For Christians, marriage involves a husband who loves his wife as Christ loves the church and a wife who submits to her husband as the church submits to Christ. The husband is to love his wife even unto death, and a wife is to submit to her husband in everything. There are no exceptions.
These are impossible standards for mere humans to live up to, but that’s the nature of perfect moral standards. It isn’t a defect in them.
Husbands are also to teach their wives about spiritual things. They are to “wash [their] wives with the word [of God]”. Paul says that only men are to preach because Eve was deceived; naturally then, this role falls to men.
I’m convinced Christian marriage doesn’t exist in the West. Christian marriage isn’t just difficult today. It is actually impossible. We have only clumsy attempts, and can get nothing more.
In the military and in other hierarchies where real submission to authority takes place, there are safeguards to enforce the structure. Punishments exist for those who disobey orders. The mere fact of these consequences is enough to deter the majority of those who might be tempted to disregard their superiors.
In Western marriages, there have also been safeguards against disobedience. Husbands had tremendous control over their wives. While the modern mind might be tempted to think of physical violence, there were more effective ways to accomplish the goal. Women needed husbands to have any political voice, as only men would qualify to vote, serve in officer corps of the military, or in the court of a king. Christian civilization had mercy for widows, but none for adulteresses. It had roles for women who abstained from marriage, but disdain for women who abandoned their vows. Husbands could rely on all of these things to get the job done so they could focus on Christ’s command for them: to love their wives as Christ loves the church.
None of these things exist today. There are no negative social consequences for women who divorce their husbands, who sleep around while married or not. In fact, women who unilaterally divorce their husbands are often rewarded by courts stacked in their favor. Women don’t have to break their family apart on the outside to rebel, though. With universal suffrage, a house can be divided on the inside; husbands and wives can vote against each other, bringing the government into their home like some totalitarian’s dream.
There are no social restraints to keep a wife submissive toward her husband. And there are no legal actions available to men to do so on their own. In fact, a man who tries to enforce his authority in any way will bring only scorn.
Submission is impossible to enforce, so we are required to trust that women will simply submit out of their own good nature. But women are sinners, just like men. And women, as Paul says, were the first to be deceived, being more likely than men to be manipulated. Our fundamentally feminist culture has honed its skill in manipulation.
Since submission is impossible to enforce, and impossible to produce without enforcement, and since submission is fully half of what makes a Christian marriage, I posit that Christian marriage is not simply difficult in 2018. It is impossible.