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Question No. 105:

Will you please explain Ephesians 5:22-24?


“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and He is the Saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.” Eph. 5:22-24. 

Clearly, this divine injunction charges the wife to respect her husband as she would the Lord, the husband being the family’s temporal saviour, as the Lord is the church’s eternal Saviour.  “…Christ…loved the church, and gave Himself for it; that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word.” Eph. 5:25, 26. When she disregards this divine injunction, she insults God. 

“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church.” Eph. 5:25. 

Thus, just as binding and sacred is the husband’s responsibility to his wife. He is to regard her as Christ does His church. Whenever he does less than this, he violates the law of the Lord.

Thus, while the church is duty-bound to respect and obey her Lord, the wife is to respect and obey her husband; and the husband is duty-bound to love and care for his wife as the Lord loves and care for His church. From this it follows that the house of the Lord is likened to the house of the husband. Accordingly, in the same way as the Lord controls the affairs of His house, the church, so the husband is to control the affairs of his home, the family. 

And since the church’s own welfare depends upon its cooperation with the will of the Lord, likewise the family’s welfare depends upon its cooperation with the will of the father. Doubly clear, therefore, is the fact that just as Christ holds the headship over the church, so the father holds the headship over the home. And just as the converted church rejoices in pleasing her Head, Christ, so likewise the converted wife rejoices in pleasing her head, her husband. In this happy state, both the man and the woman realize that they are, after all, each other’s second self.

“But I would have you know,” declares Paul, “that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God. Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoreth his head. But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoreth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven.” “Nevertheless  neither is the man without the woman neither the woman without the man, in the Lord. For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God.” 1 Cor. 11:3-5, 11, 12.

This beautiful home-relationship is often undermined and wrecked by financial mismanagement or by erroneous education, or by both, because the divine pattern is not followed. The Lord supports His wife, the church, but she herself handles the medium of exchange, the money, to pay for the things she purchases; accordingly therefore, though the husband supports the home, the wife is to handle the money for the things needed to run the home. And if the husband is receiving only a subsistence income, then even more especially should he give his paycheck to the wife, so that she may budget it to cover the home’s necessities up to the next pay day. With the wife handling the money, great advantages will thus accrue, for, it is she alone who uses, and therefore alone knows, the things which are needed in the home. Thus knowing her daily financial limitations, she will know precisely what she can and what she cannot buy to run the home. 

Naturally, then, she will diligently see that only the most necessary wants of the home are first cared for, thereby preventing any over-buying of one thing on her part, or any under-buying or another thing by her husband, or vice versa–this latter condition inevitably resulting if he holds the purse strings and doles out to her to do the buying. Handled as it should be, the purse will not go flat, and the home will suffer no shortages, no contentions, and no break-ups. Of course, husband and wife should always consult together to secure full mutual approval for whatever they do. 

If, however, the family’s earnings are more than just a living, then he and the wife may together more broadly budget their earnings, first caring for necessary current expenses, then banking or investing the rest. 

Thus to understand that the husband is not merely the money bag, but is the king of the home, the “house-band,” and that the wife is not a menial merely to cook the meals, wash the dishes and clothes, scrub the floor, and care for and rear the children, but is the queen of the home, the helpmeet,–to understand all this is to have a true appreciation of the wholesomeness of divinely inspired marriage. 

“Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life. She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. She is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar. She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens. She considereth a field and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.  She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms. She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night. She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff. She stretcheth out her hand to the poor, yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy. She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet. She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple. Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land. She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant. Strength and honor are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come. She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. Many daughters, have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised.” Prov. 31:10-30. 

So while the queenly wife looks after the family’s internal affairs, the kingly husband looks after the family’s external affairs. 

Furthermore, as the Lord Himself is the Principal of His church as a school, and His “wife” (the church, but especially the ministry–those who bring forth converts, children, in the faith), the teacher of their children (members), so the husband is the principal of his home as a school, and his wife the teacher of their children.

“To gain a proper understanding of the marriage  relation,” says the Spirit of Prophecy, “is the work of a lifetime. Those who marry enter a school from which they are never in this life to be graduated.

* * *

“In your life-union your affections are to be tributary to each other’s happiness….But while you are to blend as one, neither of you is to lose his or her individuality in the other. God is the owner…Of him you are to ask:…How may I best fulfill the purpose of my creation?…Your love for that which is human is to be secondary to your love for God…Is the greatest outflow of your love toward Him who died for you? If it is, your love for each other will be after Heaven’s order. 

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“Neither husband nor wife is to make a plea for rulership…Both are to cultivate the spirit of kindness, being determined never to grieve or injure the other….Do not try to compel each other to do as you wish. You cannot do this, and retain each other’s love. Manifestations of  self-will destroy the peace and happiness of the home. Let not your married life be one of contention.  If you do, you will both be unhappy. Be kind in speech and gentle in action, giving up your own wishes. Watch well your words; for they have a powerful influence for good or for ill. Allow no sharpness to come into your voices. Bring into your united life the fragrance of Christlikeness. 

“Before a man enters a union as close as the marriage relation, he should learn how to control himself and how to deal with others. 

* * *

“My brother, be kind, patient, forbearing. Remember that your wife accepted you as her husband, not that you might rule over her, but that you might be her helper….

“One victory it is positively essential for you both to gain,–the victory over the stubborn will. In this struggle you can conquer only by the aid of Christ. You may struggle hard and long to subdue self, but you will fail unless you receive strength from on high. By the grace of Christ you can gain the victory over self and selfishness. As you live His life, showing self-sacrifice at every step. constantly revealing a stronger sympathy for those in need of help, you will gain victory after victory. Day by day you will lean better how to conquer self and how to strengthen your weak points of character. The Lord Jesus will be your light, your strength, your crown of rejoicing because you yield your will to His will….By His help you can utterly destroy the root of selfishness.

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“Forbearance and unselfishness mark the words and actions of those who are born again, to live the new life in Christ.”–Testimonies, Vol. 7, pp. 45-50. 

“The great reformatory movement must begin in presenting to fathers and mothers and children the principles of the law of God….Show that obedience to God’s word is our only safeguard against the evils that are sweeping the world to destruction….By their [parent’s] example and teaching, the eternal destiny of their households  will in most cases be decided… 

“If parents could be led to trace the results of their action,…many would break the spell of tradition and custom….Press home upon the consciences of parents the conviction of their solemn duties, so long neglected. This will break up the spirit of Pharisaism and resistance to the truth as nothing else can. Religion in the home is our great hope, and makes the prospect bright for the conversion of the whole family to the truth of God.”–Testimonies, Vol. 6, p. 119. 

Only in such a Christian home is Christ’s Kingdom  exemplified. And in thus reflecting the Kingdom here, all such homes will, when banded together collectively, make up the Kingdom  hereafter. How important, then, that the mother and the father co-operate to the full in conducting the home altogether in Christ’s way in order to insure its existence both now and forevermore!

Failure on the part of either, to carry out these principles, will wreck the home and scatter the family not only for the present but also for eternity; whereas careful practice of them will safeguard  the family’s prosperity and happiness in this world, and insure its eternal continuance in the world to come.