- Jan 1, 2005
- Series: Ephesians
Though the man be as the head, yet is the woman as the heart. -Puritan William Gouge
In Ephesians we have examined how sin separates us from God and each other and how Jesus has come to take away our sin through His life, death, burial, and resurrection for the sins of His people. Consequently, by grace it is now possible to be reconciled to God as a Christian and reconciled to God’s people as the church. The church is supposed to be a countercultural people who do things differently because they are filled with the Spirit and live under the Headship of Jesus. One of the most noticeable differences among God’s people is to be an attitude of submission to authority that God has placed over us (Eph. 5:21), namely the church submitting to Jesus (Eph. 5:24), wives submitting to husbands (Eph. 5:22-33), children submitting to parents (Eph. 6:1-4), and slaves submitting to masters (Eph. 6:5-9). This teaching of authority and respect for it seems repugnant to our modern ears, which indicates they may be filled with more worldliness than wisdom.
What is marriage?
According to the Scriptures, marriage is a covenant (Proverbs 2:16, Malachi 2:14b) between one man and one woman who become one then become flesh for a lifetime (Mark 10:1-12). While there are some biblical grounds for divorce, the fact that professing American Christians are statistically more likely to divorce than non-Christians is telling.
What is marriage not?
Marriage is not fornication and/or cohabitation, which is sexual union apart from the marriage covenant. Marriage is not polygamy, including both the ancient version of multiple wives and the contemporary version of repeated divorce and remarriage. Marriage is not the sexual joining which occurs in homosexuality, bisexuality, or bestiality.
What is the process of marriage?
From Moses (Gen. 2:24), to Jesus (Matt. 19:5; Mk. 10:7-8) and Paul (Eph. 5:31) the Bible consistently teaches that there is a three-fold process for marriage. First, a man should leave his mother and father to become self sufficient because marriage is for men and not boys. Second, a man must pursue and marry a woman honorably. Third, the man and woman enjoy physical oneness in the consummation of their marriage, a precious gift of God given them upon entering their marriage covenant. The many problems in our day related to marriage can, in part, be traced to ignoring this wise process, including the curious fact that cohabitating couples who marry are more likely to divorce than ones who do not.
What does the Bible mean in stating that a husband is a head (Eph. 5:23)?
Every covenant has a head and the man is primarily responsible that the terms of the covenant are kept. For the best of example of a covenant head, please examine the following Scriptures about Jesus as the Head of His people: Colossians 1:18, Colossians 2:10, Colossians 2:19; Ephesians 1:10, Ephesians 1:22, Ephesians 4:15, 5:23. Sadly, the failure of many Christians to accept the doctrine of headship and its’ expectation for those in authority is directly related to the common sin of Christians to even ignore Jesus’ authority over them. When the Bible says that the husband is the head of his wife, it is not stating that a man should be the head, but rather that he simply is, as Jesus is the Head of the church. The only question, therefore, is whether or not a husband is a good or bad head. A husband who is a good head will be like Jesus in the following ways:
-he will lead his family toward God’s purposes according to Scripture
-he will take responsibility for things that are not his fault in his family
-he will stoop to serve his wife rather than lord his role over her
-he will be loving, patient, and kind to his wife
-he will see his wife as his equal in every way as an image bearer of God
-he will not be a chauvinist or a coward
-he will accept the fact that he is dominant in the marriage
-he will seek to be one with his wife, rather than two individuals
Duties for Christian wives (Eph. 5:22-24)
First, a wife is to submit only to her husband which frees her from being abused by other men, from boyfriends to bosses. Second, her submission to his leadership extends to all areas of their marriage which does not mean that she is without input or opinion (Pr. 19:14b) but rather not divisive. Third, she is to be a bride like the church and a bride in the church. Practically, this means that faithful churches best help produce faithful wives (i.e. Titus 2:3-5) and that if a husband should be in sin, the elders of that church are in authority over him to protect his wife and correct his error because Jesus, not the husband, is the ultimate Head.
Duties for Christian husbands (Eph. 5:25-32)
First, a husband is to love his wife as Jesus loves His bride, the church, and this includes giving himself up for her by making continual sacrifices for her, making her holy by studying the Scriptures with her so that she grows in wisdom and is cleansed from sin, presents her to himself as a gift from God, sees her as a part of him rather than a separate person, and meets her practical needs such as food, housing, clothing, etc.
The needs of husbands and wives (Eph. 5:33)
Simply, a husband needs to be respected and a wife needs to be loved. Devastation comes upon a married woman who is unloved (no time, no touch, no provision, no conversation, no service), and equal devastation rests upon a husband whose wife does not respect him (nagging, gossiping, mocking, undermining). This wisdom is one of the key insights into the male/female dynamic that explains most marital strife. A wise husband will seek to make his wife’s duty easier by being respectable, and a wise wife will seek to make her husband’s duty easier by being lovely.
For further reading in the Scriptures see Genesis 2:18 cf. I Timothy 2:11-15; Genesis 5:2, I Corinthians 11:2-16; Ephesians 5:21-33; Colossians 3:18; I Peter 3:1; I Corinthians 14:33-34; Titus 2:3-5