Be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.
—Ephesians 5:21

A number of years ago, I was conducting a wedding ceremony. I looked at the bride and said, “Do you promise to love and obey your husband just as believers obey Christ?” She said, “I do.” Then I turned to the groom and said, “Do you promise to love and to cherish your wife and to lay down your life for her as Christ did for the church?” He said, “I do.” I pronounced them husband and wife, they kissed, and everybody went to the reception. I was getting ready to leave when an elderly woman approached me and introduced herself as the grandmother of the bride. Then she poked me in the chest and said, “I just want you to know that if you had asked me what you asked my granddaughter about obeying her husband, I would have said, ‘No way!’” She was very angry. What causes people to react so strongly to this idea of wives submitting to their husbands?

Some people might say, “It’s because people are naturally rebellious toward the Word of God,” and there’s certainly truth in that. Other people might say, “It’s because culture has changed and submission is no longer in vogue.” And that’s true; the role of women has changed in our culture. But I think the primary reason people don’t like the idea of submission is due to many of us who teach the Word of God. Many people have twisted the New Testament to say something God never meant to say about submission. So this week we are going to discover what the Bible says and doesn’t say about wives submitting to their husbands.

Ephesians 5 is the seminal passage in the New Testament that discusses the truth that husbands are to be the leaders of their family. In this chapter, Paul is taking the great doctrinal truths of chapters 1-3 and applying them to our everyday life. And beginning in verse 21, Paul is going to explain how our relationship with Christ ought to impact our relationships in the home, and he specifies three distinct relationships—the relationship between the wife and her husband, the relationship between children and their parents, and the relationship between slaves and their masters. In Paul’s day, slaves lived in the home, so they were a part of the family.

In Ephesians 5-6, Paul addresses all three of these relationships. He begins with the foundational relationship between wives and husbands: “Be subject to one another in the fear of Christ. Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her” (vv. 21-25). And then verse 28, “So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself.”

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Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The Truth about the ‘S’ Word” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2008.

Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.