In a successful covenant relationship not only do we give up rights, but we also pick up responsibilities. The most explicit New Testament passage on marriage is found in Ephesians 5:22-33.
For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything. For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself. No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church. And we are members of his body. As the Scriptures say, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.” This is a great mystery, but it is an illustration of the way Christ and the church are one. So again I say, each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
(Eph. 5:22-33)
According to this passage, there are three responsibilities that we pick up if we want to have a successful covenant relationship.

First, we must love unconditionally. Let me go so far as to say that if it is conditional, it is not love. In fact, it is easy to love when things are lovely. In contrast, God’s standard for love in a covenant relationship is found in Christ’s love for us. Romans 5:8 says, “But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” At some point, we will be faced with this question — will I love when they don’t deserve it? I am so glad God never withholds His love from us, though so undeserving! Even when we are faithless, He is faithful! A contract is conditional, but covenant binds me regardless of the other person’s performance. This is one reason divorce is against the very nature of God — because on their worst day, when our spouse deserves love the least, they actually need it the most. This is a responsibility in covenant as God designed it.

Second, we should honor respectfully. Unfortunately, we live in a culture that lacks honor on every level. I believe God wants us to put honor back in our society and it can start with our marriages. Honor simply means to place value upon. In verse 26 of Genesis 2, it says, husbands are to make their wives holy. Holy does not mean perfect, it means set apart or special. Sadly, we have a generation of young men that do not know how to treat young ladies. I believe the equal rights movement started in this nation largely because women weren’t being treated properly with honor. Although I do not like the spirit of the movement, it is a response to the fact that we have not had the level of honor that God requires in our marriages.

Thirdly, we pick up a responsibility to submit mutually. True submission is not demanded, it is offered. This same principle of submission is what makes our relationship with God a success. He wants to be first place in our hearts and lives. A successful relationship with God is based on the fact that He is not just on our list but He’s at the very top of our list. We give ourselves freely and completely to Him. Not because He demands it, but we offer ourselves in response to His great and immeasurable love.

East Coast Believers Church
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