Marriage as Death: The Wife’s Role

Here are some notes from a sermon I preached two weeks ago. These are bare bones. I will try to post some on the following sermon for husbands some time next week.

Marriage as Death: Ephesians 5:22-33

Having a good marriage is not simply about studying the “practical” stuff in the Scriptures. Men you want to be good husbands study the life of Christ. Matthew can be as big a help in marriage as Proverbs. Women if you want to be good wives study the Church. Revelation can be a big a help in marriage as Ephesians 5 is.

Here in Ephesians 5:22-33 Paul is expanding on his discussion of what it means to be filled with the Spirit. Paul tells the church at Ephesus that they are not to get drunk with wine, but rather are to be filled with the Spirit. This filling is described by four characteristics.
1. Speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs
2. Singing & making melody in our hearts
3. Giving thanks always
4. Submitting to one another

Then under this final category of submitting Paul goes on to give us three specific relationships in which submission is required and how that submission looks.
1. Husbands and Wives
2. Parents and Children
3. Slaves and Masters

Body of the Sermon
Wives and husbands are each given one central command. Wives are told to submit to their own husbands as to the Lord. Husbands are told to love their wives as Christ loved the Church. For wives what is in view is Christ’s office. When they see their husbands they are to see a lord and king, who loves them. For husbands what is in view is the work of Christ. Husbands are to constantly be asking themselves does my work in my wife’s life bear resemblance Christ’s work in and for the life of the Church.

For many wives this passage is very familiar and therefore we can assume that we know what is being said. More than that we can assume that we are obeying the commands put forth here. With familiarity often comes assumptions. This can be deadly if we do not put our lives under the spotlight. Wives do not assume that just because you know this passage that you are actually obeying it.

It is also very easy to take the edge off of this passage. We like to add qualifiers and “yeah, buts” to Paul’s admonition. But Paul never backs away from what is said here. It is the straight stuff. When a wife hears her husband she is supposed to hear the voice of Christ. She is supposed to listen as the sheep listen to the shepherd. (John 10:4, 27)

A wife by submitting to her husband is protected from submitting to other men who would seek to degrade or take advantage of her. By following the commands given by Paul she is actually setting up a barrier around herself. Too many women do not see this and end up submitting to various people, especially employers, because they do not submit to their husband.

It is important to have a proper view of the Church if we are to have a proper view of women. The picture Paul has is not a meek, quiet woman who is stuck in the corner somewhere why her husband does the important work. The picture of the Church given to us in Scripture is quite different from what we see in many Amish cultures and the like. The Church is glorious, powerful, a queen who has the King of Kings as her groom. She is not to be trifled with. The Church cries out to her Lord and regularly lifts prayers up to Him. The Church in the end will be robed with glory and garments of white. A wife should seek to be a living, incarnate image of the Church. As we will discuss next week, a husband should seek to make sure she becomes that.

Here are a few diagnostic questions for wives to ask to see how they are doing.

Is your default set to yes? Do you regularly question your husband’s decisions? Is your initial reaction to one of his ideas positive or negative? Are you constantly reviewing in your mind the things that could go wrong if your husband decides to go through with it?

Do you see your husband as lord? (I Peter 3:6) We do not live in the Middle Ages anymore, but you still need to see him as a king. More specifically your king.

Do you seek to glorify him? This is a primary purpose of the Church. She is to bring glory to Christ. Are you imaging the Church in this area. Are his vocation and interests central for you? Do you find yourself downplaying the importance of what he is doing? Do you publically lift him up?

Do you make small things big? Do you take minor disagreements and make them into major ones? If you do this is a sign that you are not properly submitting to him.