Submit - Wives, Husbands, Everyone

Ever since I proposed to the woman who is now my wife, I've been challenged and troubled by Ephesians 5:25-33, where husbands are commanded to "love [their] wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her...." It goes on to explain in what ways Christ has loved the church and how that applies to a husband in his treatment of his wife ... and that's really tough. I hear a lot of people talking all about wives submitting to their husbands, but I don't often hear of people talking about husbands laying down their lives for their wives. Of course, I don't mean husbands literally dying (though that may be included), but I'm talking about husbands making the needs and desires of their wives their utmost priority - the advice my father gave me and my brother before we got married was, "If you're ever in a place where you have to decide between your wants or your wife's, take care of your wife. It's your responsibility." He's right. As a husband, I must make sure my wife has everything she needs. I am sinning if I put my needs ahead of my wife's.

But that, while intriguing and challenging, isn't my point. My point is this - Paul is talking about how Christians should interact with each other. It goes back to Ephesians 4:1, where he begins with "I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." (Eph 4:1-3, ESV) He talks about how the unity - oneness - of God in Christ is a reflection of the unity that should be in the church (vv. 4:4-6), and how the different offices of the church work together to achieve this ideal unity (vv. 4:11-16). Next, Paul reminds the Ephesians (and us as the church) that they should not live by the values and example of the world, but be renewed, and gives practical instructions of how to live together in unity (vv. 4:17-32).

Ephesians chapter 5 begins with a directive to behave as imitators of God as if we were children imitating our father. We must walk in a way that honors God and separates ourselves from the world (vv. 5:2-21). Paul summarizes this thought with "[submit] to one another out of reverence to the Lord" (Eph. 5:21 ESV, emphasis mine). Our worship and reverence is, in part, submitting to one another, serving one another, loving one another, taking care of one another ... a concept which is totally contrary to American culture.

CS Lewis says that "the moment you have a self at all, there is a possibility of putting yourself first - wanting to be the centre - wanting to be God, in fact. That was the sin of Satan: and that was the sin he taught the human race. What Satan put into the heads of our remote ancestors was that they could 'be like gods'." The surest way to prevent this in our lives is to serve God by serving others.