Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, be subject to your husbands as you are to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife just as Christ is the head of the church, the body of which he is the Savior. Just as the church is subject to Christ, so also wives ought to be, in everything, to their husbands. Ephesians 5:21-24 NRSV
As far as we know, Paul was never married. He did understand what it was to be a member of the church. So, he takes church metaphors and applies it to marriage. He begins with a general direction: everyone should be subject to everyone else. That is, we are to be servants to one another.
He goes on to give specific advice to wives. Now, this scripture has been used for a great deal of abuse for many years and will probably continue to be used as excuse for abuse. We must tread carefully here while hearing what Paul was trying to get across.
Paul asks wives to be servants to their husbands as they are to be to Jesus. In fact, they are asked to be subject to their husbands in every regard (in other words not just at church). Usually folks stop there when they hear this verse. It makes it sound like Paul tells women to be slaves to their husbands. True, Paul is telling them to completely surrender themselves to their husbands just as we are to surrender ourselves to Christ. The deeper understanding is that Paul says the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the SAVIOR of the church.
As the savior of the church, Christ has died for the sake of the church! Christ's purpose was for the church to begin and thrive. Christ wants the best for the church. Christ is not a heavy-handed task-master although he does sometimes ask much of us. Christ loves us. Christ upholds us. Christ hears our prayers and intercedes for us.
That is not abuse but love.
God, help us not to take scripture and twist so that it seems to uphold injustice, cruelty and abuse. Let us have clearer understanding so that we may truly be the church you call us to be.
In Christ's name. Amen.
Copyright 2009 Amelia G. Sims