Today’s Scripture: Ephesians 5
The header for Ephesians 5:21-33 in my Bible says “Spirit-guided relationships: Wives and husbands.” But I think the entire 12 verses are summed up in this one: “And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:21).
Certainly, in the past, verses 22-24 have been used to subjugate women:
22 For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23 For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. 24 As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything.
And when the women speak (verses 25-28), they counter with:
25 For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her 26 to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. 27 He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. 28 In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies.
But both of those passages can be taken out of context when you do not start with verse 21: “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (emphasis added).
This is mutual submission—what we do when we (husbands and wives) understand that we are not our own. We (husbands and wives) have been bought with a price. A sacrifice has been made for us. It cost God his one and only precious Son to redeem us from the penalty that our sin demanded. If we (husbands and wives) say we love and follow Christ, how can we not honor his sacrifice by submitting to the person who at one time we promised, before God and other people, to love and honor above ourselves?
I ask myself that question all the time, because this is hard for me. If today, I don’t feel like my husband has loved me as Christ loved the church, I think I should get a pass on submitting to him. But in my heart, I know that is NOT how God means it to work.
What my husband (or anyone else for that matter!) does or does not do has NO bearing on the call God has placed on my life. I am to submit to him (to them) as to the Lord, out of reverence for Christ. I am to love the people God puts in my life whether they behave as I think they should or not. My husband (God love him!) cannot be the person I need him to be, as much and as well as he tries! The only one who can fulfill all my needs, who will never leave me or forsake me, is my sweet Jesus.
As long as I depend on someone else to do for me what only Jesus can, I will be disappointed and frustrated. When I let Jesus satisfy my every need, I can accept what my husband does for me in love, trusting that God is in control of him, just as he is of me. Marriage is hard. Ephesians 5 lets no one off the hook. But when we submit to each other because of what Jesus did for us, perspective gives us traction to do what Scripture calls of us. At least, that is my prayer!
What do you make of this passage of Scripture? Does it cause discomfort? If so, why do you think that is?
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
My sweet Jesus, Lord there is none like you! In my love for you, let me find the grace to love my spouse as you have called me to love, like you do. You laid down your life for me and my spouse while we were still sinners. My spouse is your dearly loved child, as am I. Show me how to love and respect him (her) as you love him (her). Let me see my spouse through your eyes, to love, honor, and respect. In Jesus’ name, and for his sake, amen.
This post was written by Lauri White. Lauri is one of the 25 people that God used to start CedarCreek in the Fall of 1995, and was on staff until 2013. Lauri loves Jesus, and loves helping people, especially women, live out of the truth about who we are in Christ. She and her husband Mike live in Oregon, but now spend winter months in Florida near daughter Kelda and her family.
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