Tuesday, September 01, 2015
I realize that many Christians try to find in Ephesians 5 a command for husbands to exercise authority over their wives. They argue by implication from the instruction to women to submit and from their notion of male headship. They believe that Paul assumes this without saying it. Yet, even if their argument is valid, it tends to ignore the astounding fact that Paul did not actually tell husbands to exercise authority over their wives. Rather, he told them to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave up himself for her. (Curiously, the only place in all of Paul’s letters that speaks of a husband’s authority over his wife also speaks of a wife’s authority over her husband, not mutual submission, but mutual authority. See 1 Corinthians 7:4.)I would argue that sacrificial love is the source of authority and what is demanded of those that exercise authority.
Lest there be any confusion about the kind of love required of husbands, Ephesians adds: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (5:25). Christ’s love for the church is revealed, most clearly, in his sacrifice on the cross. This sets a high bar for husbands, to say the least. It also begins to balance the instruction to wives. A wife is to submit to a husband who loves her and gives up himself for her. Not much room for selfishness here, not to mention domination or abuse. Wives submit to their husbands by receiving their self-giving love.
The problem understanding this passage is a deep misconception of what it means to exercise authority. The world would be a much better place if we understood authority better.
authority biblical scripture