Ephesians 5:22 Wives, submit to your own husbands as to the Lord, 23 for the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of the body. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so wives are to submit to their husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her with the washing of water by the word. 27 He did this to present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or anything like that, but holy and blameless. 28 In the same way, husbands are to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hates his own flesh but provides and cares for it, just as Christ does for the church, 30 since we are members of His body. 31 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. 32 This mystery is profound, but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 To sum up, each one of you is to love his wife as himself, and the wife is to respect her husband.(HCSB)
Many people in our culture take offense at this passage because of how, on the surface and detached from the rest of the book, it would appear to be subjugating women. That is far from the reality of this passage. Never does God tell husbands to subjugate or lord it over their wives. NO Where! This passage is actually doing the exact opposite.
Imagine for me a human being. They have a head and a body, correct? If you detach the head from the body, what happens? The body dies. Both are vital and needed. Remember that Paul has already, back in chapter one, said that the Messiah is the head of the church, His body. Marriage here in chapter five is being used to illustrate a much larger truth than just how husbands and wives are to live with each other.
I want to deal with the specific issue of husbands and wives for a minute before moving on to the bigger picture. Notice what each are called to do. The wife is to respect her husband. She is to submit to her head. She needs him. To not respect is to say she does not need him and to effectually cut him off. She would be killing herself and him in the process.
Yes, she is submitting to the needs of her husband, his need for respect. This is a huge issue for men and it is the way God made them to be. It is their emotional blood flow, so to speak. They have a need for their wife to respect them because for them it is the wife saying, “I need you”. She is submitting to his needs above her own. Paul tells us that as believers we should all think of each other as more important than ourselves.(Phil. 2:3) Obeying this mandate as a wife is doing nothing more than obeying the one in Philippians as a believer.
Next, God tells the husband to love his wife. Why? Because that is her need, her emotional blood flow. In order to live and thrive a wife requires love. It is how God made her. It is the husband saying, “I desire you in my life, in every area of my life. You are wanted”. In this the husband is to submit to her need above his own. Otherwise, he would be cutting off his own body and thereby killing himself.
In a marriage there must be this unity and this passage gives the way that is achieved. He, the head, belongs to the body and she, the body, belongs to the head. If they are going to survive they need each other and so each must be sure to give the other what the other requires to survive, respect or love. If this is done then the head and body function together with much greater ease and unity. In so doing they each survive and thrive.
That leads us to what God is illustrating to us. This relationship is what He wishes to have with His people. This is the story of the Bridegroom and the Bride. Yeshua is our Bridegroom and we who put our faith in Him, who follow Him, are His Bride. According to this passage, this is a profound mystery. Notice that our oneness with each other is called the mystery in Ephesians and our oneness with Him is called a profound mystery. This is beyond anything we could have thought of or imagined.(Chapter 3)
That is why it is so important to preserve the true picture of marriage because it speaks of the relationship He desires with us. To change the picture is to attempt to tarnish or twist the reality. For the last 50 years our culture has seen deliberate distortions and downplay of marriage.
Most prominently today, our culture, along with the enemy’s help in deceiving our culture, is beginning to accept more and more the distortion and calling it good.
Marriage is and from the beginning has been between a man and a woman, but our culture is debating redefining marriage to include being between a man and a man or a woman and a woman. What picture does that give of God? It is not two bridegrooms or two brides that offer us the accurate picture of the relationship God wants with us.
I am not saying that people in these relationships realize what they are saying, but to be sure the enemy does and he seeks to distort and twist all God wants for us. And to be sure God knows what it says, that is why this particular sin is called an abomination.
The enemy wants people to concentrate on their
“rights” to be happy and purposefully turns them away from what the reality of what they are doing says about God. That is why it is called deception. Eve sinned based on deception, but it was still sin.
The first relationship we see in Scripture is marriage of one man and one woman. The man represents the Son of God (Luke calls Adam the son of God) and Eve represents the Bride of Christ, the Bride of the Son. In the end we see the marriage of the Lamb and His Bride. One is the picture of the other and to distort and twist it into anything else is the enemy’s attempt to distort and twist what it represents, what it will be in the end.
It is for this reason the church must hold the line on true marriage because we must insist on reflecting the light of the true relationship God wants with His people. Anything else is from the realm of darkness and based on deception.
Bride of Christ – Hold the Line, no one said it would be easy to insist on the accurate picture to a world who desperately needs our Bridegroom when all it seems to want to do is reject Him.
Our Bridegroom wishes to have a spotless Bride, one without wrinkles or blemishes. He paid for us with His own blood. It is the least we can do to hold tight to His promise as His bride. One day He will come for us and call us to Himself.
This picture is a profound mystery.