Wives submit to your husbands!
That can be a hard pill to swallow for a Christian wife! Did God create women as second-class citizens?
What are Paul and Peter saying to husbands and wives in the submission verses they wrote? There is much abuse of this wives submitting today and over the centuries by both Christian and non-Christian men. Some men take it as a license to rule in the marriage sanctioned by God himself.
Let’s look at one of Paul’s texts: Ephesians 5: 22–24: “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, His body, of which He is the Saviour. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.”
Notice the qualifier here “as to the Lord” and “as the church submits to Christ”. So the wife is to submit to her husband in the same way she submits to the Lord and in the same way the church submits to Christ. . .
How do we all submit to Christ?
Well, it is a total and absolute submission. He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He is the head of the church and He sits at God the Father’s right hand with all power and authority.
So, Paul here is not talking about what we may call “regular submission”. No, it is as a total and absolute submission. The wife is to submit totally and absolutely to her husband in everything, same as the church submits totally and absolutely to Christ.
Why is the wife to submit? Because the husband is the head of the wife, the same as Christ is head of the church. . .hang on to that thought “the same as Christ is the head of the church” for a bit and let’s look at the second part of this submission equation.
Ephesians 5: 25–30: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church.”
At first glance husbands seem to get the best part of this submit to one another deal. All he has to do is love his wife. But wait, it is not a regular kind of love the same as the wife’s submission is not a regular type of submission. The husband is to love his wife just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her to make her holy. This is not a romantic type of love, it is agape love, the love that God has for mankind. It is a totally sacrificial type of love. Just as Christ willingly and in love for mankind, took the sin of the whole world onto Himself on the cross, and then received the entire wrath of God for that sin on our behalf, the husband is to love his wife in a totally sacrificial manner.
If the wife murdered one of the children, the husband in total love would take the blame and die in her place. . .When you understand the kind of absolute and total love a husband is to have for his wife, in all circumstances, you can see that it is also a submissive love, and is not easier to live out than the submission the wife is to have for her husband.
Well, this type of love is not going to happen any more than the wife submitting totally to her husband.
Why? Because we all have a sinful nature! The husband’s sinful nature has him doing all sorts of selfish, or abusive, or even worse things. Even a very mature Christian wife can only take so much of that before she no longer submits. Every wife also has a sinful nature and does all sorts of selfish, or abusive, or even worse things. How can a husband give this all-encompassing agape love to such a sinner?
So, if the kind of submission God expects from both husband and wife is not attainable; what is God telling us in this passage?
Remember, I asked you to hold on to the concept man was the head of the wife the same as Christ is the head of the church. How is Christ the head of the church? Is He bossy and abusive? Does He act selfishly or deceitfully? Does He display any of the acts of sinful nature?
No! So ask yourself, as a wife, if you had a husband who loved you as Christ loved the Church; could you submit to him in all things? A husband who loved you in spite of your shortcomings, who never displayed any of the acts of the sinful nature, but only the fruit of the spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self- control; could you submit to that type of person as head of you? A husband who lived only for you and not for himself in any way, who was always looking for your best interests, could you submit to him?
If the husband is in perfect submission to Christ, then it is actually Christ the wife is submitting to when she submits to a husband who is in such perfect submission to Christ.
And you, as a husband, if you had a wife who was always in submission to you, could you love her with the self-sacrificing kind of love Christ has for the church?
Can you see the kind of relationship Adam and Eve had before they sinned? When God appointed husbands to the responsibility of headship, he had also designed marriage as a wonderful relationship unaffected by our sinfulness.
The world today has an answer for all the problems between husbands and wives. Men and women are equal. Nobody is the boss. But clearly this is not what God has decreed. Scripture plainly says “for the husband is the head of the wife”. This is demonstrated in the Garden of Eden when God confronted Adam and Eve after they disobeyed. Eve was the one first deceived by Satan, yet it was Adam who was confronted first because he was “in charge”; he had been given the responsibility of headship.
The headship given to husbands is not at all like the concept the world has of “the boss”. Man was given a responsibility to care for his wife and family as Christ cares for the church. It is a headship that is not to involve the sinful nature. It is also a headship or responsibility that every man will have to give an accounting before God. Rather than gloating about being made the boss, men should always carry out their responsibilities as the head of the family knowing that they will one day have to give an accounting of their responsibility.
And it is an accounting to someone who knows all about each time that headship was abused!
The world’s solution is equality which is not seen in God’s word to us. We, as Christians, must always be cautious of the world’s solutions because Satan is the prince of this world, and he is constantly out to destroy marriage because God instituted it.
Because we will always have a sinful nature the best we can do in our marriage relationships is grow and mature our faith, becoming more and more like Christ as our lives are sanctified by Christ. The more we become like Christ, the less we respond to our sinful nature.