Submission & Love
By Sandy Simpson
When I was younger I used to sing a childhood song in Palau to make the it stop raining.† The song went: ďA chull a bekeo, a sils a medakd.Ē† This means: the ran is courageous and strong, the sun is afraid.Ē† I sang this song until one day I was singing it and it stopped raining right where I was and the sun came out while it continued to rain all around me.† That scared me and I stopped singing that song.† But there is an old fable that talks about the wind and the sun.†
This fable teaches us two things.† (1) Power canít force submission.† The wind blew with all its power but sometimes displays of power can have the opposite effect.† (2) Love can earn submission.† The Sun was just doing what it did best and through this act of love it won the contest.† This is similar to what we will learn about submission in this passage.
Eph. 5:21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
The basis of submission in marriage and in the Church is our reverence for Christ.† If you reverence Christ (love Him, respect Him, adore Him) you will place yourself in submission to Christ. If husbands are in submission Christ, wives will submit to their husbands, husbands will love their wives, children will submit to parents, and servants will submit to those over them.† Godís creation is brought into perfect order by submission.
Eph. 5:22 Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.
Eph. 5:23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.
Eph. 5:24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
God created an order to the universe.† Everything has its place and everything has its significance.† Nothing is chance or random in Godís plan.† God created everything, and His crowning achievement was man.† After He had made man from the dust of the ground he made a woman for him, taking one rib from the man.† This is significant because man was made first, then woman was made out of man.† From the beginning God made one man for one woman.† The woman was from the man to be a helpmate for the man.† The man was to love his wife and cleave to her alone, flesh of his flesh.† This relationship was a picture of Godís own nature.† Marriage and family is a picture of the relationship between Father, Son and Holy Spirit.† As Jesus sent the Holy Spirit, so the Father sent Jesus.† The relationship of the Church to Christ is also a picture of bride and bridegroom.† So to have the picture correct you must have one wife for one man, just as there is one Church under one Jesus Christ.† Wives are to submit to their husbands as head over them and their household, just as the Church is to submit to Christ.† To have the correct nature of things the husband must be the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the Church.† Wives have just as important a role to play in life and marriage as the body of Christ does in life.† But the Church must be in submission to Christ.† In the same way the woman must be in submission to the husband.†
But this picture has been ruined by the world.† On one hand you have the Muslims who lord it over their women and force them to submit.† On the other hand you have many Western societies that tell the woman she should not submit to anyone, least of all her husband.† But these false worldly ideas only take us further away from understanding the nature of God.† When women and men have a right relationship they will begin to understand the divine order of things in heaven and on earth.
Submission is not a negative thing.† Jesus was always submissive to the will of the Father, and look what He accomplished.† A wife should always be submissive to the will of her husband.† This does not mean she should submit to unlawful things.† Husbands and wives should always discuss all matters pertaining to their lives.† But someone has to make a final decision on important matters, and that is the role of the man.† The man, who we will get to in a moment, should not use his role as a way to dominate his wife and exert his will at all times.† He must love his wife and respect her opinions because many times she will be right, especially if she is a godly woman.
Eph. 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her
Eph. 5:26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word,
Eph. 5:27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.
Eph. 5:28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.
By the way, wives are to love their husbands also, not just submit to them.† In the same way the husband should love his wife just like Christ loves His church.† That means being willing to lay down your life for your wife.† Christ laid down His life to bring salvation and righteousness to His Church.† This is the picture a good husband should keep in mind in how he should treat his wife.† You will help your wife to be holy by loving her, studying and discussing the Word together.†† People naturally love themselves.† Donít be fooled by those who say we need to learn to love ourselves like Rick Warren.† Eph. 5:28 says that we love our own bodies, and this is the measure by which husbands should test to see if they love their wives. †Our problem, both male and female, is not that we donít love ourselves enough.† The human condition is that we naturally love ourselves from when we are little children, thinking mainly of how we feel and what we want.† We then become both too selfish and prideful or too self-pitying.† Either way these are both extremes of the same thingóself-love.† Husbands need to respect their wives if they want respect FROM their wives.† If you love your wife, emulating the way Christ loves His Church, then you will show that you love yourself in the right way.† Submission and love are all wrapped up together.† You cannot love and submit to someone unless you trust him or her.† Those who are saved trust the Lord Jesus Christ.† Those who have solid Christian marriages trust one another.† The wife trusts the husband and loves him, so she submits to him.† The husband trusts and loves his wife, so he submits to Christ.† This is the order, which God created.† When we go against that order we will not be living a fulfilled life and subsequently show that we do not love the Lord enough to obey His commands.
Eph. 5:29 After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the churchó
Eph. 5:30 for we are members of his body.
No one hates himself.† Yet psychology, both secular and Christian, both say people tend to hate themselves and need to learn how to love themselves.† The emphasis is on what the self wants and needs.† The emphasis of the Bible is just the opposite.† It says we love our own bodies.† In fact it is hard to think of anything else.† We worry more about food, health, sex, and every other fleshly indulgence than any other generation before us.† The Bible tells us to deny ourselves, yet our world today says to deny ourselves nothing.
Luke 9:23 Then he said to them all: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
If we think all the time about feeding and caring for ourselves, then we need to learn to focus that caring and feeding on our spouses just as Christ cares and feeds His Church.† The picture is the body of Christ.† Christ cares for His body.† Husbands should care for the bodies of their wives instead of themselves all the time because they are one flesh.† Not only should they care for their bodies, but they should care for their souls.
Eph. 5:31† "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh."
Eph. 5:32† This is a profound mysteryó but I am talking about Christ and the church.
When a husband and wife get married, they become one.† Therefore they are a new family unit and no longer have the same bond with father and mother.† What Paul is addressing here is not so much the earthly meaning of this saying but the picture it makes concerning Christ and His body.† When we become married to Christ we become part of a new family unit.† We are no longer part of the world of the flesh, but we have become the children of Christ in the Spirit.† This is another reason marriage is such a holy thing.† It is a direct picture of the mystery of Christ and His Church.† When you leave the world and become part of Christ, you also submit to Christ.† You must not divorce Christ.† You must love Christ as He loves you.†
Eph. 5:33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
So this is summing up what Paul is teaching.† The picture of marriage is that the husband must love his wife, and the wife must respect her husband as the head.† The Lord established these institutions so that we would think about them and understand better our relationship to Christ in the His body.
Eph. 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.
Eph. 6:2† "Honor your father and mother"ó which is the first commandment with a promiseó
Eph. 6:3† "that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth."
The same picture is carried forward to the children.† They are, in turn, to obey their parents as the wife submits to the husband (and to God), as the husband loves the wife, and as the husband submits to God.† Note the first of the ten commandments is to love the Lord thy God and not have any gods before Him.† Actually the fifth commandment is to honor your father and mother.† But when you look at the commandments in Exodus 20:12 and Deut. 5:16 you will find, in most Bibles, a paragraph marker there.† Here is the reason: it is the first commandment that has a specific promise with it.
Ex. 20:12† "Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.
The facts are that children who do not obey their parents often end up living short lives.† They end up on drugs, abusing their bodies, getting into trouble and fights, sexual sins, and ruining their lives in any number of ways.† This is because they refused to obey their parents and listen to them.† Most of my early childhood friends in Palau are either dead, crazy, in jail, or Christians.† In many cases of young childhood deaths you will find that they are due to the fact that the child was disobeying their parents and doing things they were warned not to do.† So this promise was not only true for the children of Israel, who it is directly addressed to, but true for any children.
Eph. 6:4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
On the other hand parents, especially fathers, need to be careful that they are instructing their children in such as was that the children will respect them and listen.† Many fathers simply yell at their children and give them punishment instead of explaining the situation in love.† Punishment is good and needed in a number of circumstances, but the child needs to understand that he/she has made a wrong sinful choice and that consequences for small sins are a way to learn to avoid being judged by God later.† Fathers should stress biblical solutions and training for their children.† Donít just yell at them because they will grow up thinking you donít really care about them, and they are just getting in your way.† If you expect your children to obey you, then you need to train them the right way and donít cause them to give up.
Eph. 6:5 Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ.
Eph. 6:6 Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart.
The third picture of Christ and the Church is slaves and masters.† Today fewer and fewer places on earth have slaves, but there was a time when most places had this.† But we do have a modern day situation that is similar.† It would be in the workplace.† You have bosses and employees in businesses, presidents and membership in organizations, principals and teachers in schools, etc.† Now these situations are not exactly the same because most people today have a certain amount of choice as to whom they will work for.† Slaves often did not.† But those under leadership should also submit to that leadership because it is also part of submission to Christ. We choose to submit to Christ, so also we choose to submit to leadership.† The only time we do not submit to earthly leadership is when it conflicts with submitting to God.† Then a choice has to be made and the most important person to submit to is Christ.† But God has told us to submit to earthly leadership because He is the one that allows it to continue.
Romans 13:1 Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.
This does not mean that every governing authority is godly.† It just means that God has established authorities to keep the peace and establish order.† Some societies do that well, others do that poorly.† Again, we must submit to governing authorities unless it conflicts with submitting to God.
Eph. 6:7 Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men,
Eph. 6:8 because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free.
If you serve well, you are being salt and light.† You are a living witness for Christ in the workplace and in life.† So we should serve those over us with our whole hearts as long as they do not ask us to say or do things that are against our submission to Christ.† As Christians, God will reward our works of obedience to Him.† This does not just apply to the slaves but to everyone.† Slaves and masters, bosses and employees, principals and teachers, in prison or free, we must realize that God has established His order on earth to help us understand Himself.† If we obey Him, He will reward us.† If we disobey Him, He will not reward us but will try to bring us to repentance.† If He cannot bring us to repentance, we prove we do not love Him by not obeying Him.
Eph. 6:9 And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.
Notice that the same type of command for the husband who is the head of his wife and children is true for the master who is head of his slaves.† Masters must also treat their slaves not by threats but by understanding.† This goes for bosses, principals, presidents, etc.† God will judge the lowly servant the same way he judges the master.† God shows no favoritism to certain types of people based on their lot in life. God views women and men the same, employer and employee the same, master and slave the same.†
Acts 10:34-35 Then Peter began to speak: "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.
Everyone has a role to play in life and we should accept that role as the Lord gives it to us in life.† Sometimes we have a choice as in an employer/employee situation.† Sometimes we do not have a choice as in man/woman or master/slave.† We need to accept our lot in life and trust the Lord because He is the rewarder of those who serve Him and obey His commands.†
Heb. 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
1 Samuel 26:23 The LORD rewards every man for his righteousness and faithfulness. The LORD delivered you into my hands today, but I would not lay a hand on the LORDís anointed.