22. The Submission of the Christian Husband (Ephesians 5:21-32)
21 and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ. 22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her; 26 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 should be holy and blameless. 28 So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; 29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, 30 because we are members of His body. 31 For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh. 32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let each individual among you also love his own wife even as himself; and let the wife see to it that she respect her husband.
Ours is a truly intriguing text. The topic is introduced in Ephesians 5:21 and extends to chapter 6, verse 9. One would hardly expect a text on submission to address husbands. Much less would one expect this text to spend much more time instructing husbands than wives. And yet but 3 1/2 verses are addressed to Christian wives, while 8 1/2 verses are written to Christian husbands.
It is not just that this passage on submission spends much time speaking to husbands. The wonder of this text is what Christian husbands are instructed to do. We are not at all surprised by what Paul has to say to wives. They are called upon to symbolically display the submission of the church to its Head, Jesus Christ by their submission to their own husbands. If wives are to reflect the submission of the church to Christ, what would you expect Paul to command the husbands to do?
I would have expected Paul to reason in this way: Husbands are to manifest the headship of Jesus Christ over His church, and thus they are to be the spiritual leaders of their wives. If the wives are commanded to submit, then the husbands surely must be instructed to lead. But they are not. Instead of commanding husbands to lead their wives, Paul instructs them to love their wives.
For Paul, loving takes priority over leading. Why? What is the relationship between leading and loving? Why does Paul command husbands to love, but not to lead? What is it that Christian husbands are responsible to demonstrate in their relationship with their wives? These are the questions which we will seek to answer in our third and final study of Ephesians 5:21-33.
It is only as we come to understand this relationship between loving and leading that we will grasp the vast difference between the servant leadership of Christianity and secular leadership of the world in which we live. Let us look to Him who is both the author and the interpreter of these words, so that we will not only understand, but obey them, to the glory of God.
The Command: “Husbands, Love Your Wives”
If Paul’s command to Christian wives is summed up by the term, “submit,” his command to Christian husbands is summed up by the term, “love.” Husbands are to love their wives according to two models, each of which is introduced by the word “as” (see verses 25 and 28). They are first instructed to love their wives “as Christ also loved the church” (verses 25-27). They are further instructed to love their wives “as their own bodies” (verses 28-32). And so we find in these two models the final keys to the structure of our text, which we can sum up in this way:
A general call to submission (verse 21)
The submission of wives to their husbands (verses 22-24)
The husband’s love for his wife as Christ loved the church (verses 25-27)
The husband’s love for his wife as his own body (verses 28-33a)
The wife’s submission expressed as respect for her husband (verse 33b)
In this study, we will seek to identify the form which the submission of the husband takes in relation to his wife. At the outset we must grant that all appearances indicate that the husband’s submission is expressed in terms of his love. The love of the husband is compared to (a) the love of Christ for His church, and (b) the love a man has for his own body. We will begin by considering the love of Christ for His church. We will then turn to the love of a man for his own body. After this, we will seek to crystallize the relationship between leadership and love, and pursue some of the practical implications of this relationship.
The Love of Christ for His Church
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her; 26 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 should be holy and blameless.
The love of the Father was demonstrated through the sacrificial death of the Son:
By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His son to be the propitiation for our sins (1 John 4:9-10).
As Paul wrote in Romans,
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).
There may be a sense in which we may say that God loves the whole world (see John 3:16), but the love which the husband is to have for his wife is not all-encompassing; it is a selective love. The love of Christ which we husbands are to imitate is a love for the church. Christ, our Model, “loved the church” and “gave Himself up for her.” His love in Christ was a selective love, or, to put the matter in theological terms, it is an elective love. Christ died to save those whom the Father had chosen in eternity past (see Ephesians 1:3-14).
When a man sets his heart upon a woman whom he desires to be his wife, he sets her apart from all other women. He seeks companionship with her, with the goal of making her his wife. While he can love his neighbor, and even his enemy, his love for his wife is unique. It sets her apart from all other women. In the Bible, this special love is contrasted with hate (see Psalm 97:10; Amos 5:15; Matthew 6:24; Romans 9:13). When we love our wife with the kind of love which Christ has for His church, we love her and “hate” all others.
There are those who bristle at the doctrine of election. This is the doctrine that God chooses only some to be saved. The Scriptures are quite clear that God chooses whom He will save, and that only those whom He has chosen and drawn will be saved (see John 6:37, 44, 65; 15:16; 17:2, 24; Acts 13:48; 16:14).
Those who reject the doctrine of election cannot conceive of a “loving God” who will not save all. They define “love” differently from the Scriptures, for in the Bible loving someone sets them apart from others. You cannot “love” someone or something without also “hating” something else.
Just as it is written, “JACOB I LOVED, BUT ESAU I HATED” (Romans 9:13). Election is the expression of love, for love sets the object of love apart.
Paul continues to spell out the way in which a husband’s love for his wife is to be Christ-like. As the love of Christ for His bride, the church, was selective, it was also sacrificial. Christ “gave Himself up” for the church. Christ died on the cross of Calvary, suffering in the sinner’s place, bearing our punishment for sin and satisfying His Father’s holy wrath toward the sinner.
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich (2 Corinthians 8:9).
He [God] made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21).
The Old Testament prophets spoke of the coming Messiah in sacrificial terms (see Isaiah 52:13–53:12), and so it was at the outset of His public ministry that Jesus was introduced by John the Baptist as the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). The writer to the Hebrews has much to say about the sacrificial aspects of our Lord’s earthly ministry (see chapter 9). In our text, Paul sums up the sacrificial nature of our Lord’s work on behalf of His church by telling us that He “gave Himself up for her” (verse 25). The kind of love which God requires of husbands involves sacrifice. We cannot love our wives as Christ loved the church without sacrifice.
According to Paul, the selective and sacrificial work of Christ was for a two-fold purpose. Each of these two purposes is introduced by the word “that” in verses 26 and 27.
26 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 should be holy and blameless.
Christ gave Himself up for the church so that she might be cleansed and purified, that she might become holy. Paul reveals not only the goal of the church’s purification, but the means. I have wondered at Paul’s choice of words. Why does he tell us that the church has been cleansed by the “washing of water with the word”? Is the church not purified and sanctified by the shed blood of Christ? By all means (see Hebrews 9:11-14; 1 Peter 1:2, 18-19).
The imagery of “washing” is also one that is found elsewhere in relationship to our salvation, or our cleansing from sin (see Acts 22:16; Titus 3:5; 1 Corinthians 6:11). But of particular interest is Paul’s reference here to the “word.” Jesus told His disciples that they were clean because of the word which he spoke to them (John 15:3). The gospel is a cleansing agent, for it is the good news of Christ’s atoning death at Calvary. The Word is a cleansing agent also for sanctification (John 17:17).
But why the emphasis here on the Word of God as the means by which the church is saved and sanctified? A friend of mine, Craig Nelson, suggested the reason. It is because the Word of God is the instrument by which the husband may contribute to the spiritual growth and sanctification of his wife. I believe that this is a mandate for men, an implied command to be men of the word, if they are to contribute to the spiritual development of their wives. How does a husband seek to edify and build up his wife? In the same way the apostles and elders seek to promote the growth and maturity of the church—by devoting themselves to “prayer and the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4).
The first goal of Christ’s sacrificial ministry to the church was her spiritual growth and purity—her salvation and sanctification. The second goal of Christ’s sacrificial ministry is divinely self-serving. While one of Christ’s goals was to bless some with salvation and sanctification, His ultimate goal is not man-centered, but God-centered. Christ’s sacrificial ministry to the church was for his own glory. The church has been called out, set apart, cleansed and sanctified. The church is not yet complete in terms of her number, nor in terms of her glorification. The church is being prepared as a bride. The ultimate goal of our salvation and sanctification is to be presented to Him, perfect and complete, as His bride, to His glory. The glory of God is the ultimate goal of Christ’s sacrifice, not the blessing of mankind. How easily we lose sight of this reality. How clear it is in Ephesians that the glory of God is the ultimate purpose of God’s eternal plan (see Ephesians 1:3-14).
The Love of Christ For His Body
28 So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; 29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, 30 because we are members of His body. 31 For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh. 32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let each individual among you also love his own wife even as himself
Verses 25-33 deal with the duties of the Christian husband toward his wife. On the surface, it would seem that the husband’s role is likened to two different models (introduced by “as,” verses 25, 28), the love of Christ for His church (verses 25-27) and the love which a man has for his own body (verses 28-33). In reality, these two models merge, so that the central focus is Christ, and the primary obligation of the husband is to imitate Christ by sacrificially and tenderly caring for his wife.
In verses 25-27, Paul reasoned from the model for marriage to the mandate for the husband. He began by describing the sacrificial love of Christ for His church, and then called upon Christian husbands to demonstrate this same love toward their own wives. He reasoned from the divine to the human. In verses 28-33, Paul’s reasoning is reversed. He begins with the husband’s love for his wife and then concludes with Christ’s love and union with His church. He starts with marriage and ends with the mystery of marriage.
In his instructions to the Christian wife, Paul selected one prominent feature of the relationship of Christ and His church—that of His headship over the church, and of the husband’s headship over his wife. Contrary to our expectations, when Paul addresses husbands the matter of Christ’s headship is set aside, replaced by another dimension of Christ’s relationship to the church—love. Paul makes the love of Christ for his church the pattern for the conduct of the husband in relationship to his wife. The central focus is now the sacrificial love of Christ toward His church. Thus, it is not “leadership” which is most prominent in our text, but “love.”
It would seem at first glance that Paul leaves Christ and His church behind at verse 28, turning to something a man can identify with easily, his self-love. This love is not the kind of love which is so prominent today—a psychological self-love, but a very practical, tender care which we show toward our own bodies.
This reference to love for one’s own body is not a new and novel thought. It is rather a reality which is taken for granted, and which is referred to by our Lord in the Gospels:
35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And He said to him, “‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ 38 “This is the great and foremost commandment. 39 “The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF’” (Matthew 22:35-39, emphasis mine).
I believe that Paul’s words in our text are a further commentary on the words of our Lord in the Gospels. The love of self to which our Lord and Paul refer are the tender care which we give to our own physical bodies. Thus, the husband’s care for his wife is related to the care which we have for our neighbor, and likened to the care which we show to our own bodies.
The care which a man has for his wife should go above and beyond that care which we show to our neighbor. The reason for this is found in our text. We are to love our neighbor in a way that is like the way we love and care for our own bodies, but we love our wife as what she really is, a part of our own body.
Two truths merge in verses 28-33. The first truth is that of the union of Christ and His body, the church. The church is the body of Christ. By faith, we are one with Christ. The husband’s love for his wife is to reflect the unity of Christ and his church. But there is another unity which is directly related to the husband and the wife, the unity of the husband and the wife as one flesh at creation.
Paul places these two truths side by side in our text. We are members of His body (verse 30). But in addition, the husband and wife are also “one body,” not only in their physical union (see 1 Corinthians 6:15-20), but in the original union of Adam and Eve. And so Paul cites Genesis 2:24 in verse 31 of Ephesians 5. As we see in Genesis 2, the words cited are in response to the creation of Eve out of Adam’s own flesh (Genesis 2:22-23). Marriage, at the beginning, was the joining of a man and his wife. Since there were no parents involved in the creation of Adam and Eve, and since Eve was made from the flesh and bones of Adam, the union of a man and his wife is primary, and that of a man and his parents is secondary. For this cause, every man who marries must leave his parents and cleave to his wife, for the unity of a man and his wife is deeper and stronger than the unity between a child and his parents.
This first marriage was a prototype of the ultimate marriage, the marriage of Christ and His church. As Eve was created out of Adam’s side, the church was begotten through the wounding of the Lord Jesus. And so the Lord Jesus loves and cares for His church tenderly, because she is, indeed, His flesh. And the husband, too, must love his wife as his own body, because she is also one with him. The two become one flesh. Paul has not left the model of Christ and the church in verses 28-33, but he has underscored it, by turning to the original marriage of Adam and Eve, and pointing out its model of the ultimate marriage, brought about by the Savior, centuries later.
The Relationship Between Leading, Loving, and Submission
Throughout our study of Paul’s instructions to the Christian husband, the terms for “leader,” “leadership,” and “authority” have not been mentioned. The key word which sums up Paul’s exhortation for husbands is not “leadership” but “love.” And so we are back to our initial question: “Why does Paul speak to husbands about loving, rather than about leading?”
The starting point is our Lord Himself, in His relationship to the church, His bride. Few would debate the fact that our Lord took the initiative and the leadership in the salvation and the sanctification of the church. The important thing to notice in our text is where Paul places his emphasis in his account of our Lord’s winning of His bride. The motive is clearly love, and the manifestation of that love is servanthood, expressed in His sacrificial “giving up” of Himself at Calvary. It was our Lord’s love which prompted Him to lead as a servant, and thus to accomplish the salvation and sanctification of the church.
It is the love of our Lord which prompted Him to subordinate His own rights and privileges, and to condescend to taking on human flesh, and then to death on Calvary. In His first coming, Jesus not only submitted Himself to the will of the Father (see Matthew 26:39), He also submitted His interests to the interests of lost sinners, whom He would save by His death, burial, and resurrection:
1 If therefore there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, 2 make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. 3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. 5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:1-8).
What is most difficult for us to grasp is the fact that our Lord actually submitted Himself to the church in His coming and on His cross. Yet this is precisely what Peter indicates in his first epistle. In challenging the saints to live in submission, he turns to Christ as our example of submission, a submission which is to the church:
18 Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable. 19 For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a man bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. 21 For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, 22 WHO COMMITTED NO SIN, NOR WAS ANY DECEIT FOUND IN HIS MOUTH; 23 and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; 24 and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. 25 For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls. 3:1 In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives (1 Peter 2:18–3:1).
Peter begins by calling for Christians to submit themselves to those institutions and leaders which God Himself has ordained (1:13-17). He then turns to slaves, and instructs them to submit to their masters, not just the kind ones, but the cruel ones as well (1:18-20). He then calls our attention to Christ, who is our example of submission. Not only did He submit to human government in his death, but He submitted Himself to us as well, to bring about our salvation (see 1:21-25). Wives, then are addressed in chapter 3, and Peter’s first words are, “In the same way, you wives be submissive to your own husbands …” Christ, then, is our model for submission, and that submission goes beyond submission to the Father, to include men.
The relationship between loving and leading is dramatically illustrated in the lives of our Lord’s disciples. Throughout the gospels, from the beginning to the end, they were constantly pressing Jesus as to when He would establish His kingdom. The reason was because they were eager for the position, prestige, and power they believed that this would bring them. In other words, they could not wait to become leaders in this kingdom.
Their ambition and hunger for power was so great that they even sought to surpass their fellow-disciples in position. They argued with one another as to who was the greatest (Mark 9:33-37). The disciples wanted to force others to get in line behind them (Mark 9:38). James and John got their mother to appeal to Jesus that He give them the two top positions (Matthew 20:20-28).
Jesus frequently instructed His disciples that Christian leadership was vastly different from secular leadership. Service was greatness, and not being served (see Matthew 20:25-28). As the time of His death grew very near, Jesus did not speak to His disciples about leadership, but about love. He washed the disciples’ feet, setting an example for them of the way in which leadership should be expressed, and the humility which a leader should possess (John 13:1-11). Over and over in His upper room discourse (John 13-17), Jesus spoke about love.
After His death, burial, and resurrection, Jesus appeared to His disciples on several occasions during those 40 days before His ascension. One of the most significant for us is His appearance to Peter and some of the disciples, as recorded in John chapter 21. Three times Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him, and three times Peter affirmed his love. And after each of Peter’s affirmations, Jesus responded, “Tend My Sheep” (with some small variations).
I believe that this text in John is critical to our understanding of the relationship between loving and leading. Peter was, like his fellow-disciples, intent of becoming a leader. Jesus persisted in speaking to him, and the others, about becoming “lovers.” They were to be distinguished by their love one for another (John 13:34-35; 15:12, 17). Jesus did not speak to Peter about leadership, per se, but about loving. If Peter loved Jesus, then He would tend His sheep. Peter’s love would result in his leadership, in his servant-leadership (see 1 Peter 5:1-4).
It was not just Peter and the disciples who were wrongly motivated in the matter of leadership. We can see the problem in the churches of the New Testament. There certainly was competition evident in the church at Philippi (see Philippians 1:12-18; 2:1-8; 19-23; 4:2-3), and John also mentions it in his 3rd epistle (3 John 9-10). The church at Corinth was characterized by its factions and its factional leaders (see 1 Corinthians 1:10-17; 4:6). Certain spiritual gifts were touted as superior to other gifts (although in the wrong order—see 1 Corinthians 12:20-25), and this led some to elevate themselves above others. The solution to the problem of power-hungry leaders is found in 1 Corinthians 13—in love.
Interestingly enough, the church at Ephesus would later have a love problem as well. In the Book of Revelation, a short letter is addressed to the church at Ephesus. In many regards, the church was to be commended for its leadership in recognizing false teachers and in dealing with error. Their one great failure was in the area of love:
1 “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: The One who holds the seven stars in His right hand, the One who walks among the seven golden lampstands, says this: 2 ‘I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot endure evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; 3 and you have perseverance and have endured for My name’s sake, and have not grown weary. 4 ‘But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 5 ‘Remember therefore from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you, and will remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent. 6 ‘Yet this you do have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7 ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the Paradise of God’” (Revelation 2:1-7).
I believe that what Paul teaches husbands in this text is based upon an important principle, which can be summarized in this way: “Love expresses itself in servant (submissive) leadership, which seeks the benefit and blessing of another at one’s own expense.” It dare not be assumed that those who set their hearts on leading will love and serve those under their authority. It can be assumed that those who love will serve by leading, in a way that benefits others at the leader’s expense.
The other night, I watched this principle in action. Our church was having an ice cream social and skit night. One of the skits was a “banana eating contest.” Several women were selected from the audience, blindfolded, and then told that they were to see which one of them could eat the most bananas in a designated time. What wasn’t said was that, by previous arrangement, all of the contestants would silently get up and sit down in the audience, leaving only one person on stage, eating her bananas. The woman who was left behind to eat all the bananas was eating as quickly as she could. She began to choke up, and was having trouble swallowing.
I was sitting behind her husband, who became more and more restless. By the time this skit ended, the husband was out of his seat, standing in the aisle, ready to end it. He loved his wife and probably didn’t appreciate the fact that she was put in that situation. While she was being a good sport, he was acting in love, taking leadership that was for the protection and care of his wife. This “lover” didn’t need to be exhorted to “lead,” his love prompted him to lead. Lovers will not hesitate to lead, for the benefit of those under their care, and thus they do not need to be instructed to lead, only to love. Love will lead the way to the blessing of the one loved, at the expense of the lover. And thus love submits itself to the interests of the one loved in servant-leadership.
Submission has the same spirit and the same essence, but it is expressed in different ways. It is not appropriate for a father to manifest submission by obeying his child, or for a master to obey his slave. Those who are given leadership positions demonstrate their submission by becoming servant-leaders, motivated by love. In general terms, submission is demonstrated upward (toward those in authority over us) by fear (respect) and obedience, while submission is demonstrated downward (to those under our authority) by a spirit of servanthood which is evident in our leadership.
Paul’s teaching to both husbands and wives should cause us to be very discerning about the content of the “how-to” books on marriage. Paul’s teaching on marriage is not like the teaching of most marriage manuals. Most books on marriage are based on this kind of motivation: “How can I have a successful, happy, and fulfilling marriage?” The Bible starts with a very different motivation: “What is God’s purpose for marriage, and how can my conduct as a husband or wife fulfill this purpose and thus bring glory to God?” Let us not deceive ourselves by thinking that following Paul’s teaching will guarantee a happy a fruitful marriage. It could lead to a divorce, as Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians chapter 7 indicates. Being a godly husband or wife doesn’t assure you of having a happy and successful marriage. Righteousness often leads to persecution and suffering, and this may happen at home (see Matthew 10:34-36; see Micah 7:6).
The marriage manuals seem to equate loving your wife with making her happy, and so they encourage husbands to wash the dishes and to do the kinds of things which wives desire. This is not bad, in and of itself. We should seek to please our mate (see Romans 15:1), but our ultimate goal is to contribute to her purity and godliness. This may require decisions and actions which are not welcomed and are certainly not warm and fuzzy. If our Lord has chosen to employ suffering for the purification of his church (see Romans 5; 8; Hebrews 12), then surely the husband may also chose the uncomfortable way as a means to godliness for himself and his wife.
It is sometimes said that if the husband were the kind of spiritual leader he should be, the submission of the wife would be easy. How “easy” is it for us to follow Christ’s leadership? From Romans chapter 7, I would have to say it is impossible. It is only as we “walk in the Spirit” (Romans 8:1), as we are “filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18) that we can and will love our wives and submit to our husbands, “in the Lord.”
May God grant that each of us carry out our part in acting out the gospel to a lost and dying world, and to the angelic watchers, as we are filled by His Spirit.