We share our opinions and insights at SBC Voices, but we believe that the Voice that matters most is the one that comes from God’s Word. We present these daily expositional devotions, beginning with a tour of Ephesians called, “Walk Worthy,” in hopes of encouraging our readers to remember to Voice above every voice.
Ephesians 5:25-28 (CSB):
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her with the washing of water by the word. 27 He did this to present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or anything like that, but holy and blameless. 28 In the same way, husbands are to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.
With everything happening right now in the #metoo, #churchtoo movement and it now coming home to SBC life in a number of ways, I approach this particular text with a bit of fear and trepidation. This text overlaps and accompanies the previous one in giving a picture of biblical complementarianism and the role and responsibility God has given to husbands. Paul is showing us how we can seek to be spirit-filled in a way that is particularly demonstrated in our marriage relationships.
This text strikes me as counter-cultural for a couple of reasons. First, the struggle of women to have equal status with men in our culture has been long and hard fought, we are even seeing that struggle play out in our denomination as women speak out about how they have been treated in less that God-honoring and affirming (and too often abusive) ways. To the world around us and even some of our evangelical brethren, the biblical concept of submission and headship seems outdated and moving backward and to many outright offensive. Some even blame this teaching for the abuses that are now coming to light. They rightly ask: How can we legitimately speak of men being the head of the home and wives submitting to husbands in today’s world?!?!
Biblical answers to that question are muddied by an additional problem. This passage and others like it have been misapplied and maligned on every side. Some “Christians” have used the passage to promote domineering and abusive relationships – and some who oppose Christianity have interpreted these texts in the same way – but as evidence that the Bible and thus the Christian faith cannot be taken seriously.
Even when we understand the doctrines rightly, it is difficult in a devotion to move beyond general principle and broad application to move toward specific directives for YOUR marriage.
Because every marriage is unique – every personality and combination of personalities in marriage is unique, and the issues in your marriage will be particular to you – you will need to spend some time thinking through how this passage applies particularly in your marriage – you my leave this devotion with more questions than answers, and that’s OK.
If we take the Bible seriously, and now I’m speaking to husbands here, we must examine Christ’s model and ask some tough questions about how well we are doing in being like Christ as we lead our homes. From this passage, we see that “Headship is the divine calling of a husband to take primary responsibility for Christ-like, servant leadership, protection and provision in the home” (John Piper, This Momentary Marriage, p. 80).
With Christ as our model in marriage, I am directed to follow his lead and give up myself for the sake of my spouse (25), lead my family to love and serve the Lord (26-27), and provide for the care, needs and well-being of my wife (28-30)
Were this a sermon or bible study, I might take the time to exegete each of the phrases and give a detailed explanation and I would encourage you to do further study here on your own. For purposes of this devotion, I just want to pose some questions for you that I hope will help you reflect on as you seek to be Christ-like in your marriage.
- Are you living for yourself or for your wife? Are your decisions motivated by your own self-interest, or do you recognize the unique physical, emotional, security needs of your wife and do everything to meet them?
- Are you growing spiritually? (you can’t lead if you’re not growing)
- Are you doing anything that undermines the relationship or causes her to feel unwanted, unloved, or insecure? (Take care of any sin issues – repent of sin and replace ungodly actions with biblical, Christ-like ones)
- Are you leading your family to love and serve the Lord? How are you doing so?
- Does the way you lead your family, respond to your wife, make decisions for your family, live each moment, respond with your deeds and words, prioritize your time and resources, lead your wife and family closer to the Lord or further from him?
- What things in your life does your wife wish would change? What steps can you take today to draw you closer to your wife and, together, closer to the Lord?
- Lord, where are my blind-spots? Reveal to me any aspect of my marriage for which I need to repent and be changed.
Use these questions or others you come up with in your prayer life and in conversation with your wife.
The gospel applies to your marriage and to you as a husband. Christ died to save and sanctify you and present you holy before the Father. His grace covers your imperfections and failures in marriage even as his love compels you to become Christ-like in every way, and especially as a husband. Men, let us pursue gospel-centered marriages as we become more and more like Jesus.