“Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ.”Ephesians 5:21
What does subordination mean to you? What is St. Paul teaching us in Ephesians 5:21-33?
During Lent, I’ve engaged in the Walking With Purpose Bible study called Fearless and Free, which is a study on the book of Ephesians. Ephesians is packed with so much guidance for us in our spiritual journey but there is just one section that gives me partial anxiety, Ephesians 5:21-33.
Often times, I think these verses are used to manipulate women into self interest of their husbands. I could never imagine God placing a wife in a situation to where she is to be obedient to moral and unrighteous acts. Many years ago, out of personal interest and reading the book Theology of the Body for Beginners by Christopher West, I began to break down these verses myself to better understand them in the context of love.
Going through this section of the study shed a little more light for me. I really appreciated Lisa Brenninkmeyer’s breakdown of the verses. She talks about the choice we make to submit to one another out of love, that it’s a self-regard of another’s interest ahead of our own. That is an important concept found in Philippians 2:3, “Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory, rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves.”
I’ll be honest, the part that I wrestled with was “husbands should love their wives as their own bodies” (Ephesians 5:28). We live in a culture that is plagued with pornography. If one engages in pornography, his/her view of self-care and love of the body becomes distorted. Many studies reveal that the more a person engages in pornography, the need to satisfy the desire intensifies. This results in devaluing the body from its intent of being a temple for the Lord to dwell within. The value a husband holds for his own body will dictate the value he holds on that of his spouse. If pornography distorts that love of body, it also will distort the love he has for his wife.
Here is what I’ve come to realize, yes, a wife should be subordinate to her husband, allowing him to be the head of the family. In the sense that he too is being obedient to God in leading his family. God does not say that a wife should submit to her husband in ways that are outside His will. The husband should love her as Christ loves the Church, in obedience and love of God. And she should submit to him in obedience and love of Christ.
In Ephsesians 5:21, we are told to be subordinate to ONE ANOTHER, all inclusive. And to do so out of the deepest respect for the Lord.
Sounds like St. Paul is telling us that we should submit to one another, regard each other as more important than ourselves, for the love and respect that we have for Christ. That message not only includes your spouse, but also your sisters and brothers. We are all one body in Christ and we should love and sacrifice ourselves for each other just as Christ did for us, the CHURCH.
Todays invitation may be to ask yourself am I regarding others as more important than myself or am I seeking my own interest? What do I need to do today to love my neighbor as I love myself out of the utmost love I have for the Lord?
Lord, I search my heart for the areas where I have acted out of self interest and failed to show love to others above my own personal interest. Reveal my selfishness and help me to seek selfless acts of love towards others, regarding each person as important or more important than myself. May I do so out of the greatest love that I have for You. Amen