21 And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. 22 For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23 For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. 24 As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything. 25 For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her 26 to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. 27 He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. 28 In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself. 29 No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church.
If our security and significance comes from God then what is the purpose of marriage? Ephesians 5 reveals that one of our most basic responsibilities in a Christian marriage is to become reinforcers of the security and significance that God gives to us. While it is true that our most basic need for security and significance can only be met through our relationship with God it is also true that God wants to use husbands and wives as His principal instruments to develop within each other a conscious awareness of unconditional love and personal worth. While spouses cannot add to the fact of one’s security and significance, they can help create an environment where those needs can be met. You see once we believe, understand, and appropriate these truths, it frees us to reach out in love to our spouse. Sadly many spouses instead of being reinforcers become rejecters of what God wants to do in their spouse’s life. We get so wrapped up in our own feelings that we fail to fulfill the Fathers Will and meet the needs of our spouse. Instead of ministering to our spouse by modeling God’s concern for their deepest needs we end up manipulating them to fit into our own agenda. One of the most overlooked reasons for our marriage relationship, is that like a mirror it should reflect the relationship of Christ and His church. The husband has the privilege of portraying the headship of Christ over the church through his loving and sacrificial leadership. While the wife’s privilege is to symbolically represent the church in its submission to the Lord Jesus Christ, it’s Head. What is important to note is that while there are only 3 ½ verses addressed to wives, there are over double that, 8 ½ written to husbands. But before the specific instructions to each spouse verse 21 begins by speaking to both spouses, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Scripture makes it clear that it is sin to try and exalt ourselves over our spouse. Instead just as Philippians 2:3 says: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.” We are called to humbly submit to our spouse by choosing to focus on their needs and serve our spouse instead of serving self. While the roles for husbands and wives differ the principle submissive heart of humility should be practiced by both. In this blog I am going to focus first on the role and responsibility of the wife and next time we will look at that of the husband. Scripture clearly teaches that the wife’s primary responsibility is to submit to her husband, as to the Lord. It is here that God’s call to submission creates a head-on collision with the beliefs and practices of our current culture. Many are tempted to write this passage off as the ranting of an ancient male chauvinist pig. The truth is this is how God set it up and we need to be careful not to dismiss God’s Word based on the beliefs of the world. When it comes to the responsibility of the wife what becomes crucial is to recognize that the emphasis here is upon the Lord. There are three statements in these verses that serve as guiding principles:
“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (verse 21)
“Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.” (verse 22)
“As the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.” (verse 24)
You see the central and critical component in these verses is Christ. What Paul is saying is being devoted to Christ, in a like manner, submit to your husbands. The wife is to be subject to her husband not because he is perfect but because she has a previous and primary relationship with her Lord. Submission to your husband is really a reflection and outworking of your submission to Christ. Now it is important to point out that women are not called to submit to men, only to their husband. Part of this call to submit is in response to the fulfillment of God’s plan in Genesis 2:20, that tells us that the first wife was created to be a “helper” for her husband. She is not called to be a slave but one who willingly comes along side to help her husband. This is where many wives fail because true submission is not only challenging it is impossible when we try to do it on our own. Wives you will never succeed in submission when you try to do it in your own strength. Remember this section of Scripture, with its high standards, follows immediately after Paul’s teaching about being filled with the Spirit in Ephesians 5:18: “Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit” It is only as the Holy Spirit controls our life that we can have the will and the ability to obey His commands. God does not just call us to live out His Word He equips and empowers us to do so. So why do we struggle so much when it comes to submission? The reason we struggle is sin, in Genesis 3:16 we discover that one of the consequences of original sin is that complementing and coming alongside was replaced with competing: “Then he said to the woman, “you will desire to control your husband, but he will rule over you.” When we submit to the Spirit of God we will experience success in the area of submission, but when we submit to our sinful nature submission will always be a struggle. The only way for wives to successfully submit to their spouse is through the strength of the Holy Spirit not through the strength of self. When wives fulfilled their role of submission they reinforce God’s spoken word of significance. So wives how are you doing, are you striving to submit, or striving towards strife? Are you being a reinforcer or a rejecter of God’s Word? Real submission requires self-sacrifice just as a husbands choice to love also requires self-sacrifice. Submission reflects not only a wife’s respect for her husband but her reverence for Christ. It’s easy to dismiss God’s call to submit to your spouse but remember dismissing God’s mandates for marriage results in disobedience. When it comes to submission we need to stop listening to the culture and start listening to Christ?