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Thursday, December 31, 2009
A surrendered marriage is one in which, by mutual consent, a couple agrees to live out the principles of the bridal paradigm by working together to make their marriage a reflection of the love relationship between Jesus, our heavenly bridegroom, and the church, his bride. A marriage founded on the bridal paradigm is a journey toward deeper intimacy and increased passion, along with greater freedom and trust.

It is important for me to emphasize first of all that the highest goal for any man or woman is to find and fulfill their destiny in Christ. Along that line, every couple should embrace and pursue this goal as a shared priority, even above the goal of a stronger marriage. Ultimately, your marriage journey is one that should strengthen your life in God and draw you to a more intimate relationship with your ultimate bridegroom, Jesus.

It is also essential to understand that the bridal paradigm is a series of truths in tension; that the principles of a surrendered marriage must be considered as part of an entire paradigm. As easy and tempting as it might be to isolate on one statement or principle, it is also dangerous. For example, if all you consider is the submission part of what is taught in Ephesians 5 (see below), it’s easy to draw the completely wrong conclusion that women are to be subjugated by and subservient to men. Likewise if you only see what that chapter says about a husband being the head of his wife, without understanding what that looks like, you fail to see that the model for leadership is Jesus laying down his life for his bride.

It is with specific purpose that I describe the pursuit of a surrendered marriage as a journey. It is indeed a lifelong journey to a deeper understanding of God’s design for marriage as revealed in the bridal paradigm. In many ways this journey is not unlike your spiritual journey in your relationship with Christ. Surely your understanding will grow and mature as your experiences inform your beliefs and perspective. Don’t expect to get it all at once. I know we’ve been on this journey many years and still have much to learn.

At the same time, however, what you believe about your marriage is also important. I use the term paradigm on purpose as well, because for many it will involve a pretty major shift in your thinking, perhaps even a radical transformation in how you view your marriage and your roles in it. A surrendered marriage is not so much about doing the right things as it is about thinking in the right way. I like to say that it is right thinking that leads to right doing. At the same time, sometimes simply choosing to do the right thing will bear fruit in your understanding. Still, attempting to simply go through the proper motions will be unsustainable unless it is eventually accompanied by the right understanding of what it means to live a biblically surrendered marriage.

The bridal paradigm points us toward a surrendered marriage that is absolutely a partnership, one in which the man and woman are of equal value, but where each has a different role. He loves, leads and serves her. She and loves, honors and submits to him. Let me be emphatically clear on this point: it’s not about who is more and who is less, who is better or worse, smarter or dumber, stronger or weaker. It’s about having a God-ordained order in place in your marriage that reflects His design, as portrayed for us in the bridal paradigm of Jesus and the church.

According to the bridal paradigm, a surrendered marriage means a husband is the head of his home (“as Christ is head of the church” Eph 5:22) and therefore the one who provides physical, spiritual and relational covering for his wife, and correspondingly, his family. His sacrificial surrender means looking out for her interests and seeing to her needs and desires, even above his own. It means that the husband’s priority is to cherish, nurture, protect and lead his wife in a selfless and loving manner (”as Christ loved the church”), leading with strength and integrity. It means balancing authority with absolute love and acting with genuine servant leadership. Ultimately, it means doing everything in his power to see that she reaches her full potential in Christ.

In response to such a love, a wife gives her husband the gift of her submission (“as the church submits to Christ” Eph5:24), choosing to place herself under his loving leadership, and trusting him to care for and protect her as Jesus does. She honors him by surrendering herself to him, not because she is incapable of caring for herself, but because she chooses to live in an ordered partnership with her husband that is free of the struggle for control and power. The wife makes it a priority to support, respect, and submit to her husband, remaining under his covering being attentive to his needs and desires, just as he is to hers. Ultimately, it means aligning herself with him in way that encourages him to reach his full potential in Christ.

A bridal paradigm marriage is not a power sharing arrangement. Rather, it is a power exchange relationship. The husband’s power is given in the form of the sacrificial and selfless way he loves and leads his wife. The wife’s power is given in the form of loving submission to her husband. The beauty of the bridal paradigm lies in what it calls you to give rather than what it permits you to demand. Asserting your “rights” has no place in the bridal paradigm because by design it is uncalled for. In fact, demanding that your partner adhere to their side of the bargain runs in opposition to the bridal paradigm itself.

This is an exciting and fruitful journey. Regardless of where you marriage is right now, I encourage you to explore this fascinating land of a surrendered marriage.
Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.  Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.  Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church-- for we are members of his body.  "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh."  This is a profound mystery--but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
Ephesians 5:22-33
Our story begins when my family moved to northern Virginia from Nebraska near the end of my sixth grade year. My wife and I remember seeing each other at school but really didn’t interact at all as far as either of us recalls. Despite this fact she still gives me grief for not asking her to dance at the sixth grade end-of-year dance.

We briefly shared a middle school class until my schedule was re-arranged, but we didn’t actually spend any significant time together until high school. We were both part of a dynamic Christian youth bible study group, despite the fact that we were from different churches. It was a privilege to share these early years in the foundations of our faith walk.

Our familiarity and friendship grew over time until I finally bolstered myself and asked her out our junior year. Nothing doing. She gave me the classic “let’s just be friends” line, and it crushed me. She was determined to make good on her pledge of friendship, and so we did continue to hang out together. As our friendship grew, so did her romantic interests in me. After discouraging my intentions to date her best friend, we finally had our first real date to Pizza Hut in January of our high school senior year.

When I kissed her goodnight after that first date, it was nothing short of magic, and I knew what we had was something amazing. I was right.

We started at the same college, and our relationship continued to grow, even when I left to pursue an electrical engineering degree at a school about an hour away. I knew for a long time that Jenni was the one for me, but marriage prior to college graduation was a non-starter for both of our families. So we spent weekends together as often as possible, enduring the teasing of my roommates for having Jenni spend the night on the living room couch of our apartment. They couldn’t imagine that anyone would actually wait until they were married to have sex. Somehow we managed it, though it was by no means easy.

The time finally came when, as a broke college student, I scraped together money for a paltry engagement ring and eagerly popped the question during the Thanksgiving break of our senior year. She accepted my proposal without hesitation and we were married a week after I graduated from Virginia Tech.

I opted for graduate school instead the workplace, and after a two week honeymoon we packed up our lives and wedding gifts and moved to Atlanta. Living in small one-bedroom apartment, we made ends meet thanks to a generous stipend and research assistantship from Ga. Tech and Jenni working three part-time jobs: teaching preschool, a secretarial job and weekend rental office agent at our apartment complex.

We remember those early years mostly as a wondrous adventure, getting to know each other more intimately and working through what exactly it means to be joined as one-flesh. From that time to this, the adventure continues. We’ve grown a lot in our understanding of how to live our marriage as God intended it to be.

We don’t have a “great marriage crisis” story to tell. Although there certainly have been periods of struggle and difficulty, we’ve never been on the brink of divorce or suffered the carnage of infidelity. We’ve worked hard at making our marriage good, but I have to say it has been a pleasure to be married to my wife. She is an incredible gift from God and a great blessing to my life.

The honest truth is that we are more deeply in love now than we have ever been. And isn’t that how it should be?
My name is Scott Means, founder of and principle contributor to The Journey to Surrender.

In case you care, here are few facts about me.
  • I was born in Nebraska.
  • I am 50+ years old.
  • I’ve been married for over 30 years to my lovely wife, Jenni.  More about her at this link
  • We met in sixth grade, were high school sweethearts and got married just out of college. Click for more of Our Story.
  • We have three wonderful, talented and beautiful daughters, ranging in age from 17-25.
  • I have a BSEE from Virginia Tech and an MSEE from Georgia Tech.
  • I spent 25 years in engineering and engineering management, but the past few years I’ve been a global product manager for an industrial machinery manufacturer.
  • I’ve been playing the guitar since middle school. Music has always been a very important part of my life.
  • I’ve been involved in worship leading since college, though more seriously and consistently in the past 15 years.
  • For the guitar aficionados among you, I play a Taylor 710CE acoustic and a Gibson Les Paul electric.
  • Although guitar is my main instrument, I also play bass and a little keyboard and dabble at a few others.  I have a long list of instruments I still want to learn how to play.
  • I enjoy songwriting, especially writing worship songs for my local church.
  • I have a small scale digital recording studio in my basement, which is badly neglected these days.
  • My other hobbies, which I also have little time for, include woodworking and photography.
  • My passion for marriages has grown in recent years out of my desire to understand my own role as a husband. If you want to learn more about the genesis of this blog, check out About The Journey to Surrender.

Since this is probably a lot more than anyone actually cares about, I’ll quit here.
If you wish to contact me please use the following email address:

scott (at)  surrenderedmarriage (dot) org

Sorry to be cryptic but trying to keep the spam away!
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
The Journey to Surrender is about exploring, discovering and attaining the fullest potential in Christian marriage. It is an exciting expedition available to every Christian couple willing to travel the biblical path of God’s design for marriage, a path filled with fiery passion, unmatched intimacy and joyous freedom.

I believe that having our hearts awakened to the love a relationship with Jesus is the key to a vibrant, passionate, intimate and enduring relationship between husband and wife. God instituted marriage as a living picture of his passionate pursuit of humankind in general and of you and I in particular. The biblical notion that we are the bride of Christ and He is our Bridegroom is what I and others refer to as the Bridal Paradigm. 

Read more about the Bridal Paradigm

Who Am I?

My name is Scott Means, and I describe myself as a "marriage champion." 

I have been married to my darling wife, Jenni, in excess of 30 years, but I do not claim to have all the answers or to have a perfect marriage. Marriage is a lifelong journey into ever deeper intimacy.  

I have studied a lot about what the Bible says on marriage. I've read extensively what others have to say on the topic, Christian as well as secular sources, as I've passionately pursued understanding of God's intent for marriage. I do not claim to have cornered the market on insight or understanding, but I am excited to see marriages in the church strengthened, renewed and restored to their God-given potential.

I believe we, as believers, have the inside track on marriage, because we have an intimate relationship with the one who created marriage in the first place.

Let me clearly state that I am NOT a professional marriage counselor, NOT a self proclaimed “relationship expert,” NOT a licensed psychologist, and NOT a trained pastor or theologian. 

I simply have a message to share that burns on my heart.  It's a message that I believe also burns on the heart of God.

For more about me see: Who Is Scott

Read More About My Wife and I in: Our Love Story

Why I write

The fact that the failure rate of marriages in the church is not more significantly different than among the population at large saddens me deeply, and I believe God’s heart is equally saddened by the number of failed and struggling marriages, both inside and outside the church. 

I believe strong, enduring and loving marriages are the key to solving so many of society's long-standing, deeply rooted problems.  

Sadly, I also believe that in an effort to gain relevance, the church has often co-opted common cultural perspectives on marriage, rather than relying on biblical instruction. The church has, at least to some extent, lost sight of the fact that at its core marriage is a spiritual relationship, full of mystery and wonder and power.

I write to encourage Christian couples to take a turn off the path of the prevalent cultural marriage paradigm and to take a journey of a different sort - the Journey to Surrender. 

Join me here as we explore how God designed marriage to be from the very beginning.

For why I write to Christians see: My Christian Marriage Focus 

What I believe and why I believe it

What I believe about marriage is based on my belief that the Bible is the Word of God, that it is true, and that it is the primary way God reveals His truths to us. I’m not a theologian, but what I write here is primarily a result of my ongoing pursuit of what God's Word has to say about marriage. 

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