The Key: The Husband in a Marriage Model
Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 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. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the Church -- for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”
This is a profound mystery - but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. (Ephesians 5:22-33)
How often have we heard that scripture in terms of horizontal relationships between man and women, husband and wife, but have you ever looked at this scripture in terms of brother to brother, or sister to sister in their relationship to each other in the Church? It is easier, I think, at times to grasp the vertical relationship between God and fallen man and his redemption than it is to understand the “profound mystery - but I am talking about Christ and the church” both vertically and horizontal in relationship.
I have heard multiple sermons on why Jesus came to earth, dying for the sins of man, and His ascension into the heavens, back to be with the Father, sitting on his right hand interceding for the Church. I have also heard sermons about the rapture, the time when He is to return to earth to get his church and take them with Him into heaven. I have also heard the Ephesians 5:22-33 passage read at weddings as instruction to the couple about to be wed in a Christian wedding. Often in my Church of the Brethren background I heard it coupled with the I Corinthians 11 chapter in sermons about how women should submit to their husbands and justifying the practice of requiring their women to wear head veils at all times as an outward sign of submission.
I have not heard this passage referred to the Church except for the rapture, when, I was taught, Christ would return for his “radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” I was told from the pulpit that the second coming of Jesus could come at any moment, “at the twinkling of an eye”, “when you would least expect it”. Years ago fear was implanted in many believers when told from pulpits that they should never be in bars, movie theaters, or other undesirable places because what if the Lord would return at that moment? Yes, Jesus is coming back to a “radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” When I see the state of today’s church, I do not worry about the Lord’s return being today or even soon, for the stains, wrinkles, and blemishes of the church are very prevalent to me. How is the church to rid itself of its stains, wrinkles, and blemishes? “This is a profound mystery - but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” Maybe the answer to this mystery can be found in the model of marriage as Christ has proposed.