Friday, April 18, 2014

Ephesians 5:22-33 comments: Husbands and wives (for new couples particularly)

22  Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.

It would be simple to say that in order to understand this all you would have to do is to apply  what I just pointed out in the last verse to this one. But, there are two very important things to note here; one implied by the text and one literally in the verses following. First, the Holy Spirit makes note on several occasions that a wife should submit herself to her OWN husband.

Colossians 3:18  Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.

1Peter 3:1  Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;

The implication here is for proper, moral order in the Lord. The role of a husband and wife is unique and has a special place in God’s order. A wife expresses a deference and respect, a humility and non-judgmental attitude to her husband that goes beyond the kind of submission expressed in verse 21, as you can see by, “as unto the Lord.” It is a special relationship that is essentially different than the relationship between any woman in the congregation and any man.

Literally, this verse begins an explanation that shows that the relationship between a husband and wife is to reflect the relationship between Christ and His church. This relationship in no way from the definition of submission revealed in verse 21 means that the wife should be a mute, pack animal with no more say in her’s and her husband’s business than the family dog.

Fundamentalists who would trumpet the following verses as proof that a woman has nothing to say and shouldn’t say it in the assembly and those prominent Fundamentalist pastors who won’t even permit a woman to offer a testimony in church…..

1Corinthians14:34  Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. 35  And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.

1Timothy 2:11  Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. 12  But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.

….will completely ignore the following verses as not being significant in the least.

2Kings 22:14  So Hilkiah the priest, and Ahikam, and Achbor, and Shaphan, and Asahiah, went unto Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe; (now she dwelt in Jerusalem in the college;) and they communed with her.

15  And she said unto them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Tell the man that sent you to me,

Judges 4:4  And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time.

Or the verse that some commentators insist is on the Millennial reign of Christ to come by linking it to Isaiah 43:19;

Jeremiah 31:22  How long wilt thou go about, O thou backsliding daughter? for the LORD hath created a new thing in the earth, A woman shall compass a man.

Romans 16:1 ¶  I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea: 2  That ye receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you: for she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself also.

And those Fundamentalists who regard their wives as having no needs of importance or any opinions of any value will tiptoe around the following verses;

Deuteronomy 24:5  When a man hath taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war, neither shall he be charged with any business: but he shall be free at home one year, and shall cheer up his   wife which he hath taken.

Genesis 21:12  And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called.

Unfortunately, misogyny, or contempt for women, is endemic among people who consider themselves fundamentalist and, sadly, even the women often play into this by assuming, not merely a role of submission toward their husbands but passivity and inaction.

Let me ask you. Do you think Christ holds His bride in contempt and low regard? Why would He die for someone He viewed as something He found on the bottom of His sandal?

1Peter 3:7  Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.

Husbands are to give honor to their wives, remembering always that they are physically weaker, and that you and her are heirs together, or co-heirs in God’s grace, lest your prayers be hindered by your contempt for God’s order.

(The vessel is a reference to the physical body not the culturally programmed condition of being emotionally unsteady.

1Thessalonians 4:4  That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour;

…If you are foolish enough to think that women aren’t emotionally strong then I would suggest expanding your horizons by reading about the lives of pioneer women in the American west or perhaps listening to some of the life stories of women in the congregation. Assuming that all women are on the verge of passing a fan in front of their eyes and declaring they feel a case of “the vapors” coming on is a sign of ignorance and arrogance).

A wife’s focus of her submission should be to her own husband and not just every man. The relationship between them is to reflect the relationship between Christ and His bride, the church. They must also remember that they are partners with their husband, co-heirs in the grace of life as Peter stated with both Adam and Eve originally sharing in the image of God.

Genesis 1:27  So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

The fact that God has assigned different roles, different duties, and different responsibilities to man and woman in biological life and in the church itself does not imply or state an inferiority on the part of women to men.

Galatians 3:28  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

That being said, the wife who denigrates, humiliates, or despises her husband is most certainly not submitting to him as unto the Lord any more than the husband who holds his wife in contempt. When the ladies get together to have coffee or go shopping it is not consistent with a Christian witness to tear down your husband any more than it is consistent with a Christian witness for a husband to rip up his wife when he’s out with his friends.

We, the church, have a lot of freedom in Christ. He is not standing here or has not sent an angel, a representative of Himself, to direct the worship service. A husband who has a wife in submission to him, as unto the Lord, can trust that his wife won’t embarrass him by her behavior in public and that whatever she does it will be in both of their best interests. Interestingly, the same goes of a husband doing right. The husband and wife who put the Lord first in their lives will fall easily into the pattern that God has set for them.

Sadly, besides sin, the thing that seems to catch most couples and ruin them is money. One person hiding how much the family brings in, refusing to be accountable and transparent in their financial dealings that concern each other, is a great strain on a marriage. The wife who spends the family money like it grows on the proverbial tree out back doesn’t help. There is as much or more of a need for unity in a marriage as there is in a church body.

Martin Bucer, one of the lights from the Reformation era five hundred years ago, said, "There is no true marriage without a true assent of hearts between those who make the agreement," and marriage is accordingly "a contract not only of body and of goods but also of the soul."


Great is the wife who will praise her husband. Great is the husband worthy of praise. Let no disparaging words proceed out of your mouths downgrading, insulting, or verbally abusing your husband. Let your husband know that he can have full trust in your character, your devotion to him, your responsibility, and your faith in Christ.

Be an example for him of faith and devotion to Christ, remembering that “conversation” can be behavior. Although the following verse is about an unsaved husband remember that you can have a great impact on a saved husband headed in the wrong direction.

1Peter 3:1¶  Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; 2  While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.

Pray for your husband’s decisions. I know that God can change minds if your prayer is sincere. I have seen that personally. Try to follow the plan of submission for the church outlined in verse 21 remembering the unique qualities of the submission of a wife to her husband, as a picture of the church’s relationship to Christ. One of your primary actions, women, if you want to be a good wife, a wife of whom your husband can be blessed by, is to let God speak to you every day through His words in His Book. A wife who has no time for God and makes no effort to let the Saviour speak to her each and every day, reading or listening to His word plainly without man’s commentary, will probably not want to hear what her husband has to say either. If you are not in submission to Christ you certainly won’t be to your husband. A wife who is not a Bible reader or hearer daily will probably only be a help worthy for her husband by forcing herself and she will still mutter and complain in her heart.

23  For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. 24  Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.

Remember, I said there are different roles assigned, generally as I know there are special circumstances that create notable exceptions, to men and women, husband and wife? Well, I have an important thing to tell you. If a man doesn’t run the home, lead the family, or act as the head then he will ruin it. It’s generally in man’s nature to do that.

The husband is to be the spiritual leader of the home. That’s his position, his job. He may not BE the most spiritual, he may not have the most understanding, but it is his job to accompany his family to church not to drop them off at the door on Sunday morning. It is his job to lead the family in prayer and Bible reading and study daily or, at least regularly. The father is the pastor of the family and should act accordingly.

The wife and husband should be able to talk about spiritual issues, the Bible, the spiritual growth of their children and their own. The man who is not the pastor of the family, will simply be a petty tyrant, barking orders and making himself the center of the universe in his pride, certainly imitating Satan more than Christ.

This is the order that God has set in place for Christians in all matters spiritual or otherwise. Husband, wife, then children, if any. If that gets out of whack somehow chaos ensues. Come on, men, do you pray with your wives daily, or at least regularly? Do you talk about the Bible, about God’s will, or are you concerned with your spiritual growth in Christ? Do you strive for the unity in the home between yourself and your wife that Christ wants in the church?

Does your headship in the home consist of simply demanding in pride like Satan or does it involve living sacrificially as Christ would have you do. Christ saved the church, His body. What have you done? How are you living before your wife?  

I know it’s hard for a poor man to act as the head of his family. I am aware of the emphasis on money in America. We have twisted the Bible into saying that money, not charity, covers a multitude of sins. But, the poor man can fill his proper position in the family with the Holy Spirit’s guidance through the daily reading of and submission to God’s words in His Book.

In the days before Capitalism in America, before there was even a bank, the family, as I have noted before, was the basic unit of production. Families, under the authority of the father, particularly in rural areas, had to be as self-sustaining as possible and make things to sell if the markets were close enough. In England, before the Industrial Revolution, every cottage was a little factory. Families made products to sell in the market from clothing to leather goods along with the excess produce of their farm. Husband and wife did not go to work outside the home except in dire circumstances.

It is different today. Our economic system, our Mammon, expects at least one, if not both husband and wife to pursue outside employment. This takes the man away from the daily operation of the home now, which doesn’t produce anything to sell anyway, and often, due to economic circumstances the wife must make up for what her husband cannot and place herself under the authority of another man or woman if she is not self-employed. Contrary to many preachers’ opinions this is not always the result of the couple wanting a home at the beach or boat on the lake but simple economic necessity for survival. In any event this condition places a great strain on the marriage. The couple immersing themselves in God’s word and having a regular participation with other believers in worship is essential for a Godly and successful marriage.

Most Fundamentalists are more concerned with form than with substance. Their idle and godless talk is often about who bosses who around. They have no concern for unity or a Godly marriage where Christ is the head of the home and both seek to please Him. Their concern is with control, not trust, not love, not being co-heirs in the grace of life, not mutual respect, just being in charge. Radical feminism and violent, domestic abuse are two monsters God has unleashed on American Christians for their apostasy as He unleashed Assyria and Babylon on Israel and Judah for theirs.

25  Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26  That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,

27  That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

“Even as Christ also loved the church.” Christ died for His bride and rose again for her. What have you done for your bride?

Christ sets the church apart and cleanses it by His words in His Book. Do you let God speak to you each and every day through His words in His Book and encourage your bride to do the same? The end goal is to glorify His church with Him, a Holy, perfect church. If the word is central to the church He is constantly working toward that end. Are you constantly working toward that end of encouraging your wife’s walk in Christ?

The end result of your marriage should not be less than what it was when you first loved her. It should be greater. Your love for your wife should grow not diminish. Youthful beauty of man and woman dies after a short time but spiritual beauty can grow for a lifetime and never die.

How, husbands, are you living in front of your wife and do you have, as Christ does for His church, her best interests at heart and want, more than anything, to draw her closer to you? Or, is your pleasure, your entertainment, your busy-to-do list more important than her joy, her fulfillment, her spiritual growth, and her happiness?

28  So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. 29  For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: 30  For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. 31  For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.

Would it were that this was the case in all Christian marriages where the husband loved his wife as his own self, nurtured and cared for her as he would care for his very own body. A wife is nourished and cherished by love, trust, honor, and devotion as the Lord has cared for His church. The church is a part of Christ. Your wife is a part of you. Remember that Eve came from Adam’s own body, the first example of cloning, in a way.

Never permit anyone, even family members, to disrespect your wife. Christ has defended His church against the gates of Hell itself, against the great Slanderer, the Enemy, Satan. Is it too much to ask to defend your bride if your marriage is to be like the church of God?

I have known several married men who have never left their mother’s apron strings and whose wives were treated as almost an intruder between mother and son. This is wickedness and confusion. They compare everything their wife does in an inferior manner with every perfect thing their mother did and the wife can never measure up. Their own marriage is a non-starter, so to speak.

32  This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

Paul has said in plain English that he is comparing the relationship between a husband and wife to Christ and the church. There can be no confusion in this. Think of what Christ has done for the church and think of how the church is to respond to Christ. Christ saved the church and nourishes it. The church represents Christ in the world, uplifting Him.

33  Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

Paul sums it all up with calling on the husband and the wife to do specific things. This is not possible without Christ being at the center of the marriage and the couple permitting Him to speak to their spiritual hearts through His Bible each day.

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