We are discussing marriage by examining the recent book of John Piper’s called This Momentary Marriage: A Parable of Permanence.
Piper is a well-known advocate for what most call “complementarianism,” and I don’t know how to define this in a way that satisfies everyone, but let’s say this: as the Son submits to the Father, so the wife submits to the husband. This is not ontological; this is not soteriological; this is a role designed by God in order to display his grace. Critics of this viewpoint, usually called egalitarians, push for mutual submission (not just wives) and they push for marriage as a relationship — and they often also push for recognizing cultural conditioning in Paul’s statements.
Anyway, that as preface to Piper’s focus on husbands and wives in a complementarian relationship. He has an excellent two paragraphs emphasizing that some sick husbands push this idea into control and damage. He makes three observations:
1. The husband is “like” Christ but is not Christ. The husband is not infallible.
2. The aim of a godly husband is that his wife conform to Christ, not to himself. (This flows from the first point.)
3. The husband is to die for his wife as Christ died for the Church. He asks if husbands are doing this by “lording it over her or by dying for her?” (67).
Wives, too, help in the transformation of their husbands.
1. The wife submits “like” the way Christ did. Her allegiance is first to Christ, not to the husband.
2. The wife prays for her husband to change in that she asks him to change.
3. The wife is a sister and not just a wife.
Piper brings up nagging, or excessive exhortation. (Not sure why he connects the word only to the wife. Naggers, I suspect, are about a 50-50 spread.)
Anyway, both impact the other mostly by sacrificial love.