Is Ephesians 5:22 A Whip?

Are too many husbands misusing this verse? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Yesterday, our pastor gave a wonderful sermon on the house rules in Ephesians 5 starting with verse 22. If you don’t have your Bibles right there, it’s the verse that tells wives to submit to their husbands as to the Lord. Too many husbands have used this passage as if it was a whip in order to get their wives to do what they want. “You are to submit! The Bible says a wife is to submit to her husband!”

Now to be sure, I am one who thinks it is a husband’s role to lead and yes, I do think that wives should submit to their husbands, but I also don’t think husbands should be tyrants. If a husband believes that he is the king of his castle, then he owes it to his wife that he end up treating her like a queen.

As our pastor pointed out, often when house rules where written in the ancient world, wives were told what to do with their husbands. Children were told what to do with their fathers. Slaves were told what to do with their masters. Very rarely if ever were husbands told what they were supposed to do.

Yet guess which person Paul speaks at the most in this passage….

You see, wives have one command here. They are to submit to their husbands.

What are husbands told?

Love your wives as Christ loved the church so you can make her holy and cleansed and to present her as radiant before God.

Love her as your own body, which includes feeding and caring for her.

Leave your father and move and cling to her.

More is said to the husbands and there are more reasons why these things are said.

Naturally, the passage ends with pointing out that a husband is to love his wife and a wife is to respect her husband. After all, love matters most to a woman and respect to a man.

Our pastor brought out that husbands who use Ephesians 5:22 as a whip are really forgetting something. instead of focusing so much on what it means to have a wife submit to you if you’re a husband, try focusing more on what it means for you to sacrifice to your wife and love her as Christ loved the church.

Wives meanwhile can say “Well maybe when he gives me some loving, he’ll find he gets some respect.” Of course, husbands can have a similar attitude, but it is just as wrong. If you focus constantly on what the other person needs to do for you, you’re only going to have it end in pain. Focus on what you can do for the other.

Also, at this point, before anyone says anything, if you want to charge me with hypocrisy on this point, I say guilty as charged. I do not claim to be a perfect husband and this is something I still work on. It’s so much easier when things go wrong to focus on the other person instead of taking a long and hard look at yourself. Yet if I only waited until I was doing things perfectly in marriage to speak, I would never say anything.

I also think it’s important to look at why it is your spouse does something for you or with you. What is their intent? Do you really want to say anything negative about their intent. For instance, it can be hard for me when Allie wants to play some of her music for me. We have completely different tastes in music. I need to do what I can to realize she’s trying to share with me something she enjoys. Of course, there’s no obligation that I enjoy it. Chances are, I won’t, but I need to appreciate her attempts to share something that interests me. (And yes, as I write this I’m really kicking myself for not recognizing this earlier.)

Some people have a view that marriage is supposed to be 50/50. It’s not. It’s supposed to be 100/100. Each person is to give all that they can to the relationship. If you find something really matters to your spouse, make that a goal to do that. Allie for instance has realized if she mentions something she really likes, that I am prone to be plugging it into my memory and looking on Amazon as soon as I can. (And besides, her love language is gifts)

In fact, for us, yesterday’s sermon ended with Allie and I going out for lunch and just discussing what love and respect and sacrifice and submission looked like. They’re requests that I hope we can put into practice.

And again, for Christian men who are married or dating or engaged or anything like that, if you want to be a good husband now or in the future and you’re on Facebook, find me and let me know. I do have a group just for Christian men to learn how to love their wives as Christ loved the church.

Marriage is something that takes work, and it’s easy to put all the work on the other person instead of on yourself. Yet for each of us, that is where we must begin. You can influence the other person, but the only one you directly change is yourself. Get started today.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Are All Beliefs To Be Respected?

Are we misunderstanding respect? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Quite recently, I have seen several interactions in the internet world with people of different beliefs and each time I have seen statements like “I respect your beliefs” or “Let’s all try to respect the beliefs of one another.” I understand why some people make such sentiments, but I cannot help but think that they are fundamentally built on an error.

For instance, let’s suppose I think a belief is fundamentally false. In fact, not only do I think that the belief is false, but I also think that it is dangerously false? If you have the belief that torturing babies for fun is okay, I am not going to tell you that I respect your belief. I am going to oppose your belief with all that I have. It is as far as I’m concerned, not just a wrong view, but a wicked one, and why should I respect something that I think is evil?

Now some of you are saying “But not all beliefs are like that.” Correct. There are varying degrees. I do not agree with a dispensationalist approach, for instance, but I can respect that it seeks to uphold the Lordship of Christ and to find a place for Israel. I just think the views are wrong. I cannot thus respect is as a whole, but I can give respect where it is due. I can also respect the rights of people to hold beliefs that I think are in error in some places. My own spouse after all is a dispensationalist.

Ultimately, what we are seeking to really have is respect for the rights of people to hold certain beliefs. We do value freedom, but we know some beliefs are dangerous to hold, such as the belief that it’s okay to murder your neighbor. When people act on such a belief, we respond by locking them up or giving them the death penalty.

Note also in this that it is not just what beliefs are held that matter, but how they are held. I have more respect for an atheist who can well argue for his viewpoint than I do for a Christian who can give no reason why they believe what they believe. I think the atheist is at least taking reality far more seriously than the Christian is. Even if I agree with the Christian on the essential matters, their approach is not one that I respect as it is simply the result of a blind leap.

Let us make clear where we stand. Some beliefs are wrong and we must oppose them, but this does not necessarily mean opposition to the holder of the beliefs. It all depends on how much they have researched their beliefs and how much they have researched the side that they critique. To use an example, I cannot respect the new atheism, even though I can respect some atheists. Why? The new atheism has done squat to understand the beliefs of those they argue against and consistently put up straw man after straw man.

Respect ultimately is not just given. It is earned. If you show up in the marketplace of ideas and know how to argue your beliefs and know what your opponents believe, you will get respected. If not, you won’t.

In Christ,
Nick Peters