Eph. 5:22-33 – Husband-Wife Relationship

For a comedian (and even sometimes a preacher!), the relationship between a husband and wife is the center of countless jokes. The differences between males and females and the way they operate in life can provide lots of laughter. While there is nothing wrong with laughing at our own interactions, the Bible is very clear about how this important relationship should be viewed.

For the wife, it should be viewed with submission in mind. The apostle Paul could not be clearer when he begins this section with a direct instruction, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord” (5:22). One man-made issue with this statement is that submission is seen as weakness. And that incorrect view can be magnified by husbands who are cruel and dominating over their spouse.

When a wife is submissive to her husband, that does not mean that she must follow his every instruction or whim as a slave/servant would. She should want to follow his lead. And as verse thirty- three tells us, it also involves respecting him.

For the husband, the relationship should be viewed with sacrifice in mind. Christ gave Himself for His church (5:25). Husbands, in all their actions, should show the same sacrificial love for their wife.

As humans, we care greatly for our own body and take care of ourselves physically. Husbands should show the same self-care for their spouse (5:28,29). This sacrifice creates an environment where the wife will gladly submit to her husband.

These two instructions are clear and able to be easily understood. But lest there be any questions in our minds about how to treat our spouse, both spouses are to view the relationship with the true standard in mind. Verse twenty-two tells wives to submit “as to the Lord.” And verse twenty-five tells husbands to love “as Christ also loved the church . . .

The standard is Christ. Neither husband nor wife should look at their neighbor and compare while thinking, “I am not as bad as they are!” We should focus on things above (Colossians 3:2) and strive to follow the pattern of submission and love that Christ showed. It is amazing to realize that the first two considerations, submission and sacrifice, are easier when the true standard is followed.

The husband and wife relationship, following Christ’s pattern, can be a light to the world (Matthew 5:16) and an example of the love of God in Christ.

Joel Danley