Summary: The second of two sermons preached on the topic of marriage and God’s ideal for it.
God’s Plan for Marriage (Pt. 2)
Text: Ephesians 5:21-33
By: Ken McKinley
Marriage was instituted by God in the Garden of Eden, it’s not the invention of man. In-fact; I think we could make the argument from Scripture that marriage is the basic institution from which all other institutions (ie. The Church, the State, Schools, etc…) come from and are based upon. This is where we get that saying, “as goes the home, so goes the church, and as goes the church so goes the world.”
And if we look at our text we see the Christian marriage can only be understood in the light of the relationship of Christ to His Church. As Christ is the head of the Church, so too is the husband the head of the wife, and as the church is to voluntarily submit to Christ, the wife should also voluntarily submit to her husband. As Christ sacrificially loves the Church, so too should the husband ought to love his wife. Those are the two primary duties of husbands and wives. Love sacrificially and submit voluntarily.
But we need to look at this a little closer, because if we just leave it at that, I don’t know that we’ll actually get it into our spirits.
During the time of Jesus, the Jewish men had a prayer. It went something like this, “Thank you God, that I am not a Gentile, a slave, or a woman.” Gentile men had pretty much the same view and treated their women as property, not as equals. About the only ancient culture that didn’t do that was Sparta, as the Spartan men looked upon their wives as better than any other culture. But the Bible says in Galatians 3:28 says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male or female, we are all one in Christ.” What that means is that we are equal before God in respect to our being, but we are given different responsibilities. It is similar to the roles within the Trinity – there is equality in being among the Godhead, but different functions, so to speak. And so the Christian wife is to submit to her own husband (notice it’s her OWN HUSBAND); and she is supposed to do this “As unto the LORD.” In chapter 6:1 children are to obey their parents in the Lord. There is a rule and order in everything that God does and in all of His institutions.
So what exactly does it mean to submit?
Well in a nut-shell it means to relinquish ones rights in a voluntary manner. And notice that Scripture doesn’t say, “Wives submit to your husbands if you think he is capable.” It doesn’t say, “Wives submit to your husbands if he gifted and talented.” There are no qualifications given other than he should love the wife sacrificially. It has nothing to do with one being superior or inferior to the other; in God’s eyes man and woman are co-equal as persons. So the reason for this is a functional difference in roles. Think about it like this – if a police officer pulls up behind your car and tells you to pull over, you would comply. But why? He’s a regular guy just like the rest of us, he’s a normal human being. So why do we submit to his demand? Because we understand he has been given a role and authority by the state and local authorities. Now the difference is that the state invests its authority in the police officer, God Himself invests authority in the husband. But on the flip side, just as the state expects the police officer to behave himself and follow certain standards of conduct, God also expects the husband to behave himself and follow certain standards of conduct.
Now I know that some of you might be thinking, “Well what if my husband wants me to commit sin? Do I have to submit to him then?” And the answer is no. Peter makes that clear in Acts 5:29 when he is being tried. He says, “We ought to obey God rather than men.” And so wives submit yourselves to your own husband.
But let me just say this: A submissive wife is not a passive wife. Husbands and wives complement and complete each other. A wife should not be passive, but should have the right to express her views. Believe it or not, we men don’t know everything. So within a Christian marriage there must be discussion, communication, consultation and sometimes compromise. On the other hand, the wife should not act independently as Eve did in the garden. Communication is a two way street.
Now if you guys thought you were going to get off easy today, hang tight, yours is coming. Verse 21 says we are to submit one to another, so yeah guys, we must also submit to our wives. So what are we supposed to do? What’s our job as husbands? Well we already touched on it. We are to love our wives just as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her. So the wife is to submit to her husband and we see in the last line of our text, she should respect him as well. But believe it or not husbands have a greater demand placed on them. We must love our wives as Christ loves the Church. And how did Christ love the Church? He gave Himself up for her. In the Greek, this is given in the direct imperative, what that means in Oklahoma laymen terms is that this isn’t a suggestion it’s a command. The word for “love” is agape. This love that Christ is demanding is an unconditional, sacrificial love.