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Ephesians 5:21-33 - Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. 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. 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, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church– for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery–but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
This passage is often quoted in wedding ceremonies. Actually, the quote usually begins at Ephesians 5:22 - "Wives, submit to your husbands….. And husbands love your wives." But really, the foundation for a godly marriage relationship begins in Ephesians 5:21 - "Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ." A marriage built on mutual submission out of reverence for Jesus will last.
In our day, the words of "submission" and "love" can get very twisted. In many democratic societies, individual rights are raised up as the highest value. We will only submit to our leaders if they support our cause. At the end of the day, we can pick and choose to whom we want to submit.
In a similar way, love is not always defined as the self-sacrificial love of Jesus. We might love up to a point. But, when a person crosses our will one too many times, the love quickly runs out. We forget that "while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8
If a husband was leading his family through personal self-sacrifice… being the first to ask forgiveness, the first to wash the dishes, the first to lay aside personal interests (loving like Jesus loves), I believe most women would readily follow that kind of husband. There would be a lot less bickering and vying for respect if Jesus was raised up in the home as the ultimate model of both submission and love.
When we submit to and love our spouses in honor of Jesus, the home becomes a place of joy, free from contention. Jesus loves his body, and he wants us to build it up through love and submission one to another.
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