“However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”
Today, government officials and even the general populace want to make marriage flexible enough to incorporate nearly any kind of relationship. Believers, however, must maintain firmly that marriage has a divinely determined purpose. It is called holy matrimony for a reason: the Lord has set apart the one man-one woman marital bond as a one-flesh relationship to communicate spiritual realities. These realities include God’s deep love for His people, the exclusivity of the Christchurch bond as the ordinary arena of salvation, and the faithful devotion that the covenant community owes its covenant Lord (Gen. 2:24; Hos. 2:14–23; Eph. 5:31–32). Far from being a changeable cultural phenomenon, marriage is the means by which the created order depicts the relationship between Jesus and His church.
Unlawful divorce, adultery, spousal abuse, and neglect are so evil because of marriage’s revelatory purpose. Each of these violations, in their own way, convey untruths about God’s relation to His people, especially when they occur in Christian marriages. Adultery or abuse on the part of a husband who is a professing believer conveys that Christ is unfaithful to His own and has so little regard for His bride that He is willing to injure her. Wives who profess faith in Jesus and commit adultery, disrespect their husbands, or abuse them tell creation that Christ can be spat upon with impunity. Unlawful divorces between those who claim the name of the Savior depict the Christ-church relationship as frivolous and inconsequential. God forbid that any of us should tell such lies to the world through any of these actions.
God’s call for husbands to love their wives and for wives to respect their husbands is not an exhortation to naivete, to put up with impenitent abusers, or to pretend that no marital problems will ever arise between two sinners who, by the Lord’s grace, endeavor to fulfill His will for matrimony. Instead, it is a call for two people to set aside their own preferences in the interest of living before the face of God in such a way that shows the world why the Christ-church bond is the most beautiful relationship in all creation. And it is a call for churches to do everything in their power to teach us how to fulfill our respective marital roles as well as to intervene when gross violations of the marriage covenant occur among us.
Coram DeoLiving before the face of God
Dr. R.C. Sproul offers some fitting comments to conclude our look at Paul’s teaching on the roles of husbands and wives in Ephesians 5:22–33: “If I exercise my headship over my wife in a tyrannical way, I am not respecting my wife. If my wife gives slavish obedience to me without any love, she is not respecting me. The whole basis of the relationship is built upon love, cherishing and respecting one another” (POGE , p. 139).