Paul, in Ephesians 5, talks about the relationship of a man and his wife, and how it is similar to Christ’s relationship with His Church.
Christ is the Head of the universal Church (Eph 5:23), and the Church is subject to Him. After all, Christ paid the ultimate price for the sake of the Church; He bore the wrath of God on Himself on the cross so that the Church (the collective members of the Church, that is) could be forgiven of sin. It seems to me that submitting myself under the authority of Someone who loves me so much that He would give His own life for me is a natural and joyful thing to do.
And so Paul says that the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ is the Head of the Church. Wives are to submit to their husbands… This is by God’s design, and is based on the order of Creation. There would be no problem if a husband would love his wife to the same degree that Christ loves the Church. But that doesn’t usually happen.
This is the thrust behind Ephesians 5:22-33, summed up in the last verse: “However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” Love and respect – this is the heart of the issue.
What women need is love. Men need respect. Problem is, men aren’t so hot at loving, and women sometimes are found lacking in the giving-respect category (not that we men give them much to work with!)… Thus Paul’s repeated reminders here: Man, love your wife! And Woman, respect your husband!
It’s an amazing cycle actually… as the husband feels respected by his wife, his honest desire is to love her more and more. As the wife feels loved by her husband, she naturally wants to build him up with respect. It’s totally a win-win situation.
So why don’t we do it?? When I feel disrespected, why do I respond with anger and hate? Do I really think that is going to draw out expressions of respect for me from my wife? Of course not. Instead, I have to make the conscious choice to love even if I am feeling disrespected, and eventually respect will come. Same goes for women… not feeling loved? Try some respect, and surely love will be returned eventually (if not immediately).
What do you think? Have you experienced these feelings yourself? Do you think these principles from Ephesians 5 can help your marriage? I’d like to hear about it…