Read Ephesians 5
Ahhh, that great chapter on marriage. Much of what Paul has been talking about continues in the first section of this chapter, living the life that God has called us to live, showing love to each other as Christ has shown His love to us.
Paul then moves on to a more specific application looking at specific relationships; husband and wife, parent and child, slave and master (or perhaps a more contemporary translation, employee and employer). Each one of these relationship examples is a practical application of living out the Christian life, or as Paul writes, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
All of it finds its credence in the first section as Paul explains what he means using the example of the marriage relationship. None of this “submission” is meant to create power gaps or abusive relationships, but rather it takes its cue from Jesus Christ who is the example of what true love and submission mean.
Contrary to what some believe, this is one of the most beautiful images of marriage in which both individuals are actively placing the other higher than themselves. The language of submission is not popular in today’s world because it has been abused by so many and led to a great deal of hurt. We also don’t like to be told to or involved in actively making ourselves vulnerable. Certainly, it was never God’s intent or purpose to place people in abusive situations.
That said, when this idea of submitting to each other, to actively loving and valuing the other above our own interests is lived out, taking its cue from Christ, the result is a beautiful relationship and a tangible image of the love that God has for us.
This, then, can be seen in the other relationships that Paul mentions in the beginning of the next chapter as well, all dictated by the language of mutual submission… or placing a higher value on the needs of others rather than our own.