Today we continue as Part 3 on the Pacesetter series...
THE PROVIDER AND THE MYSTERY OF MARRIAGE
So marriage is like a metaphor or an image or a picture or parable that stands for something more than a man and a woman becoming one flesh. It stands for the relationship between Christ and the church. That’s the deepest meaning of marriage. It is meant to be a living drama of how Christ and the church relate to each other.
Let’s look into this further; verses 28-30 of the same chapter and the husband and wife being one flesh. Chapter five describes the parallel between Christ and the church being one body and the husband and wife being one flesh. “even so husbands should love their wives as their own bodies, he who loves his wife loves himself, for no man ever hates his own flesh but nourishes and cherishes it”.
Now why is the coming together of a man and woman to form one flesh in marriage a mystery? Paul’s answer in Ephesians 5: 32 points out; the marriage union is a mystery because its deepest meaning has been partially concealed. But is now being openly revealed by the apostle, namely, that marriage is an image of Christ and the church.
THE ROLES OF HUSBAND AND WIFE
The role of each partner is a continuation of this mystery of marriage. These roles aren’t arbitrarily assigned and they are not reversible, without obscuring God’s purpose for marriage. These roles are rooted in the distinctive roles of Christ and his church. God means to say something about his Son and his church by the way husbands and wives relate to each other. Ephesian 5: 24 speaks to the wife about her half of the marriage verses 23 and 25 speak about the husband’s half of the marriage.
Wives, find your distinctive role as a wife in keying off the way the church relates to Christ. Verse 24: “as the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands”. Then to husbands: find your distinctive role as a husband in keying off the way Christ relates to the church.
At this point, in this study it would be helpful I believe to give a definition of headship and submission as understood from this text, and then raise an objection or two and close with some practical implications.
HEADSHIP - A divine calling by God for husbands to know the word of God and the commandment to take primary responsibility for a Christ like servant leadership, protection, and provision in the home, THUS BEING THE PROVIDER.
SUBMISSION - A divine calling by God for wives to know the word of God and his commandment for her to honor and affirm her husband’s leadership and help carry it through according to her gifts.
What about marital submission in Ephesians 5:21?
In today’s world, this study and quoting the verses outlined are not welcomed. To hear about headship and wives submitting is very hard for society to hear.
The most common objection to the picture just painted of loving leadership and willing submission is the verse 21 teaches us to be mutually submissive to each other, “be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ”. How can this work out between mutual submissions? Actually there isn’t any contradiction, a relationship of leadership and church like submission, and mutual submission doesn’t obliterate those roles, it transforms them.
So does the term “head” even refer to leadership?
Good question, consider the following: this second objection to the pattern of leadership and submission is that the term “head” does not carry the meaning of leadership at all. Instead it means “source”, somewhat like we use the word “fountainhead” or the “head of a river”.
So, to call a husband the head of his wife wouldn’t mean that he is to be a leader, but that he is in some sense her “source” or her “fountainhead”, in other A PROVIDER.
There have been long studies, from what I have heard, but they are technical, meaning this is not a normal meaning for the word “head” in Paul’s day. Maybe the following overview will show you something from the verses that you can see
The husband is pictured as the head of his wife as Christ is pictured as the head of the church, his body v 29, 30. If the “head means “source” then what is the husband the source of? That’s mentioned in verse 29. And we can understand that because the mouth is in the head, and nourishment comes through the mouth to the body, THUS PROVIDING.
Also the body gets from the head, guidance because eyes are in the head, and it gets alertness and protection because the ears are in the head. In other words, if the husband as head is one flesh with his wife, and is her source (PROVIDER) of guidance and food and alertness, then the natural conclusion is that the head, the husband, has a primary responsibility for leadership and provision and protection. PROVIDERS
So, even if you give “head” the meaning “source” the most natural interpretation of these verses is that husbands are called by God to take primary responsibility for Christ like servant leadership, protection and provision in the home. And wives are called to honor and affirm the husband’s leadership and help carry it through according to her gifts.
This concludes Part 2 of the pacesetter series. Next, don’t miss "the transformation of leading".
Until next time, Blessings to you and your family!
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