This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
(Ephesians 5:32-33 ESV)
For the past nine days we’ve been studying this passage in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians regarding marriage. As we learned on day one, knowing and understanding the context is required in order to understand the text itself. The context of these passages is mutual submission to one another, with marriage being the first of three examples [Ephesians 5:21].
In the Bible God does not state, or even imply, that marriage is a one-way street. It clearly states that both husband and wife should sacrifice themselves for each other as they committed to do on the altar the day they got married. This concept is not understood by the world – it is a mystery understood only by those who study the Bible and who therefore understand what marriage is.
Marriage refers to Christ and the church. It is an earthly picture to the world of the unconditional love Jesus has for those who are a part of His family [John 1:12-13]. It is therefore imperative that both the husband and wife play their parts. Doing so is a great witness to the world around them.
However, even though the world doesn’t understand marriage each husband is commanded to love his wife as himself. It doesn’t matter what the world does or says. God wants His children to view marriage in this light. By living the way God commands, a married couple will proclaim Christ to a world that desperately needs Him.
On a related note, when we redefine marriage to be between anyone other than a heterosexual male and female we remove this witness from society. Those who promote same-sex marriage are confusing lust with love. The think they are helping, but the reality is they are hurting society by making it harder for the next generations to come to know God. Jesus told us that anyone who prevents others from knowing Him would be better off dead [Luke 17:2]. Ouch.
Notice that there are no exceptions. The Greek word for “each” is ηεκαστοσ (pronounced: hek’-as-tos). It is the superlative of “one”. A superlative is “the highest degree”. God is telling every husband to love his wife even when he doesn’t feel like it. Her behavior is not relevant. Hopefully she will obey God and respect her husband. But even if she does not God commands the husband to love her.
This is, afterall, how Jesus loves us. He loves us and died for us even though we don’t deserve His love [Romans 5:8].
When we started to study these passages on marriage I stated that we would discover that these verses don’t say what many people claim they say. It should now be obvious that the Bible is not misogynistic. The Bible does not reduce women to peons. Nor does it exalt men. It calls on husbands and wives to be a witness to the world by recognizing they are one just as Jesus and the church are one.
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