God’s way is simple. It’s not always easy, but it’s simple. It’s crystal clear.
Ephesians 5:21-33 describes the relationship between a husband and his wife, and compares that to Christ and the church. When a marriage relationship is in line with these verses, there is a beautiful picture of love, leadership, care, respect, and much, much more. And this beautiful picture brings glory to God and shows the way that Jesus relates to His bride, the church.
Ephesians 5:21-33 (HCSB)
21 submitting to one another in the fear of Christ. 22 Wives, submit to your own husbands as to the Lord, 23 for the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of the body. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so wives are to ⌊submit⌋ to their husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her with the washing of water by the word. 27 He did this to present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or anything like that, but holy and blameless. 28 In the same way, husbands are to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hates his own flesh but provides and cares for it, just as Christ does for the church, 30 since we are members of His body. 31 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. 32 This mystery is profound, but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 To sum up, each one of you is to love his wife as himself, and the wife is to respect her husband.
WHAT THESE VERSES DON’T MEAN
When we read these verses, some people cringe. They cringe because they do not understand the meaning and teaching of these verses. These verses have been wrongly used by chauvinists and feminists through the years to try to promote their own agendas.
These verses do NOT mean that a husband is to be the dictator of his home, with everyone else (including his wife) being his servant. This is a wrong view, expressed by chauvinists. Similarly, feminists will say that these verses teach that a woman is not as valuable as a man, that she has less worth. They use this wrong view of these verses to try to discredit the teaching of the Bible on marriage and many other issues.
WHAT THESE VERSES MEAN
This passage from Ephesians 5 gives us a beautiful glimpse of the love relationship that Jesus has for His people, the church. As a matter of fact, verse 32 tells us that this is the ultimate picture that marriage should display: the amazing love between Jesus and his bride, the church.
In these verses, we see the responsibilities that a husband and wife have to one another in their relationship:
- As part of the body of Christ, the relationship will be one of love and submission to Christ and to each other (v21)
- The wife chooses to submit to her husband’s leadership (vv22.24)
- Notice that each wife willingly chooses to submit to her own husband; forced submission is not submission – it is coercion
- Notice that these verses do not say that a woman must submit to every man; this decision to submit is in the context of the marriage relationship
- Notice that she submits to her husband “as to the Lord,” meaning that Jesus is her Lord, and if her husband asks her to do something that clearly violates Scripture, she should discuss this with her husband and prayerfully consider what she should do; her prayer should be that her husband would never ask her to do something that goes against God’s Word
- The husband takes on the God-given responsibility of being the leader, the head of the home (v23). This is a big job!
- The husband is to love his wife unconditionally, sacrificially, steadfastly, the way that Jesus loves the church (v25); she should reciprocate this love
- The husband should serve and sacrifice for his wife (v25)
- The husband is to lead his wife to walk in holiness and purity (v26)
- The husband is to provide and care for his wife just as he cares for his own body (vv27-30)
- The husband and wife are to leave their parents’ homes, and cling to one another as one flesh (v31)
- The wife is to respect her husband (v33)
- The husband is to love his wife (v33)
A WONDERFUL MARRIAGE, GOD’S WAY
Sounds simple. It is. But it’s not always easy. It is the way of Christ.
Christian marriages should display love, submission, sacrifice, respect, holiness, purity, serving, oneness, and so much more. Let’s let our marriages be everything that God intended for them to be. Wonderful, in every way!
Husbands and wives, let’s seek the Lord, align our marriages with His Word, and be amazed as people are drawn to a relationship with Jesus because they see love, respect, leadership, sacrifice, holiness, and most of all LOVE. And let’s be grateful to God for how wonderful marriage is, as we each build our marriage on these foundational principles from God’s Word.