Wives, be subject to your husbands as you are to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife just as Christ is the head of the church, the body of which he is the Savior. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." (Ephesians 5:22-31, abridged)
[Don’t you just love contentious Scriptural quotations?:)]
This particular part of Scripture speaks about the continuing relationship between a man and a woman who have celebrated the sacrament of Matrimony. They are to behave in mutually humble ways with each other, with the goal of mirroring the relationship between Christ Jesus glorified in heaven and the Body of Christ working out our salvation here on earth. What exactly is this relationship?
Jesus gives everything he has for us. His time, energy, and teaching was given to us while he was physically alive on earth. Ultimately he held nothing back, as even his very life was given to us as a gift. Even now he continues to intercede for us, to watch over us, and to give us an example of how fierce and passionate and humble and self-sacrificing love can be, all at once.
As the Body of Christ, we are called to follow Jesus’ example. But even more then that, we are called to willingly submit (make ourselves slaves, if we follow the Greek New Testament literally) to the demands that Jesus makes of us: sell everything you have, forgive everything, pray without ceasing, trust God in all things.
Being a husband or wife both demand sacrifice, but St. Paul gives us an example to follow: the mutual self-sacrifice of Christ for his people and of the Church for Christ. He gives us an example of the way marriage should be—not a partnership where each person gives 50/50, but a covenant where husband and wife agree to submit to each other, to love each other, to forgive each other, and to eventually become saints together in heaven.
[The rest of this is new material :)]
The church teaches that the sacrament of matrimony is a way to holiness. Our day to day actions are pathways we can take to make sure that everyone in our family eventually reaches heaven. For a husband and wife that necessarily involves sacrifice. It involves agape love – not the passionate sexual love that bonds a couple to each other (though it’s important and holy in it’s own right), but the willingness to do whatever is best for the other person. True love means putting our own needs, wants, emotions and desires aside at times so that we can choose the route that is best for our whole family, not just ourselves.
When St. Paul asks a wife and husband to submit and love, it is a command born of the love Jesus showed for us. May all of us who are in a committed relationship find the strength to truly love our partner as Christ loves us.
Blessings & Peace,
Hugo De La Rosa III