Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Ephesians Part 3 (Chapter 5:21-33)

The passage that tells wives to submit to their husbands is one of the most misused verses in all of scripture. It has been used to justify subordination and abuse throughout the centuries and is not at all what Paul intended when he wrote it.

At the time of Jesus, women were considered the property of their fathers and then their husbands. Unless they had very lenient fathers, women were uneducated, sequestered, and not allowed to speak in mixed groups. Jesus and Christianity changed all this. Women were encouraged to speak openly in front of men, they were given leadership positions in the church, and groups of men and women met together for worship, prayer, and communion.

This was a sudden and confusing change for many in the culture. Paul wrote these guidelines for marriage to help, not hinder, equality in the marriage and between the genders and to make marital life more peaceful.

The word 'submit' in Ephesians 5:21-24 is better translated as a 'voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden”. Women are to yield the leadership of the household to their husbands; not because they are unable to lead or not equal in value to their husbands, but because someone has to yield and God has asked that it be women. No system of authority works if there are two people struggling to be on top. Even Jesus yielded his will to the will of God the Father.

Men are to love their wives as Jesus loved the church. Meaning that men are to love their wives sacrificially. If a husband thinks his wife is of less value than himself, this is impossible to do. Who is going to sacrifice for someone that is not as or more valuable than himself?

The key to Christian marriage is putting God first in your life. If both the husband and the wife stay connected to God, first, and to each other, second, then the wife will be able to yield to her husband's (wise and Godly) leadership and the husband will be able to love his wife sacrificially, which automatically rules out bullying and micromanaging.

Christian marriage is not an arrangement in which one person is pushed down so that another can be raised up. It is a covenantal promise in which both people desire the good of the other before themselves. If one person fails to do this, the marriage falls apart.

As husbands and wives we are to put the needs of the other before our own. It is the model of how Christianity is supposed to work in the world. The family unit is a model of Christ's relationship to the church and Christian's relationship to the world.


"Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ." -Ephesians 5:21