I have never really thought of this before, but as I’ve been going through Ephesians, it seems to me that this passage is merely an extension of what Paul has been saying throughout. That is, in Christ, the church has become one, with the dividing wall of hostility that was between us being torn down.
So often, in marriage, however, the wall of hostility seems to remain (albeit not the law of God, which is what Paul is specifically referencing in Ephesians 2:14). We see the beginnings of this wall in Genesis chapter 3, following the fall of Adam and Eve.
God said to Eve,
Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you. (Genesis 3:16)
The words are striking similar both in English and Hebrew to Genesis 4:7 where God tells Cain,
Sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it. (Genesis 4:7)
God told Cain, “Sin desires to take control, but you must be the one that rules over it.”
And in the same way, ever since the time of Adam and Eve, many women have desired to take control of their marriage relationship contrary to the plan of God, but instead found themselves as the one submitting, not out of voluntary love, but merely because of their husband’s physical strength and ability to force them to submit. And unfortunately, too many husbands use violence and abuse to wrest control from their wives. Their wives, in turn, fight to get out from under that kind of abusive control.
The result: a completely fractured marriage, with a wall of hostility between husband and wife, even though they are both supposedly one in Christ.
What’s the solution?
Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 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. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. (22-24)
We saw in Ephesians 1:22 that God placed Christ as the head of all things for the benefit of the church. And as we yield to him, we find blessing.
In the same way, God has placed the husband as the head of the wife for her benefit. And so just as the church yields to Christ, a wife is to yield to her husband. More specifically, as a wife yields to the Lord, she is to yield to her husband. For it is in doing so that she will find blessing in her marriage.
There are many women, however, that don’t find this to be true. And so they fight against the headship of their husband. Why?
In most cases it’s because we husbands forget something very important. God has not given us the leadership role in our marriages for our own selfish benefit. Rather it is for our wives’ benefit that God has given us this trust that we should bless them.
Paul makes this crystal clear in the next few verses,
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word… (25-26)
The ironic thing in all this? In Christ blessing the church, they become a blessing to him; they in fact become one with him.
And in the same way, when we husbands bless our wives, they become a blessing to us, and we truly become one with them as we God intended from the beginning. More on this next time.