THE BIBLE AND THE MARRIAGE RELATIONSHIP

Not everyone agrees on what the Bible teaches about the relationship between wife and husband in marriage. Before I make a couple of suggestions about what I think the Bible says, I want to make a general observation: husbands and wives function differently in every marriage.

The foundation of what I believe the Bible teaches about men and women is that they are equal, but not the same. That foundational premise, of course, comes from the creation account in Genesis 1:27, “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” Mankind includes both male and female, but both male and female tells us they are not the same. However, the affirmation both are created in the image of God tells us they are equal.

The passage that has been the most controversial and debated the last several years about the marriage relationship is the Apostle Paul’s instruction to wives and husbands in Ephesians 5. I see some significance in the non-specific instruction of verse 21 that precedes the specifics for wives and husbands in verses 22-33: “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”

While more is said, the core of Paul’s instructions in the passage is that wives are to submit to their husbands and husbands are to love their wives. I don’t think anyone would say that since Paul only tells husbands to love their wives that Paul does not expect wives to love their husbands. Even though Paul doesn’t say it, it goes without saying that wives are to love their husbands. Loving one’s spouse is not the exclusive responsibility of the husband.

If Paul’s instruction to husbands to love their wives is not restricted to husbands, and if it goes without saying that wives too are to love their husbands, then I think the same is true for submission in marriage. In the same way that wives are to love their husbands even though Paul does not specifically say so, so also husbands are to submit to their wives even though Paul does not specifically say so.

Some read these verses from Paul and agree that neither submission nor love is exclusive to a wife and husband, but that submission and love are the primary calls to each. I have heard some teach that the primary way a wife loves her husband is by submitting. If that’s true, couldn’t the same thing be said about a husband in terms of showing love to his wife by submitting?

I realize not everyone will agree with what I am suggesting, but I do think it is worth giving some consideration. No two marriages will be exactly alike, but the most fulfilling ones are filled with both love and submission, by both wife and husband.

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4 thoughts on “THE BIBLE AND THE MARRIAGE RELATIONSHIP

  1. I love this take on Paul’s instructions to husbands and wives in Ephesians 5. It seems perfectly logical that loving and submitting are key elements in a successful marriage for both parties. Ephesians 5:21 does seem set the tone for the following 11 verses. I do remember that you mentioned this when you preached from this passage in the past and that has stayed with me over the years as I have re-read this section or heard other pastors preach from it.
    To me the word submission also carries the connotation of humility something that all of us as believers are called to exhibit in our lives.
    Bob, thank you for continuing to share from the word on your blog. I still enjoy your perspective and teaching.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Bob,
    I think a lot of people have a problem with the word “submit”. I too did when I was a lot younger. To submit I’ve learned doesn’t mean to be under another’s control. When we submit to another we’re letting them have more responsibility too!! It’s a give and take!!

    Liked by 1 person

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