Sunday, August 15, 2010

A New Look At Ephesians 5

I receive a daily bible verse with a commentary from an organization called The Berean. I love it, it is reformed and usually a great commentary. Today was not any different when I received today's verse from Ephesians 5 vs 25-32. But today I read this passage differently than I had ever read it before and I went and read the chapter in context. This chapter is from Paul admonishing the Christians of Ephesus to walk a holy life. A life that imitated Christ's walk on Earth which was completely without sin. In Christ's life not once did he sin. I can hardly go through a day, even after devotions in the morning, church two times that day and prayers at night, without sinning at least once. I can without reservations say that I sin at least once a day if I am at home all day with no contact with the outside world, if I have contact with the outside world then it goes up to about 10 times plus a few. But the part that caught my eye was in Ephesians 32 and 33. This is where Paul admonishes the woman to respect her husband. Now I have had this verse preached to me for the last 22 years. Like it is a separate command from God directed to the woman no matter what the circumstances. I have to confess that when reading this chapter in the past I overlooked an astounding truth. Now I will ask God to forgive me right here if I am misinterpreting this, but I am sure that I am not. This verse is the result of the verses that come before it. Now the submitting verses starting in verse 22 I believe are directed to the woman but only if the man is acting as Christ does in directing His church. I see very clearly that it is a command to submit to a Godly man. His actions are directed by God and therefore safe for a woman to follow his leadership. When false leaders are presented in other parts of the New Testament, Christians are told to leave that leadership. I believe that it is alright for a woman to not follow an ungodly leader.
Back to verses 32 and 33. These verses follow the Apostle Paul's commands to the husband to love the wife as first his own body then as Christ loved the church. Sacrificial love is what is commanded. This love can be shown in a myriad of ways, actions, both verbal and non verbal. But that is not what caught my attention. It was how this love leads to the verse 32 and 33 when Paul says "However, let each one of you" and I stop here because this implies that his entire discourse was directed at men. All of Ephesians chapter 5. So even the  part of submitting was directed to men implying again that the men must do something to receive the submission, in that case Godly leadership. But in verses 33 the actions of how to love their wives would result in the most coveted of emotions from a woman, not love but respect. It has been proven over and over through studies that love is not the top emotion a man wants from a woman but it is respect. Respect is the result of the commands that Paul gives to husbands. Respect is something that has been thrown like a frying pan on a woman for centuries stressing that it is her responsibility to respect her husband no matter what he does. It is impossible for a woman to respect her husband if he is not a Godly man or a man of integrity. Even an unsaved man who treats his wife with sacrificial love, will get respect from his wife. So how much more will the man who  follows Christ, imitates Christ in his own life get from his wife? He will get boundless love, submission and most of all, respect. This is something the men of the church really need to get a hold of so that their male members will stop holding these verses over women's head as a condemnation and understand their real position in the marriage. It is not a burden for the men to be held responsible for their own wives feelings and reactions, but it is a command, a directive from God. And the rewards are numerous. I have seen families of men who take the responsibility for their families spiritual and physical well being and they are  the families who even through adversity, love and cling together. It is a beautiful picture of the church.

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