Summary: This is a sermon that reviews the Scriptural roles of man and woman, especially as Christians carry them out out of love for Christ.
Introduction: Submit. It’s not a word that our society likes! America celebrates personal freedom. Our forefathers, tired of submitting to the English government, wrote a document know as the Declaration of Independence. The very premise of this document is that freedom is given by God, as this famous portion reminds us, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” There is a truth reflected in that statement that often gets twisted. God did create all men equally. But God is a God of order also. Our forefathers recognized that truth too. That is why they established a new government. Society without order, without laws, would run amock. There needs to be submission of citizens to government, and government to established laws.
Well, in our sermon text today, God shows his people the order He established for marriage way back in the perfection of the Garden of Eden. He created man and woman equal before Him. Both were holy. Yet, both were given specific roles. The husband was to be the leader. The wife was to be his companion and helper. Because of sin, that relationship has been corrupted among man and woman over the ages. Tragically, because of sin, men have treated women as objects of conquest and women have rebelled against their God-given role.
So, when Christian husbands and wives carry out their God-given roles, they face ridicule and scorn from the world. Not only does the World rebel against this teaching of God’s Word, but Christians find their own selfish, sinful nature rebelling.
What is the remedy? Paul reminds us that by the miracle of baptism, Christ has made us spotless and holy, 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, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. As His Church, we have the opportunity so show our love and gratitude for His grace by embracing the roles He has given to each one of us. So we are urged in our text today, Serve Christ Every Day. As a wife, be submissive to your Husband (21-24) and As a Husband, love your Wife (21, 25-31).
I. As a wife, be submissive to your Husband (21-24)
Our text begins a portion of God’s Word which has been labeled the table of duties. Starting in 5:22 and going through 6:9, Paul addresses members of the Ephesian congregation in the positions they fill in life. You will notice that at the start of our text, Paul lays down an overarching principle, 21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. It doesn’t matter, whether you are husband or wife, parent or child, master or slave, this principle is to be applied to all.
But added to that principle, Paul gives specific instructions to each believer in the station they have in life. Our sermon text is applied specifically to husbands and wives. Paul addresses the wives first: 22 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. God is saying that wives, if you really want to serve Christ every day, then submit to your husbands in everything.
Everything?! That goes against the grain of the American ideal of what a woman should be! It shouldn’t surprise us. The feminist movement in America goes against the very core of what God says. Such rebellion against the proper role of a wife started in the late 1800’s and came into full bloom in the mid-1900s. In 1963, Betty Friedan wrote a book titled ’The Feminine Mystique.’ She observed that many college-educated women did not use their training but, as she put it, “remained in their homes resigned to being housewives.” In 1966 she organized the National Organization for Women (NOW). NOW is openly hostile to men, viewing them as the oppressors of women and denouncing them for regarding women solely as sexual objects.
Their philosophy has tarnished the views which this generation upholds. Unfortunately, there are some very tragic consequences for the views of feminism. If you believe that you are your own person, even in marriage, you are dividing the unity which God established in marriage: “The two will become one flesh.” If a wife will not give up her promising career to nurture her family, there can be serious consequences. Our society questions why any woman would submit to her husband. After all, according to them, no liberated woman would “subject herself,” or “be subordinate” to a man, let alone “obey” him! The consequences: A tragic rise in divorces. Broken homes. Children raised by people who are not even their parents. Freedom from God’s will leads only to disaster!