26 October 2010

Ephesians 5:21-33

"Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ" (v.21)


This passage from Ephesians is a controversial one. Sometimes it gets distorted and used to give men unlimited power over their wives. But submission is not about power. Submission is about relationships, and compromise and love. In fact Paul gives more time to explaining how husbands should love their wives than he does to exhorting wives to submit to their husbands!

Submission is not the same as obedience. Nowhere are wives told to obey their husbands. Obedience is reserved for slaves. This passage is about relationships, not ownership. Wives are not property and Paul is reminding husbands of this.

Relationships are complicated things, and our primary relationship is often the most complicated of all. The person we share our life with in a faithful and permanent bond has a huge influence on everything we do. It is important that we get this relationship right because this is where we find love and support when times get hard. Very few people live in total isolation. We each have someone we turn to when things get tough. This may be our spouse, our partner or even our closest friend. This passage can help us in all these situations.

The key points are that sometimes we need to submit; to back down and let the other be in charge. We need to be pulling in the same direction and working towards the same goal. Equally, we need to love one another. If someone allows us to be in charge, then we must not exploit them. Rather we must love and respect them in the same way as we love and respect our own body. Jesus tells us to love our neighbour as ourselves (Mark 12:31). Love and submission go hand in hand, and should not be separated. Submission is an act of love; love is an act of submission.

To Ponder

In what areas of your life do you have authority? To what extent do you remember to always exercise love alongside that authority?

When do you find it hard to submit to someone else? Offer these moments up to God.

How can we show love and submission to a world that seeks power and authority?

Bible notes author

Mia Briggs

Mia Briggs used to be a local preacher. She is now a member of the student clergy in the Metropolitcan Community Church.