God has a beautiful design for His world, for the order of relationships and the nature of roles. And they all fit together in a beautiful symmetry and perfect coherence to adorn His doctrine, to bring glory to His name, to bless His people. His design is perfect and works perfectly.
But this is a fallen world and sin infects and contorts everything. His design is challenging to accomplish because sin limits our ability. But that doesn’t mean we abandon His design. No. We must rather hold it up all the more prominently and pray that it may evermore closely be approximated in our lives and in the lives of those around us. And we can at the same time praise Him for how He uses these limitations for His glory and our good. I think of the Samaritan woman of John 4 who was convicted of her sin and of His power, when Jesus held up to her the beauty and necessity of monogamy of which she fell substantially short. His understanding is always higher than ours. And we may not judge others. We do not know the intricacies of other Christian’s lives nor the competing demands that factor into decisions they make.
Yet, we can fervently pray for each other that the eyes of our hearts would be opened to see and love His design. And we can always keep in mind and prayer not just that individuals would grow into His image but also that families and marriages would be growing together also to ever more closely match His design spelled out in Scripture. This witness of the biblibal design for men and women, marriage and family is incredibly powerful. We talk much of the witness of the individual submitted Christian. But I think the witness of the biblically submitted and ordered family may be exponentially more powerful. As we uphold this design, He is proclaimed and praised and He draws His lost children to Himself.
When I was 26 I met my first Christian couple. When I was 28 I met my second. Those were the only Christians I knew until near my salvation at 42. Their visible conformity to and love of His design had an unspeakably powerful impact on me. It was such an effective witness. The complementarity was profoundly expressive of the reality and distinctiveness of God. It stayed with me consistently over those desert years of my continued secular humanist rebellion.
The real life articulation of the gentle, sacrificial love of a leader, provider, protector husband was powerful, but the real life articulation of the submissive, respectful helper-suitable, keeper-at-home was absolutely captivating to me as a woman. This image endured 7 years of post modern feminist graduate education and a few years of lucrative professional practice. But the witness did its work. The doctrine was adorned and I was smitten and saved.
On account of sin we cannot fully achieve that ideal nor often even come close. But we must not ever let go of it or ever stop aspiring to it. To whatever extent we can, we ought to die to ourselves and live to Christ in this design for our lives. As long as we keep the covenant image before us we adorn His doctrine.