Though, the Best Retort is to Live It

Doc H. asks:

“How could I respond to someones claims that the sanctifying work in Eph 5:26-27 is exclusively the work of Christ towards the church AND towards the wife and that the only action of the husband is to love? Wouldn’t the So (“houtos”) in 28 imply that 26-27 show what type of love the husband is supposed to show?”

I’ve never heard this “interpretation” of Ephesians 5:26-27 before, but it does not surprise me that some hold it. People will twist the Scriptures in all sorts of ways to destroy men’s headship when they can, and obfuscate it when they can’t. The good news is we are blessed with all of Scripture.

Colossians 3:18-19

18 Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.

1 Peter 3:1-7

Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives,when they see your respectful and pure conduct. Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

Titus 2:3-5

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

1 Timothy 2:8-15

I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, 10 but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works. 11 Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness.12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. 15 Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.

1 Corinthians 14:33-35

33 For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.

As in all the churches of the saints, 34 the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. 35 If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.

There are, in Scripture, few points of so much agreement compared to the order of Christian households. Not to put too fine a point on it, but: There is significantly less instruction on baptism, or administration of the Lord’s Supper, than there is for wives to be in submission to their husbands, and for husbands to love and manage (not quite the same thing as “lead”) their wives.

The last thing I would point out is: So what? So what does that mean to say the husband is called “only to love” while Christ performs the sanctifying work on the husband’s wife? Ephesians 5:22-24 is explicit:

22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

This goes back to the very post which prompted Doc H.’s question: Husbands are not called to ALWAYS lead, but wives are called to ALWAYS obey. Sometimes the head may give a subordinate the lead because that is the prudent thing to do. He does not give up the rule. He may take back the lead at his pleasure, and the subordinate is only right if she gives it up in submission. A wife is to submit and obey her husband.

10 thoughts on “Though, the Best Retort is to Live It

  1. This kind of sophistry is the standard offering wherever you go these days. The hirelings will go through any gyrations in order to avoid teaching the obvious. Eric Ludy is one of those. He says in effect, “The husband is head of the wife is a picture of Christ and the church but doesn’t apply to marriage”. And further that insofar as the husband is to submit to Christ he is like the woman, therefore he should keep silence in the assembly, etc.

    Stupid shit, but sounds all ooh-ahh to his starry-eyed female cult followers.

  2. In addition to Cane’s list, I would ask what this person thinks about the last part of of Eph 5:25:

    “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her

    Does he think that Husbands don’t need to have a life commitment to their wives?

    Sure, Christ did that, but how can anyone expect Husbands to act like Christ?

  3. The individual in question does believe in submission and is very active in promoting male headship, which was what made this interesting. Cane has talked about how devious complentari and I know I myself am confronted regularly by how devious complementarianism is in shifting the view of Scripture while sounding conservative.
    I see v 25 as a helpful response as it links an action that Christ is doing that is universally tied to godly husbands; “giving himself up” in conjunction with the other actions of Christ, namely “cleansing her with the word” and “presenting his wife without blemish.” This answers the question I have had, “what does the agape (not “love”) husbands are called to look like?”

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  5. @Doc H.

    Some Protestants say that no good can come from humans, so that could be the source of your individual’s hang-up.

    For the record, I too am a Protestant, but I strongly disagree with that notion. Humans are capable to do a great deal of good.

  6. I prefer “rule” or “govern” to “manage”. The opposite of manager is customer, who is, after all, always right.

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