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Friday, March 9, 2018

“Throw the Woman Out!”

Eph. 5:21-33

This has often been regarded as a controversial passage especially in the present.  The concern is that Paul seems to be presenting a male-dominated view of marriage.  Some ask, where is the partnership of male and female seen at creation?  For that matter, they ask what about Paul’s own statement that there is neither male nor female but all are one in Christ (Gal. 3:28)?

If we have look at his passage closely we can see that Paul is not in any way saying that women are inferior in marriage (or anywhere else).  He begins by calling both husband and wife to be “subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.”  As followers of Christ we are called to follow his example of being a servant (Phil. 2:4-8).

We are then told that wives should be subject to their husbands as they are to Christ.  The husband is charged with being the “head of the wife just as Christ is the head of the church.”  Given this model we are not talking of subservience or domination.  Jesus calls us his friends (John 15:15).  Paul clearly is describing the husband as having a leadership role but one that is modeled on Christ himself.

Paul’s instructions to the husband include loving his wife as Christ loved the church.  The husband is to love the wife as he loves his own body.  Husband and wife in fact are “one flesh” (Gen. 2:24).  For a husband to love his wife is the same as loving himself.  Paul is presenting a picture here of mutuality in which husband and wife have complementary but different roles.  The husband has a leadership role as protector and provider for his wife and family.  The wife is called to respect this leadership role.  As we noted yesterday there is no basis here for any kind for ill treatment of the wife (Col. 3:19).

Finally Paul here is talking about Christ and the church.  His description of marriage is a metaphor of our relationship to Christ.  We are all the Bride of Christ (Rev. 21:2).  Paul then is presenting us with the picture of a successful and healthy marriage.  This picture in turn points to the supreme marriage of Christ and his church.

Most gracious and loving God and Savior, I thank you for the image of Christ and the church as the ultimate Bride and Groom.  Married or single, may I always remember that I am part of the Bride of Christ.  I joyfully subject myself to him because of his love for me.  I pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.