I had the honor recently of officiating my eldest child’s wedding. Weddings are always a very solemn, sobering, and joyous occasion. Witnessing the union of two individuals under the covenant of marriage. Yes, I used the term covenant; after all, that is what a marriage is: a covenant or contract between two individuals to unite their lives. To cease living for self alone and to live for another.
During the wedding ceremony for my son, I read the following section of scripture.
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is the head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So, husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. (Ephesians 5:22-32)
While many weddings conducted in the Christian tradition reference this passage in some fashion, and the sentiment is very fitting for the couple that is entering into the covenant of marriage, it in fact, at its very core, is not directly addressing the marriage relationship but rather using it as an illustration of the relationship that every Christian that comprises the Lord’s church should have with the Savior who is the bridegroom. Paul is very clear about this fact at the close, where he states, “I speak concerning Christ and the Church.”
In this covenant of marriage that an individual enters with Christ they should adopt the disposition of the ‘wife’ that is portrayed in this passage. A Christian should fully submit to Christ in everything. Note that it does not say some things, a few things, most things, or even almost everything…but in everything. We, as Christians, need to be 100% committed to Christ, holding nothing back. At the Main Street Church of Christ in Lockney, this is at the core of the theme we adopted for this year, ‘None of Self and All of Thee in 2023.’ The goal is to identify those parts of ourselves, those aspects of our individual lives that we have not fully submitted to our Savior, and resolve to do it, to surrender fully.
Paul also reminds the reader in this passage about the husband’s role and how Christ surrendered all to save us. How Christ, in providing the great sacrifice for sin, purchase the covenant by which the entire world might be purified, cleansed, washed, saved. How He cherishes and nourishes His church, His people, and His bride. Because of this great gift Christ has given, we should love, honor, and respect Him in all things.
The question we should each ask ourselves is, ‘Am I a good wife to Christ?’ Search our individual relationship with Him carefully and seek what might be amiss. Be honest with ourselves regarding our complete and utter obedience to His Word and His will. If we find that we are lacking, and odds are we are, then resolve to improve our relationship with Him.
(Carl Hartman is the Minister at Main Street Church of Christ in Lockney)