Wives, be subject to your husbands as you are to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife just as Christ is the head of the church, the body of which he is the Savior. Just as the church is subject to Christ, so also wives ought to be, in everything, to their husbands… In the same way, husbands should love their wives as they do their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hates his own body, but he nourishes and tenderly cares for it, just as Christ does for the church, because we are members of his body. (Ephesians 5:22-24 and 28-30)
Ladies, one of the most controversial teachings in scripture is the one that calls for women to submit. This subject causes the defenses to go up pretty quickly between man and woman, and arguments to ensue. Those who don’t understand the truth about this teaching believe it to be an unfair hierarchy in a marriage that puts man above woman and assumes the latter to be a slave to him.
But is this really the true meaning behind the verse?
1. It’s not about being walked all over. Some women have the misconception that submission means “letting husbands boss wives around” or “women not having their own minds” or “women being second-class citizens in the home.” But this couldn’t be further from the truth.
2. It’s about structure to avoid chaos. In any company or business, there’s someone who takes the lead. Someone who makes the final call. With someone in charge, there is order. This is the same in the home.
3. It doesn’t mean women are not as valuable or important. The belief that women are not as worthy as men is so wrong, it’s sad that even some Christians believe it. Right after wives are called to submit to husbands, husbands are directed to love their wives. And if a husband truly loves his wife, he would never devalue her or make her feel unimportant. In fact, it would be the complete opposite. A man would hold his wife in high regard, treat her like a princess and make her feel like the worthy person that she is.
4. It only works in a Godly marriage. Seriously! A wife can’t submit to an ungodly husband. If he treats her badly, abuses her, insults her or makes terrible choices for the family, then it’s beyond difficult for a wife to submit. But a Godly man would be trustworthy and would strive for the best for his family. Submitting to a man who puts his family above others and holds God to the highest regard is a lot easier than the alternative.
5. It takes humility. A wife will surely find it nearly impossible to submit to a man if she is bogged down by pride and resentment. A Godly wife knows that submission requires a lot of humility. But that’s okay, because Christians are called to be humble in general, right?
6. God picked man to lead. Man didn’t place himself in charge. God picked man because He created man first. Additionally (and some of you may not like this part), when God created woman, He created her for man. “Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner’” (Genesis 2:18). This is reiterated in 1 Corinthians 11:8-9 when Paul writes, “Indeed, man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for the sake of woman, but woman for the sake of man.” Now many women take this the wrong way, assuming it means man owns woman. But again, it doesn’t mean this. It means woman was created for a role that man can’t fulfill—the role of mother and nurturer. (I may go into this a little further in another post as I’m sure this will leave many of you ladies with tons of questions.)
7. Scripture calls for submission in man also. “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7) If we all allow God to take the lead in our lives, then we will live holier lives. We will better resist temptations.
8. Jesus submitted to His Father. Remember in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus asked God to have the “cup pass His lips,” but still accepted His fate if God willed it. If Jesus can submit, so can we.
Ladies, being a submissive wife only works if the husband loves her as he should. Remember that. A submissive wife is not treated badly by the husband, nor does she allow herself to be. A Godly marriage is not about the wife living according to her husband’s desires. A Godly relationship is not like the 50 Shades of Grey movie (which I have not watched and will not watch, by the way).
A submissive wife and a loving husband come together in mutual respect of each other’s roles and responsibilities in marriage. God created marriage. And when it’s honored in the way the He designed, then it works to perfection. Everything God created, when honored in the way He designed it, works to perfection. Sadly, much of what He’s designed has been distorted and abused and reinterpreted, so the Truth is lost. We shouldn’t let our pride or worldly desires get in the way of a life that God designed for us.