In this section of the prison letter Paul is writing of the impact of being filled with the Spirit will have on our lives.
He has already said that because of the Spirit a) our mouths will worship and encourage, b) we will be thankful c) we will submit to one another d) the wives will submit to their husbands e) husbands will love their wives.
He is ultimately speaking of the task of the Spirit which is to build the relationship between Christ and the Church. Let’s read:
“In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body.” Ephesians 5 v 28-30
There are some who find this difficult but the majority of us have no problem in loving ourselves. What does that mean? Here’s a list which is not exhaustive but just to help us understand:
- We satisfy our own desires.
- We go where we want to go and do what we want to do.
- Make our own decisions.
- Gentle with our own failings and quickly forgive ourselves.
- We react defensively against any attack on anything we might have said or stand for.
- We don’t let others forces us to be who we are not.
Just think of how Jesus has responded to you throughout your relationship with Him. Read that list again.
He has satisfied you; He has given you freedom to go and be and make your way in life; when those choices have led to failure He has been gentle and quick to forgive and heal you; He has defended you strongly and has enabled you to be the best version of yourself not by force but by encouragement. It has been a beautiful partnership.
The Apostle says it is the duty of the husband who is copying Christ to love his wife in this same kind of way. Read the paragraph above again.
Yes I do think wives should submit to their husbands. But which wife wouldn’t want to in the context of living with such a husband? He restores the word submission into something beautiful as he lays his life down for her.
Is this some impossible dream?
Paul says it is only possible because of continually being filled with the Holy Spirit.
And for those who are not married as we presume Paul wasn’t then it still applies because ultimately this is about Christ and the Church. It is about you and others submitting to Christ the head, the leader of the body, the Church.