The following is an edited excerpt of a devotional I prepared for a bridal shower last week. As I was working through the passage, I was struck anew with the perspective of "as to the Lord". Thought it might be beneficial for others as well.
Ephesians 5:22, "Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For, the husband is the head of the wife, as also Christ is the head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let wives be to their own husbands,… in everything."
In our world today, a lot of the words used in this passage are not popular: submission, the LORD, headship, the church, Savior… these are words that speak to the heart of a believer – they are, thus, unpleasant, distasteful, even foolishness for those that are perishing…
So maybe that’s where we need to start our look at "wife-ing" –What wives is God addressing? What is Paul’s audience? By looking at Ephesians 1:1 we see that Paul is writing to the saints in Ephesus: "Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the will of God, TO the saints who are in Ephesus, and TO the faithful in Christ Jesus."
What does that mean, "the faithful in Christ Jesus"?
First off, these are people that are "in Christ Jesus", that is, "EN CHRISTO JESU"… Literally, Paul is saying… these words I’m about to write are for those that are "through Jesus Christ"….again, what does that mean… "through Jesus Christ"? Paul goes on to explain what this means in the next 3 chapters.
Number 1, "through Christ" they HAVE UNDERSTOOD WHO GOD IS… Ephesians 3:9 says He is the creator of all things, Chapter 1:17… He is the father of glory, Chapter 1:20… He is seated in heaven, far above all earthly power, might, dominion…
Number 2, "through Christ" the people receiving this letter also UNDERSTOOD WHO THEY WERE…. Look at Chapter 2: 1…"dead in sins", Chapter 2:2, "children of disobedience", Chapter 2:3, "walking, or conducting, ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind". These people, like us, are summarized by Paul as "children of wrath" in Chapter 2:3.
These Christians in Ephesus understood that God is holy…perfect…unattainable…They knew that a sinful person cannot be in the same place as Almighty God… because sin and holiness cannot co-exist. And they understood their perilous position in light of this - any person that commits a sin has no hope of ever being with God in heaven if they have no holiness.
Enter Jesus Christ. He came to earth - God clothed in human flesh. He lived a perfect life. He died, as an innocent on the cross. And he did this, so that his holiness and perfection could substitute for our lack of holiness. This is the third aspect which the Ephesian readers understood - JESUS CHRIST DIED ON THEIR BEHALF TO PAY FOR THEIR SIN (see 1:5, 1:7, 2:1, 2:5, 2:13)
Ahh, now this makes sense… "through Jesus Christ". That’s where we can stand, when we embrace Christ as our Savior in repentance and faith.
So, how does Christ’s death and resurrection affect marriage? Well, this is the backdrop to chapter 5 when Paul starts addressing wives … "submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord."
The LORD… who left the incredible beauty, serenity, peace, cleanness of heaven to come to earth and fulfill His Father’s plan.
The LORD… who endured a life on earth that was marked with service, lowliness, humility, amongst the riff-raff, to walk side by side with mankind.
The LORD… who gave up himself to face temptation from the devil, to endure bodily suffering…so that he could sympathize with our existence as humans.
The LORD… the one who hung on a cross, after enduring lashing after lashing on our behalf.
The LORD… who gave up his very last breath, so we (sinful, unholy, imperfect creatures) could have eternal life.
Suddenly, whatever this LORD asks of us, does not seem unfair. Suddenly, submission to our husbands is the very least we can do, when God tells us to do so… as unto the LORD. And suddenly we can understand why the world cannot stand the thought of "submitting to a husband".
Look again at our main verses, "Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. FOR the husband is the head of the wife, as also Christ is the head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body." God’s perfect plan is that wives first understand what Jesus did for them… this is then the context into which he places his command to submit.
Maybe, tomorrow I'll include my thoughts on submission :)