This section (verses 21-33) deals with the relationship between a husband and wife. Let's take a look at family values in light of Paul's teaching about Christ and the church.
A. I want you to think deeply and to wrestle with the text today. Family values are often cultural. But I want to specifically deal with the relationship between the husband and wife. How much of that relationship is based upon the culture and how much does God define for all marriages, in all time and all places around the globe?
B. Paul speaks about relationships with these words (READ Eph. 5:22-24). So I ask you to think, not simply react with emotion and human logic, but to think, are these words that Paul writes God’s words? Are these teachings, which are only a part of a larger text, words that are meant for all wives in all cultures for all time? If not, then what becomes the standard for marriage relationship?
C. There are many things concerning relationships that are cultural. Should a man stand up when he first meets a woman? There is a difference between chivalry and Christian doctrine. So dive with me into the text of Ephesians and let us look at some God teachings about the relationship between wives and husbands.
I. The Wife
A. These words that I just read speak to the wife. They are similar to the words found in Col. 3 and 1 Pet. 3. We are quick to define the word “submit” in a variety of ways to make it more palatable for women today. But let me ask you, if you take emotions out of interpretation, what is God saying to wives?
B. Let me start by saying that submission is voluntary, which makes it far more special of a gift that a wife can give, than forced submission that is reflected between a master and a slave. The first thing God says in the marital relationship is the sacrifice of wife’s personal rights.
C. So why, why would God ask a wife to give up some of herself to her husband voluntarily? I met some wonderful wives in Malawi. Men whom I have personally taught in the past, this time I had the privilege of meeting their wife and children. What impressed me so much of these women is their deep devotion to their Christian husband. They loved their husbands deeply.
D. But let me remind you of the text, for God gives us what submission looks like to help us understand the idea better. In our text, wives are to submit to their husbands, but the word is borrowed from verse 21 where we are told, “submitting to one another out of reverence to Christ” and in verse 33 of our text it reads, “wives respect your husbands.”
E. Submission becomes a gift that is as much a gift to the Lord as it is her husband. The Christian wife sees her marriage as part of God’s design, not man’s. She sees her marriage as one that can please God as much as please herself and her husband. So she willingly lets go of some aspects of equality as a gift of love. She sees “headship” not as a husband ruling over her and demeaning her, but the way Christ is the head of the church.
II. The Husband
A. Men, let’s also study this text with as little interpretation as possible and simply hear God speak to us. Read with me Eph. 5:25-30.
B. If the key word for wives is “submit,” the key word for husbands is “love.” Love is defined in this text by God as “sacrificial love.”
C. I am convinced that most of us men are self-centered. While I believe we live in “me society,” men have mastered the idea of looking out for self. God steps into to culture and lives and says, “Let me show you what headship looks like.”
D. The picture of God in this passage is found in Jesus. God did not leave mankind to face their own sin, he did not leave mankind to make sacrifices as a reminder of their own sin. Instead, he came in flesh to destroy sin.
E. Jesus established His church, his “called out” sanctified assembly. In order to set up the church – which is the people – Jesus cleansed us from our own unrighteousness. Jesus prepared us like a bride prepares for her wedding day. He wanted us to look beautiful spiritually. Now we come to verse 28, and hear God say, “in the same way.” Just as Jesus wanted us, the church, to be spiritually whole, the husband needs to desire to help his wife become all that God desires for her to be. That means we husbands need to make the most of every opportunity to spiritually enrich our wives. Why would we be so obsessed with helping our wives become the woman of God? Because Jesus knows that when she is spiritual, we husbands are blessed.
F. How do we help our wives grow? We sacrifice ourselves first for them. In true reality, submission becomes a two-way street. We willingly, voluntarily, and with desire, give up our selfish ways to learn what it means to be head. Headship is about service with an intent to grow, not about ruling and giving commands. So husbands sacrifice for their wife. They want what is best for them, not what is best for self. They look for their wife’s needs to be met first.
A. Let me tell you how much the church means to me. I am blessed because I belong to the body of Christ, and specifically, to this congregation. I gain from you. Can I find faults in members of this congregation? YES. But I love this church. Not because of your perfection, but because together we are more than what I could be alone.
B. To understand the relationship between the wife and the husband, is to examine the relationship between the church and Christ. When we can learn submission and love, not only will our marriages become greater and more fulfilling, but so will this local congregation.
C. Marriage is theater to display the Gospel of Jesus to the world. Let your marriage be one that speaks of the love of Jesus Christ to all around you. Let people see the sacrifice of Jesus in how you love each other.