7.22 Ephesians -- the Christian Household
To his credit, Paul gets into specifics in Eph 5:22-33 and Eph 6:1-9. This has led to him taking considerable hostile fire in the last two centuries, as the relations of the sexes have changed in Western culture. Egalitarianism is the watchword of the hour, and anything hinting of an imbalance of power among man, woman or child is immediately assailed as, what else? -- immoral. This is not a study on the relations between the sexes or within the family. But it must be noted that some of the more strident critics
a. ignore the audience to whom Paul is writing (Gentiles with an irregular and unstable family background)
b. extend Paul's remarks to nonbelievers, which is entirely outside his purpose
c. are reacting to sectarian or cultic abuses from later historical epochs.
d. exalt the supremacy of the individual (female) over the integrity of the family unit.
e. despise the traditional family structure and advocate its abolition.
We cannot attempt to implement the family life of the last half of chapter 5 apart from the prior Christian ethic of Eph 5:1-21. To extract the later verses alone and critique them apart from their earlier basis is disreputable scholarship. The morals are an application of Eph 5:1-2:
''live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us."
Paul makes this connection explicit in Eph 5:29: "just as Christ does the church." The family is a reflection of the relation of the believer to Jesus. If you remove Christ as the cornerstone of the family, you have nothing left but dead rules and power struggles. But with his Presence, then each member has intrinsic value, and the relation of one to all is not a matter of coercion and compulsion but of sacrificial love. Paul's secular critics know nothing of either the Presence or the love.