Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. 22 Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church– 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery– but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
The Apostle Paul, when directing commands and expounding on the Christian life for couples, takes a look at the example of Jesus Christ as the ultimate ideal in how we should treat one another and how we should structure our most intimate relationships. Jesus is our ideal. You see, Jesus Christ and His sacrifice, security, and selfless love are a perfect pattern for us to model in our relationships. Now, this is not an ideal that can be cast aside because it is an opinion, but rather it is the ideal of God and therefore is absolute. Now I have to tell you that I am no expert on marriage. I am not a relationship guru with all of the answers and six neat tricks to give you the best life now. What we do have is the Word of God which shows us the way which is more than enough. I find it interesting that in this passage, Paul says in verse 21: “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” which is the umbrella statement for this passage which applies to all people, and then breaks down his comments to husbands and wives.
Paul tells us in this passage (and in others) that the husband is the head of the home. What does that mean? I think that means that the husband is the one who sets the overall direction for the family. Husbands are charged with leadership. Husbands are also charged with loving their wives. Husbands are charged with spiritual leadership in the home. What should the leadership, love, and spiritual leadership look like? Again, it should look like the ideal that Christ has already given to us.
Sacrifice. It is the job of the husband to put his wife and children and grandchildren before himself because he is the leader. You do what you have to do to lead your family well. That may mean sacrificing pride when making a decision if that is best for the family. Sacrificing sleep may be needed for a child or grandchild. Sacrifice selfish things that take away from family like guys’ night out or sports if it hampers the family. Sacrifice golf on Sundays to make church and family a priority. As the leader of the home, it is the husband’s job to sacrifice in important ways to show the rest of those in your home what is priority. I also happen to think it is the husband’s role to decide what sacrifices the family needs to make so everyone is growing spiritually. Sacrifice is a key element of being a good and loving husband that leads and serves the family.
Security. It is the job of the husband to create a stable home where the wife, children, and grandchildren know they are loved and cared for. Security means provision. Security means they feel safe. Security means you will always be there for them dependably and you will not skip out when it gets hard. Security means you are consistent in saying yes and no and spending money and your expectations of them and of yourself. Security means they know you will always listen. Security means you tell her she is the only woman for you.
Selfless love. Of the three of these, I have to say that I think the “selfless love” is perhaps the most difficult part of submitting to Christ and leading well in the home as a husband. Paul says that husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church. In my mind, that means perfectly. I am certainly not a perfect person. I will never be perfect this side of Heaven. So what does that mean? I think it means that we make every effort to love our wives and children and all the people in our homes in as many ways as possible at all times. That means we love without expecting something in return. We strive to use loving words because that is what we are called to do. Love should be out motivator in how we treat our wives and children and grandchildren.
Paul tells us in this passage (and in others) that the wife is the submissive leader of the home. What does that mean? Submission means exactly what it sounds like. Submission means that at the end of the day or the end of the argument or the end of the decision making process, that input is given but responsibility rests ultimately with the husband. God says that. God has made that the structure and function of a Christian home. As a wife yields to her husband’s leadership in their marriage, she reflects the heart of faith that characterizes Jesus’s people. The church follows Jesus as her head and uses her gifts to carry out His mission in this world. Likewise, the wife respects and yields to her husband’s leadership as she uses her gifts to complement his good purposes for their marriage and family. What should the submission, care, and support of a wife look like? Again, it should look like the ideal that Christ has already given to us.
Sacrifice. Sacrifice means giving something up for a greater cause. The greater cause that women sacrifice for his the respect for the husband in the home. The greater cause that women sacrifice for is the health of the marriage and the love of children. Women sacrifice much. Wives need to sacrifice the need to be right. Wives often need to sacrifice getting credit for all that they do around the house and with children and sometimes even working outside the home. Wives at times need to sacrifice their independent goals because marriage is all about interdependence. Sacrifice, for both wives and husbands is needed.
Security. Believe it or not, wives can provide security in the home as much as husbands can. Wives can provide security by constantly praying for their family. Wives can help my managing money well with their husbands. Wives can make their husbands feel secure by always taking their side in public and presenting a united front with the children. You see security in the home means more than being safe from robbers and bandits, but security can be felt on the inside within the relationships.
Selfless love. Of the three of these, I have to say that I think the “selfless love” is perhaps the most difficult part of submitting to Christ and submissive leading well in the home as a wife… not that I have ever been a wife. Paul tells the women in this passage that selfless love leads them to submit to their husbands and to respect them. I have to say that this is a tall order at times. The husband may not be acting in a way that is worthy of respect. The attitudes that he may be projecting may be hurtful at times. Selfless love means you love him through it to make him a better man in Christ.
BOTH OF YOU
A godly marriage is one in which both the husband and the wife seek to die to self and live for Christ daily. Personal agendas are submitted to God’s agenda as both spouses seek to be controlled by the Spirit of God rather than by their flesh. Neither partner clings to his or her “rights”, but both realize that they are under the authority of God. Their unity is not based on likes and dislikes or other “compatibility” issues, but on the fact that God has joined them together. They seek harmony through “putting on the mind of Christ”. When there is an issue to address, they first consider where they have been wrong. After they have confessed and repented of their area of responsibility, they prayerfully and lovingly seek to bring their partner to a right place before God. Both partners are willing to consider their own sin, repent, and are ready to forgive.