationship with each other and diminishes the witness that Christ lives within us.
I know this message of submission grinds in us. We aren’t used to thinking in these terms. It is more common for us to want to know “What’s in it for me?” “How can I protect my interests?” “How can I get my way?” There are probably even some here today who are thinking, “How can I get my husband to love and cherish and honor me in this way?” Or, “How can I get my wife to love and cherish and honor me in this way?” As soon as we begin asking that question we’ve fallen into the trap of attempting to control each other. It is not unlike the subtitle of a very popular recent book on the relationships between men and women — Getting What We Want from Relationships. Do you hear the desire to control?
The questions we should be asking ourselves here ought to be more like: “How can I live out the role to which God has called me?” “How can I reflect the love of Christ in my marriage?” “How can I be to most godly husband or wife that I can be?” Ultimately the issue here isn’t the control of our spouse but obedience to the Lord.
Given that men and women are different — or as one author put it, Men are from Mars, Women Are from Venus, then we have different needs. I agree with those who say the driving force in a man’s life is that of significance and for women it is security. Our need for significance and security is so strong that if we are not getting it from our spouse we will seek it from our children, our career, our stock portfolio, shopping, sports, or other people. These end up being poor substitutes for the real thing.
The ultimate source of our significance and security is God. He has called us in Christ to be His own dear children and heirs of the Kingdom. That is significant. He promises to never leave us or forsake us, to guard and protect us. That is real security. And He has placed us in relationships where this significance and security are to be revealed in tangible ways.
Husbands, it is our responsibility to provide an environment where our wives will know our love and be completely secure in it. Do nothing which would cause them to question or doubt your devotion for them. In everything cause them to be certain that you respect and cherish them. This will mean that we have to set aside our personal agendas from time to time just as Christ did for us. Not unlike the advice a third grader gave his teacher who was getting married. He told her that she would know her husband loves her if there are two cupcakes and her husband takes the one with not as much frosting. Husbands, there are a hundred ways for us to show and share our love and devotion for our wives. Is she convinced you would sacrifice anything for her?
Wives, show your husbands that you value them. Your esteem for your husband should be greater than that for your children, your home, your career or any other part of your life. Is He convinced that you value him over anything and anyone else?
Regardless of how solid or shaky your marriage is this perspective will enhance your relationship with your spouse. Here is the bottom line — when I am being the most Christ-like spouse I can be then I am influencing my marriage partner in positive ways.
Paul said it this way, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Paraphrasing the words of President Kennedy, Paul’s encouragement would sound like this: “Ask not what your spouse can do for you. Ask what you can do for your spouse!” You’ll be amazed at how God will bless your relationship when you make love to each other this way.

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