A GREAT MYSTERY
In our Second Reading today, Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians claims to be presenting “a great mystery.” For many of us, his words are, indeed, “a great mystery,” but not in the same way that Paul seems to have had in mind. How could his words possibly be true?
Someone I knew lived his whole adult life as a violent alcoholic; he beat his children and his wife unmercifully. Did anyone feel like telling his wife that she needed to be “subordinate to him”?
We could simply reject Paul’s words here. But there is a cost to this move. What else in Scripture shall we reject while we are at it? Should we reject anything that challenges us?
So here’s another way to think about Paul’s words: If a wife is to be subordinate to her husband, what is a husband?
Well, a husband is someone who loves his wife as Christ loves the church; a husband gives himself for her; he lives in such a way as to enable his wife to be the very best she can be for the Lord.
If you make your wife worse than she would otherwise be, why do you think you are her “husband”?
If you are involved in an extramarital affair, so that she gradually becomes a jealous, suspicious, negative person, what have you done to her? If you are always gone: on the golf course, watching a game on T.V. – so that she becomes lonelier and lonelier, what have you made of her? If you leave her all the housework and child care while you pursue your “career,” are you living self-sacrificially to enable her to be the best she can be for the Lord?
If you make her worse, less fruitful, less beautiful in soul, less joyful than she would be without you, why should you think you are her husband? You may be married to her, but the truth for her, like the truth for the Samaritan woman Christ met at the well, (John 4:7-26), is that “the person she is now living with is not her husband.”
But then there is no command for her to be subordinate to you either. The command is for her to be subordinate to her “husband,” not to anyone who wants to claim the privilege of being her husband … without any of the corresponding duties.
This thought doesn’t solve all the “problems” some see in Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians … but it helps, doesn’t it? ____________________END 8/22/21 – Twenty-First Sun. “B” + Joshua 24:1-2a, 15-17, 18b; + Ephesians 5:21-32 or 52a, 25-32; + John 6:60-69