Since the topic was slavery, I noticed that in Eph. 6:5, the ESV has,
- Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ,
- However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
However, the ESV does continue the tradition of the KJV, RSV and NRSV on this word. The difference between the ESV and these other translations is that the ESV claims to be concordant, while the others don't.
My first concern is that the phrase "love and respect" has been used to describe the appropriate marriage relation for today. But I would say that just as we do not expect employees to fear their employers, so a wife should not have to fear her husband. However, we are in no doubt that slaves and wives did fear their masters and husbands in this passage.
My second concern is that slavery is no longer supported by most Bible-believing Christians, but the subordination of the wife is still vigourously taught, based on this passage. This passage has huge significance. To me it says that the marriage relation at this time, described in this passage was one of "love and fear" and ideally the "fear" part should have been done away with by the "love" part.
Here is 1 John 4:18
- There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.
Perhaps, this demonstrates that Christian love should override fear in the wife. She should no longer fear her husband, if he loves her.
However, if "fear" is translated as "respect" then the unsuitability of this chapter for establishing a status quo in a Christian marriage is cloaked. The fact that the slave - master relationship and the wife - husband relationship have something in common is not so obvious. Mind you, I have also read those who do believe that these relationships are parallel. They argue that the wife is to the husband, as the employee is to the employer.
All in all, the problematic issues of basing a marriage on Ephesians are clouded by a poor translation. However, rather than agitate for a better translation, a better Bible, the other option is to reimagine the marriage relationship as a bond of two people who function as equals, and treat this passage as one that is tied to a culture which contained slavery and unequal status for women.
I recognise that equality does not guarantee a happy marriage, which must be based on affection and forgiveness, but it does provide a foundation. Sadly, there are many marriages, both complementarian and egalitarian, which lack compassion and tenderness. It is hard to legislate these things.
Anyway, I want to mention that when I brought up gthe lack of concordance in this passage in Ephesians on a post about Philemon, I was put on moderated status on the BBB. It appears they only want better bibles for men. Its okay to advocate for concordance for general issues, but not for women's issues. Perhaps they don't see that slavery and male dominant marriages appear to be the same topic in a woman's eyes.