EPHESIANS 5: 22 – 31
JESUS CHRIST loved His church and gave Himself for it. That means He loved you and gave Himself for you. In doing so He made possible your salvation. He loved us when we were His enemies. He came to do for us what we can’t do for ourselves. His highest role is that of Savior. Until He is personally known in that relationship, He can’t be the Role Model in other areas He is intended to be.
The Scripture uses His relationship with the church as an illustration of what the husband and wife relationship should be. Of Him it is said, “Christ love the church and gave Himself for it” (Eph. 5: 25).
Thus, the loving regard with which a husband should relate to his wife is defined.
Secondly, it is said the wife should respond to her husband as the church does to Christ. This concept is as foreign to the modern American concept of husband and wife relationships as ever.
Many husbands can quote Ephesians 5: 22, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” That is the favorite text of many brutish males. That concept alone always has been to males not having a well rounded Bible view of relationships.
In the era in which that statement was authored there were three primary cultures: Jewish, Greek, and Roman.
Every day pious Jewish males offered this arrogant prayer of thanksgiving: “God I thank you that you did not make me a Gentile, slave or woman.”
In the Greek culture things were no better. Demosthenes wrote: “We have courtesans for pleasure, concubines for daily cohabitation, and wives to raise our legitimate children and, manage household affairs.”
In the Roman world it was noted by Seneca that “Women are married to be divorced and divorced to be married.” They dated their years by the name of their husbands. Jerome wrote of one woman who had been divorced 23 times and she was the 21st wife of her present husband.
Then Christ came to elevate the role of the wife. Soon thereafter Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, began to write as did Peter truths that enhanced and expanded the important role of the Christian wife.
Irony of ironies is that most husbands can quote Ephesians 5:22 out of context and give it a twist to seem to confirm ancient Jewish, Roman, and Greek concepts regarding a subjugated wife. However, we need to back up one verse to get the full meaning. Ephesians 5: 21 states, “…submitting to one another in the fear of God,” or as beautifully expressed by another translation, “Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
To “submit” means to give yourself to the other person. Right? Then notice in verse 22 the husband is commanded to love his wife and give himself for her just as Christ gave Himself for the church. It is that light that verse 21 is to be understood.
Husbands are given two standards for loving their wives:
a. Like Christ loved the church (Verse 25).
b. Like they love their own body (Verse 28).
Note these basics about the injunction regarding submission by the wife. She is to “submit” to her “own husband” — to him and to him only. This is not a command for women to submit to men in general.
The reason for this submission is organization. In every group or organization there must be order. In a marriage there are inevitably times when one person must make decisions that affect all others. That weighty task is assigned to the husband. God will hold him accountable. In making such decisions the husband should seek the insight of his wife. He opinion may not determine his decision; BUT she deserves the right of knowing it will be lovingly considered, and it will influence his decision.
One of the great weaknesses in American families today is the failure of the husband to take a loving leadership role. Most wives want it and children crave it. When it isn’t given, there is insecurity and anxiety. It is as bad not to give such leadership as it is to be overbearing and dictatorial.
The wife who robs her husband of that right robs herself and her children of blessings intended by God.
Husbands, should note Ephesians 5: 22, this is for some the “Male Manifesto.”
Don’t leave this thought until fully developing the thought. Unless this is done there can result a distorted interpretation.
It says, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.”
Most men know that verse. Some misinterpret it and grossly misapply it with dominant force. “Submit” is their battle cry.
Ladies note Ephesians 5: 25. Fellows, you can and should follow along also.
It says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave himself for it.”
Translated to a single word that verse means men “COMMIT.” As the wife is SUBMIT so the husband is to COMMIT. When a husband is as committed to his wife as Christ to His church the wife has no problem submitting. A committed husband is one who edifies (builds up) his wife, respects, honors, gives dignity to, and supports his wife. He gives great attention to her desires and endeavors to accommodate her. He desires her contentment and happiness as much as his own and goes out of his way to insure it. Compliments, encouraging comments, plaudits, commendations, and adulation season the husband’s speech. Her fulfillment is his foremost desire.
This is not a male female issue. It speaks of order in the family. To submit means to give honor to. Ask yourself: “Am I honorable?” If you are as committed to your wife as Christ to His church your wife will have no difficulty fulfilling her role
WHAT IS THE PRIMARY THREAT TO THIS ORDERLY PROCESS?
The answer to that has application to all relationships. The greatest threat is not money, promiscuous sex, alcohol, or children. Those are symptoms. It is something we use sophisticated language to speak of. It is called self-fulfillment. It is the pursuit of the personal. It is a fad among us that has become a sickness at best and a sin at worst. Preoccupation with self is a giant step in the wrong direction on the journey of self-fulfillment.
The reason for breakdowns in marriage is that more people are demanding more and more and giving less and less. This results in giving up too easily.
The best way to be fulfilled is to live to fulfill others. That is so simple we have forgotten it.
Christ in life fulfilled His purpose, yet He died. He was not a loser in His death. Therein He fulfilled His mission. As a result of fulfilling His mission, He is loved. For a husband or wife to be loved, they must fulfill their mission.
The idea is not self-fulfillment, but the ideal is to become “one flesh.” This is why the text says ” husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies” (Ephesians 5: 28). They are one. Persons who injure their mates injure themselves.
“For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother…” For what cause? For the precious possibility of the two of them working to be one unit as Christ and His people are one. It is the kind of unity that exists when two persons realize they exist to give themselves to one another.
Remember that beautiful line for St. Francis:
“It is in giving we receive.”
The husband/wife relationship is intended by God to be:
I. SACRIFICING (Verse 25)
It was His love that prompted such self-sacrificing. “Love” is AGAPAO. The word doesn’t simply speak of emotional affection or romance. It speaks of a deliberate attitude of mind that genuinely concerns itself with the well-being of the other. Self-devotion to another is its theme. This is love that sacrifices itself for the good of the other.
In courtship this type love enables a couple to exercise self-restraint and sacrifice self in order to exercise God’s standard for relations. This is totally different from the self-seeking romance force-fed by the media.
Remember, love is something we do, not something we feel. I Corinthians 13: 4 – 7 is known as the love passage. It is filled with action verbs, not feelings.
Keep in mind that when things happen that tend to send you into a high-tension orbit, Satan not the person involved is your enemy. These moments are matchless opportunities to ask yourself: “How can I be loving RIGHT NOW?” That is a witness.
II. SANCTIFYING (Verse 26)
To “sanctify” means to set apart for God, to treat as holy. Ideally each partner should set self apart for God’s use AND THEN set the marriage apart for God’s use. This should be done by the Christian partner even if the mate does not do it.
It is easy to love those who love us. Their love for us helps us feel good about yourself. We are loved and accepted. However, all of us have related at some time to persons who don’t love us. Often they spurn or reject us. Without a Bible perspective, that can be devastation. That which gives us stability is the fact God says He loves us and that makes us 100% acceptable at all times regardless of who rejects us.
Often a Christian married to a non-Christian asks how do you witness to your partner. Most people are looking for a quick acting, verbal formula that instantaneously changes their mate by superior logic. That is not the way it works. Most non-Christian mates know the Bible standard for husband/wife relationships. The first and best witness to a non-Christian mate is to live up to the standards set by Scripture for your office in marriage. The witness is thus by example. Practice takes precedence even over precepts in such a relationship.
Knowing and doing God’s will is the most satisfying thing in life. Working at making a marriage work is fun and rewarding.