On July 29, 1981, one of the most highly publicized and glamorous weddings in history took place. Britain's Prince Charles married Lady Diana in a ceremony watched by an estimated audience of 750 million people worldwide. 4500 pots of fresh flowers lined the route to St. Paul's cathedral. 2500 people crowded that grand church where more than 75 technicians with 21 cameras worked to enable the world to watch this wedding. For many people, this was a modern fairy tale. A royal prince weds a lovely lady in a grand cathedral surrounded by adoring subjects. They were the envy of millions. They were rich, young, handsome. It was a "marriage made in heaven." Sadly, we know that the fairy tale became a nightmare. The couple grew more and more distant. Affairs ensued. The storybook marriage made in heaven eventually collapsed into adultery and divorce. It takes more than a prince, a lady, and a palace to make a happy marriage. As someone said, "marriages may be made in heaven but the maintenance must be done on earth." For marriages to survive, they require regular maintenance. They require effort.
But more than that, they require a certain kind of effort. We must do the right things to have a successful marriage. God's Word tells us what those things are. God presents His program for a happy marriage in the Scriptures. Marriage works well only when we pay attention to the roles and responsibilities God has mapped out for us.
In Ephesians 5, the Apostle Paul gives us the picture of a Christian marriage. In this key passage about marriage, we see the God-given roles and responsibilities of husbands and wives.
Remember the Context
It is important for us to remember the context in which these instructions are given. Paul has been describing the Spirit-filled life. In vv. 19-21, he uses several descriptive participles to define the activity of the Spirit-filled life. One of those activities, found in v. 21, lays the groundwork for what follows. Spirit-filled believers submit to one another because of Christ. They humbly seek to serve one another. In what follows, Paul describes how this mutual submission is played out in the home.
Getting the Framework Straight
1. This passage describes marriage in the context of our commitment to Jesus Christ. Our commitment to our spouse is a function of our commitment to Him.
2. Equality is not the focus of the passage. Function is. This passage in no way diminishes the equality of women as subservient or less than men. The focus is on God-given roles and functions.
3. The husband and wife are called to obedience by God. Nowhere is the wife instructed to enforce these commitments on her husband or the husband on the wife. We need to focus on our own obedience and responsibility.
I. Wives submit to your husbands (vv. 22-24).
A. Biblical submission described.
1. Submit = a decision to voluntarily place yourself under your husband's authority. It is to give place to his position as God-ordained leader in the home.
2. Submit to your own husband.