This scripture-based consideration of marriage seeks to do four things:
- describe God’s plan for the marriage relationship
- call American Christians to repent of abandoning God’s design for marriage
- warn against some ways that the bible’s teaching on marriage is perverted
- remind everyone that we obey God’s instruction in earthly things even as we set our affection on heavenly things
Notes from Ephesians 5 on wives and husbands
5:21-22 Submission by wives to husbands is an example of the more general “one to another” instruction. The general instruction is not to be used to subvert and destroy the specific instruction. Husbands are not instructed to submit to their wives. That would be a false application of the general instruction.
5:23-24 The church finds salvation in Christ and each wife should expect to find great benefit to herself in submitting to her husband. She should expect to find rest and gracious providential care under the leadership of her husband.
5:24 The authority of the husband is described expansively as touching “every thing.” This is true within a limited, but not narrow, sphere. It parallels the biblical instruction to children (Col 3:20), servants (Col 3:22). It also parallels the exhortation to submit to civil government (1 Pet 2:13).
5:25 Each husband is to sacrifice himself for the good of his wife.
5:26 A husband ought to make his wife not only feel but actually be special. She should receive particular care and attention from him as no other person on earth receives.
5:27-28 The attention and care given to the church was done with the view to providing the Lord himself with a wonderful and holy church. Similarly the husband’s care of the wife should result in her becoming adapted to the needs of the husband. He should benefit indirectly from his efforts by receiving a more and more wonderful wife. She should be a credit and a glory to him.
5:29 A wise man feeds and cares for his own body because he is committed to himself.
5:32-33 There is spiritual depth and richness in the comparison between husband and wife with Christ and the church. Nevertheless, do not lose sight of the practical matter and the specific instructions.
5:33 The text reads literally “and the wife that she may fear the husband.”
Submission in 1 Peter
2:13 submit to civil government
2:18 servants submit to masters
3:1 a wife submits to her husband
3:5 holy women submitted to their husbands
3:22 spiritual powers subjected to Christ
5:5a younger submit to older
5:5b all submit to all
Observations on submission in 1 Peter:
Motivation is found in reference to those not involved, that the Christian may be a good witness. We want our manner of life to be so holy and good that those who speak against the gospel are ashamed because of our obvious goodness.
Motivation is found in reference to God’s opinion. The Christian servant patiently submits even to an unjust master. This is submission is a sacrifice offered to God. It is reminiscent of the sermon on the mount. It is the character of Jesus Christ demonstrated in the Christian.
Motivation is found in the possibility of winning over a husband who is disobedient to God. Quite an irony for a husband to enjoy an obedient wife while he himself rebels against the creator.
A Christian’s submission to those in authority over him is not dependent on strictly good behavior from the those in authority. We see this in the instruction for servants to obey even as they suffer at the hand of an unjust master. (Cf. Saul & David, Sara & Hagar)
Christians are not required to engage in immoral behavior if commanded to.
Only God’s authority is unlimited, the authority of any other pertains only to a limited sphere. See Spheres of Authority
American culture cherishes a “strong, independent spirit,” and misidentifies an unwillingness to submit as a virtue. This opinion of our culture wars against Christlikeness.
Ultimately, our submission to earthly authorities whether parents, husbands, employers or governments is obedience to God. The less inclined we are to submit, whether due to circumstance, upbringing or natural temperament, the more our obedient submission is a sacrifice offered up to God by faith.