I believe it revolves around the word Submission.
Submission is a very misused and abuse word. It has become intertwined with authority when I believe it was never intended to be as such.
I have come to see it has to do with relationship more than authority.
I do think many passages carry this authority teaching as when Jesus is dealing with demonic powers. (Luke 10: 20) yet I see a differing in the understanding of submit as taught by Paul in his epistles.
I see Paul writing how mans mind will not submit to God’s Law…not can it do so. (Romans 8:7) I see this as basically saying, “how can a mind of man who is so far away from understanding love begin to understand love”.
Now again I do see the word used in the sense of authority. But, as I look at these versus I began to see a different type of submission begin to emerge.
Ephesians 5: 21. Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
To see submission in this context how can it be authority…how can we be under each other’s authority? It seems to be more saying “respect, care for, lift up, edify, hold each other up in high esteem….in other words relate to each other…to develop relationships.
The next verse 22, teaches wives to submit to their husbands as to the Lord…
This has been set up as submit (build relationships with each other), so I see it continuing saying, “wives, as in your ‘relationship’ with God, have a rich and deep relationship with your husbands… I do not see this as the man has authority over you so you are lesser and he is greater.
Vs 23. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.
Though here one would see it look a bit like authority, I see it adds richness to the foundation already set. To be saying, relate and function as one complete person, to have a relationship so deep you are connected. Just as Christ in His love for the Church has connected to the Body being made complete in one another and functioning as the human head would relate to its own body… all in relation and as a single unit. For to separate ones head from ones body would kill both. To see it as authority then to disconnect from Christ the Head…would then kill Christ. So if it is relationship we have a holistic harmony that Paul is showing.
Vs. 24. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
Again this is a call to relationship…if the Church and Christ are united in a loving harmonious relationship, then man and wife should reflect this harmony also.
Vs. 25. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her
26. to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word,
27. and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.
28. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.
Here you see the key to the submission…love. Men love your wives. No power plays or authority but sacrificial and relational with the deepest of intimacy.
It is a call to relate to her as a holy vessel for she represents the Church and Body of Christ. It is the teaching that opposes the type of structure that was present in the Jewish thought and even much of the civilized world…women are property and man rules. It is the opposite of “authority” but Divine Love in action.
You see as Christ relates to us and we grow in our faith and understanding Jesus washes us and cleanses us. As in vs. 26,27. I love my wife and I hold her thoughts and opinions over all others. We have developed over the years a trust and intimacy that really no one else but us can understand. We have over the last 20 years shared our lives, thoughts, fears, and in a sense washed each other and purified each other by the fact we have set our focus on each other and our love and building of this marriage relationship. I love my wife as if she was a part of my own body. To loose her would be as if part of myself was lost or has died. We have a sense in our relationship that it has become a complete entity in and of itself.
Vs, 29. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church--
30. for 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."
32. This is a profound mystery--but I am talking about Christ and the church.
33. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
I know marriages have problems…but even through these times or especially at the hard times a man and wife must keep on developing their relationship. Continue to grow… to continue to care, as if ones wife was his own body…and also for the wife to grow to respect her husband…relationships are not easy…they take nurturing and trust and respect but mostly love, mercy and grace.