Very few passages are as misunderstood in our culture as Ephesians 5:22–33. That’s a sad reflection of the world in which we live. That’s also why one of the main witnesses we have to a lost world is our marriage. When people do marriage God’s way, it works. It works to the degree that people will ask how you and your spouse get along. Marriage is intended to picture Christ and the Church (32), and when done right, it points people to Christ.
Strong families make strong churches. The letter of Ephesians, which addresses conflict between Jews and Gentiles, makes this point clear. The truth of the Gospel must first be evidenced in your home. So, as we look at our section for today, what does the Gospel in my marriage way look like? Paul sums this up in verse 33, “However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”
Emerson Eggerichs wrote a great book I’ve never read called, Love and Respect, which, I think, comes from this verse. One of the ideas from this book is that all women crave love and all men crave respect (just like Paul encouraged). Likewise, couples in trouble enter into a downward spiral of un-loving men and dis-respectful women. In order for this spiral to stop, someone has to be willing to go first—to show either love or respect.
Men, it’s easy to love a woman that respects you, right? When she asks you what you think, when she builds you up in front of others, when she genuinely wants to help you in the ways that you need—that’s easy to love. And women, I can only imagine how easy it would be to respect a man that really loves you in a sacrificial way. When he studies you to understand the things that make you feel love and he puts in the effort to act on those things, when he listens, empathizes, validates, and encourages you, when he helps bear your burdens and ease every worry—that’s a man worth respecting.
The problem though, is that none of us act this way all of the time. That’s why we need this reminder from Ephesians 5 of love and submission*/respect. We must be taught how to do this, and we need help from one another along the way. Sometimes we’re bull-headed jerks, and only in Biblical community can we speak into other marriages and lovingly tell each other, “I love you, but you’re acting stupid.” The healthiest marriages I know of are not the ones that look perfect, but the ones who acknowledge that they’re not and ask for help when they need it.
Questions for reflection:
- When is the last time you did something to intentionally show love or respect to your spouse?
- What was your last conflict and how did you resolve it? If some conflict is still lingering, do you need help from your Connect Group or a staff member?
* “Submission means organizing voluntarily to fill out a pattern that constitutes a complete whole. The word “support” is a good synonym for the biblical concept of “submit.” A wife submits to her husband when she voluntarily “organizes” herself so she can complete her husband. A good example of this is her cooperating with him when they run a three-legged race. They have to work together to succeed. Submission is essential to achieve oneness in marriage.” (Constable’s Notes, lumina.bible.org)
By: Tyler Short — Connections Ministry Associate