Husbands and Wives: A Recap (Ephesians 5:32-33)
"This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband." (Ephesians 5:33)
The oneness of men and women in marriage, in a mysterious way, hints at an important truth. In the same way husbands and wives become one, so also Christ and His church have become one. In the verse before us, Paul taught that Christian marriage refers to the radical union of Christ and His church.
In other words, marital oneness has actually served as one massive prophecy pointing to the union Christ would have with His bride, the church. Every modern Christian marriage should strive to live out their oneness in such a way that the mystery of the union between Christ and His bride is seen in them.
But this truth, the truth that the church is married to Christ, helps us greatly, for relationship idolatry is all too easy to slip into. Men and women have often sought another person to fulfill them, but the only One who can fulfill them is Jesus Christ. His marriage satisfies in a way no human relationship ever could. He is faithful. He is wonderful. He is always good and can fill our hearts with His goodness. Only our marriage to Christ can bring us deep joy and happiness in life. Too often a marriage breaks when someone within it looks to the other person to fulfill them, but that fulfillment will never come through the avenue of marriage. Only Christ can satisfy us.
After proclaiming this mystery, Paul concluded his writing to Christian husbands and wives by encapsulating his entire teaching on Christian marriage into one sentence. He exhorted, “However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” This sentence serves as the Holy Spirit’s distilled marital counsel.
First - “Each One” Is to Focus on Their Own Role
Much damage has been done by spouses who have obsessed over the marital performance of the other spouse. Instead, Paul tells the church, each spouse should focus on themselves. If they do, there is a good chance health and help are on the way, for someone must lead out for the growth of the marriage.
Second - Husbands Are Told to “Love” Their Wives As Themselves, for This Is the Wife’s Greatest Need
She must know she is valued and cherished. Too often a Christian man pursues a woman until the wedding date, only to cease pursuing her once in the marriage. However, Christ has continually loved and sought us. He has never left us, and He serves as the model for Christian men. When in doubt, a Christian husband ought to focus on loving his bride.
Third - Wives Are Told to “Respect” Their Husbands, for This Is the Husbands Greatest Need
He must know he is esteemed, a leader in the relationship. He battles insecurities and doubts about himself all day long, so his wife can be a source of great comfort. She can serve as a mouthpiece for God saying, “You can do this. In Christ, you got it.” Her respect will serve as an invaluable source of life for the man. When in doubt, a Christian wife ought to focus on respecting her husband.
It is not that the wife needs no respect and the husband needs no love, for they do. It seems, though, that love flows naturally from the woman and respect flows naturally from the man. She more naturally values romance and the pursuit of him, while he more naturally esteems her for who she is and all she does.
So Paul has taught the church about marriage. The entire church is to be informed by Christ’s headship, and so should the church’s marriages. Wives ought to respectfully submit to their husbands, while husbands ought to sacrificially love their wives.