Ephesians 5:22-33 For example, wives should submit to their husbands as if to the Lord. A husband is the head of his wife like Christ is head of the church, that is, the savior of the body. So wives submit to their husbands in everything like the church submits to Christ. As for husbands, love your wives just like Christ loved the church and gave himself for her. He did this to make her holy by washing her in a bath of water with the word. He did this to present himself with a splendid church, one without any sort of stain or wrinkle on her clothes, but rather one that is holy and blameless. That’s how husbands ought to love their wives—in the same way as they do their own bodies. Anyone who loves his wife loves himself. No one ever hates his own body, but feeds it and takes care of it just like Christ does for the church because we are parts of his body. This is why a man will leave his father and mother and be united with his wife, and the two of them will be one body. Marriage is a significant allegory, and I’m applying it to Christ and the church. In any case, as for you individually, each one of you should love his wife as himself, and wives should respect their husbands.
So, this is a passage that has been used many times in an attempt to keep women “in their place.” I do not believe this passage talks about that at all. This is a passage which shows that marriage relationships should be as highly valued as the relationship of Christ to the church. This is an incredible relationship which allows for each other to be the best they can be and grow in faith in Christ.
What does it mean to “submit?” I do not believe that it means to be in a lesser role as a servant in any way. What I do believe this passage talks about is how men and women process love. It has been said that men value respect more and this is how we fell loved and women feel love on an emotional level. Basically, each person has their own “love language” and in order to feel valued and loved by the other person, speaking in and communicating in that love language is important.
Think of what Christ did for the church. He was emotionally humiliated, tortured and put to death only to be raised up again. But he also did more, even before his death. He restored people to society, removed the illnesses and demons so they could be free, he healed people and brought the dead to life. This is what Christ did for his love, the church. Should we do anything less?
Giving respect may seem as a form of being second rate, but it is about allowing the other person to be built up and live into the gifts and life that God has planned. Showing emotional love, in our society, sometimes feels as if it is a sign of weakness to be vulnerable, but this is how people feel connected – emotional connection can be and is more powerful than physical connection. Both of these actions (love is an action not just a feeling) are ways of taking care of the other person’s needs which is compared to the metaphor of taking care of our bodies with the right food.
When each party in the relationship treats each other in the way that Christ treats the church (with grace and unconditional love), just think of our radically different our human relationships would be. We would be more in love with the other person because we put their needs before ours and showed it daily. We would feel valued and loved because it is the love of Christ through the other person that we would feel.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is incredible because it changes how we act toward each other and show love to each other.
Next…we begin Ephesians 6!