If Ephesians 5:22-33 were to manifest themselves inside of a suitcase, it would be full of dancing clothes in preparation for the sacred tango of love and respect between husband and wife. A marriage relationship quickly becomes a perpetual dance between two willing partners.
However, in marriage, we tend to choose one of two dances. We either succumb to the fear dance in which partners fall faint from vicious circular arguments, or we choose the love and respect tango in which we experience a passionate expression of push and pull, submission and elevation.
If you are married, leaning towards marriage, or desire to be married someday, then one of the best questions you can ask yourself is, “What’s in my suitcase?”
As stated in Part 1, we all leave childhood with some sort of baggage. Perhaps the fate of our future family depends on what is in our suitcase, or more importantly, Who guides us through the unpacking.
Since unpacking Ephesians 5 is no less a mystery than unpacking our own childhood baggage, only the One full of grace and truth can truly show us how to unfold and properly don love and respect.
For husbands, the task of unpacking Ephesians 5 as well as their own suitcase might seem daunting. Especially since 71% of the content is directed toward the head of the family. (See Part 1)
Paul presents a husband’s role in a marriage relationship as analogous with that of Christ and the Church. Phrases like “give yourself up for her”, “set her apart”, “sanctify and cleanse”, and “present her as holy” paint an eternal portrait of the Bridegroom with His Bride.
Yet, the Word Himself made it simple for both wives and husbands. He gave us each one word. (See Part 1 for wives)
The very word that kept Jesus nailed to the cross, is the same word that binds a husband to his wife.
In Ephesians 5:25, a husband is called (even commanded) to love his wife. The Creator designed men to give respect naturally, but they must love intentionally.
Husbands, loving your wife as yourself is the gift that keeps on giving. Within the covenant of holy matrimony, as one flesh, loving your wife is the highest honor you can give yourself.
“In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.” (Ephesians 5:28 ESV)
Seeking her highest good provides her with a sense of financial security, communicating with an attitude of loving kindness provides her emotional security, and protecting, nourishing, and cherishing her provide her with physical security. A wife desires all three, but will often remain loyal when given at least two.
As Christ demonstrated on Calvary, love is a choice to bear your own cross and follow Him. Love is a willingness to lay prostrate before a Holy God in full submission.
Agape Love is always a choice, not a feeling.
Designed intentionally by God, marriage supersedes all other relationships because it is the primary one that has the potential to present us as transformed before a Holy God.
Yet, it takes two to tango.
Simply stated, Ephesians 5:22-33 boil down to love and respect, the sacred tango of marriage for which it always takes two obedient souls to submit to the dance.
However, the spiritual portrait Paul paints of the marriage relationship places it in the shadows of the Bridegroom and His Bride. Marriage is a mere silhouette of the mystery of Christ and His Church.
One day, whether we are married in this life or not, believers will experience their first dance with Jesus. There will be a wedding celebration for the ages with an eternal honeymoon!
Who can unpack it, much less understand it?
Four words, rich with theology.
No one but God can teach us how to love and respect one another like only Jesus can.
So husbands and wives, when it gets hard and hopeless and you cannot seem to choose love or respect, just choose Jesus.
He saves souls and marriages.