When Paul wrote the book of Ephesians, Ephesus was a bustling metropolis renowned for its diversity, religious pluralism, commerce, culture, and trade. The city boasted immense wealth and embraced a tolerant, pluralistic ethos, making it a challenging place to proclaim the existence of one true God, a message often met with disdain and mockery.
Nestled within Ephesus stood one of the ancient world’s marvels, the Temple of Artemis (also known as Diana), presided over by a female cult known as the Artemis Cult. This cult influenced the city significantly, imparting a distinct feminist influence to Ephesus. Aside from its religious significance, the temple also became the epicenter of a thriving industry, including activities like prostitution. Amidst this environment, Ephesus grappled with pervasive temptations within the city, and all forms of immorality were accepted.
Paul’s letter to the Ephesians would have undoubtedly appeared as a striking contrast from the prevailing norms of their day. In Ephesians Chapter 5, the Apostle Paul provides valuable insights into the foundation of Christian marriage.
Three Key Points: Love, Light, and Wisdom
Before addressing marital relationships, Paul emphasizes the importance of three foundational principles for all believers:
- Walk in Love: Believers are called to imitate God and walk in love, just as Christ loved and sacrificed Himself for us. Love is the cornerstone of Christian living. (Ephesians 5:1-2)
- Walk in Light: Christians are called to live as children of light, leaving behind their former darkness. (Ephesians 5:8) This means embracing righteousness and avoiding sin.
- Walk in Wisdom: Believers are encouraged to seek wisdom and understand the will of the Lord. (Ephesians 5:17) Wisdom helps guide choices and actions in alignment with God’s plan.
Paul then turns his attention to the institution of marriage, wanting us always to hold those three critical factors in mind as he does.
Paul delineates the role of a Spirit-filled marriage, which exemplifies the relationship between Christ and the Church. This mandate includes distinct responsibilities and attitudes of the heart, such as submission and selflessness, which were as counter-cultural then as they are to many in today’s world.
Husband, You MUST Love Your Wife
Paul emphasizes that husbands are commanded to love their wives, not just invited. This love mirrors Christ’s love for the Church and encompasses unconditional, sacrificial, and redemptive love. Such love can only be sustained with the help of the Holy Spirit, highlighting the importance of a husband’s personal spiritual growth.
What Love Looks Like
Loving your wife in the manner that Christ loves the Church entails three essential facets:
- Unconditional love, devoid of limitations or conditions.
- Sacrificial love where one willingly gives of themselves at their own expense.
- Redemptive love is the ability to conquer adversity, recover, and restore in the face of challenges.
When husbands choose to love as Christ does:
- They protect their wives from ungodly influences.
- They communicate with love and encouragement, especially in disagreements.
- They prioritize and encourage their wives’ spiritual growth.
Wife, You MUST Respect Your Husband
Understanding the differences in how men and women are wired, Paul emphasizes that men’s highest need is to feel respected. Wives can show respect through:
- Respect in Communication: Choosing words that build up instead of tearing down.
- Respect for His Skills: Allowing him to figure things out on his own.
- Respect for His Decisions: Listening and giving him the benefit of the doubt.
- Respect in Public: Avoiding public criticism and resolving differences privately
Proverbs 14:1 (ESV) states, “The prudent woman builds her house, but the foolish one tears it down with her own hands.” When a wife demonstrates respect for her husband, it not only bolsters his confidence in making decisions and utilizing his abilities, even in challenging circumstances, but it also has the potential to inspire him to become a more effective leader—an aspiration many wives hold. Conversely, a lack of respect can undermine his efforts and erode his self-assurance, highlighting the pivotal role respect plays in a harmonious and thriving marriage.
Couples are responsible for addressing and fulfilling each other’s needs, particularly in the realms of love and respect. As Dr. Eggerichs aptly points out, failing to do so can lead to what he terms the “crazy cycle.” In this cycle, when a wife perceives a lack of love, she may unintentionally react with behaviors that come across as disrespectful.
Simultaneously, when a husband feels disrespected, he may respond with actions that appear unloving. This cycle perpetuates until one partner takes the initiative to break it. Today presents an ideal opportunity for couples caught in this cycle to initiate positive change by actively demonstrating love and respect toward each other. Importantly, this exchange of love and respect should not be viewed as contingent on performance but as a genuine expression of care and commitment within the relationship.
In a Christian marriage, love and respect are fundamental. When spouses prioritize these qualities, they meet each other’s deepest needs, creating a strong and harmonious relationship. Love and respect should not be viewed as rewards but as acts of obedience to God. As our culture strays from Gospel truth, Christian marriages become essential in modeling Christ’s relationship with His Church to the world.
In a world filled with challenges, Christian marriages are called to shine as beacons of love and respect, demonstrating the enduring truth of God’s Word. For more information about Christian marriage, visit our website at Dream City Church, join our marriage ministry, or visit us for Sunday morning or midweek worship.