This morning’s messages were a great help and comfort to many.
Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about the teaching of Ephesians 5.
1. Surely wives submitting to husbands suggests some sort of inferiority of wife to husband? No. The Bible is very clear on this. As far as our standing before God is concerned there is no difference between male and female: Gal 3:26-28 In Jesus Christ you are all children of God through faith … there is neither Jew nor Greek (as we saw in Ephesians 2) slave or free, male or female, you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Now that was a watershed revelation in the 1st century – that Gentiles and females and slaves weren’t second rate. Women were not to be treated as stupid or fools or whatever… A radical teaching… Paul, with Jesus, turned the status of women on its head. They taught women. Unheard of! Women played leadership roles in the early church! Unheard of. No, there is no inferiority inferred here.
And anecdotally, submission doesn’t infer inferiority. So the Prime Minister would have to submit to the person on the crossing out here if he was driving past Sunshine Beach or Tewantin school at 3.15pm, – no inferiority implied.
2. Surely you are overlooking v21 where it says submit to one another? The word ‘submit’ is used 40 times in the NT – 23 times by the apostle Paul. And it is never used in a way which suggests a mutual or reciprocal It’s always within ordered relationships… otherwise here you would have parents submitting to children – that sounds like a nightmare… and masters submitting to slaves…
But / there is a sense in which a husband submits to his wife… in that he constantly submits himself to putting her needs first!
3. What if my husband is not a Christian? Well of course there are many non-Christian husbands who love their lives beautifully… and receiving and returning their love will not be an issue… but at the point he (or your Christian husband for that matter) demands you do something contrary to God’s will, then the principle from Scripture is that you must obey God rather than man. So if he demanded that you stop being Christian, you would have to respectfully decline.
4. What if my husband is abusing me? Then he has broken the bonds of marriage and for your own safety’s sake as much as anything else, you need to get help to leave. It’s a massive twisting of Scripture which uses this passage to justify domestic abuse!
5. What if my wife doesn’t do what I say? Well – I would want to know what it is you’re asking her to do…! This doesn’t give you permission to beat your chest and say ‘submit’. You’re her ‘lover’ in the best sense of the word… if she doesn’t want to do what it is you’re asking her to do, then you have to ask the question are you loving her?
6. Does this mean that the husband has final authority in decision making? No! Again a massive misunderstanding of this passage. For example, a husband loves going to the beach on holidays and she loves the mountains. You talk it out, share your desires. Where do you go? The mountains – for the husband puts her needs before his own!
7. My husband is not loving me like this! If he’s here this morning… perhaps he will have been challenged. If he’s not here, get him to listen online! But significantly – talk to him – speak the truth in love. And ensure you are loving him!
8. I feel a failure when I compare myself to this: here is the reality that we are all human and frail and the only way we can truly love like this is as we are inspired and empowered by God’s love and Jesus’ example and transformed by the Holy Spirit! Only when you grasp and comprehend how you have been loved… then you can begin to love like this!
And so I end as I did last week – with an invitation to come to the Lord and find mercy and forgiveness; to repent and to change with the Holy Spirit’s help.