22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord.
23 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.
24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her,
26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,
27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.
28 So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself;
29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church,
30 because we are members of His body.
31 For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.
32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.
33 Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.

In Ephesians 5, Paul gave a clear description of the purpose of marriage as a picture of the gospel. We live in a society that is averse to the idea of submission and for fair reasons. The idea of submission has often been connected with abuse and manipulation. While unfortunately this is a reality for some people, this is not at all the idea that Paul sought to communicate about marriage in this passage. Manipulation and abuse were never God’s design for a marriage covenant.

Paul painted a beautiful picture of marriage as mutual submission to one another as a couple collectively submits to Christ. This picture is taken from Christ’s relationship with the church. On the relationship of Christ and the church that marriage should resemble, and specifically Ephesians 5:29-30, John Piper says:

“The union between Christ and his bride is so close (“one flesh”) that any good done to her is a good done to himself. Which means that the clear assertion of this text is that the Lord is moved to nourish, cherish, sanctify, and cleanse his bride because in this he finds his joy…Christlike love seeks its happiness in the happiness of others — not at their expense. It will even suffer and die for the beloved in order that its joy might be made full in the life and purity of the beloved. This is how Christ loved us, and this is how he calls us to love one another.” [1]

This example of love has been revealed fully in Christ, who gave up His very life that we might have full joy in Him. This is how we are called to love one another, exemplifying the love held between Christ and the church.

• How does this picture of loving submission and care compare to the world’s view of submission?

• How would the marriages in our church stand out in our community if they consistently resembled the relationship of Christ and the church?

• Pray for the marriages in our church, that they would increasingly resemble the union of Christ and the church.

[1] Piper, John. "Love's Greatest Happiness." Desiring God. February 12, 2019. Accessed February 12, 2019. https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/loves-greatest-happiness