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Ephesians 5:22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 


   Welcome to the third instalment of our series, Relationships 101. 


Over the past few weeks, we have explored our relationship with Jesus and our relationship with friends and being a friend. In doing so, we've illustrated our relationship with other drivers on the road. Although we may not know all the other drivers, we share a relationship with them as we all follow the same road rules. Importantly, we are all subject to the consequences of not adhering to those rules.


  The purpose of these rules is not simply to give us something to do or control us but rather to ensure the smooth functioning of the roadway. When we drive in accordance with traffic laws, we can all enjoy the benefits of efficient and comfortable travel. However, chaos ensues if drivers disregard the rules and do whatever they want. 


If someone starts driving the wrong way on the onramp and ignores the signs and signals, it's a recipe for disaster. Disregarding the boundaries of relationships on the roadway leads to a breakdown of the entire traffic system, and no one gets anywhere.


 Similarly, the commands and moral precepts we find in the Bible serve as boundaries for relationships, enabling them to function in the best possible way. Things do not go well when we choose to transgress these boundaries. Sometimes, we might mistakenly think that someone is being punished by God when, in reality, they are experiencing the consequences of transgressing His boundaries.


To ensure that everything operates as intended within these boundaries, it starts with each of us taking personal responsibility for living out the commands and moral precepts of Scripture in our own lives. Faith is not just an intellectual belief; it also requires the courage to humble ourselves and act on what God says is true.






We will shift our focus to Ephesians chapter 5 for the next few weeks. In this passage, we find guidance on the boundaries that define the relationships within a household.


Anyone who knows me knows that I don't aim to be controversial. People often say, “I don’t care what other people think. Personally, I do care about what other people think. I like to be liked, but my call to preach and teach God's Word must precede that desire.


When it comes to today’s topic, someone will always be offended. While I'm not looking forward to potential friction in the blogosphere and social media, I recognise that these platforms have become successful avenues for outreach. Therefore, I am committed to addressing even the challenging topics.


In our discussions this week and next, we will explore the biblical roles of husbands and wives in marriage. Today, we'll focus on wives; next week, we'll turn our attention to husbands. Perhaps Paul addresses wives first because he wanted to get the hard part out of the way first.


Men are generally less emotional and more analytical, making it easier to address their roles from a preaching standpoint. I can speak to men on any given Sunday and be straightforward. I can address their struggles and shortcomings without much resistance. However, when it comes to women, the approach is different.


I want to clarify that I never intend to upset or hurt anyone. I've mentioned before that pastors are not experts on friendship, and similarly, I know even less about being a woman and a wife.  I believe that most of the friction from this passage is for two basic reasons. One is people have a sinful and rebellious attitude, the other is due to the conflation of cultural norms with biblical commands.


Let's examine Ephesians 5:22-24 together:


"Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands."


   A husband and wife enter a covenant with God in a biblical marriage. This covenant unites them as one whole, joined together to as one flesh. Nothing and no one should enter into that marriage covenant. It is a sacred bond that excludes everything else, including parents, kids, jobs, etc.


When the biblical terminology of “submit” comes up against our sinful flesh, it can be pretty abrasive. However, as we explore this further, we must recognise that everyone submits to someone, and mutual submission also exists among believers. Verse 21 emphasises that all believers submit to each other in the fear of God. Therefore, whether we are men, women, or children, we must learn to address any resistance to the idea of submission.


For women who struggle with submission due to negative experiences or a man who refused to live out his biblical role, feeling resistance to this concept is completely understandable. Obviously, if a man fails to love and care for his wife and fulfil his role in the marriage covenant, it creates many problems. Could it also be that if a woman fails to heed, her role in the marriage covenant could have the same effect?


The term "submission" implies placing things in a specific order. Paul says, “wives submit to your own husbands”.  Wives are the ones who choose to position themselves in this role. Another common problem with this is passage is the conflation of the command and culture. 


For this to work properly, we need to separate the cultural trappings from the command itself, but we also consider the culture as we apply the command. This passage would have been very controversial at the time it was written. It was unheard of for anyone to believe that a woman might have a unique calling from God.


Another cultural consideration is that this is not an all-men and all-women command. It applies within the marriage covenant. Outside of mutual submission among believers, which we all practice equally, this command does not extend to other areas of life, such as the workplace. However, within the marriage covenant, the husband assumes leadership responsibility.


Here’s what this might look for wife to put this into practice with her husband.


  • Show respect for your husband's opinions: Value and honour your husband's perspective, even if you don't always agree. Treat his opinions and decisions with respect.


  • Communicate openly and honestly: Don’t say, “If you’ve loved me, you would know.” Men don’t know. Be truthful and specific in your communication. Avoid putting each other down in front of others. Keep the hard stuff private. Remember a marriage covenant is between a husband, wife and The Lord.


  • Seek unity in shared decision-making: Collaborate with your husband, recognising that marriage is a team effort. Make decisions together that honour both perspectives and align with your shared values.


  • Pray for your husband and your marriage: Lift up your marriage to God, seeking His wisdom and strength. Praying together as a couple. 


  • Practice sacrificial love and selflessness: Remember that the Gospel is founded in sacrificial love and selflessness. Both husbands and wives should exemplify these qualities in their marriage. This includes being patient, caring, extending grace and mercy to one another, and putting each other's needs before their own.


 Always remember that we have perfect hope in Jesus Christ. As Christians, we live with the knowledge that through His sacrifice on the cross, we have the gift of eternal life. 


While we navigate the challenges and struggles of relationships in a broken world, we must remember that this world is not our home. The difficulties we face here are temporary, and all the world's pain, hardship and struggles will be no more in eternity.


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