In this post we will turn to Ephesians 5 and enter boldly into God’s Word without tiptoeing, without making apologies and I know we will find something so liberating for men and women that we will be inspired to be changed by God’s Word instead of kowtowing to our twisted culture. Perhaps we can shake off the PASSIVITY that we have been too long encouraged to accept and too content to embrace.
Ephesians 5:21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. 22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.
Ok, now the first verse we read is where most people like to stop. “21Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
One of my bible profs from college wrote a book in which he comments on this verse. Gilbert Bilezikian writes in his book Beyond Sex Roles, “By definition, mutual submission rules out hierarchical differences.”
In other words, there are no SPECIAL responsibilites in marriage We have the same, mutual responsibilities and need to work together to nurture one another. There is no LEADER. In all due respect Dr. Bilesikian is wrong and every other preacher, counselor and talk show host who shares that opinion.
Paul does indeed say that we are to submit to one another but we submit in different ways because we have different responsibilities and the rest of this passage spells them out quite clearly. There is a HEAD, a leader and there is one who submits to that leadership. The leadership is Christ-like and the submission is church-like. Now let’s unpack this truth. Let’s define our terms.
The most heated discussions between believers usually get heated because the participants fail to define their terms. What is headship? What is submission? I turn to Pastor John Piper here. I love the concise economy of his definitions.
“Headship is the divine calling of a husband to take primary responsibility for Christ-like, servant leadership, protection and provision in the home.” Stop and read that again if you will. That is rich. Headship is not MORE and it is not LESS than that. It is not oppressive, it is not dictatorial, it means that God holds the man responsible for his wife and children. In 1920 the Brittish banker Josiah Stamp said, “It is easy to dodge our responsibilities, but we cannot dodge the consequences of dodging our responsibilites.”
“Submission is the divine calling of a wife to honor and affirm her husband’s leadership and help carry it through according to her gifts.” This is not an issue of who is better or who has ability. It is the divine order.
When we, men and women, hear terms like ‘headship’ and ‘submission’ our response is usually discomfort and queasiness. This response goes right back to the beginning. Eve took the lead when she should not have, Adam stood by passively instead of being a leader. We have reverted to this pattern over and over. Adam stood right there and did and said nothing while the serpent deceived his wife. What should have happened?
As soon as the crafty serpent said, “Did God really say.......?” Adam should have stepped forward and said, “Excuse me sir”, then left jab, right hook, serpent down, kick to the ribs, find a stake and drive it through his scaly head while giving the directive, “DON’T... EVER... TALK... TO MY... WIFE... AGAIN!” GAME OVER! That’s what Adam should have done. Adam was right THERE but he wasn’t THERE! He didn’t show up. Adam, where are you? Our ancestor took a passive role and to this day his son’s must fight the urge to follow his wimpiness. Eve took the lead and to this day her daughter’s want to step into the role that the son’s of Adam left vacant.
But men, if the first Adam was a wimp let me remind you the second Adam was not. Adam was passive, Jesus is active in making all things new. I pray that you are in the second Adam as you read this and not still tied to the first Adam. Apart from Christ you can do nothing but IN Christ you have the opportunity to fulfill your God given role and transform your families.
Single men, you are not exempt from this message. Your church needs godly men. Some day one of the young children in your church are going to be asked if they can remember someone in their church who was godly. Perhaps a boy growing up in a home without of father who is missing through death or divorce needs an example. Will you be that godly man? Will you be that example? Where is the godly one? Are you him? Now remember, Ephesians 5 is describing order within the family. Church order is taken up in other passages of the bible. A man does not have headship over a woman who is not his wife. A woman does not need to submit to a man who is not her husband.
In the next post I will address four areas where the man is supposed to work out his role as a leader in his family. These four applications follow the example that Christ demonstrates in loving the church.
Go To Part 3
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