As the Master-Craftsman, God weaves the fabric of the life of the woman to be a masterpiece of His grace in relationship with Jesus (Ephesians 2:10). In the same way, God fashions the man in Jesus as a work of His creative and beautiful grace. Marriage is where He takes the two individual works of His artistic power and weaves them together as one. The wife doesn’t lose her uniqueness, and neither does the husband. God in His sovereignty unites them together, each with masterpiece status.
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” (Ephesians 5:31, ESV)
So, when we examine the roles of husband and wife in marriage, we begin with this glorious work of God’s grace in their lives through Jesus. We begin with an understanding that God has made them “one-flesh.” As “one-flesh” God divinely designs specific roles to be fulfilled.
1. Be like Jesus in submission.
The roles between husbands and wives flow from unselfish, sacrificial devotion to one another in reverence to God. Paul calls wives to model this submission to their own husband.
“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.” (Ephesians 5:22-24, NKJV)
Paul makes this earnest appeal for wives to “to place themselves under” the husband’s leadership. This is an attitude and act among equals. It is a voluntary act of love, for husbands belong to their wives, and she submits to him. Submission means that we are focused on “giving” to others more than “getting” from others. Even Jesus submitted Himself to others (Luke 2:51). Jesus is not inferior to God, but they are one and equal in all things. Yet, Jesus submitted Himself to God as leader (1 Corinthians 11:3). In the same manner, husbands and wives have become one flesh, equal in all things. Yet, God designed marriage so that the husband takes leadership initiative.
Submission is to give myself up to someone. Love is to give my life to someone, even as Christ gave Himself for the church. Through an extravagant act of love, the wife should submit to her husband. The principle of loving submission leads to blessing from God. It leads to blessing for the wife and for the family.
2. Be like Jesus in love.
Paul describes the relationship between husband and wife in terms of their relationship with Jesus Christ. The wife is to submit based upon her relationship to Christ. The husband is to love based upon his relationship to Christ. Everything in the marriage centers on Jesus.
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her.” (Ephesians 5:25, NKJV)
The foundation for love in the home is Christ’s love for the church. The example that we find is Christ’s love for the church. This love is unselfish and absolutely devoted to bless the one loved. Jesus loved the church so much that He gave Himself for her.
So often, husbands can get their notion of leadership in terms of their “rights.” We want to lead our family, but sometimes all we want to lead them to do is to change the channel to what we want to watch on television. Husbands surrendered to the Spirit however take the lead, not as a childish bully, demeaning and domineering over his wife. Husbands surrendered to the Spirit take the lead on his knees in prayer, at the bedside with his children opening God’s Word, in service to Christ through the church, and in quietness before God seeking His will and vision for the family.
So stop, take a breath, and pray:
“God, by Your Spirit, help me to embrace my role in marriage so that You may lead me to health in my relationships.”