This past Sunday Keith taught his first lesson as one of the men rotating in the teacher position of the class as our regular teacher has gone back to school. He did a great job with the tough topic he was assigned by luck of the draw – Ephesians 5:22-27. Yeah, that’s the one that starts out by telling wives to submit to their husbands.
But he did a great job with it; he really did his research and as joking as he is (and even was in the lesson, but appropriately), he was serious about his responsibility as teacher.
Our class has a weekly newsletter that our former teacher (an ordained former pastor, by the way) wrote a wrap up article for each week after the lesson. Here is Keith’s wrap up:
God commands wives to submit to their husbands and husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the Church in Ephesians. If a healthy happy marriage is desired, following these two commands is all that’s required.
First, God commanded wives to submit to their husbands (Eph 5:22). We usually think of submission as forcefully making someone else do your will. But the word translated “submit” in this passage is better translated as a voluntary attitude of cooperating, assuming responsibility or carrying a burden. Submission does not mean silence or the inability to voice your concerns. Nor does it mean that the husband is smarter than the wife or always right. Submission means following God’s order of creation (Gen 3:16) out of love and respect for God (Eph 5:22). Jesus Christ submitted to his parents [despite the fact that He is God] (Luke 2:51) and to the will of God his Heavenly Father (Matt 26:39). Since women are called to submit, it is only logical that men are called to lead (Gen 3:16, 1 Cor 11:3).
Paul juxtaposes the wives command to submit with a command for husbands to love their wives like Christ loves the Church (Eph 5:23). There are four Greek words that describe love: eros, storge, philia and agape. The command that God gives to men utilizes the strongest Greek word for love, agape. Agape is often translated as “God love,” but that definition is very accurate and can cause confusion in some verses (Men agape sin in John 3:19 and 1 John 2:15). Agape describes a love that is instinctive. It is not really felt, but lived. It is a sacrificial, giving and absorbing love. It has everything to do with denying yourself and putting others ahead of you. Although Paul only mentions the husbands’ responsibility to love, wives need to love their husbands in a similar way (1 Cor 16:14, Mark 12:30-31) .
But how do spouses love each other like Christ loves the Church? We learned a few weeks earlier that we are to be imitators of Christ (Eph 5:1). One way to imitate Christ is through love. Many Christians imitate other people, like their parents or Fonzie (or like my childhood role models: Mr. T and the Three Stooges). We need to continually desire to grow in our relationship with Christ and not become stagnant, back sliding or dead. As humans, we will never be able to imitate Christ perfectly, but we will never grow if we become satisfied with where we are.
So how do we make are marriages healthy and happier? First, submit to Christ. Imitate Him. Loving you spouse and assuming your God-given role will be easier the more you imitate Christ. Once you made Christ your priority, look for things you can do to love your spouse (remember what agape love is) and cheerfully take you God assigned role.
Remember you will never learn to juggle if you don’t practice. You will never learn to be a better husband or wife if you don’t practice what God has commanded. You may drop a few balls, but continue practicing because the reward will be worth it (I’m not really talking about juggling now).
God bless your lives and marriages. Have a blessed week.