Reflect: Ephesians 5:21-6:9

Reflect: I have the privilege of being an Amish Tour Guide for the summer. This entails telling visitors all day what the Amish can and cannot do. Amish aren’t allowed to use electricity; they aren’t allowed to own a car (nor can they drive one); men are not allowed to cut their beards (if they are married); if they want to get married, they have to do it in October or November and it has to be on a Tuesday or Thursday. (If there are such a things as Amish wedding planners, that means one less thing to figure out.) All of these things are laid out for them in the “Ordnung”, which is the official Amish rule book. Every Amishman will follow these rules because he is Amish, and he wants to obey.


The apostle Paul also had some rules he wanted to share with the church in Ephesus, such as: Be completely humble and gentle (4:20), do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouth (4:29), be imitators of God (5:1), and do not get drunk on wine (5:18). This is only a partial list, but I think you get the picture. Paul wanted the people of Ephesus to be equipped for the battles they were going to engage in.  These conflicts were way more important than any physical battles. Much more vital than who uses electricity or who wears beards. They were the rules for battles against the powerful forces of evil. Therefore put on the full armor of God so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground (6:13).


As Christians, we do not want to be obedient just so we can say we are following the rulebook. We have eternal goals: goodness, righteousness, and truth (5:9). Paul saw these truths as not only beneficial to the individual, but to the church.  There is a strong emphasis that believers are to submit to one another (5:21). Especially in our culture, mutual submission within the church is often considered too high a mountain to conquer.


Paul begins by telling the wives, Submit to your husbands as unto the Lord (5:22). This command is directed to all Christian wives – no matter her intelligence, education, social standing, or her spiritual maturity. The important thing to remember is that Paul doesn’t stop with the wives, he continues with the husbands. Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (5:25). Husbands must love their wives as they love their own bodies.  He who loves himself loves his wife. (5:28). Wow! Does this mean I have to love my wife more than pot pie which I crave, or the spaghetti from Caruso’s that I simply love to consume, or all the time I spend exercising my body? (Okay, the last one is an exaggeration). No, it is much more than that.  

Christ gave his life for the church! That’s how much He loved the church and that’s the same attitude I must have toward my wife. I must lift her above my own desires and dreams and be leading her in a way that brings us both to the place that God wants us to be.


Apply: Throughout this passage of scripture Paul gives a clear understanding of what submission is all about. Wives and husbands, children and parents, slaves and masters = each has a role to play. Each need to follow the rules which God has laid out as unto the Lord. The goal is not to have a rule checked off.  The goal is unity. Unity is of the utmost importance in the church today and we can only achieve that through mutual submission. We all want to achieve goodness, righteousness, and truth. The Amish may have been able to figure out their own cultural set of rules, but I suspect the Christian church still has a way in living God’s life-breathing commands!

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