Read Ephesians 5:21 - 6:4
21Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
22Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— 30for we are members of his body. 31"For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." 32This is a profound mystery — but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
6:1Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2"Honor your father and mother"-which is the first commandment with a promise— 3 "that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth."
4Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. (NIV)
This is a passage that has caused a lot of heartache in the marriages and families. It is probably one of the most misused passages in the Bible. Paul is speaking about how family members are to relate to one another. But what he also has in mind, is that the same dynamics are at play between us and Christ and Christ and the Church. Marriage and family are sacramental as it points to what heaven is to be like. A sacrament is anything on earth that points to a heavenly truth. In marriage, we forsake all others and cling to the one we married. This is true of our relationship with Christ. When we accept Christ as Lord and Savior, we forsake all others and cling to Christ as our source of life.
When couples look at this passage, they so often forget the verse that sets up the whole instruction which is verse 21. We are to submit to one another our of reverence for Christ. That is the main way to relate to one another in marriage and family. Does the way we relate to one another give reverence to Christ or something else?
The next thing people do wrong with reading this passage is that the men tend to focus on verses 22-24 and not verses 25-33. Verses 22-24 was directed at the wives, not the men. Verses 25-33 was directed at the men, not the wives. And notice, Paul spent more time instructing the men than the women, probably for good reason. This was new teaching to many of those coming to Christ. They were living in a very male dominated society that often viewed women as property. Paul tells the men, you are to die for your wives as Christ died for the church. You are to make your wife Holy. These are tall orders for men.
In verse 31 and 32, Paul reiterates what Jesus taught on marriage which comes from Genesis 2:24. This is the mystery of marriage which is also the mystery of our relationship with Christ after accepting Christ as Lord and Savior. There is a special connection. But I also remind people that there is only one way two can become one and that is in multiplication. Which is interesting because the first command God gave is to be fruitful and multiply. In multiplication, 1 times 1 equals 1. This formula is how our relationships work. To keep the relationship whole, we must always put our whole selves into it. The idea of my half and your half makes us whole is wrong. ½ times ½ equals only one quarter. So, in times of marriage that one partner can only put in 80% because of things they are dealing with, the other partner needs to put in 125% to keep the whole. .8 times 1.25 equals 1. And this is who relationships work. They ebb and flow between each one putting in lesser and greater amounts depending on what is going on in each other’s lives. But there is respect and honor and reverence that helps us to do that without keeping an account of the back and forth.
Finally, Paul talks about children and their parents. I love the instruction to the men in verse 4, do not exasperate your children. The implication is to not ignore their instruction and who they are. Invest in your children so they will grow and become the people God created them to be.
Blessings and Peace