Paul gets very specific about marriage at the end of Chapter five. Some of his words have been misunderstood and therefore rejected. But all of the Bible is God-breathed and useful to us, given for our growth. Join Sharon and Nicole as they discuss the roles of husband and wife as outlined in Ephesians. Hear their stories. Enter in to the world of marriage when Christ is the head of the home, and even when He is not. We hope this episode strengthens and encourages you wherever you are in your own marriage journey.
Speaker 1 (00:03):
Is your world a little crazy and off kilter at the moment, feeling a bit frazzled? Well then, you’ve found the perfect place to regain some quiet today. Welcome to the Sweet Selah Moments Podcast, where we study his Word and encourage one another. The Sweet Selah Moments Podcast is a cooperative production of Word Radio and Sweet Selah Ministries.
Welcome to the Sweet Selah Moments Podcast. We’re glad you’re here for episode 77, Marriage Lessons. Sharon, the topic of marriage today is kind of a hot button topic. Paul has some pretty radical things to say to husbands and wives in Ephesians 5. How are we going to approach this today?
With fear and trembling. So for those of you out there who think people choose Christianity because it makes them feel good and safe and comforted let me tell you, although that is true, being a Christ following Bible believing Christian sometimes feels downright uncomfortable. (Nicole: Mm-hmm) It just does. I’d rather skip this one, frankly. But here’s the deal, Nicole and I do believe there really is a being who created all things and has the sovereign right to tell us what to do. And we believe he reveals himself to us through his creation, through the Bible, through his son, Jesus, and through his people. So we are not in charge. God is. So if you do not believe the Bible is God breathed you will probably not agree with what is said here today and that is okay. We love you. We wish you well, you are welcome to listen in and hear what the Bible says about husband and wife relationships in Ephesians. Just remember we are not making this stuff up out of our own heads. We are trying hard to understand how to live in light of God’s word to us in the Bible. And we’re also not theologians. Nicole, do you have a seminary degree?
Sadly, I do not.
Uh huh. Well, neither do I. But we do believe that two simple ordinary women can ask God to guide us and then open the Bible and learn better how to live in line with God’s design for us. (Nicole: Yes) We believe that. And we are firm believers also in belonging to a local church where pastors who have studied longer and harder than us can help us in that understanding. Okay. So that was a long-winded introduction. Let’s get started and read what God says through Paul about husbands and wives and their relationship in light of what we’ve been studying.
All right, going back to Ephesians 5:1-2. We think this sets the tone for the whole chapter, so I’m gonna read it again, “Imitate God, therefore in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.” So we spoke at length about this in our last episode, Sharon, about living a life filled with love (Sharon: Mm-hmm) but what better place to start than with our spouses?
Sometimes a little tough. So sometimes being in a marriage challenges and grows us more than any other relationship. And let’s be honest, our spouse and me as the other spouse, can be the hardest to love at times.
Yes, that’s so true. It is.
Yeah. It’s sometimes easier for me to be kind to the person at the checkout counter at my grocery store than to be kind to my spouse. Especially when you know, they don’t live up to the expectations we have of them or when we’ve been deeply hurt by them. (Sharon: Yes) It’s a very vulnerable relationship to be in and it’s so easy to accidentally or intentionally wound our spouses, or be hurt ourselves.
So we’re gonna need a lot of help from Jesus today.
Yes, we are. I love what you said about expectations because no one other than Jesus will ever live up to perfect expectations.
We will disappoint our spouses and they will disappoint us.
They will. Yep. So we really should expect that.
Right? I expect that Ray will not always behave selflessly towards me and that those are the right expectations.
It’s true though.
Yeah. Yeah. Okay well, let’s read the passage for the day. And then unpack it for practical applications. Start us off.
All right. So we’re reading from Ephesians 5:21-33 today. This is our Sweet Selah Moment. It’s when we have the great delight of reading God’s word from the Bible and that we know that they’re always true.
You can’t go wrong with these guys.
So I’ll start with verse 21, “And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
“For wives this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord.”
“For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church.”
“As the church submits to Christ so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything.”
“For husbands this means love your wives just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her.”
“To make her holy and clean washed by the cleansing of God’s word.”
“He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church, without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault.”
“In the same way husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies, for a man who loves his wife, actually shows love for himself.”
“No one hates his own body, but feeds and cares for it just as Christ cares for the church.”
“And we are members of his body.”
“As the scriptures say, a man leaves his father and mother, and is joined to his wife and the two are united into one.”
“This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one.”
“So again, I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself. And the wife must respect her husband.”
Okay. So that’s clear.
Well, let’s start right back at the beginning verse 21, “And further submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” So just as we are to live a life of love in all that came before in Ephesians 5 and in all that is to come as we finish out this letter that doesn’t have verses (Nicole: Really) we are to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Nicole, how does that play out effectively in, in all relationships? Not just the marriage ones, we’ll get there, but how do we submit to one another out of reverence for Christ?
That’s a great question. I think I always associate submission with marriage only, but there are other ways we are called to submit to each other. (Sharon: Yes) And I think in things like church decisions, we have body meetings throughout the year where we all meet and discuss things and make important decisions. And we can’t all get our way.
This is true.
So there’s some form of submission out of love and obedience to God that occurs there. Sometimes in dealing with difficult friendships, there’s some submission required there as well, you know? And goodness, even dealing with my children and grumpy toddlers over the years, there’s some level of submission.
This is true. Yes.
You know, knowing when something’s not worth the battle or knowing my children’s limitations and setting realistic expectations for them like, oh, giving them five minutes warning to pick up their toys instead of demanding that they do it immediately. Things like that. I think if we stopped to take account of our life, we would see, we submit in many more ways than we realize.
That is so true. I think we do. Just putting the others needs ahead of our own. (Nicole: Yeah) Yeah.
So it’s not always about– So I also find the definition of submit fascinating, Sharon. I’m reading an excerpt from a Precept Bible Study course here and the Greek word is hupotasso.
Look at you pulling out the Greek.
I know. And all the scholars are cringing. It means to submit and to yield to governance or authority, to place in subjection. It is important to note that many of the New Testament uses are in the passive voice with a middle voice that signifies the voluntary subjection of oneself to the will of others.
Husbands and wives both need to understand the voluntary nature of the submission called for in the marital relationship lest it be misapplied.
Isn’t that good?
Mm-hmm. I love this definition so much, Nicole (Nicole: Yeah) because it basically tells me that submission is my choice. (Nicole: Yes) Right. I voluntarily do it. It’s not something anyone can force on us. Husbands aren’t told, ‘make your wife submit’ anywhere. It’s not their business.
That’s true. That’s true.
Their business we’re gonna get to. They got business. It’s got to be my decision to submit myself to another, whether to a friend or a pastor or a husband. There’s autonomy in that, that I really love. I also like, the fact that it’s kind of a military term to yield to governance or authority, for example, a soldier puts himself under the command of an officer, but it doesn’t mean the soldier is less human or even less intelligent or less anything.
Oh, that’s true.
Right?. It’s just his position. In fact, I have to tell you, I knew some soldiers when Ray was in the military who were heads and shoulders above some officers in intelligence. (Nicole: Right) And in just all around integrity. Good gravy. (Nicole: They were supposed to submit) They positionally put themselves underneath.
So this is not a definition of worth or value.
Yes. Repeat that.
Yes. This is a voluntary thing that no one can make me do, that God has asked me to do. (Nicole: Yes) I choose it. And Ray has to love me, poor guy, whether I do it or not.
So there we go. All right. So now let’s move into the role of wife in a marriage as outlined in Ephesians. I’m gonna read Ephesians 5:21-24, “And further submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord for a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church, and as the church submits to Christ so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything.” Well, I see two core truths coming out here. First of all, the husband is called the head of the wife. And second, the wife is told to submit to the husband. There it is. (Nicole: Mm-hmm) Well, you know what? There’s a reason why we have one president of the United States, at the moment it’s President Biden. If nuclear war has to be decided upon Kamala Harris who might be smarter and more intelligent than Joe Biden, who knows, I can’t discern that, does not get to make that decision. Joe Biden does. We have one head.
Right? Queen Elizabeth, isn’t sharing her monarchy with Prince Charles who has waited literally all his life to be king and she just keeps on living. There’s one. So, and Ray, Ray has this really cool illustration that kind of, kind of clarifies it to me. (Nicole: Yeah) So there’s two people in a rowboat and they’re rowing and they’re on a river and there’s this massive rock in the middle. And the only thing to do is to go to the right of the rock. There’s a little stream that kind of goes around it, on that side. Or to the left of the rock.
So let’s say we have two strong-willed people in that rowboat and the person on the right wants to go to the right (Nicole: Mm-hmm) and the one sitting on the left wants to go to the left and they start an argument. And the person on the right says no, the better way is right. And the person on the left says, well, I’m going left. What is going to happen to the rowboat?
They’re gonna meet sudden disaster and doom.
Somebody has to make the call or they hit the rock in the middle.
I love that illustration.
It’s not like one’s a better rower than the other (Sharon: No) or one has more— you just need one to make the decision.
But somebody has to call it. (Nicole: Right) That’s why Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have equal/unequal authority. (Nicole: Right) Somebody has to push the nuclear war button, which I hope never happens. Right? I mean, that’s a really weird example, but you have to have one.
So in a marriage, God has placed the husband in that position of responsibility. (Nicole: Mm-hmm) And if things go wrong in the marriage, he’s the one to blame.
Oof. Yeah. I know.
Bless his little heart. He’s the one who’s supposed to be steering the ship and he answers to God if it doesn’t go well. (Nicole: Mmmm) A wife who is fully equal to her husband and Paul makes that clear over and over again, that men and women are equal. The wife, who’s fully equal, is asked to submit herself, our choice, to her husband’s ultimate leadership. And there it is. So.
There it is.
We’re gonna talk about what that doesn’t mean first, Nicole, I wanna make somethings really, really clear here. (Sharon: Yeah) One, this does not mean a wife cannot have her own strong opinions about how things ought to be done. She will, or at least I do.
Two, this does not mean that a wife has to pretend she thinks her husband’s opinions are best. She doesn’t. Did Paul not just say a little behind in the letter to speak truth?
Okay. So we’re not gonna fake it and go, oh honey. I think your wisdom is unbelievable. Right?
Right. That’s not doing anyone any favors.
No, it is not. My goodness we need to tell the truth. (Nicole: Yes) Number three, this does not mean a husband has permission to force a wife to submit. Nope. None of his business it’s what God asked of the wife. It’s on us. And guess what? God’s gonna look at you and me someday and say, did you voluntarily submit?
Yeah. The husband’s got hard things of his own to do. So how does this play out for Ray and me? Well, I would say 90% of the time there’s no big rock in the middle of the river, right? (Nicole: Yeah) So most of the time Ray is not, you know, like holding out the leadership card. (Nicole: Right) We talk things over. (Nicole: Right) You know? And we’ve talked before about how Ray and I made decisions about disciplining kids. (Nicole: Mm-hmm) Ray said, let’s nuclear bomb them. Sharon said, let’s give them grace. (Nicole: Right) Ray and Sharon came to a way better decision together.
But there are times when Ray and I disagree (Nicole: Mm-hmm) and somebody has to make the call.
They just do. And so what I usually say to Ray is, all right, you’ve been put in charge and God is gonna hold you accountable for this decision. And you know, I don’t agree with it honey. (Nicole: Right) But I submit to it and then Ray squirms, because he would feel so much better if I could agree.
Oh, of course.
You know, it’s not like, Ray’s like, yeah, now I get to do it. Now he’s like, oh, rats.
Right. I have to make sure I’m really doing what we’re supposed to do.
Yeah. Exactly. And, if he still feels really led in that way, he makes a decision. But even then we usually are back to talking about it. I feel like I’m his help-meet. I’m to help him. And that means I help him see things he might not see.
Yes. Help him process to that decision.
But I’m saying that the way you said it was so beautiful because it clearly defines both of our positions in Christ and our responsibility to Christ in those positions and decisions.
It’s not Oh, You do— You know, that was worded so well.
Yeah. So that’s what I say. And then I do submit and that’s hard.
It is. It is hard. So we’re not lying.
So, but you know what? I always think I’m right. And true confessions. I’m not. (Nicole: I know) And there are times when I’m really glad that Ray’s decision was the one that ruled.
Yes. That hindsight, you’re like, oh, I see now, why there’s— (Sharon: Yeah, yeah) two of us making those decisions.
Exactly so. Well, how about you? How does it play out with you? Oh my goodness. Nicole, this is a vulnerable little podcast here.
I know. Okay. Well Josh and I have been married for almost 15 years now, Sharon. (Sharon: Wow) I had to count when I was typing this like, wait, how many years has it been? And in the beginning I was not the most submissive wife early in marriage. (Sharon: Mm-hmm) I process quickly. And I do have a lot of opinions and Josh is a slower processor like Ray.
Like Ray. Mm-hmm.
He’s gotta think. He’s got to mull. He’s much more quiet in his decision making, but when he does make up his mind, he’s very hard to convince otherwise. And me trying to argue or push the issue. It never works.
Never. It just causes strain between us and that’s no fun, but there really is a peace and a that comes from submission and I do rejoice in it now, usually afterward. Because like you had mentioned, it takes the pressure off of having the responsibility of that final say (Sharon: Yes, yes) when it comes to big decisions in our family. And because Josh and I have worked on a relationship over the years as well I can tell if he’s making a decision based on his own wisdom, or if he’s seeking God on it.
Yes. You can tell. Right.
That’s kind of when you can push or pull a little bit more. Like let’s pray about that a little bit more or something.
But if I see him (Sharon: Really seeking God) seeking God, yeah, I know I can trust him with these huge decisions (Sharon: Right, right) now he’s shown me, you know? And I think that’s been a huge strength of our relationship (Sharon: Mm-hmm) for me to trust him and for him to make those decisions. You know, this isn’t a daily occurrence like, I declare steak for dinner.
Like this is like those five big moments in the past.
It’s the rock in the middle of the stream.
Yes, exactly. The hey, we need to make a decision now. (Sharon: Exactly so) we are not gonna agree on this. So. (Sharon: Yeah, yeah) You know, and I think, you know, this is what God intended that between this submission and this seeking God as the man, like that is the strengthener. And if we use it wrong, it can become a huge wedge between us.
It can become a wedge, but it can be a really good thing. And I have to say beautiful thing. I have seen the sadness of women coming to me who say my husband is passive. He is not involved in our family at all. And when we dig a little deeper it’s because, and it’s so easy to do, (Nicole: Mm-hmm) every time that man would try to make a decision, she had a better one and overruled him to the point where the guy’s like, well, I just give up.
What’s the point?
What’s the point. (Nicole: Yeah) And then you’ve got a passive husband who’s not involved in family life.
There are times when submission is there so that the man knows he is valued and that his opinion matters.
Because he should be valued and his opinion should matter. Right?
So many times in the family’s life it’s the mother, the wife making the decisions, the everyday decisions are so much on us (Sharon: Right, mm-hmm) they need that. Or they don’t feel—
Validated or useful. Yeah.
It’s like, they’re just, you know, the bread, bring home the bacon kind of thing. Yeah.
Bring home the bread but I’ll handle everything else.
But we’ll do everything else. And that’s not good.
No, it’s not good. Right.
I’ve done this both ways, Sharon. I prefer God’s way now.
Yes, I do too. Oh my goodness.
There’s more peace in my house. And you know, I make better decisions when I talk to my husband and get wisdom from him.
And I go forward with more confidence if I have him to, you know?, It’s just, it works better when we do it God’s way.
Yes it does. The end. Yes. (Nicole: Yes) So, but one more thing I wanna talk about. I don’t believe, and this is what I don’t believe a wife is obligated to submit to sin, to outright sin. Like if a husband tells her to watch pornography or to be purposefully cruel to someone, then God’s law must be obeyed over man’s.
Pornography is a horrifying misuse of human bodies. And oftentimes especially the women involved are victims of horrific abuse.
Oh my goodness. So no, just no. No. And also we are never told by God to be purposefully cruel (Nicole: No) to another one. So just no. What do you think on that point, Nicole?
I think it’s incredibly important that we remember as women that we are submitting to our husbands in order to honor and obey God first.
So if in submitting to our husbands, it does not honor and glorify God and show obedience to him, God, then we are not called to do it.
Right. I agree. Yep. Okay then. God’s placed the husband in the role of being the leader of his home. What kind of leader should he be? Well, Jesus washed his disciples’ dirty feet. So there’s that right?
Why don’t you reread God’s instructions to husbands for us. And then tell me what stands out to you.
Alright. Verses 25-30, “For husbands, this means love your wives just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean washed by the cleansing of God’s word.” (Excuse me.) “He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church, without a spot or a wrinkle or any blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. In the same way husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife, actually shows love for himself. No one hates his own body, but feeds and cares for it just as Christ cares for the church. And we are members of his body.” (Sharon: Mmmm) This is such a beautiful picture of love here. And it’s such a simple and practical example to take care of your wife like you would take care of your own body.
You know, I know in our own marriage, Josh shows love to me and the girls by always making sure we have the best of the things we own. (Sharon: Oh!) Now I notice that like, he always makes sure we have the safest and the newer of the two vehicles, or I get the first cell phone upgrade, or a bigger piece of the cake.
He’s so sweet. He’s always the one to eat, like the burnt crusty end of the bread that no one else wants like if there are six slices. So, you know, these are kind of silly examples, but I see the way he puts my needs before his, and it just increases my love for him. And that makes me want to reciprocate and give him the best.
So it starts this chain reaction of a (Sharon: A good chain) yes!
Not a bad one. (Nicole: Yeah) An unselfish chain. I love your Josh.
I know me too.
That Is so sweet. Oh my goodness. Well, you know, one time, Ray and I were joking around about the rules of marriage, right and I said to him, I said, it is so hard to be me. I love ruling and doing things and I am told I have to submit to you and I think all my ideas are right. You know, that’s half kidding, but Ray’s like rolling his eyes and he goes, oh yeah, oh yeah. Try being me. I’m told that I’m in charge, but I have to always put your needs ahead of mine. Where’s the fun in that? That means that I always have to serve you. It’s no picnic Sharon. And we were both laughing because if it’s done the way it’s supposed to be, it’s hard for both of us.
It’s not like either of us gets off easily. So, my goodness.
There’s no easy way, like, oh, the husband has, he just has to love. It’s a big responsibility for both parties.
It is. And it’s hard. (Nicole: Yes) For both parties.
It is. And I think that’s good though. We need that challenge cause that’s what keeps us coming back to Christ.
Yes, yes, exactly so.
Cause we don’t naturally submit on our own.
And they don’t naturally love and lead on their own.
Yeah. Ray was saying that to me the other day, he said, I think if I had not been told that my job is to be responsible for the spiritual wellbeing of my family (Nicole: Yes) I would be just as happy going to work, doing my job, coming home and playing my video game.
You know, he said, I think God has to tell men this because they feel like the work that they do is enough. But when God says, oh no, no, no, no, relationally, you’ve gotta be there for your family, that’s hard for some men, for Ray anyways. And, um, they’ve gotta do it. (Nicole: Yeah) Whereas for women, it’s easy for us to wanna boss everybody around, or at least it is for me.
Cause we think we’re better at it.
Right. And so what God has to tell us is the thing that’s hard for us.
To submit to someone else’s will and to allow that you know, so anyways, all right, well.
That’s a good point.
Let’s finish by reading Ephesians 5:31-33, “As the scriptures say, a man leaves his father and mother, and is joined to his wife and the two are united into one. This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one. So again, I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself. And the wife must respect her husband.” I’m laughing here cause it says it’s a great mystery? Oh yeah, no kidding. Good grief.
We’re still trying to work it out, Paul. And he wasn’t married, was he?
Yes. Oh man.
He’s a really good master to follow.
Yes. So any last thoughts?
Oh, you know, I know in our marriage, I have certainly struggled with that last thought. You know, that I should be loved a certain way before I would submit or do my part, you know?
That’s— I struggled with that. It’s like, well, if he loves me like Christ loved the church, then I could submit or do my part better.
You know and that’s a wrong attitude for me, for sure. And that doesn’t serve me well either. If we are struggling in our marriage or waiting for the other one to change or make the first move, then we’re not following and listening to God and what he commands us to do in our own personal relationship with him.
And if we give that to God, that entitled stubbornness, I will be, you know, wait till they fix it first, he will soften our hearts and show us ways to show love when we’re stuck or in a really tough place with our spouse, you know? (Sharon: Yes) And we don’t feel like showing love. And God will bless that effort in that first move. He really will. If we make that initiative, if we feel like we wanna wait for the other person to make the first move, but we do it, he will bless that.
Even if we feel like we’re always the first ones to make the first move.
It’s really not about that. It’s about keeping right with God. And if God calls me to submit and to show love, then that’s what I have to do. Even if the person I’m submitting to or loving doesn’t deserve it in my opinion.
Because I don’t deserve it. (Sharon: Right) And God still loves me.
Exactly so, and I surely would hate if Ray decided I’m not gonna love Sharon cause she didn’t submit. Right? (Nicole: Yes) And the reverse, we each have a job.
And the job is hard.
But when it’s works ideally, it’s awesome. And just a note of caution here to those listening, we have talked way more about the ideal marriage than we did about what happens when the marriage is messy today. When it works well, it is beautiful. It is absolutely beautiful, but we all have messy marriages. (Nicole: Yep) But if you, listener, are experiencing more than just messy, if you’re experiencing abuse or betrayal or deep depression and despair in your marriage, would you please seek help? (Nicole: Yes) Check in with godly Christians, counselors who know you. That’s why we always advocate belonging to a real church with real people who will help you because they know you well, a podcast can’t answer all the questions and what ifs there are out there. We just try to the best of our inadequate abilities to see what God wants marriage to look like. We hope it helps both husbands and wives to honor each other and want the very best for each other. Living a life of love, working together for God’s greatest good in their family and in their service to others. So let’s strive for the ideal. Recognize we live in the messy (Nicole: Mm-hmm) and if it gets abusive, let’s get help.
Okay. Let’s pray. Father God, how I ended up loving this passage, that you would ask me to do the hard thing of submitting. That you would ask my Ray to do the hard thing of leading and giving way to me in his leadership. Thank you, Lord. Thank you for this passage. Help us to live it out well. Bless the listener here. Oh my goodness, Lord, I have no idea. Single, married, divorced, in trauma. God, you see them individually and uniquely. And I pray in Jesus’ name that nothing we said today would be misunderstood. That your Holy Spirit would show them the part that is for them, that they would grasp the truth of your word and no lies. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Amen. Thank you for joining us as we wrestled with this part of scripture, we hope it encouraged you in your own life and that you can live out God’s calling if you are a wife or husband well. Write us anytime @SweetSelah.org/podcast. Donate anytime too. We appreciate that helps so much. Go to SweetSelah.org/donations. Next up is episode 78. We are moving on to Parent Lessons. I am looking forward to this one. Have a great week.
Speaker 1 (28:50):
We are so glad you stopped for a while with us. The Sweet Selah Moments Podcast is a cooperative production of Word, Radio and Sweet Selah Ministries. More information about this podcast can be found at SweetSelah.org. Thank you for joining us.
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