Sometimes in the church there are some fairly polarizing ideas about male and female roles in marriage. I probably don’t need to elaborate there. Our church’s Month of Dedication focus for this week is family, and today the reading was in Ephesians 5, one of those chapters that seems to support ideas of inequality in marriage. At first glance it says “wives submit to your husband in everything and husbands, love your wives.” In marriage supposedly we both live each other so. Why does it say women have to submit?

I think if this chapter feels constricting and legalistic, then we are missing something. We often miss things in looking at the Old Testament laws, wondering what on earth they are all there for and why does it matter whether or not we eat certain foods and how we clean our homes. God comes off as an overbearing micromanager. In truth, the law is designed to bring us freedom, and show us the healthy way to live. People have studied the OT laws and found that when God said “Do this and you’ll have long life without disease,” God was actually introducing concepts such as personal hygiene and healthy eating– foreign concepts in a time that didn’t understand germs and such. God set up his laws so that people could literally live a more healthy life, have a better chance at financial success and independence, have healthy interpersonal relationships and not be distracted from worshipping the only true Source of Life. That sounds rather caring and freeing to me!

So, when I look at Ephesians 5, I have to understand that this is the same God speaking, and trust that He still has in mind here some methods of relating that will help us to be healthy and successful in life and marriage. 

The truth is, marriage is a huge endeavor that requires lots of work and continual compromise. To live successfully as one flesh, each person must do a little dying to self. There cannot be either marriage partner functioning in a selfish or domineering way, male or female. At the same time, there remains two individuals in the marriage. Two people, each with their own mind and gifts, dreaming their own dreams, and doing their own part to support the family. Hopefully we two can be one without losing our uniqueness as created by God. 

I have never done this before, but I want to post a link to an author I follow, Kathi Lipp. Her post today was so timely with our themes for the week, on 7 Simple Prayers To Make Your Marraige Great. Give it a shot! One a day, see what God will do.