The High Calling of Womanhood
This week we continue our study with one of the more problematic verses in this epistle for modern times, Ephesians 5:22-24:
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.
But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their
husbands in everything.
To those whose minds have been shaped more by the world than by the Spirit, this is considered one of the most sexist texts in the Bible. However, to the renewed mind that is spiritual, and not carnal, it is one of the more liberating texts in the Bible for women. How can this be?
First, we must understand that God made men and women different to have different roles. One of the most concerted attacks of the devil in our times is to try and blur the distinctions between men and women so that neither can be who God created them to be. Yet, the Lord Jesus, and the apostles, began the first true women’s liberation movement on the earth, exalting the role of women far beyond any previous consideration of the times. God still desires for women to be far more liberated than any modern women’s liberation movement has yet conceived.
II Corinthians 3:17 states: “...where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” We will never know greater freedom than being who God created us to be. However, the way that the world perceives liberty and the true liberty of the Spirit can be very different. Just as a train may want to be free of its tracks to wander across the countryside, it would quickly get bogged down, unable to go anywhere. The tracks that seem to restrain and bind it are what really makes the train free to be what it was created to be. We are much the same. There is no greater freedom than to know the boundaries that God has set for us so that we can freely move within them with great confidence.
We must also recognize that spiritual authority is much greater than authority that is exercised in regard to matters of this life. In the Old Testament there was a separation of the secular authority of the king from the spiritual authority of the priesthood, and they still need to be separated in many ways. A woman who is freed of the secular authority over the home can be given greater spiritual authority which can accomplish much more.
One of the devastating doctrines that emerged in some movements during the seventies was that the man was “the priest” of his home. All believers are called to be priests, which includes both men and women. In fact, women in general, tend to be much better intercessors and priests in the home than men do. When that doctrine was circulated it was devastating to the effective ministry of the priesthood not only in the home, but in the church as well. A better doctrine to have been circulated would be that the woman is the priest of the home, and the man is the head, but together they form the ministry of the home as God desires it. This is not wholly accurate either, but it is more so than the previous one.
There are few greater demonstrations of the grace of God, faith in God, and the majesty of the human being who was created in the image of God, than a godly, feminine, submissive, woman. “Submission” is one of those words that the devil has likewise worked overtime to distort because it is such a powerful demonstration of both grace and true authority in one’s life. There have certainly been, and continues to be, many extremes in the application of this word, and because of this many have swung to the opposite extreme of lawlessness. We must keep in mind that there is a ditch on either side of the path of life.
Submission is in many ways one of the greatest demonstrations of faith. A godly woman who is submitted to a godly husband is one of the great examples of the relationship that the church is called to have with the Lord. A godly woman who is submitted to an ungodly husband can be an even greater demonstration of faith, and can by this be one of the most powerful means of winning not only her husband, but others as well. This is not to imply that a godly woman should submit to things that are ungodly or unlawful. But even when she resists, if it is done with respect for her husband, and not in a rebellious spirit, it will be a powerful means of conviction.
Another misconception about our text for this week is that it puts all women under all men. This text is about the family and the home, and should not be construed to cover any other relationship. We must also keep in mind that in Christ those who are in authority in any situation are as servants, not masters to just lord their will over others. Having authority in the Lord does not make one more important, it makes one a greater servant, while being more responsible with authority. There can be no responsibility without authority. However, authority in the Lord is exercised for the sake of those who are subject to it, not those who are in authority.
There are basically two kinds of authority—those who use their authority and the people for their own selfish purposes, and those who use their authority, and give themselves for the sake of the people. Christian authority is always the latter. Even so, authority is still authority—the right and the ability to exercise its will.
If the man is not the head of the home, carrying the authority and final word on matters relating to the family—that family is out of order. However, if the man is not loving his wife like Christ loved the church, then the home is still out of order.
Where does this leave families where the father is no longer present? The Lord Jesus Himself is the answer to every human problem, and His grace is sufficient for any situation. As Psalm 68:5 declares, “A father of the fatherless and a judge for the widows, is God in His holy habitation.” The way the Lord wants to provide for such needs is through “His holy habitation,” which is the church.
There is much more to this subject than we could cover in a short word for the week. It may have left you with more questions than answers in the way I have addressed this, which was actually part of my intent. The answers to this issue are right, true, and perfect, when God’s council is found. The world is throwing a host of its answers and philosophies at the subject too, and the result has been an unrelenting attack upon family relationships, and the destruction of multitudes of families. If we are going to be a part of preparing for the coming of the kingdom instead of the devil’s strategy to destroy, whether we are the husband or the wife we must remember the exhortation of Mark 8:34-36:
cross, and follow Me.
"For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for
My sake and the gospel's shall save it.
This week we are dealing with the text concerning the wife. Next week we will deal with the husband. The marriage relationship will almost certainly be either heaven or hell. You can be sure of one thing—the Lord is not just trying to change you—He is trying to kill you! One of the primary ways that He has chosen to accomplish this is marriage. Your marriage can be heaven on earth if you will just die, renouncing your self-life to serve your spouse. It will be hell if you seek to save your self-life in your marriage, and it will not likely survive long under the modern pressures and stresses that it must endure.