Interpersonal Relationships - Part 1 (Ephesians 5:22-33)
Don’t forget, this Sunday July 4th, we’re back at the YMCA for our Sunday morning service. The service starts at 10:30am, we’ll take communion together that morning, and following the service, we’ll have our quarterly business meeting.
On July 11th, we have the Dunlop family, missionaries to France visiting us. Michael will present their ministry and preach during the AM service, we’d love for the room to be packed for them—so if you’re able to be there, please plan to be there.
Let me remind you to continue worshiping the LORD through your giving. We give because Jesus has done far more abundantly than anything we can ask and has blessed us far more than what we know. To help you give, we have two digital ways for you to do so: (1) you can text 84321 with your $[amount] and follow the text prompts or (2) you can visiting graceandpeacepa.com and select “Giving” in the menu bar. Everything you give will be used to build up our local church and spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Prayer of Repentance and Adoration
This evening’s sermon is a continuation in our series on the Letter to the Ephesians; and what Paul is doing in the last three chapters of the letter is giving practical application for the doctrinal truth that he’s presented to the Ephesians in Chapters 1-3. So far in the text, Paul has written about God’s eternal plan for all humanity—both Jews and Gentiles. He’s written about how belief in Jesus Christ unifies both Jews and Gentiles into one unified and global church; and because of this unified, global church—each individual has been given spiritual gifts to help one another grow in spiritual maturity. We spent the past few weeks focusing on Paul’s exhortation to those who claim to believe to actually live like Christians ought to, according to the calling with which they’ve been called and in our passage for this week and for next week, he’ll give simple and practical examples of how we are to relate with one another now that we are true Christians.
Or in other words, what Paul is emphasizing and what we’ll be emphasizing over the next two weeks is how the Gospel of Jesus Christ influences are interpersonal relationships. In particular, what we’re focusing on in the next two weeks are some of our closest relationships and how we should treat one another in light of the Gospel.
This week, we’ll spend the evening talking about how the Gospel affects the relationship between husband and wife; and next week, we’ll spend the evening talking about how the Gospel affects the relationship between children and parents, as well as the relationship between employers and employees. While neither week will give us a comprehensive “how-to” approach to marriage, parenting, or work, we hopefully will see how the Gospel of Jesus Christ should influence our interpersonal relationships in a positive way.
Before we do anything else, let me explain one issue before we dig into the passage. None of these sections concerning interpersonal relationships are meant to be comprehensive statements. In other words, this is not everything that the Bible has to say concerning these relationships—so this week we’re looking particularly at marriage—this is not everything that the Bible says concerning marriage. Next week, we’re going to look at the parent and child relationship and the employer and employee relationship—this is not everything that the Bible has to say concerning those relationships.
Let’s take a moment to read this evening’s passage, after which I will explain how we’ll break down the passage, and then we’ll jump into Scripture.
Read with me Ephesians 5:22-33.
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. 25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 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 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.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
As we study this passage, we’re going to take it in two parts: (1) Vs. 22-4, shows us Paul’s instruction to wives. This is actually the shorter of the two sections, with Paul really only giving one instruction that he then illustrates utilizing Christ’s relationship to the church. (2) Vs. 25-33, is the longer section, but just like the first section, it is one instruction that’s then illustrating by Christ’s relationship to the church. This section is Paul’s instruction to husbands. Both sections give us insight into what the relationship between a husband and wife should look like, which we’ll then explore more in application.
Prayer for Illumination
Instruction to Wives (22-24)
Instruction to Wives (22-24)
Paul starts his instruction towards married couples by first speaking about how the wife responds to the husband. And remember, that Paul’s instructions about interpersonal relationships stems from his overall instruction in Chapter 5, to not live like the unbelievers do, but rather live like Christians ought—this means that in contrast to unbelieving marriages, Christians who are married should act like this; and in the case of the wife, she is to “submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” And we do have to stop here for to ask two questions:
What does it mean to submit?
We regularly talk about submitting as a Christian, but we often talk about submitting in the sense that we are to submit to the LORD’s leading and we are to submit to the LORD being our King.
It is the idea of humbling ourselves to the extent that we’re willing to obey our King and ultimately, Jesus is who we are to always submit to, but this verse isn’t speaking about us submitting to Jesus, it’s talking about wives submitting to their husbands. So, the question really then is, what does the Bible mean when it says that wives are to submit to their husbands?
So, let me start by saying that there are often many presuppositions as to what this means; and let me suggest that you need to lay aside those presuppositions to fully understand this passage. So, what you think you know about this passage is often influenced by what the world has told you about this passage, but what really matters is what the passage itself says:
The word that’s translated as submit is this passage is really what’s important for us to understand and in the original language, many of the manuscripts actually don’t mention the word that’s translated as submit here, they pull it from Vs. 21. As in, many of the manuscripts tie this into the idea that we are to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
The Greek word is hypotasso and while many of our translations stick to utilizing the word submit or subject, the idea is to subordinate yourself. Or in other words, what Ephesians 5 is teaching is that husbands are to lead the household, which again, is counter-cultural, but that is what the text says.
“Wives, subordinate to your own husbands, as to the LORD.”
In our modern vernacular, I think we could understand this as essentially, in a marriage relationship, the husband is to have the final say—and this is reflected through various other passages as well, such as 1 Corinthians 11:3, “I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ” and 1 Peter 3:1, “Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands.”
So our question then is, what does it mean to submit to your husband, as to the Lord?
And I want to be very clear here, because men have mis-used this passage for centuries to lord themselves over women, when that isn’t the intent of the passage.
First off, this verse is clear, that a wife is to be subject to her husband. That means that the husband is to lead his wife—that does not mean that a wife is to be subject to every man, she is only to be subject to her own husband.
Secondly, the phrase as to the Lord, tells us that her manner of submission to her husband is similar to her manner of submission to the LORD. Similar, but not the same. This is not saying that the man is like Jesus Christ in her life, but rather that part of her service to the LORD is in submitting to her husband. Colossians 3:18-19, 23-25 really express this in a clear way, “Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not become bitter against them. . . Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord and not for people, knowing that it is the Lord Christ whom you serve. For the one who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without partiality.”
The husband does not take the position of the LORD in the wife’s life, but rather the wife is to submit or subject herself to her husband because submission to her husband is part of her service to the LORD.
And Paul gives his reasoning for this in Vs 23-24, “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. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.”
Which is again, very counter-cultural in our modern-day world. Because the world sees this as a very patriarchal issue in which men are attempting to subvert women; and historically, this passage, along with Colossians 3, 1 Corinthians 11, and 1 Peter 3, were occasionally utilized to actually subvert women, but that isn’t the intent of the passages.
In reality, what the passages are teaching are a marriage relationship in which a man and woman are complementing each other—a husband and wife are to really work together, and in no healthy relationship would a husband every want to subvert or denigrate his wife.
All that the Bible is teaching, is that when it comes down to it, the final say has been given to the husband because God has chosen the husband to be the head of the wife just like Jesus is the head of the church.
It is the relationship between Jesus and the church that Paul draws his illustration—that as the body ought to submit to Jesus because he is the church’s Savior, so should the wife submit in everything to their husbands. Now, you might hear that and still be a little confused, so what I actually think would be helpful is to take a moment to talk about what submission is not. And this brief section, while not verbatim, is structured from a sermon that John Piper preached several years ago on 1 Peter 3:1-6.
Submission is not agreeing on everything—occasionally, men get it in their minds that if their wives disagree with them that their wife is not submissive to him, but that’s not necessarily true. Submission does not mean that all of your opinions have to be identical—God has made both man and woman capable of thinking and having their own thoughts. In 1 Peter 3, the husband is an unbeliever and the wife is a believer—and Peter still writes that the wife should submit to her husband—clearly, they don’t agree about Jesus Christ and yet, it is still possible for the wife to submit to her husband.
Submission does not mean leaving your brain at the altar—Piper at this point says, “Maybe this is the same point [as his first point], but it needs to be said this way, too. Any man who says, ‘I do the thinking in this family,’ is sick and has a sick view of his authority. . . Submission never leaves the brain at the altar. All throughout the marriage, a husband is reckoning with an independent mental center that has thoughts that are worth listening to. It’s the working out of a one-flesh union. Leadership does not mean you do not listen. Leadership doesn’t even mean always getting the last word.”
Submission does not mean you do not try to influence your husband—remember that the passage from 1 Peter 3 is about an unbelieving husband and a believing wife. It would actually be wrong of the wife if she didn’t try to influence him to believe in Jesus Christ. In a situation in which you’re a believer married to another believer, there’s still opportunity to influence one another—hopefully, if your husband is living in sin or if your wife is living in sin, you would want them to change. If you didn’t care for them to change, then you’re probably not as loving of a person as you think you are.
Submission is not putting the will of the husband before the will of Christ—this is particularly concerning areas of sinful behavior. If the husband wants to do something sinful or against the will of God, the proper response would be for the wife to not to submit to those sinful behaviors or actions. Submitting to her husband does not mean that you should be willing to do whatever the husband wants, particularly if it means sin.
Submission does not mean getting all of her spiritual strength through her husband—in our modern-day cultural world, we often get the idea that human relationships are where we ought to get fulfillment in life. That if we just find the right person or if we marry our soul-mates, our lives would be complete. The issue with this view is that we were never meant to get our fulfillment in life through another human. We aren’t meant to find completeness in another finite human being, we’re meant to get our spiritual strength, our fulfillment, our completeness, and our hope in God alone. Submission to a husband is not the same thing as finding fulfillment, finding completeness, or spiritual strength, or hope.
Submission does not mean living or acting in fear.
Piper finishes that sermon by making this statement, “I love the Scriptures. I’m a complementarian. I believe that men are called to a unique kind of leadership in marriage. I believe that women are called to a unique kind of submission in marriage. And I think it’s a beautiful thing — the way those two roles complement and serve one another. If we probe the depths and keep digging into the Scriptures, even though they’re written in another time, they will shape a marriage today into a beautiful thing. Therefore, in light of everything I have said submission is not, I would define submission in marriage like this: Submission is the defined calling of a wife to honor and affirm her husband’s leadership, and so help to carry it through according to her gifts.”
Now, here’s the thing, we’ve spent a lot of time talking about how a wife is to submit to her husband according to various passages of Scripture. We’ve discussed that the reason for this is because God has chosen the husband to be the head of the wife and this submission is to be done as to the LORD—not that the man takes the place of the LORD in the wife’s life, but rather as part of her service to Jesus Christ, she is to submit to her husband. But this passage actually spends a significantly longer amount of time discussing how husbands are to relate to their wives. Read with me, Vs. 25-33.
25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 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 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.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
Instruction to Husbands (25-33)
Instruction to Husbands (25-33)
In the second section, Paul tells us that husbands are to love their wives, as Christ loved the church; and this second section might get a little confusing because Paul jumps back and forth between making his primary point and providing his example for his point, so hopefully, I can help you see the distinction between what he’s saying and his illustration.
Paul states that “husbands [are to] love [their] wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”
Which is actually a pretty high goal for husbands to attain—to love their wives as Christ loved the church.
Which is expressed ultimately by Jesus’ willingness to give himself up for her.
In light of what Paul has just told the wives to do—to submit to their husbands, there’s an interesting point to be made here.
Yes, husbands are to lead their wives, but they are to do it in love rather than by lording his authority over her.
This is a constant responsibility compared to Jesus’ love for the church
The word translated here as love is agapao, which is the love that God has for each on of us—not based on our emotion, but rather on a decision to love the other person.
This is that unselfish love as seen in Christ’s sacrificial death.
That means that he is to serve her, give to her, seek for her growth and best interests.
Harold Hoehner, “A wife’s submission in no way hints that a husband may lord it over his spouse, as a despot commanding a slave. The ‘submit-love’ relationship is a beautiful mixture of harmonious partnership in marriage.”
And then he goes on a little bit of a digression in Vs. 25b-27, “that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 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.” Vs. 32, “This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.”
Let me be abundantly clear, that everything that Paul is saying in 25b-27 and 32 is about Jesus’s relationship with the church and not a husband and wife relationship
Remember that this is a digression of Paul’s, which means that he’s essentially going on a rabbit trail. So what he says concerning her being sanctified isn’t about a husband and wife relationship
He’s actually speaking of the relationship between Jesus and the church.
What exactly does he say about this relationship between Jesus and the church?
What Ephesians 5 tells us is that the love of Christ for the church compelled him to give himself up for us, in order for him to sanctify us.
We talk about sanctification pretty frequently, but nevertheless, let me remind you what the Bible means when it speaks of sanctification.
What the Bible teaches us is that from the moment of salvation, God sets us on a gradual path of sanctification that occurs throughout our lives until we’re eventually glorified in the next life.
The idea of sanctification is that we are to gradually be set apart from the world, we are gradually to be made holy like he is holy, which is a work of man as he seeks out the LORD, as well as the Holy Spirit who also does the work of sanctification.
This work of sanctification that’s done through the Holy Spirit is enabled by Jesus Christ who utilizes the word to cleanse the church.
And the purpose is so that the church will be holy and without blemish as she is presented to the LORD.
Or in other words, like I’ve repeatedly said, salvation is not a get out of jail free card. Part of salvation is the very enablement of the LORD to place us in a position in which we can be sanctified and cleansed by the washing of water with the word.
The point being that Jesus loved the church enough to die for the church and to set the church up on a process of progressive sanctification
That will eventually result in the church being made without spot or wrinkle, holy and without blemish.
Vs. 32, which is a little bit further in the passage, also speaks of this sanctifying work due to the love of Christ for the church being a profound mystery.
Something that at one time was completely hidden
But has now been made apparent by the work of Jesus Christ.
Now remember, this is speaking of the church and Jesus’ love for the church, however, Paul does continue in the passage by comparing the love that Jesus has for the church to the love that husbands are to have for their wives. Vs. 28-31, “In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’”
Paul starts this section by saying that just like Jesus loves the church as the church is his own body, so shall a husband love his wife as his own body.
And this is really playing on the concept of oneness that we find all the way back in Genesis 2:24, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.”
What this means is that from the moment of marriage, you’re no longer two separate persons, you’ve been made one.
Since you’ve been made one, treat your spouse as if you’re treating yourself—or in other words, your decisions should be made to benefit both of you and not just yourself. Vs. 28, a man who loves his wife loves himself.
To emphasize this point, Paul continues in Vs. 29, “For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body.
This relationship between husband and wife is supposed to be of unity between the couple. If the couple is actually unified, the idea is that the husband would do all things to nourish and cherish his wife because they’re one.
Which is precisely what Jesus does for the church—he nourishes the church through his word and he loves his church because the church is his body.
There is one other statement that I want to make concerning the husband loving his wife because the example that Paul provides in Ephesians 5, is really the ultimate example of what it means to love someone—and that might seem like a hard goal to reach. Let me instead point you to 1 Corinthians 13.
1 Corinthians 13, was also written by Paul, but it was written to the Corinthians rather than the Ephesians. In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul is expressing to the Corinthians that it really doesn’t matter if you have the gift of prophecy, the gift of speaking in tongues, or the gift of faith if you don’t have love for one another.
In making this argument, Paul provides an idea of what true love is--”Love is patient, love is kind, it is not jealous; love does not brag, it is not arrogant. It does not act disgracefully, it does not seek its own benefit; it is not provoked, does not keep an account of a wrong suffered, it does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; it keeps every confidence, it believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.”
Now men, those of you that are married—consider your marriage—are you patient, are you kind, are you jealous, are you arrogant, are you disgraceful, are you only concerned about yourself, are you easily provoked, do you keep a record of wrongs, do you rejoice when something bad happens?
Let me remind you that you are called to love your wife as Christ loves the church—you are to be patient, you are to be kind, you are not to be jealous, you are not to be arrogant, you are not to act disgracefully, you are to be concerned about your wife, you are not to be easily provoked, you are not to keep a record of wrongs, you are only to rejoice in the truth, you are to keep her confidence, you are to believe her, hope with her, endure life with her, and your love for her will never fail.
Paul has taken the time to work through all of these different issues, that wives are to subject themselves to their own husbands because the husband is the head of the family. Husbands are to love their wives as Christ loves the church because no one hates their own body, but nourishes and cherishes it, just like Jesus does for the church. And then Paul wraps up this whole paragraph with this one sentence in Vs. 33, “Let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”
This last sentence not only wraps up the whole paragraph, but it also re-emphasizes the point that Paul is making. Remember that in the overall message of the book of Ephesians, Paul is teaching the Ephesians that now that they are believers, they need to live like Christians rather than unbelievers.
What he then is saying, in Ephesians 5:22-33 is this, now that you’re Christians, your marriage needs to reflect Christian beliefs. How do we do that in a marriage?
Wives are to respect their husbands and husbands are to love their wives, which sounds like that should be obvious, but remember that Paul is coming from a culture in which husbands didn’t love their wives like the Bible teaches us to love one another (that’s why so many of them were indulging in sexual sin) and wives didn’t respect their husbands like the Bible teaches them to.
What Paul is teaching in Ephesians 5:22-33 was completely counter-cultural to the Ephesians and let’s be honest, it’s counter-cultural in our modern-day world as well.
In our modern-day world, how is marriage generally treated? For the most part, people are somewhat respectable towards the idea, but let’s say that you and your spouse have a severe fight—what is the first bit of advice going to be? It’s not going to be, wife—respect your husbands or husband, love your wife.
It’s going to be, go get a divorce, you deserve to be happy.
In our modern-day world, the idea of a wife submitting to her husband is seen as anti-feminist and patriarchal. The idea of a husband loving his wife is only temporary, for as long as it suits him.
It isn’t going to be seen as a wife showing respect to her husband and it isn’t going to be seen as love being a covenantal promise to love even when someone seems unloving.
And yet, this is precisely what Paul teaches the Christian believer to do concerning marriage relationships—husbands, love your wives—even when it’s hard, even when it seems unlikely, even when you don’t feel like it, you are to love your wife; and wives, respect your husbands—even when it’s hard, even when it seems like he doesn’t deserve it, even when you don’t feel like it, you are to respect your husband.
So, the question then becomes, how do we do this on a practical level. How do we love our wives and how do you respect your husbands in our modern-day world? We’re going to divide our application into three parts depending on where you are in life right now: (1) is for the wives, (2) is for the husbands, and (3) would be for everyone who isn’t married.
Wives respect your husband—like I’ve mentioned multiple times this evening, we live in a culture in which the idea of a woman submitting herself to a man is completely counter-cultural, but the truth of the matter is that wives in the Bible are called to submit to and respect her husband. Now, we’ve already discussed a little bit of application towards this section of the passage, but I do want to draw out some practical ideas on how this works in real life:
To counter what the world says about a wife submitting to her husband, I want to point out some notes from Ephesians 5:22-24.
A wife is to submit to her husband, not to every man—the rule to submit does not extend to all of society—so this means that a woman has just as much right as a man to take a job in corporate American and be promoted until she’s the CEO of that company and she has just as much right as a man to lead a school board meeting, work a job, and provide for her family by whatever means she can.
A wife is to willingly submit to her husband as part of her worship of Jesus Christ—she submits to her husband because she loves Jesus Christ.
The example for this is the church’s submission to Christ.
This does not mean that the wife isn’t able, that she isn’t talented, or that she isn’t intelligent. This doesn’t mean that the wife is worth less than the husband, and it doesn’t mean that the husband should treat her as less able, less talented, less intelligent, or of lesser value.
It simply means that the wife chooses to follow what Jesus says by submitting to her husband’s leadership.
In practical terms, what this means is:
Submission should be a natural response to loving leadership. When the husband loves his wife as Christ loves the church, submission is the natural response. However, regardless of the husband’s actions, the wife is still commanded to submit “as to the LORD” in all things.
This means that her obedience to God is the reason for her submission to her husband.
And that would include everything that is legal and in line with the will of God—the moment that the husband demands her to do something illegal or against the will of God, she is under no obligation to submit. She submits in things that are right and lawful and God-honoring—not abuse, not unrighteous deeds, or sinful behavior.
To try to use the principle of “submission” to justify abuse is evil. And ultimately, God is the supreme authority, so the wife should do what she knows to be right in the sight of God in situations like that.
Now of course, I recognize that this can be difficult—it can be difficult to submit to someone, particularly if you don’t agree with their assessment or their ideas.
And the practical application for that would be to pray, seek the guidance of God, and seek to respect your husband and his decisions.
A wife is to love her husband.
Husbands love your wife—the wife’s respect or submission is made so much easier if the husband acts and reacts out of love. However, regardless of if the wife actually respects of submits, the husband is still to love his wife—think of Hosea, who had a wife who regularly cheated. God still called him to love her despite her lack of respect towards him. This means that even if you have the most contentious wife on the planet, she is your wife and you should love her like Christ loves the church.
From a practical standpoint, this means that everything that a husband does should be in line with 1 Corinthians 13—the husband should be patient, kind, not envious or boastful, not arrogant or rude. The husband should not insist on his own way, should not be irritable or resentful, should not be rejoicing in wrongdoing. The husband should rejoice with the truth, he should bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, endure all things, and his love should never end.
This would also mean that the concept of being one-flesh is vital in the marriage relationship. For a husband to be loving, it is no longer mine and yours—it’s ours.
For a wife to be respectful, there is no longer mine and yours, it’s ours.
This also means (as Ephesians 5 says), that the husband is to nurture and cherish his wife just as he would his own body.
The husband is to love his wife selflessly, without reservation, and without condition. The husband is to love his wife to the extent that he would die for her—he should seek her best, sacrifice for her good, and give himself to her wholeheartedly.
A husband is to love his wife.
I think a quote from Matthew Henry might put this whole passage into a perspective that will help us all understand and apply it. Matthew Henry, “The woman was made out of Adam’s side. She was not made out of his head to rule over him, nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be loved.”
Got Questions, “A wife should submit to her husband, not because women are inferior (the Bible never teaches that), but because that is how God designed the marital relationship to function.”
Now I realize, that not everyone is married and for those of your that aren’t married, you might be wondering, “what is my application?” And there’s two ways I think you should apply this passage:
First off, recognize that not everyone is meant to be married. I know it’s a common idea that there’s someone out there for everyone, but that isn’t what the Bible actually teaches—the Bible actually teaches that some are gifted to be single. Paul in 1 Corinthians 7, makes the statement that he wishes everyone could be single like he is so that they could busy themselves with the work of God rather than keeping their spouse happy.
So, don’t be a person that seems to think that they’ll only be able to be fulfilled in life if they can find their soulmate and be married—that’s not how it works, and you may not ever actually get married.
Nonetheless, let me encourage you to utilize this passage as you seek to find the person that you’ll be married to:
Men, before you get married, learn what it means to truly love a person.
Women, before you get married, learn what it means to submit to and respect a person.
Consider the relationship between the church and Jesus Christ—and recognize that whomever you determine to wed one day, your relationship should be comparable.
Second, use this passage to help you develop a proper understanding of what the marriage relationship is:
We often get our idea of marriage from TV, movies, and fictional writings—the issue is that those are fictional. Real marriage is never going to be like those books, movies, and television shows.
In reality, what you’ll find is that you as an imperfect person is seeking to wed another imperfect person—you will fight, you will argue, you will irritate each other, and you will frustrate each other.
Learn to respond according to this passage, wives submit yourselves to your husband, husband love your wife.
You’ll still fight, you will argue, you will still irritate each other, but the more that you learn to love and respect one another, the frequency of those events will lesson, and as you become one flesh, you will bring honor and glory to the LORD.
Put simply, Ephesians 5:22-33, teaches us that when it comes to interpersonal relationships (1) husbands are to love their wives like Jesus loves the church, (2) wives are to respect and submit to their husbands like the church submits to Jesus Christ, and (3) both of these, the love and respect in a marriage relationship is to be done as to the LORD. We do these things because we worship Jesus.