United For Unity #10 — United In Marriage (Ephesians 5:22-33)

Theme: The church is informed by Christ’s headship. So should the church’s marriages, which means wives will respectfully submit to their husbands, while husbands will sacrificially love their wives.

  • Paul sees a church community which has been impacted by the peace and headship of Christ.
    • But Christ’s peace and headship must invade marriages, families, and the workplace.
    • If you repeatedly emphasize your personal peace with Christ, yet it does not impact any of your relationships, what good is that peace?
  • He starts on marriage.
    • This is important, even though it is possible that more than half of us will be unmarried at any given time.
      • Every person on earth, married or unmarried, is impacted by the marriages of others.
      • Every person on earth, married or unmarried, will likely need to give counsel on marriage.
        - Like unmarried Jesus and Paul did.
      • But it is not all-important.
        • Secular world: marriage is becoming less a right of passage and more a sign of arrival.
        • Church world: Holiness is the sign of arrival, while there are many rights of passage.
  • This passage:
    • Wives should take a cue from the headship of Christ over the church and respectfully submit to their husbands.
    • Husbands should take a cue from the love of Christ for the church and sacrificially love their wives.

Wives: Respectfully Submit (Ephesians 5:22-24)

22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 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. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

  • 22 Submit: One thrust of the three new sections in front of us is the exhortation to submit (wives, children, and slaves).
    • This is not a fashionable idea.
    • We have stood for the liberation of the three of the groups Paul addresses — women, children, and the working class.
      • We have stood for that liberation because Jesus did.
      • Paul does not contradict Christ, but he does not respond, as so many do, by starting a new class war, generation war, or gender war.
        • So Paul saw how the new humanity of the church could positively impact marriages, families, and the workforce.
          • He will urge wives and children and workers to submit.
          • But he will also urge husbands and fathers and masters to love and nurture and serve.
        • He wants each one of us to rejoice in the redeemed and new version of us.
          • Popular notion: finding yourself.
          • He wants women and children and workers to embrace who they are in Christ.
          • And he wants men to be fully men, to run toward real manhood.
            • To be united in worth does not mean we become uniform in roles.
            • The whole idea of this passage, Ephesians, and the gospel is that we are finding ourselves.
  • 22-24 Submit / as to the Lord / as the church: Back to this word, Paul had just asked for mutual submission (Ephesians 5:21).
    • 22 As to the Lord:
      • Not as long as he acts like the Lord (wife error)!
      • Not as like he is the Lord (husband error)!
      • But as a way to worship the Lord!
  • 23 The husband is the head of the wife: It is clear Paul does not believe this signals any inferiority.
    • In other passages he appeals to creation to help define the role of gender in marriage and the church (1 Corinthians 11:3-12, 1 Timothy 2:11-13).
      • This is not chauvinism, but creationism.
      • Hard for us to understand, because we usually see leadership as a position to be earned, not bestowed.
  • 24 Submit in everything: It is clear Paul does not think of submission as tyranny.
    • He sees authority as a responsibility for others, which makes submission healthy and good.
      • This exhortation does not permit brutality.
      • He does not say, “Wives submit, husbands boss around.”

Submission defined: The wife makes a choice to place herself as an equal underneath another equal, her husband. She comes under his lead, like the church does for Christ, for the effectiveness of the marriage and family.

  • Example: The church works best when Jesus is free to be the head. The marriage and family works best when the husband leads well.
  • Example: Jesus is on a mission. It is easiest to follow a husband who is on Jesus’ mission.

Husbands: Sacrificially Love (Ephesians 5:25-32)

25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…

  • 25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her: They get the longer exhortation and, I think, the more difficult one (loving like Christ).
    • Christian husbands must demonstrate a love that seeks the highest good for their bride.
      • That’s what ‘agape’ love is.

Husbands: Sacrificially love your wife.

  • Like Christ:
    • Who willingly laid down his life for the sheep (John 10:11, 15, 18).
    • Isaiah 53 — despised, rejected, sorrows, grief, stricken, smitten by God, afflicted, wounded, chastised, oppressed, cut off, and crushed for His bride.
    • Paul urged husbands to do something which was so uncustomary in that era — sacrificially love your wife.
      • His plea was not for a flimsy or fleeting love, but for a strong and sacrificial one.
      • His focus was not on remembering your anniversary for your wife, but remembering to die for your wife.
  • How to sacrificially love.
    • 1 Uncomfortable — leave comforts.
    • 2 Incarnate — 1 Peter 3:7 (understanding).
    • 3 Patient — Love who she has not yet become.
    • 4 Time — 3 years of living.
    • 5 Death — all throughout life.

26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives…

  • 27 So that He might present the church to Himself in splendor: Radiant church (NIV).
    • This is Jesus’ goal for His bride.
      • He does this through sanctifying her with the washing of the word, which is a way He loves us.
      • Husbands are to love their wives in the same way.

Husbands: Sacrificially love your wife by having a game-plan for her splendor.

  • Wedding Day — she beautified herself for you, but now you beautify her.
  • Prayer: With her! For her! About her!
  • Word: Discuss! Share! Read! Listen! Grow!
  • Walk: Exemplify and model! Make her feel safe!
  • Words: Encourage! Open your heart! Share!

28b …as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”

Husbands: Sacrificially love your wife by living out the oneness you have with her.

  • Paul goes back to the original marriage.
    • They were married for over 900 years — with bitter history!
  • It would be good for me to refresh you in the context of this quotation.
    • Man’s aloneness was not good in God’s sight: Genesis 2:18 (ESV) — 18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”
    • Man was not initially aware of his aloneness: Genesis 2:20 (ESV) — 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him.
    • Man needed a companion who would come from him: Genesis 2:21 (ESV) — 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh.
  • You are one in every way: spiritually, emotionally, physically.
    • SOS: lover, sister, friend, and even mother.
    • Realize your deep need for one another!

32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.

  • 32 Mystery: He used a word describing mystery religions in the Greco-Romans empire. It is now revealed.
    • What is the mystery now revealed?
      • That marital oneness has actually been a big prophecy pointing to the union Christ would have with His church.

Husbands and Wives: A Recap (Ephesians 5:33)

33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

  • However: A recap.
  • Let each one of you: Concentrate on you.
    • The Bible isn’t a big marriage manual.
      • Marriages that work come from people that work — from people the Spirit is working in and through.
    • You must destroy relationship idolatry — where you hope a spouse will fulfill you.
      • Husband: Love.
      • Wife: Respect.