Formula for the Family

Ephesians 5:22-33


Jerry A Collins



v      What is the meaning of submission?

v      How should a husband love his wife?

v      What is the basis of a biblical marriage?



Imagine two rivers flowing smoothly and quietly through the forest until they converge into one another. At this point they clash and hurl into one another as two currents attempt to negotiate. Like these two rivers is marriage where two individuals like the two rivers decide to chart a course together filled with undercurrents of opinion, personality, experiences and priorities that can dash the marriage on the rocks of misunderstanding, selfishness, immaturity and rage. However, as this newly formed river flows further downstream guided by God’s perspective this new river can gradually quiet down and many miles downriver it can flow again smoothly. These two converged rivers can now be mightier and more majestic, powerful and broader than before. This picture is possible with God’s prescription in scripture for marriage. Basically there are two concepts that understood and applied makes for the formula for a biblical marriage.




Perfect relationships are based on submission where someone places their autonomy under someone else’s. The only perfect relationship is the Trinity. God the Son and God the Father are in relationship defined as father and Son. Although the same in substance they are distinct in relationship. The Son did all that was required in submission to the Father and is eternally in perfect submission as a son. Almost all good relationships in the Bible are defined by submission. The HS was sent by the Son Jn 16; believers in submission to the HS Gal 6; Church in submission to Christ Eph 5; Wives to husbands; Children to parents Eph 6:1; slaves to masters Eph 6:5; and citizens to government Rom 13. To reflect the creative order and control chaos God has programmed submission in to the creative order. In every case it is not blind or brainless compliance.


1. To your own husbands as to the Lord 22. So women choosing to get married are choosing to place their autonomy in that relationship under their own husbands. You acquiesce to the leadership of your husband. The character of that submission is the same she gives to the Lord. What kind is that? The Lord does not desire reluctant bows but warm-hearted agreement. Personal servant hood is the standard. Because God commands submission you should view your obedience to your husband in relation to God. Husbands have nothing to do with it other than that they are recipients of your pursuing a right relationship with God.


2. As a body to a head 23. Headship is not like kingship or dictatorship. It is not even like being a boss or general. It is not like any other kind of leadership. No matter how much a king may love his subjects he does not need them for his survival. However, if your body dies your head is useless. God has ordained that the husband is the head in marriage as Christ is the head of the church as Savior. That means wives are directed as being part of where he is going, that is, his goals and ambitions, his priorities and his hope. The body is connected to the head as the head is to the body. So this benefits the relationship. Christ’s example of Savior sets the pace here for wives.

3. As the church to Christ 24. We would never think of the church Jesus died to bring into existence as ever being Head in the relationship. Wives then recognize that her husband and responds without undermining his headship or usurping his authority and responsibility. This makes marriage a high-risk commitment. You cannot know where his headship may take you. Marriage is an unconditional commitment to an imperfect person. Wives then ought to submit in everything. Be a student of your husband and keep his directives in all things not biblically prohibited should be your posture.





Scripture tends to speak to us at the point of our weakness. If the weakness of the wife consists in her reluctance to submit to her husband, the husband’s weakness is his failure to love his wife.


1. Love as Christ gave himself for the church 25. If you treat your wife like Christ treated His church you will not stray very far. Do things for your wife—sacrifice your time and energy—which she does not like to do or things that relieve tension from her life. Do the dishes, make tedious phone calls, deal with grouchy relatives and neighbors, pay the bills, disciple your children and take out the garbage. So a husbands love of his wife corresponds in kind, manner, and depth with Christ’s sacrificial  love of His church. That is our standard and model and example.


2. Sanctify her with the word 26. When you marry your wife in the twenties she is the product of her parents discipleship. When you are married for twenty years she is the product of your discipleship. Don’t preach to her or tell her what the Bible says she should do. She is first of all a xian herself with responsibility before the Lord for her own spiritual walk. Make the scripture and your obedience to it individually the focus and let that shape and impact your marriage. Discuss family and social situations, which affect her, not you, using biblical morality to guide you. Notice the descriptions sanctify, cleanse and wash all centered around the Word of God. Husbands must make the Word the center of their marriage.


3. Presenting her holy and blameless 27. Jesus is ensuring that is the case for His church when we as the bride are presented to him in marriage after our judgment in heaven. Like that, we as husbands help to prepare our wives to be godly matriarchs to our grandchildren and within our extended family. This is an investment not just a job. You are not the focus. She is. With thoughtful self-sacrifice all of our marriage we are serving the best interests of our wives biblically not ensuring that they serve mine. That is a distortion of biblical husbanding.


4. Love her as I love myself 28-29. Marriage is not 50-50 it is 100% being a husband and a wife. That is the same commitment Christ made to us. If you treat your wife like you treat your own body—you nourish and cherish it—you will not stray too far. Be sure she feels wanted, needed, secure and significant. The #1 person in your life second only to God is your wife not your children or your parents. Don’t make rules about things or complain about things that are not biblically directed in things like house cleaning, food preparation, being on time or talking when you want to rest. Don’t be an autocrat or dictocrat. Notice these parameters are not emotional but volitional in acts of thoughtful self-sacrifice. Don’t deceive yourself into believing that you no longer love your wife as though some mystical emotion has left you. If one no longer loves his wife it is because you do not want to love her and willfully disobey God’s commandment to do so.


5. Love and respect must define the manner in which we are married 30-33. The whole argument is reinforced with God’s original intent for marriage and then exemplified in Christ’s relationship with the church. There is a union of head and body spiritually. To maintain the marriage union requires obedience to God by both husbands—love his own wife even as himself—and wives—that she respects her husband. God does not want husbands belittled or wives unloved!



1. The greatest asset you have going for your marriage is your willingness to keep working at it. Making adjustments in marriage can be like two porcupines in the winter chilled by the cold and snow trying to get near each other. Sin makes it painful and can fracture that relationship.


2. In marriage we have only added to our responsibility before God. So do it.