I was struck recently by a blog that was trending on social media, about a man who had blogged on his revelation that marriage was not for him but instead it was for his wife and future family.
This seems like a romantic gesture which may make us thing “awww isn’t that sweet”. But the reality of marriage is far greater than romantic gestures. We get a sense in the New Testament that the Love between married couples should be deep and profound, but in looking a little more depth we find that the love involved in marriage is a deeper much more beautiful truth.
We are going to focus on the passage found in Ephesians chapter 5:
22Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. 25Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
This passage which so often can be mistreated, missused or even ignored is a beautiful statement of what marriage should be. We find in this passage, in Verse 22:
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.
Now how many of you stopped reading right there, because that sounds terrible? Why should a wife submit to her husband? Why should she give into him as the leader? Well that is looking at it in the negative light as is seen so often because of those who claim to be Christians who misuse this verse as an excuse to abuse their wife’s. Well this verse does not condone violence if anything later on in these verses it basically condemns that sort of behaviour. Instead the explanation of the submission that the wife should have to the husband is explained in these verses:
23For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
So verse 23 suggests that the husband is the head of the family, this is a creation institution, pointing back to the time of Adam and Eve, but the key verse that defends the biblical submission of the wife to the husband is mapped out in Verse 24. If the husband is the head, that means he is like Christ (verse 23) so because of the that the wife is like The Church (verse 24). This means the Church seeks to serve and submit to Christ. Any Christian out there part of the Church wants to glorify Jesus and serve him in everyway they can. So the wife should be willing to do this because this is like Paul saying, “Look, what you do for your husband should be a mirror of what you do for Christ in the Church.” You want to serve Christ in the Church and from that should be an overflowing to serve your husband as you serve Christ. All of this is to point people to Jesus. In 1 Corinthians Paul states that if a wife who is a believer has an unbelieving husband and serves him in Biblical submission, it will help point him to Jesus. Now, I am not suggesting for a moment this means the wife does not have to love her husband. That is nonsense. Paul also says in 1 Corinthians that if you do not have Love you are useless, “like a clanging cymbal”. The wife needs to have love for her husband, so through that love she will understand the need to submit to her husband.
So that’s the verses about the wife sorted now we look at the husband.
25Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.
So now having seen the wife’s submitting, the men reading this may think they have it easy. But I assure you the men do not have the easy task of these two commands for marriage. To truly understand the enormity of the husbands tasks we need to go back to the Greek.
25 Οἱ ἄνδρες, ἀγαπᾶτε τὰς γυναῖκας, καθὼς καὶ ὁ Χριστὸς ἠγάπησεν τὴν ἐκκλησίαν καὶ ἑαυτὸν παρέδωκεν ὑπὲρ αὐτῆς
This may look confusing but trust me this will help explain a lot of things. The word used in this command for love is αγαπε (ag-a-pae). Two variants of this word come up in this passage. The first is the love that the husband should have for his wife, and the second is the love that Christ has for the Church. Now there are a number of words for love in the Greek language. But here Paul uses the same word. This means that husbands need to love their wife’s in exactly the same way as Christ loves the Church. What does that mean? Well I’m sure all of you reading this know that means that like Christ who loved the Church so much he came and he died on the cross so that those who believe in him will be forgiven. Which means husbands need to love their wife’s self-sacrificially, being willing to give all they have for their wife’s. This may sound like romantic love, the kind that makes you all warm and fuzzy inside, the kind which makes a good movie. But actually this love, this example of Love that we have for one another can point people to the most amazing, perfect and awesome example of Love that has ever been shown. That is Jesus. Through His sacrifice on The Cross for those who believe in Him. As the well known verse from Johns Gospel says:
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
So please let us see that marriage is about love yes! But Love of Biblical proportions. A love that has lead to the salvation of all who trust in Jesus.
My prayer is that your marriage, your future marriage will not only model this but also that you will come to know( if you do not already) the amazing love, the perfect love which Christ has for you!
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