May 08, 2008

Husbands and Wives (3)

Ephesians 5:15-33

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Ephesians 5:21


Once while chairing a meeting, I made the mistake of asking one of the women present to take notes. Her answer took me by surprise: “Just because I’m a woman does not mean I have to wait on men.” She added, “I don’t hold to the idea that wives are to be submissive to their husbands, or that women are meant to do the things men don’t want to do.”

The terms “submit” and “being submissive” are fighting words to some. I’ve had future brides ask me not to make any mention of submission to the grooms in their marriage ceremonies. Yet terminology that sometimes makes us uncomfortable is part of the Bible’s message.

A window of understanding opens when we recognize that the idea of submission has often been misunderstood by both husbands and wives. Some husbands have interpreted it to mean that the wife is to wait on him hand and foot, and some wives have thought that it means to be inferior.

But such thinking is off-track. Submission does not mean a wife becomes her husband’s servant. Instead, submission is based on Christ’s giving of himself for the church. In Christ, husbands and wives give of themselves willingly out of love for one another. In such a relationship of mutual service, yielding is not a burden but a blessing.

Father in heaven, help us to understand our roles as husbands and wives in Christ. Fill us all with Jesus’ love so that we may serve one another as he served us. In his name, Amen.

About the author — Arthur J. Schoonveld

Rev. Art Schoonveld is a retired minister in the Christian Reformed Church. Before retiring in 2001, he served churches in California, Illinois, and Michigan. Since his retirement he has worked part-time for the denomination and has served as an interim pastor. Art and his wife, Anita, have four children and nine grandchildren.

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