Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Christ and His Bride

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

Paul turns to an application of the fifth commandment in Ephesians 5:21. His introductory statement is that we should submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Then follow commands to wives, husbands, parents, children, masters, and servants.

The feminist approach to Ephesians 5:21 has been that Paul teaches completely mutual submission. The husband submits to the wife just as she submits to him. The relationship is fifty-fifty.

This is clearly not what Paul has in mind because he builds the entire doctrine of submission on the analogy between earthly marriage and the celestial marriage of Christ and His bride. The model for earthly marriage is the relationship between Jesus and the church. Ephesians 5:23–24 says that Christ is the Head of the church and that the church submits to Christ. The feminist approach would mean that the church is also the head of Christ and that Christ submits to the church.

There is a kind of mutual submission in the kingdom in that husbands serve their wives and parents serve their children, in proper ways. Those in authority subordinate their desires to the needs of those under them. But there is a difference in the way parents submit their wants to the needs of their children, and the way children are to obey the commands of their parents.

Paul’s statement to wives is clear and absolute: The wife is to submit to her husband in everything, as to the Lord. This means that she is to obey him in everything unless he commands her to break the law of the Lord. (We see how important it is to keep the law of God and not set it aside; otherwise, the woman would have no protection at all.) For many modern women, this seems like a hard command, and often men in their insensitivity and insecure bullying are to blame.

But the command to men is more threatening: The man is to love his wife as Christ loved the church and died for her. The Bible does not command the wife to take abuse and be willing to die at her husband’s hands, but it does command the man to be willing to die to protect and care for his wife.

Read Ephesians 5:22–33 twice. The first time, consider specifically how Christ does for the church the things mentioned here. The second time, apply the passage to your own marriage, or to any relationship of subordination you may be in. Take practical steps to live out the meaning of this passage.