Wedding HandsOne of the most dangerous attitudes of our day among believers is the idea that certain teachings or ideas in the Bible are no longer relevant due to the fact that they are thought to be “culturally defined” and that therefore they no longer apply to us. This is a problem because it puts our own ideas and cultural folk-wisdom in a higher position than the very Word of God, and therefore removes all authority from the Bible to guide and direct our lives. It is not only detrimental to God’s Word, but it is also arrogant, as it not only supposes that we are wiser than God, but also that our culture is better and wiser than the other cultures of the world, both of which are foolish assumptions.

The dispensationalist recognizes this as a method of division, but not a correct one. As dispensationalists we should know what IS the right manner of division, and so there should be no question in our minds as to the relevance of the book of Ephesians to the present-day believer. With that in mind, let us turn to the 5th chapter of the Book of Ephesians and see what the Spirit has to say to us.

22. Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.

Notice first of all not what this says, but what it does NOT say. It does not say, “women, be subject to men.” It does not say, “women, be subject to every man you come in contact with.” It does not say, “wives, become slaves to your own husbands.” What it does say is “wives, submit to your own husbands.” And this as qualified by “as to the Lord.” How does one submit to the Lord? I can think of several ways. One is by being willing to do whatever He may ask of us. Another is acknowledging what He says to us whether or not we agree with it. Another is giving ourselves to His good, not necessarily our own. What do you think of when you think of yourself submitting to the Lord? Then this is how wives should submit to their husbands, according to this passage.

23. For the husband is the head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body.

I recently read a woman’s comments on this passage wherein she said, “I respectfully disagree with the interpretation of “head” (kephale) meaning source or origin–I really do believe it means authority.” This woman, I’m afraid, is incorrect. We are unfortunately most of us not students of words, and so we can often get led astray in this regard. You know, that thing on the top of your body is not what defines the word “head.” Rather, that thing on top of your body is called a “head” because it matches the meaning of the word “head.” “Head” does not mean “the thing on top of a body.” It does not mean “authority” either.

There can be no doubt about the Greek word “kephale” and the English word “head” meaning the same thing. So let us look at the Greek word and see how the Greeks used their word for “head.” One way they used it was when adding numbers. The Greeks would add up the column rather than down as we do, and when they would get to the top they would put the “kephale”…the “head”…on top. This was called the head not only because it was on top of the addends, but also because it was the summation of all that was in the addends, and was ultimately considered the source of the addends. So the “head” is the sum or source of all that is contained in the body. The same is true of our use of the English “head.” We speak of the head of the stream not because it sits on top of the stream, but because it is the outflowing source of the stream, and all the water that is in the stream may be summed up in the water that has flowed out of the source.

So how is the thing on top of our bodies a head? That is an easy one. It is the source of all that the body knows and all that it does. From it flows the direction that guides the body. It is the source of light, the source of communication, the source of direction, the source of knowledge, the source of guidance, and the source of life-giving air and food for all the body and all its members. In it is summed up all that the body is and all that the body can do. It is really and truly the “kephale,” the “head,” of the body.

Now we have come to call the leader of a company the “head” of the company. This would be a proper use of the term, as the leader of any organization would ideally be the source of that organization’s direction, the source of all its actions, and the summation of all that was in the organization and all that was going on in an organization. You can tell a lot about what an organization will be like on the local level by taking a look at the leaders, even if they are thousands of miles from the local branch of that organization. Why? Because the head or heads of the organization flow out and flow down to all of the little pockets and all the little “water vessels” of the organization wherever they may be. And so these organizations will display the results of what has flowed to them from their head. This is something that I have experienced personally in companies I have worked for, and I know how much of an effect these heads can have.

So in a very real sense it is correct to say that the “head” is the source or origin. But to try to remove this from any idea of authority would be a mistake, I think. The source of the stream must have authority over much of what goes into that stream, the head of the body must have authority about what goes into that body, and the husband of a family must have authority about what will make up his wife as well. If a husband feels that his wife should be his slave, then that will have a direct effect upon her. If he feels a wife should be a trophy to parade before his friends, then that attitude will flow to her as well. But if he feels that his wife should be a loved and cherished companion, then that attitude will flow to her from the head. This idea of the husband being the head of his wife means that what makes up her wifehood in large part is what flows to her from her husband. This is similar to the way Christ flows out to His church and makes them what they are. This is not talking exclusively about authority, but I also will not say that there is no authority in being the head, for there most certainly is.

24. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.

Notice again that this is not women being subject to men, but wives to their husbands. You see, we do not need to say that head means “in charge” in order to have wives being subject to the authority of their husbands. We have it spelled out for us right here! And again, how should we be subject to Christ? Should be obey His commands? Should we accept His opinions with great respect and never put them down or trod upon them? Should we honor Him and seek to serve Him? How should we subject ourselves to Christ? This is how wives should subject themselves to their husbands.

25. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it.

When was the last time Christ beat the church? When was the last time He made a slave of the church? When was the last time He put the church down as being stupid or unworthy? To try to say that this is what the Bible is teaching about husbands and wives is ludicrous. Christ loved the church so much that He died for it! And men should love their wives the same way. Let me tell you something, no man can love his wife too much, because no man has ever yet loved his wife so much that he loved her as much as Christ loved the church. Yet if he loves her more than Christ, then his love for Christ is too small. His love for his wife is not too large, it is just that his love for Christ is too small.

26. that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
27. that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having a spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish.

If a man desires this for his wife, he will not have sex with her before they are married, for then he will present her to himself spotted, unholy, and blemished. Think about it.

28. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself.

When was the last time you beat yourself? When was the last time you enslaved or mistreated or ridiculed yourself? This passage is not an excuse for such things. A husband is to love himself and his wife as himself. Notice again that it is the husband loving his own wife. This says nothing about men and women in general.

29. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church.

So no husband should ever hate his wife, OR treat her in any hateful manner. Love and respect should be the guidance of his actions toward her always.

30. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones.
31. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”

This was the command at the very first when marriage was first instituted, and it is still the command today. This is still the Biblical reason for separating yourself from your father and mother, and still the command God gives as far as marriage is concerned. There is no “being single is better because you can serve God more completely” idea here. Nor is there any excuse for divorce. Sin is the only thing that can rob us of this godly goal, but it does in many, many cases.

32. This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
33. Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Notice that the command for husbands to love their wives is more elaborated on than the command for wives to subject themselves to their husbands. It seems that this is the most difficult of the two to do and the one more likely to not be followed. This is still true in our day, although we most certainly have trouble with both. So men should not be quick to point out the failings of women in subjecting themselves. If anything the women should be quick to point out the failure of the men, as they are not obeying more verses by not treating their wives with love and respect than the women are by not subjecting themselves to their husbands. These commands are a two-way street, and both must be followed in order for the relationship to really be what God intended for it.