Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. Ephesians 5:22-33, ESV.
This passage is the first example Paul provides of the “one another” submission he commands in verse 21. You do not need to look far in feminist writings to find those who despise the Apostle Paul in general and this passage in particular. They do not believe a woman should ever be asked to submit to anyone. You also do not need to look hard to find situations where men have misread this passage and used it to justify tyrannical abuse in the home. Since it is so often misunderstood and twisted, should we abandon this passage from God’s Word? May it never be!
This passage offers the church a formula for marital joy in the context of one of the Bible’s most beautiful descriptions of the gospel. It is about the relationship between husbands and wives and between Christ and His church. This gospel has not changed, and Christ remains the head of His church today. Accordingly, where we still have biblical marriages, we still need this text. Nothing about the setting or language of this passage destroys its direct relevance for us today.
Paul’s message is this: Jesus loved His bride, the church, and to show that love He sacrificed Himself for her to make her His perfect bride for all eternity. The church is therefore blessed as she respectfully submits to His loving leadership. Similarly, every Christian husband is to love his Christian bride and to show that love by sacrificing his good for hers. The wife is to submit herself respectfully and willingly to her husband’s leadership. When husbands and wives obey these commands, both will benefit and God will be glorified in a marriage that reflects the gospel.
This message is no burden. It is a blessing! Please, read it together in your homes. Teach it to your children and grandchildren. Do it for the sake of our marriages, the sake of the church, and the glory of God.
My prayer for you today is that you will know the joy that comes from building your life around the good commands of God—this one included.