Read: Ephesians 5:22-33
Reflect: I have been in ministry for over 30 years and during that time, I have seen this passage of Scripture misused, misquoted, and misunderstood by people who should know better. Sometimes it is used by individuals who have their own agenda and just want to prove a point. They are not really interested in what it has to say to the Church of Jesus Christ. For instance, I was once invited to a Bible Study that declared to all those in attendance that it is God’s will for wives to be in submission to their husbands, no matter what. Wives were told: “Don’t ask questions, just obey; be in submission as if your husband was the Lord.” That’s not what this Scripture is saying. That type of teaching could be compared to be traveling on a fast-moving train while riding on only one rail. Trust me, you don’t want to be on that excursion. You can’t take the teaching to the wives without the teaching to the husbands.
Paul is writing to the Church, not just to wives. Consider the husbands, the second rail that keeps the train moving. Yes, Paul says to the wives to be in submission, but he also says to the husbands, “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (5:25). How did Christ love the church? In the next verse we read, Christ cleansed her, He made her holy, and He presented her as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle. And that ladies, is how to really love someone! Husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the Church. PLUS, husbands are to love their wives as they love their own bodies. Knowing how a lot of men don’t take care of their bodies (I happen to be one of the guilty) there is plenty of work to be done, but the point being made, is that your relationship to your wife should take priority over anything, including your own selfish needs.
When these two tracks of truth are running in sync with each other, then the relationship can succeed. The husband loves his wife, and she respects that love. Paul begins this section back in 4:1-6 by telling us to be humble and gentile, be patient, and be bearing one another in love. He writes how this works in relation to various groups of people in our lives, and then he comes to the last group which is “in relation to the home”. The home is probably the most important, since that is where it all begins. Howard Hendricks once said “If you don’t have a good testimony in the home, then you don’t have a good testimony.”
Apply: The relationship that you and your spouse have is of the utmost importance. Paul used the illustration of Christ, and His love for the Church as an example of what our love should be towards each other. Is the wife desiring to be in submission to her husband because she recognizes that her husband puts her desires before his own and is the husband willing to give up his life as Christ did for the Church? Remember, it takes two parallel rails, running the same direction, to run a train smoothly. And if you have that, the “Engineer” will do the rest!