Husbands and Wives


In Ephesians 5:1 Paul tells us to imitate God in everything we do. That’s pretty hard to do, since God is an infinite being. However, throughout the Book of Ephesians Paul gives advice on how to approach doing that. He says, “Live a life filled with love.” He says “Live in the light as God is in the light.” He says, “Walk in wisdom”. He says, “Be filled with the Holy Spirit”. And then he says “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ”.

In today’s blog we are going to talk about submitting to one another. Specifically, we will talk about doing this in the marriage relationship.

Let’s begin with how the marriage relationship got started. It was first established by God. After God created the first man, Adam, He said it was not good for man to be alone – so He created Eve. This is described in Genesis 2:21-24.

“So, the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep. While the man slept, the Lord God took out one of the man’s ribs and closed up the opening. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib, and he brought her to the man. ‘At last!’ the man exclaimed. ‘This one is bone from my bone, and flesh from my flesh! She will be called woman, because she was taken from man.’ This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.”

We can see that God planned for men and woman to join together and become one. Unfortunately, Adam and Eve contaminated that arrangement by committing the first sin. That brought about problems in the marriage relationship, as well as in everything else that God created. Today we are still experiencing its effects. For example, today there is rampant infidelity, homosexuality, abortion, open marriage, and divorce. Materialism and the pursuit of the “good life” have become a preoccupation. Many people are choosing to live together rather than make the commitment of marriage. The number of single parent families is increasing at an alarming rate.

In addition, children are being raised in permissive environments, and are not being taught how to make moral decisions or how to govern themselves. The result is moral decline, and role of the Lord in marriage and family has been deemed irrelevant.

Fortunately, Paul provides solutions to these problems by defining the roles of the husband and wife. Let’s start with what he says about the role of the wife in Ephesians 5:22-24.

“For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 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. As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything.”

After reading these verses, many people believe that Paul was a chauvinist, because he tells wives to submit to their husbands in EVERYTHING. He doesn’t qualify his statement. He doesn’t say, “Only if the husband is a good leader”. Or, “Only if the husband is a caring and loving person”. Or whatever. He simply says submit without qualification. So many believe Paul felt women were inferior to men. However, that’s contrary to what he said in Galatians 3:28.

“There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

So, what is Paul talking about in Ephesians 5:22-24?

Well, he is talking about the organizational structure of the family unit. In any organization there has to be someone in charge. If there is not a designated leader, there will be anarchy. This is true in the marriage relationship. It has nothing to do with men being superior to women or vice versa.

Paul says wives are to function under the LEADERSHIP of the husband. In this role husbands are to love and protect and provide for their wives, which Paul talks about later. Paul says husbands are not to treat their wives as servants or as children or as otherwise inferior persons.

In the first marriage God created Eve to be Adam’s helper and companion. Unfortunately, neither one fulfilled their God ordained roles. Eve acted independently from her husband and ate the forbidden fruit. Adam didn’t exercise his God given authority, and he also ate the forbidden fruit. From that point on the marriage relationship became corrupted. And down through time feminism — chauvinism — complementarianism — egalitarianism and many other “isms” have emerged. And the battle of the sexes is heating up.

Paul says that wives submit to their husbands –AS TO THE LORD. That means they must do it as an act of obedience to God. It’s a command. And whenever God commands something, He always provides necessary resources to meet the command. In this case He provides the Holy Spirit — Who enables the wife to submit to the leadership of her husband — notwithstanding the fact that her husband may be a lousy leader.

That’s all Paul has to say about the role of the wife. It’s very concise. However, he has a lot to say about the role of the husband.

We will get into that next week….

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