Summary: What is marriage? Is it all about taking? Or is it all about giving? God tells us the answer...
Ephesians 5:22-33 COMPANIONSHIP IN MARRIAGE - 2 Givers Trying to Outgive the Other
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.
Today we are continuing our look at the institution of marriage. During week 1 we saw how God created marriage in Genesis chapter 2. During week two we heard Jesus talk about the life-long commitment between husband and wife. Today, we are going to look at the blessing of companionship in marriage. Companionship - now there are a lot of things you can say about that.
Obviously, communication is very important. There was once a couple celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary, and a big party was thrown for the couple. The husband was so moved by the occasion and he wanted to tell his wife just how much he loved her. She was very hard of hearing and often misunderstood what he said. And so as loudly and as clearly as he could, he stood up among all his friends and relatives at the party and toasted his wife, "My dear wife, after fifty years, I've found you tried and true." Everyone smiled with approval, but his wife frowned at him and said, "What?" Again, he repeated more loudly, "After 50 years, I've found you tried and true" and his wife frowned at him even more and said, "Well, after 50 years, I'm tired of you too!"
Yes, communication in a marriage is very important. For a husband and wife to be able to understand each other, to speak and to listen to each other - very important. But to speak what? To understand what? Ephesians 5 gives us direction. It describes the companionship between a husband and wife as 2 givers, trying to out-give each other. What God says here might seem very different to you, because in our culture and most people who enter marriage are more interested in taking than giving in a relationship. Let's see how God describes marriage in these verses…
Right away in verse 22 God say something that goes against the culture of taking: "Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything." Now what does that mean, to submit?
Our English word for submit has some negative connotations. There is the picture of the barefoot, subservient, inferior slave-woman, being bossed around by the tyrannical husband. That's what it means to submit, people say. There is the picture of the poor woman who is unloved, unappreciated, and just has to put up with it. Is that really what "submit" means in the Bible?
No, not even close. The original Greek word for submit means to yield your rights to someone else. To humbly follow the loving leadership of someone else. And when there is a difference of opinion, there is no shouting match or fight about who gets their way. Wives, submit to, in other words, yield, or follow, the loving leadership of, your husbands.
Some people say, "Well, that would make the woman appear to be inferior or unintelligent or less respectable." Not true. Do you know how we know this isn't true? Because Jesus himself did this. He submitted to his Heavenly Father. Remember, Jesus and the Father were equal - one was not better than the other. But in that Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus said to his equal, to his Father, "Not my will, but yours be done." During Jesus' whole life on earth, he followed the loving leadership of his Heavenly Father. He submitted.
The Bible here is telling wives to be like Jesus in marriage. Husband and wife are equally loved in the eyes of God. One is not better than the other. But, in life, wives, yield your rights to your husband. And be like the church - "as the church submits to Christ - as the church follows the loving leadership of Jesus Christ, and yields to his Word, so wives, do the same for your husbands. This is one way a wife can give, rather than take, from the husband, in a marriage. This is one way a married woman can worship Jesus Christ, by yielding, giving that respect, to her husband.
Now what about husbands? At this point, immature husbands are thinking, alright! This sounds pretty good to me. But remember, marriage is when two givers try to out-give each other. The wife gives by submitting. How does the husband give? By sacrificing. "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy." Remember how must Jesus loved the Church? He gave the church what it needed. The church needed sins to be taken away, and so Jesus sacrificed to make that happen. He sacrificed his comfort and glory in heaven. He sacrificed his dignity, even his own body and blood - he had nothing left by the time he was done - he sacrificed it all - because that's what the Church needed to be made holy in the eyes of God.