“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.” (Ephesians 5:25)
Much has been said in recent years regarding family roles and responsibilities. Suffice it to say that many either misapply or ignore what the Bible has to say. Perhaps the clearest passage on this subject is that surrounding our text (vv. 21-33). Here we see, in a setting of “submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God” (v. 21), that the primary role of the wife is that of submission to her husband’s headship (v. 22), and that of the husband is self-sacrificial love for his wife (v. 25). Here we have the only formula for a marriage fulfilling to both.
Family relationships were given special attention at the time of the universal curse on mankind (Genesis 3:16); thus, the God-given family roles, while not impossible to achieve, run contrary to our natures. Obviously, we can’t succeed on our own.
The key to adhering to these principles is noting the example of Christ and His church. The wife is to submit to her husband’s headship (v. 22). “For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing” (vv. 23-24). The church, the Bride of Christ, has no legitimate function except under the headship of Christ.
Likewise, we see that Christ gave Himself for the church that He might “sanctify and cleanse it . . . that he might present it to himself a glorious church . . . holy and without blemish” (vv. 26-27). Even now He nourishes and cherishes the church (v. 29). Wives are to submit, as though submitting unto the Lord (v. 22) in everything (v. 24), and husbands are to love as Christ loved us, for “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). JDM