Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
(Ephesians 5:22-24 ESV)
Over the past few days we’ve been reading some verses that are very misunderstood by our culture regarding gender roles within marriage. Marriage, like any organization, needs a leader and God has designated the husband to lead his family. One of the reasons why is the relationship of the husband and wife is a model of the union between Jesus and the Church.
Christ is the head of the church. The “church” is defined as all believers. A few weeks ago we read that all these believers are analogous to a building with Jesus being the cornerstone and each believer being one of building blocks. In the Bible God also uses an anatomical analogy with Jesus being the head and believers being his body. Either way, Jesus, and all believers, are one entity with Jesus as our leader.
This is interesting because in a similar manner when a man and woman are married they become one flesh [Genesis 2:24] with the husband as the head. Sadly, almost no one understands what marriage is anymore. They think it is two people who are in love (but really are in lust) committing to each other forever (but really only until they decide they want something else).
But God’s intent for marriage is for it to be a witness to the world of the love between Jesus and the church. A husband and wife do that by playing the roles God has assigned them. Thus far we’ve read about the woman’s role to accept the husband as the leader in the marriage in the same way that Christ is the leader of all God’s children. In a couple of days we’ll read about the husband’s role within marriage.
Our culture rejects this notion of these marital gender roles. But God has made it clear that men and women are different with neither being any more valuable or less valuable than the other. All people are valuable to God. The value of something is the price you will pay for it. God paid for us with the life of His son. Simply put, each of us is as valuable to God as Jesus Himself.
Paul adds an interesting phrase at the end of today’s verse: and is himself its Savior. Scholars wonder what Paul is trying to say here. Perhaps he is reminding us that Jesus is our Savior and no one should imply from his words that husbands are to replace Jesus as the ultimate authority in their wives’ lives.
Or perhaps Paul is saying that when it comes to their wives, husbands play a similar role as Jesus does with the church. Obviously husbands don’t provide salvation for their wives but, as we’ll read in a couple of days, they are to use their leadership position to care for and benefit their wives. Their leadership should be motivated by love, not self. This is exactly how Jesus lead.
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