As we’ve noted, Ephesians chapters 4-6 reveal seven ways in which we are to walk, each of which in-turn is based on related doctrine in chapters 1-3. The first reality of our Christian walk is to walk in unity (4:1-16), the second is to walk in purity (4:17-32), the third is to walk in love (5:1-7), the fourth is to walk in light (5:8-14), and the fifth is to walk in wisdom (5:15-17). This brings us to the sixth—walk in submission (5:18-6:9). As we’ll see, submission is not just for wives (v. 22) but for everyone (v. 21).
Ephesians 5:18 actually begins the context on the Christian home—And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit. Some Bible teachers begin a study of the Christian home in verse 22, that well-known verse about the submission of the wife to the husband. But to do so is serious error, an error not only in doctrinal exposition, but in practical application as well. Beginning in verse 22 will do little but create rebellious wives. Further, not beginning in verse 18 will bring about a warped family life in general. Verse 18 lays the foundation of each family member first being Spirit-filled and then seeing our roles as husbands and wives.
We can go still further to say that the entire book of Ephesians is essential to the proper family life. Is not unity an essential element in the home? Is not purity an essential element of marriage? Is not love essential? Is it not necessary that each family member be walking according to light? Is not the same fact true of walking in wisdom? May we say again, how foundational the Epistle to the Ephesians is!
As we begin our study of the most important passage in God’s Word concerning the Christian home, let us consider two introductory thoughts.
First, there is a “revolution” going on in America today. The word “revolt” means “an uprising against authority, a rebellion, protest, or insurrection.” The revolution going on today is against the authority of the Word of God, and there is truly no better example of this uprising than when it comes to the home. It is common knowledge that one out of two marriages ends in divorce. A little research on this is truly enlightening and saddening. Looking at it on a per capita or percentage basis, the U.S. divorce rate for 2000 was 41% per capita per year, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. This is made even more significant, however, by the fact that this rate is only for the states that keep track of the number of divorces—California, Colorado, Indiana and Louisiana do not. In contrast to this rate, the Census Bureau consistently reports that the rate is closer to 50%.
Looking at the raw numbers is even more dramatic. The total number of marriages in the year 2000, for example, was 2,355,005—including the states that don’t report divorce numbers. Out of that number, there were 957,200 divorces, which is 40.6%—but again, excluding the states that don’t report divorce numbers. Another interesting statistic I found was that as of the year 2000, 18.5 percent of the US population is divorced (11,317,572). By gender, it’s: 8,572,000 males (8.3%) and 11,309,000 females (10.2%).
One other statistic, which actually is not about divorce specifically, but is another indication of America’s moral decline is that as of the year 2000, there were 3.8 million couples cohabiting outside of marriage, which obviously translates to 7.6 million people living in open sin outside of marriage.
Still further, however, only God knows how many couples are divorced in mind even though they occupy the same house. Why is that true? Some give answers such as, “They just need to better communicate with one another,” or, “They just need to understand and tolerate each other’s unique qualities,” or other such statements.
Now while such statements certainly have an element of truth in them, they all still miss the point. The reason why marriages fail and homes are in turmoil is because people are not governed by the Word of God. Whether the marital problem comes in the form of money, communication, sexual dysfunction, or any number of other things, these are only symptoms of the real problem. The Word of God is NOT the final authority for home life in America, and sad to say, this is true of many Christians.
This leads us to the second statement we need to consider, which we’ll examine next time.