Thursday, July 30, 2020

Husbands and Wives in Ephesians

"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her" (Ephesians 5:25).

Ephesians 5:21 begins a discussion of how wives are to relate to their husbands and vice versa. Wives, God says, are to submit themselves to their husbands in a manner analogous to how they are to submit themselves to Christ. The husband is head of the wife in a manner similar to Christ’s headship over the church. Headship involves preeminence, leadership, and final authority. Headship does not license the husband to be a tyrant or to treat his wife as a slave. As the passage goes on to say, the husband must rule through sacrificial giving, like Christ.

Should a woman always submit herself to her husband? In obedience to God’s command, she should always seek to submit, but there is a qualifier: she is to submit as to the Lord. If her husband demands of her something that is forbidden by Scripture, and she cannot change his mind, then she is to disobey him, remaining faithful to the Lord. It her husband is so un-Christlike as to abuse her physically, she may have to flee for her safety and take refuge elsewhere. (Biblically speaking, assault and battery are the same whether inside or outside of marriage.)

Does such submission imply that women are inferior to men? Not at all. In the Trinity, the Son is subordinate to the Father, and the Spirit to the Father and the Son, yet each is equal to the other. There is a subordination of roles, but no difference in essence. The same is true of husbands and wives.

While it may seem hard to some women to hear that they must submit to their husbands, what God says to men is much harder: They have to love their wives in the same way Christ loved the church. Christ loved us at a time when we hated Him. He loved those who crucified Him. So men never have any excuse not to love their wives.

Moreover, Christ loved the church by being willing to suffer and die for her. The wife is not called to die for her husband, but the husband is called to die for his wife. What that may mean in your marriage, only time will tell. As Christ is to the church, so that husband must be to his wife. He must protect her integrity, present her before God through prayer, nourish and cherish her always, whether he feels like it or not.

Many spouses claim, “I would submit if he loved me properly,” and, “I would love her if she submitted to me.” God does not leave us that option. We are called to obey, regardless of our spouses obedience. Resolve to obey this difficult command.