It’s probably not that surprising how the Ephesians passage is easily warped into “servant leadership” or rather do what your wife wants to make her feel better. However, few do get the deep context of the passage.
Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.
The sacrificial love Christ gave is for the specific purpose of sanctification. In other words, with His death Christ was thinking about how to reconcile us to God and Himself.
What most people don’t realize is that this passage mirrors Genesis 2-3 accurately.
Genesis 2:15 Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. 16 The Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; 17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”
Genesis 3:6 When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.
Genesis 3:11 And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” And the woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
The purpose of the Ephesians 5 passage goes back to the garden:
- God commands Adam not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil
- Adam ate from it without being deceived, under the persuasion of his wife (1 Tim 2)
- God goes to Adam, and Adam blames Eve, and Eve blames the serpent
Christ’s as the 2nd Adam (1 Cor 15) and his sacrifice is the example of a sacrificial love for our reconciliation with God. Thus, God gives husbands the same mission again to be the head of their wives and guide / teach / correct / rebuke them toward holiness rather than sin. To help them choose the tree of life rather than the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
When pastors make this passage about a husband making his wife feel better, they miss the deep meaning behind Christ’s sacrifice and parallel to creation in the passage.