Pondering Ephesians 5:21-24

This Week’s Passage21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. 22 Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

Admittedly, in our culture, the word submit has a bad connotation – especially in our liberated women’s world where it is offensive to think that men can tell women what to do. Agreed. But the cultural understanding and the biblical understanding are two different things. My theory is this – if women understood what biblical submission really was then they they would joyfully embrace it.

My working definition for the word “submit” for many years has been this: A wife’s willing response to her husband’s sacrificial love. Verses 25-33 of this chapter (which we will ponder next week) outline the husband’s role in marriage. Primarily he is to be sacrificial lover of his wife. In other words he is to love her in such a way that her wants come before his; her needs come before his; her hopes come before his; her dreams come before his; her pleasure comes before his. Now this is the question that I always ask couples who come to me for premarital coaching: What woman would not want to be married to a man who sacrificially loves her like that. And what woman would not joyfully respond (submit) to her husband’s sacrificial love knowing that whatever decisions he makes on behalf of her and the family are with her best interests in mind, not his.

(The problem of course is that men do a lousy job (I am pointing 4 fingers at myself) of sacrificially loving their wives – to the point that they feel like they have to take matters into their own hands. And then things begin to get all out of whack because marriages don’t look like God intended for them to. We’ll look at this more next week.)

Now apply this definition of submission to our relationship with Christ where we are the bride and He is the husband. Why do we have such a hard time submitting ourselves to God and His Word? I think it all goes back to a shallow understanding of the sacrificial love that Christ demonstrated for us through His life and on the cross. I have written about this before. If we really grasped how “wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ” then we would willingly and joyfully submit our lives  (our hopes, dreams, wants, needs) to Him. Husbands would be better husbands. Wives would be better wives. And the Church would be an attractive bride for all the world to see. So again I say… ponder this;

How deep the Father’s love is for us
How vast beyond all measure
That He would give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure.

How great the pain of searing loss
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One
Bring many sons to glory.

I’m just sayin’!

Next Week’s Passage: Ephesians 5:25-33

2 thoughts on “Pondering Ephesians 5:21-24

  1. Shay, love what you’ve written, and I’d like to play devil’s (?) advocate to understand you better, and to figure out what I think, because while I hold the same definition of submission, the implications have been evolving. What if the wife’s want/hope/need/dream/pleasure is to have a full time ministry? Should the husband step up the role of fatherhood/housekeeping to facilitate that? It seems to me that Jesus cut his ministry shorter than he might have in order to equip the church to do the work she was called to do. Have we gotten cultural patriarchy mixed up with theological submission?
    I have mixed feelings, because I loved being a stay at home mom, and nowadays I also love my career. I still stay part time, because i just can’t get enough time with my girls otherwise, and I’m passionate about that. But what if? It seems that the evangelical subculture pressures the wife to submit much more than it pressures the husband to sacrifice, which is perhaps why women are confused about what biblical submission might look like.

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