You Can’t Make Me!

Ephesians 5:19–6:9 (read online ⧉)

This passage Ephesians, like many other books and verses of the Bible, has often been abused and misconstrued. Of course, the big one is the group of verses about wives. Often abused and misused. Men would use those verses as an attempt to control. They would conveniently disregard the whole husband as Christ who died for the church part. Which is really the important part. That Paul made that statement actually elevated women, as they were to be died for. Connect that to the cross and Paul really drives it home. That was ignored. Often men would use the wife verses for their control, but then disregard women as people of value. We’d call them hypocrites (yes, and misogynous).

Though currently one of the big issues is misogyny (with reason), there are other verses that were also used to abuse and control people, and these were the verses regarding slaves. Now, those who used the slave verses were the “masters” or politicians who didn’t want to rock the boat. All disregarding the admonition to the “masters”. It just didn’t apply to them. The irony (sort of) is that women slave owners used the slave verse the same way their husbands used the wives verses. What a mess!

The bible you read the passage from probably had a little header titled, “Wives and Husbands,” or some such above it. Just as an aside, please start disregarding those. They can be helpful. They can also be very misleading. For example, the verses about wives, husbands, children, parents, slaves, and masters are actually part of the section previous, which is why we started at Ephesians 5:19. Even starting at Ephesians 5:19 is sort of an issue, as it too divides, but hopefully not too much.

When we start there, we start with hearts oriented toward God. The outpouring of that orientation is gratitude. From there it turns into mutual submission. That’s really it. All the rest of those verses? They were an expansion of an idea. There are certain people that take one concept, trying to use examples to showcase how it works. In Paul’s case, it didn’t happen that way. Part of this has carried on because of “useful” headings. The rest of it is because many times when people are confronted with being wrong, they double-down on whatever it is, even if it is misreading the Scriptures. We are all guilty of it at some point in our lives.

Mutual submission is hard. It’s always been hard. Oddly enough, it seems the world might actually be beginning to understand it, just not in a good or healthy way. Many people are obsessed with their “likes” on social media. Really that is a form of submission to others. Sadly, it’s been shown to be unhealthy. Yet, seeking approval of others is a form of submission.

1) What does mutual submission look like in your important relationships?

2) How would mutual submission work and look like in a church setting? How about a work setting?

3) What would it look like if our politics operated from a point of mutual submission?

Action: work on mutual submission in one key relationship

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