Love and Submission (Ephesians 5)
Southern Baptists, at their 1998 convention in Salt Lake City, adopted an addition to their statement of faith, which states:
Those who are familiar with the fifth chapter of Ephesians recognize this statement as a simple paraphrase of the Apostle's words. Paul wrote, "Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her" (vs. 24-25). What is amazing is the response of many to the adoption of the phrase. It indicates how distorted a view our world has to the concept of submission, and to the marriage relationship as designed by God. Note the following:
While it is not surprising that Ireland would react as she did, seeing that she is a leader of the feminist movement in our society, it is disturbing to think that individuals who claim to be followers of Christ would be so virulently opposed to the concept of a woman's submission to her husband. If we reject the concept of submission in the marriage relationship, we are arguing with God rather than man.
A simple reading of Paul's epistle to the Ephesians (chapter 5) establishes the two most fundamental responsibilities God has given to each individual in marriage. In the remainder of this article, let us consider them briefly.
Husbands, Love Your Wives
"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her" (vs. 25)... "So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself" (vs. 28)... "Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself" (vs. 33).
The greek term, agape, which is translated "love" in this text has reference to moral obligation. Though a husband obviously has tender feelings for his wife, the emphasis here is in his treatment of her. No man can claim to be loving his wife if he has not placed her interests before his own. His primary responsibility in the relationship is to actively seek her welfare. His failure in this is the primary reason why women have suffered so much throughout the history of mankind.
Husbands should consider the Apostle Paul's description of love in his epistle to the Corinthians. "Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things" (1 Cor. 13:4-7). If a man's treatment of his wife is not the same in type to Christ's treatment of the church, it cannot be said that he is obeying this command of God.
Wives, Submit to Your Husbands
"Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything" (vs. 22-24).
The concept of submission is an important aspect of each facet of a Christian's life. It characterizes his relationship to his God, his government, his elders, his parents, and even to his relationship with other Christians. "submitting to one another in the fear of God" (cf. Eph. 5:21).
Someone has to be the head of the home, and God has given that position to the husband. He is the head because of creation (cf. 1 Cor. 11:8-10). He is the head, ultimately, because God has given him that place in the home. Christian women have no right to question the place given to them in the home. Their place is not in any way an indication of inferiority, rather it is a simple statement of position. Just as one's submission to the governing authority does not indicate an inferior person, submission in the home does not indicate inferiority in person (cf. Gal. 3:28-29).
Husbands, love your wives... Wives, submit to your husbands. You must, for your God demands it!