Love and Respect
The last verse in our section, verse 33, reads like this, However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
Many popular marriage lecturers capitalize on this verse. They even say that a woman’s greatest need is “love” and a man’s greatest need is “respect.” And they quote this verse and call these gender “needs” a Biblical idea.
But look at the verse. Does it say this is a man’s need or a woman’s need? No, Paul is admonishing them to love and to respect. We ask, “Why does Paul say this?” It is an important question, but we must be careful our answer is consistent with Scripture. Some believe Paul says it because this is how men and women are wired. But the implications of that explanation are not justified in the context. 
I believe the context is telling us that this final verse on marriage is a summary verse. It includes both the wives and the husbands together. And the verses that follow go into instructions for children and parenting.
When a woman submits, it is respectful (but that doesn’t mean it lacks love). And when a man submits, it is loving (but that doesn’t mean it lacks respect). I think this verse, like those before it, shows us descriptions of submission, though not an exhaustive list.
Paul might even be highlighting the very struggle of Ephesian husbands and wives. When this letter was read, I can imagine the inner struggle and the gasps in the assembly as they saw how deeply sacrificial the life of God goes:
“Respect my husband?” the wives say. “I’m the spiritually astute one and the goddess Artemis says so! I can’t give that up! I’m good at going behind backs and manipulating to get my way! I might look submissive on the outside, but I’m stubborn on the inside.”
“Love my wife? Are you kidding?” the husbands say. “I own her! I can’t lay down my life. That degrades my status and undermines my authoritative position in the home. If I lay my life down, who will take care of her? Only a commander can; not a dying savior.”
Yet we cannot dance around Paul’s words. He’s clear and consistent with the gospel of Jesus our Messiah. We stand on equal footing in marriage, under one authority, in the Kingdom of God. And out of that we submit to one another with love and respect out of reference for Jesus, our Savior and King.
I will offer some concluding remarks in the final post, coming next.
 Love is a human need, not just a womanly need. One simple example will suffice: When Jesus said, “God so loved the world…” it wasn’t just women’s needs for love that he died for. All humans need connection to him and to each other. All humans need love. All humans are bankrupt without it and it is one of the grandest themes in Scripture (cf. 1 Cor 13 which is written for men and women) and is even included in Ephesians 5 prior to our section (see vs. 13-15.) To say “love” is only a womanly need grossly misses the point.