Summary: Does it really take two to make a marriage? For a Christian marriage, it takes three - husband, wife, and Jesus.

Ephesians 5: 21-33 Pentecost 14 – B

Rev. Charles F. Degner September 14, 2003

Series on Luther’s Table of Duties. "It Takes Two...

To Make a State: Governed and Governor

To Make A Marriage: Husband and Wife

To Raise a Child: Parent and Child

To Make a Sermon: Pastor and Member

To Go To Work: Employer and Employee

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. 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, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church-- for we are members of his body. "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." This is a profound mystery--but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

This portion of Scripture is not very politically correct. We live in an age when brides do not want the words “submit” or “obey” in the wedding vows. Isn’t she the equal of her husband? Why should SHE have to submit to HIM? Today, saying that a wife should submit to her husband is almost a hanging offense!

Well, in the first place, the very first words of our text say that we ought to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. In the relationship to each other as husband and wife, both the man and the woman are to submit to each other. Only, the way in which a husband submits to his wife, and the way in which the wife submits to her husband are two different thing. Our text teaches us what is required of the husband, and what is required of the wife. It shows us that …


I. It takes two …

Paul sums up this relationship between husband and wife in the last verse. “However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” It may seem strange, but the Bible never tells a woman to love her husband! In Titus 2: 2 Paul commands Timothy to tell the younger women to love their husbands. Only the word is not that strong god-like love (agape) that Paul uses when he tells husbands to love their wives. It’s more like “being a good friend to” kind of love. A wife, then, submits to her husband when she respects him and acknowledges him as her God-given head. A husband submits to his wife when he loves her with such intensity that Paul compares that love to the love that Jesus has for us and which caused him to die on the cross for our sins. A pastor I know describes the difference in this way. The wife should be willing to live for her husband, and the husband should be willing to die for his wife.

There is another verse in the Bible which gives us a clue as to this unique relationship between a husband and wife. Peter wrote this: 1PE 3:7 “Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.” Paul told wives to respect their husbands, and here Peter tells husbands to treat their wives with respect. Isn’t this the same thing? What the English translates as respect is two different words in the Greek. Wives should respect (phobeo) their husbands, and husbands should treat their wives with respect (time’). The word “respect” is an adequate translation for what the wife owes her husband. But it doesn’t quite hit the mark for what the husband owes his wife.

The Greek word used for the husband has another meaning. It can also mean value or price. If a man lets his teenage son drive his fully restored 1965 Corvette convertible, with its 327 h.p. engine, he might say to his son, “Son, I want you to treat his car with respect. Don’t squeal the tires. Don’t park next to other cars. Don’t …” When something is really valuable, we treat it with special care. We treat it with respect.

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