I was drawn to this passage of Scripture today after a deep conversation with my wife and a couple of good friends last night.
It is a section of Scripture most believers are well aware of, however one section of it seems to get more attention and “teaching hours” than the rest.
I don’t know about you, but in the past I have only ever heard teaching on the necessity of wives to submit to their husbands (I did a study and teaching on this a few years ago entitled “Submission; Not Just for Wives” to try and redress the balance).
As a man and a Christian husband this imbalance used to be OK in my eyes, I liked to to be the one in authority!
However as I studied this passage for myself (as we should always do with whatever we have been taught) I realised that the ladies are the ones with the easier task here.
The wives are required to submit to the husbands (I think I should also say at this point that the verse does not say that husbands should force their wives to submit) (Ephesians 5 v 22).
The husbands have to love their wives, and love them as Christ loved the church; in this context the church is the people in the body of the church, that is you and I and everyone else in the Kingdom, the called out ones (Ephesians 5 v 25).
Ponder for a few moments what Jesus Christ actually did for all of us; ponder what Christ had to do to enable us to become the called out ones; ponder the majestic place He left to come and walk this earth; ponder the rejection, shame and death He endured for us; ponder the pain and suffering He went through so that we could be saved.
In other words consider the amount and depth of love required from Jesus to complete His finished work.
Husbands, we are being asked to love our wives in a similar depth and amount; I think I would rather have the submission request, it sounds easier!
Here’s another little reflection of mine; maybe our wives would find it easier to submit if we loved them more like Christ loved the church.
Maybe more preaching and teaching should go into the “love like Christ” bit in order to make the “submit” bit a touch easier.
Husbands, we should also consider verse 21, where we are told we should all submit to one another; you see my male friends, submission is not a one way street.
Now you may be thinking that this has nothing to do with me; you may not actually be a wife or a husband.
But what this passage and the way it is normally taught highlights is the absolute necessity for us to rightly divide the Word (2 Timothy 2 v 15), and not to pick out individual verses willy-nilly to suit ourselves and build doctrines around.
Ephesians 5 v 22 is not a verse to be used in isolation to yield and use when you want your wife to do something (and I know husbands do this; it was a verse I used to use for this very purpose many times in the past).
1 John 1 v 9 is a similar verse; this has had a whole doctrine built around it, when it is the only post-cross verse in the whole of the Word that could seem to say that we need to ask God for forgiveness on a continual basis.
By rightly dividing the whole Word of God we can see that 1 John 1 v 9 does not actually mean that, but people use it in isolation and out of context to suit their own religious and legalistic purposes.
Yes, the Word of God is to be used to show us how to live and how to conduct ourselves, and that includes how to behave within all relationships including marriage.
But it must be used appropriately and in context, and only after being rightly divided with other parts of Scripture.
Speak this out today…..”Thank you Lord for your Word, thank you that it can be used to help us live our lives; help us today Lord, through your Holy Spirit, to rightly divide it appropriately in all situations”.
Ephesians 5 v 22 and 25…..Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord……Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it