Submissive: Ephesians 1:17-23; 5:15—6:3
After their meeting on the first day of the week, the believers in Ephesus shared a meal and fellowship. As usual, the women gathered to chat after completing their duties, keeping an eye on young children as mothers always do. One older women, known to have a quick wit and an equally sharp tongue, expressed her opinion about the letter from the Apostle Paul. “Brother Paul must dislike women! How could he expect us to submit to our husbands? He just does not understand our culture. We here in Ephesus won’t be silent and hidden away like the Jewish women he is used to.”
“Well, he is a man after all,” commented another with a chuckle. A few other women smiled or laughed at her joke. Others remained quiet. She went on to say, “I’ll submit to my husband when he deserves it. Why would I submit to a man who isn’t even a believer and who visits the temple of the goddess Diana?”
“I don’t believe our brother hates women. His letter teaches more about our relationship to Christ than about submission to our husbands. He even said we are all to submit to each other in love,” proposed Priscilla, who with her husband Aquila, was a friend of Paul.
“I think you are right sister,” added another. “Most of his letter spoke of unity in Christ. I am glad he does not separate his teaching for the church from his teaching for the family. God’s ways apply to the way my husband and I treat each other as well as how you and I treat each other.”
“Are you telling me you let your husband order you around and tell you what to do?” asked the older woman.
“No, sister. I am just saying that Brother Paul said husbands should treat their wives as Christ treated the church. Christ sacrificed his life to save us. To me, the burden given to the husband is very heavy. He told the men to love their wives as Christ loves the church. I know not all men will submit to the Lord in that way. But isn’t it wrong for us to disregard the teaching Paul has for us?”
“This is a hard teaching,” added a young woman holding a small baby. “I know that my husband I are struggling to understand the ways of Christ. But we are so much happier since we met the Lord. To me, it is a comfort to hear from Paul’s letter that my husband should love me that much. If he even attempts to love me with the love of Christ, I would not see it an imposition to cooperate with him and please him. Shouldn’t I at least treat my husband with the same respect because of the burdens he carries?”
“You are wise, my young sister,” said Priscilla. “And our standard for treating another is not measured by how he or she treats us, but by how Christ treated us. If Aquila were not a believer, I would want to win him to Christ. So wouldn’t I best show him the love of Christ by respecting him?”
“I do care about my husband,” added the older woman. “But it’s very hard to put up with his ways now that I have become a believer. I find little about him to respect.” Her face revealed the pain and frustration she carried. “May God help me be the light of Christ in my home. I will do my best to please my Lord and Savior, and perhaps he will answer my prayers for my husband.”
Priscilla wrapped her arm around her friend as she said, “Jesus does understand, dear one. Submit first to the Lord. He will be with you, and he will help you. Our Lord said ‘In this world you will have trouble, but I have overcome the world.’ You will not be alone,” she said with a gesture indicating the women in the circle. “We will help you too. In fact, let’s pray for each other to be the kind of wives and mothers who please the Lord Jesus.”