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Summary: Good marriages may be designed in heaven but they are made on earth.

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“Building Quality Relationships: With Spouses – Master Marriage”

Eph. 5:18-33

There’s a theory that states “Good marriages are made in heaven.” Sounds good – but I don’t buy it. Good marriages are designed there, but they are made on earth. And since they are, we must learn how to master marriage. There’s no better place to turn than Eph. 5:18-33. While discussing Christ’s relationship to His Body, the Church, Paul wrote some critical words about marriage.

He began with WORDS TO WIVES. “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.” I can already feel the temperature rising! But hold on as we come to an understanding of these words. When we’re done I’m convinced you’ll be glad you did. Part of the mutual submission of verse 21 is that wives are to recognize THE HUSBAND IS THE HEAD OF THE WIFE. I admit that for too long many have misinterpreted and abused these verses to justify male domination. So it’s important to understand both the word Paul uses and the world in which he lived. In Paul’s day women were, at best, a piece of property owned by and under the control of men. Paul’s words, when rightly understood, actually elevated the status of women and wives.

The key word here is kephale (from which we get our word cephalic) – meaning ‘head’. Greek scholars have listed 25 possible meanings for kephale and words like ‘authority,’ ‘superior rank,’ ‘leader,’ are not on the list. Rather the word as used in Ephesians has more to do with source or origin. In English we speak, for example, of a river’s source as the ‘headwaters.’ The river has a source, at its ‘head’ that brings it water and life. So when Paul stated that Christ is head of the church he meant that He is the origin, the lifeline of the church. Eph. 4:15 – “…we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love…” So the husband is the head of the wife not in having authority or superior rank, but as the life-giver and sustainer for the wife. Authority is not the focus of headship. Rather “headship has to do with care more than with control, with responsibility more than with rule, with self-giving rather than with dominance.” (1) So wives, relax. Paul is not the anti-feminist he’s often portrayed to be. He’s on your side. No; actually He’s on God’s side. He’s given you a life-source.

In fact, Paul continues the parallel between Jesus and the husband by stating that as Christ is the savior of the church, SO THE HUSBAND IS THE SAVIOR OF THE WIFE. “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.”Headship is not so much lordship as saviorhood. I’ll say more about that shortly when I address the role of husbands. For now, realize that God expects the husband to be the saving, redeeming, life-giver for his wife.


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