21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Saviour. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
At this point the letter to the Ephesian church starts to challenge our 21st century culture. So let’s put it into its proper context. This scripture calls us to respond to each other out of reverence for Christ. We are not called to revere a person, a husband or a wife. We are called to treat each other out of a place of devotion to Jesus. When we can keep Jesus central to our lives then the out working of that should be good. In John 15 Jesus says remain in Him (the vine) and then we will produce good fruit. I think that when people read this passage of Ephesians we try to work out what submitting to your husband looks like…we focus on the fruit, the behaviour required rather than on remaining in Christ.
The second consideration is for us to remember the context of the time this was written. In this time women and children were possessions. The husband’s role was one of provision to keep your “possessions” in good condition. Here Paul brings a correction to a husband wife relationship, husbands love your wives the way Christ loved the church…Christ died for the church. In the same way wives submit to your husbands the way you do to Christ…wives you have a choice, nobody forces submission to Christ. We choose to submit because we trust, we have faith…because we have been loved.
The last thought I have for now is that all of these instruction are towards choices that you are empowered to make. Wives are not to try change the husband and husbands not to change the wives. We go through life trying to change the people around us or feeling powerless to change the situation we are in because the people around us won’t change. The only person we can actually control is ourselves though. We have a life to live, decisions to make let’s make them. We are so powerful when it comes to the choices before us if we understand that we can only control what we do. Our choices will be fruitful if they come out of a place of reverence for Christ. Thank you Lord for the freedom and power you give us today and every day.