College & Career Class Lesson Summary, April 14, 2019
Ephesians 5:22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 5:23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. 5:24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 5:26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 5:27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. 5:28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. 5:29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: 5:30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. 5:31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. 5:32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 5:33 Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.
Paul finishes chapter 5 by discussing the relationship of Christ and the Church, as typified or exemplified by the relationship of the husband and wife. But, he also uses the relationship of Christ and the Church to describe how the relationship of the husband and wife should transpire. We will spend at least one more week on this subject, but today, we laid some ground work that will help us appreciate more of what Paul is saying in Ephesians 5. We turned our attention to 3 areas: Love, Headship & Submission.
Our society uses the term love usually with some understanding of an emotionally-charged infatuation or desire for. Love gets confused with lust and ends up being a poor foundation for many of the relationships we see, especially in Hollywood. Emotions are fickle and when the emotions change or are gone, what would you expect to happen to the relationship that is founded upon them? The relationship will change and ultimately may find itself ended. However, the God of Love has demonstrated the kind of love that He not only favors, but is designed to be the under-girding of a relationship centered around Him. There are different aspects of love that exist in the scripture, however, as we are working in Ephesians, we’ll keep our focus on the aspect of love that is Christ’s for the church (and, therefore a husband’s for his wife).
You may have heard of the word agape, which is the word for love used to describe the provision one determines to provide despite the recipient’s ability to reciprocate it in return. As Paul says in 1Corinthians 13:5 – Love doesn’t seek its own. Love is always an active pursuit to ensure that others are esteemed over itself. Love is sacrificial in this regard. Therefore, if love is a provision, who initiates this provision? Many relationships fail because there is this stand-off at high noon as to which person (husband or wife) is going to make the first move. However, we don’t have to guess at the sequence of this. 1John 4:19 states that we love Christ because He first loved us. It is clear – Christ made the FIRST MOVE in loving us and we simply respond to that love and love Him because of His love for us. If then, the husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church, then we should find the answer to our question of who initiates this love (provision) – the husband. Just as Christ stepped forward to love His church, so too does the husband step forward to love his wife. The husband doesn’t wait for the wife – the husband is obligated by his decision to be a husband to control the righteous domain of his love – a domain he has invited the wife to live in.
Not only is there a proper sequence in love, but there is also a proper sequence in headship. Headship in the Bible defines the sum total of authority and dominion. In Genesis 3:15, the serpent is promised that the seed of the woman would bruise his head. The dominion of the serpent would come to an end at some point. Jesus Christ is defined as the head of the church in Colossians 1:18. Christ has a domain of righteousness, where grace is the law of the land and has invited every believer to enjoy the domain that He is. As head, He is the covering of protection over His dominion. Isaiah 61 writes of what salvation looks like in His dominion:
Isaiah 61:10 I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.
Headship is not about dominance, but about dominion. If husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church, then likewise the husband is to maintain a righteous dominion that he invites the would-be wife to enjoy. Paul writes in 1Corinthians 11:3 that the head of every woman is the man; the head of every man is Christ; the head of Christ is God. The head is the seat of dominion – it is the covering or protection that the one in the seat of authority provides. The banner over the woman is at the behest of the man to provide, yet, this covering isn’t organic to the man, but rather he simply extends the covering of Christ that is upon him to his wife. Headship isn’t about totalitarian control, but is about duty to provide. The husband has a domain and that domain is to resemble Christ’s. The husband’s headship is to bring safety, security, closeness, specialness, etc. and it is with that that he covers (protects) his wife.
Like headship, Submission is not the demand of the husband – submission is the response of the wife. This is very key to understand. The husband doesn’t demand submission – he presents reasons for the wife to respond with submission. Think of all that Christ has presented to you and I from His grace – that gives us a reason to respond with submission to Him. It is advantageous for us to submit to His grace. The wife NATURALLY RESPONDS with submission when she has reason to. “Yeah – but isn’t she commanded to submit, by Paul?” – Not exactly, Paul tells her to submit to her own husband (as opposed to a community of husbands). There is necessity to draw distinction between the husband and wife, as one flesh, vs husbands and wives in the collective of their assembly. Husbands, if you find your wife isn’t submissive, perhaps consider what you are presenting. Are you offering a dominion that encourages her to respond in submission? Wives too should have reasonable expectations, knowing full well that their husbands will never be on par with Christ, at all times, every time.
The marriage relationship is not a 50/50 whereby each waits to see who moves. The marriage relationship is the proactive advertisement of the prospective husband to provide all that his wife needs and the would-be wife determines whether or not she will respond affirmatively to the offer (proposal). However, the wife is not under anywhere near the same obligation as the husband. As Christ is the savior of the church, so too is the husband to be the savior of the wife. Christ and the church do not meet 50/50. Christ didn’t wait for the church to make the first move. Christ stepped forward and declared His love for the church because He simply decided to – and was and is faithful to His commitment. Many marriage relationships fail because the husband doesn’t recognize now much is on their shoulders – as was of Christ.
The last thing we discussed is what constitutes a marriage. We noted that the State nor a church organization certify a marriage. There may be religious practices and state laws that make it necessary to engage them, however, the marriage is defined as the man leaving his father and mother and cleaving unto his wife, so they become one flesh. A marriage is the offer of provision to the wife and the wife agrees to it and they commit themselves to each other, before God. This is why fornication is so bad, from a spiritual sense. The UNION of husband and wife is the marriage – it consummates the marriage and is a continual reminder of the union they enjoy. When fornication happens (engaging in sex with no regard to marriage), it may seem like nothing more than satisfying a biological urge, but what is happening spiritually is that you are entering into a false union – it is an unrighteous marriage. You may not realize that, but that’s what is happening. You are effectually marrying yourself to your partner under false pretenses. And, if you can’t seem to control yourself and have multiple partners, you are married to every one of them. In the imagery of marriage, Christ was faithful to His bride and husbands are to be the same. Fornication carries all kinds of issues in the physical world, but those issues pale in comparison to what is actually happening, where God is concerned. Paul wants believers to abstain from fornication because just as believers are not in false unions with Christ, so too should we not be engaging with false unions with those we have no intention of marrying. Even if the intention is there, that intention must be brought to fruition and culminated in union.
Next time, having this ground work laid, we’ll go back and read Ephesians 5:22-33 and make sense of all that Paul is laying out.
Our story continues…