Hold On, Wait a Sec: Ephesians 5:22-33 and Genesis 2:24

We determined that Paul’s use of Gen 2:(23-)24 demonstrates that he was looking at Scripture and seeing the unity of the relationship. Hold on, wait a second. Genesis 2:24 was seen by many to have the passive submission of the wife and active motion of the husband. Implicit in Gen 2:24 is wifely submission. As we have stated before, in this text (Eph 5:22-33) is a complex matrix of hierarchy and equality. Even Gen 2:24 demonstrates this complex matrix, for while the two become one flesh, i.e. they are one unit and are therefore equal partners, there is still a level of submission and a level of action, and the two partners partake in the unity on different levels. It seems that Gen 2:24 in Eph 5:22-33 is emphasizing the unity, for Paul then describes the relationship of the church with Christ as a great mystery (although his statement applies also to marriage). Then Paul says, “Nevertheless, . . .” (5:33). It seems that the development of the argument goes like this:

01) Paul is arguing for husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the church

02) Paul’s point is that husbands are to take action, for Christ took action and the church received the action

03) Genesis 2:24 demonstrates that the wife receives the action without doing anything (the husband does the work)

04) But despite her passivity, she is still joined with the husband into one flesh

05) This union is a great mystery whether we are looking at the union between husbands and wives or Christ and the church

06) Nevertheless, white they are equal partners, there are still roles to fulfill in marriage: husbands love; wives respect.

Therefore, Paul’s use of Gen 2:24 is not quite how we put it originally. Yes, it places some emphasis on equality, but it does not solve the issue and do away with hierarchy. It demonstrates that we are still dealing with a complex matrix.