“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything” Eph. 5:22-24
There are three main greatest relationships in the Church mainly that of husband and wife [Eph. 22-33], parent to child [Eph. 6:1-4] and that of Master and servant [Eph. 6:4-9].
The relationship between husband and wife have been with much controversy but not to spouses that lovingly submit to the lordship of the Lord Jesus Christ. [Genesis 3:16; 1Cor. 7:2; 1Cor. 14:34; Coll. 3:18; Titus 2:5; 1Pet. 3:1-7]. I have found out that spouses that did not start, continue and end as friends; and spend talking and fellowship time together will tend to draw apart having no common ground together.
I have previously addressed the issue of submitting to one another [Eph. 5:21] and “the husband sphere in the matrimonial home” [Eph. 5:25-27]. Husband are the foundation while the wife is the pillars. Matrimonial homes cannot stand if the foundation is faulty or when the pillars are weak and not supporting the foundation well enough.
“Submit” is the term used of wives unto their husbands: “obey,” is the term used of children to their parent [Eph. 6:1], while the servants are to be obedient to their masters [Eph. 6:5]; there is a greater equality between wives and husbands, than between children and parents; or master and servant.
Wives submission simply means that she recognizes that her husband has legitimate authority over them. It means she recognize that there is an order of authority, and that she is part of a unit, a team. She as an individual has specified role and duty in that team work and she is not more important than the other two partners mainly her husband and children. The relationship between husband, wife and children is more like an entrepreneur business where roles and offices are designated and each follow through to carry out the assignment given to their office to perform. Violation to try and function in roles not specified by God or purposely neglecting their God given roles will cause disorder or lawlessness in that family.
The husband stands to the wife in the relation that the Lord does to the Church, and this is to be the ground of her submission: though that submission is inferior in kind and degree to that which she submits to Christ [Eph. 5:24]. Husbands are not taskmasters that lord over their wives and must not have superior over wives mentality.
When we submit to God, we recognize God’s authority and act accordingly. When we submit to the police, we recognize the authority of the police and act accordingly.
When we submit to our employer, we recognize the authority of our employer and act accordingly. The same thing when wives submit to their own husband in all things knowing that it was ordained of the Lord to do so.
Submission does not mean inferiority. As well, submission does not mean silence or slavery. Submission means “sub-mission”, like a mission under another mission synonymous with the word help mate; or mate called alongside her mate to render her own services for the merit and well to do of that two person matrimonial enterprise. There is a mission for the Christian marriage, and that mission must obey and glorify God. The wife says, “I’m going to put myself under that mission. That mission is more important than my individual desires. I’m not putting myself below my husband, I’m putting myself below the mission God has for our marriage, for my life”.
The word “to your own husbands” defines the sphere of a wife’s submission. The Bible never commands a general submission of women unto men in society. This order is commanded only in the spheres of the home and in the church. God has not commanded in His word that men have exclusive authority in the areas of politics, business, education, and so on.
Wives submission to the husband is “as to the Lord”. This is a crucial phrase. It colors everything else we understand about this passage. She must purpose to be his burden bearer and closest buddy or friend.
There are wrong interpretations in this issue. First is the wrong interpretation that the interpretation that “favors” the husband says that as to the Lord means that a wife should submit to her husband as if he is God himself. The idea is “you submit to God in absolutely everything with question, so you must submit to your husband in the same absolute way.” This thinks that as to the Lord defines the extent of submission.
When we take scriptures out of context that is when we either misinterpret it or we have negative or lop-sided understanding of what it is saying. If we take time to study this scripture [Eph. 5:1-20], Apostle Paul kept emphasizing walking in love as the basis of every relationship knowing that love covers a multitude of sin and those that walk in love fulfill the law of God.
A search in any dictionary or thesaurus reveals quite an interesting list of synonyms for the characteristic “submissive,” such as obedient, pliable, meek, unpretentious, spineless, flexible, long-suffering, sheepish, modest, henpecked, shrinking, apologetic, gentle, humble, subservient, and forbearing.
“Wives, fit in with your husbands’ plans, for then if they refuse to listen when you talk to them about the Lord, they will be won by your respectful pure behavior” 1 Peter 3:1 NLT
There are husbands that are not believers but the chaste character of the wives will show them the beauty of accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior.
Therefore as the Church is subject unto Christ so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything” [Ephesians 5:22–24]. Paul perceived a responsibility for women to be meek and unpretentious in both a familial and ecclesiastical setting. Submission is not giving in to a man’s unrighteousness nor giving up on encouraging a man in his potential. In the scriptural context, being submissive does not require women to become doormats for men to walk on. On the contrary, submission requires remarkable strength of character, devotion to covenant, unusual wisdom, and selfless love.
A loving, desirable woman who walks in integrity do not put down her husband to lift up other men nor hurt his feeling. She celebrates his achievements even if it is small. Her tongue is seasoned with salt and speak always what builds up not fiery and angry words that tear down her relationship with her husband. She speak …” pleasant words, because they are like honey comb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bone” [Prov. 16:24]
The Lord ordained that role of submission from the beginning. In the Garden of Eden, God gave woman the assignment of “help meet,” because man needed a complement, being unable to accomplish his mission alone [Genesis 2:18]. The Hebrew word ezer, translated help, infers strength to succor, support, or rescue. Meet, or kenegdo, means “equal to or appropriate for.” Eve and her daughters were created by God to be a help to Adam and his sons, who are their equals. God created man and woman to complement each other. He was fully aware that they would need each other to accomplish their missions and reach their full potential.
Submission is not putting the will of the husband before the will of Christ. Christ is her Lord now, and for the Lord’s sake, she will submit to the husband, but he is not her Lord. Therefore, wherever she must choose between the two, she chooses Jesus. Submission does not mean you will agree with everything your spouse says or want to do, all must be submitted to the scrutiny of the Holy Scriptures to see if it fits in with the will of God; wives apply the use of their brain and scriptures. It also do not mean you cannot influence or advise your husband where and when necessary.
Wives should give wise financial counsel like stopping every weekend “eat out at restaurant” when bills are piling up or making sure that the family do not forsake assembling with other saints in the Church on Sundays. Submission is not getting all her spiritual strength from her husband or living or acting in fear of him. She must know God for herself!
Apostle Paul said follow me as I follow Christ. Submission do not go out of the boundary of obedience to the scriptures. The wife is not to sheepishly submit to the husband when what he wants done is contrary to scriptures. If he decides to go and watch horse betting race, go to casino and bet or night club to drink alcohol, the wife is not under godly obligation to submit to those ungodly acts. Whatever she will do to submit must not contradict scriptures.
If we want God’s blessing [and all His commandments are designed for the good of both men and women], then we must deliberately cast off the world’s ways–both of domineering men and of feminist thinking and seek to understand and obey God’s, clear commandments, however odd they may seem to our tradition, culture or mindset. Our approach must be to seek to explain and apply what Scripture teaches.
A submissive wife is not “kicking against the goads,” as Paul was before his conversion. A submissive wife is not fighting for her rights, demanding equal treatment. She doesn’t have anything to prove. The fight is over when you submit. A submissive wife trusts God to meet her needs and do not nag her husband. Please note that “It’s better to live in a corner on the roof than to share a house with a contentious woman” [Prov. 21:9]. Good behavior and etiquette will make her to be valued by her husband and even in laws.
Do you remember how Vashti lost her place as queen when she disobeyed the order of her husband the King
…”But the queen Vashti refused to come at the king’s commandment by his chamberlains: therefore was the king very wroth, and his anger burned in him…And let the maiden which pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti. And the thing pleased the king; and he did so” [Esther 1:12, 2:4]
A submissive wife is not argumentative, irritable, complaining at all times, assertive, pushy, self-willed, and difficult to get along with. All believing wives are to be growing in humility, gentleness, patience, forbearance, and love [Eph. 4:2]. Their lives are to be under the control of the Holy Spirit, who produces joy and thankfulness. A virtuous wife is polite, well mannered, pleasant, respectful, and supporting her husband to prepare a greater future for their home and great execution of the family vision.
“You should not use outward aids to make yourselves beautiful, such as the way you fix your hair, or the jewelry you put on, or the dresses you wear. Instead, your beauty should consist of your true inner self, the ageless beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of the greatest value in God’s sight. For the devout women of the past who placed their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful by submitting themselves to their husbands. Sarah was like that; she obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are now her daughters if you do good and are not afraid of anything” 1Peter 3:3-6 GNB
With regard to marriage, the submission of the wife is taught in several places [Colossians 3:18, Titus 2:5, and 1 Peter 3:1-6], and we saw the submission of Sarah who called her husband Abraham lord in the above scripture. Apostle Peter above calls for moderation in outward adornment of women like jewelry or fixing of hairs and he majors on developing godly character and fruit of the Spirit that shows your Christ likeness and help to honor, respect and love your husband faithfully.
“Your life in Christ makes you strong, and his love comforts you. You have fellowship with the Spirit, and you have kindness and compassion for one another. I urge you, then, to make me completely happy by having the same thoughts, sharing the same love, and being one in soul and mind. Don’t do anything from selfish ambition or from a cheap desire to boast, but be humble toward one another, always considering others better than yourselves. And look out for one another’s interests, not just for your own” Phil. 2:1-4 GNB
When a woman truly love God, she will submit wholeheartedly to her own husband allowing that love to cover a multitude of sins that the husband may have committed, she does whatever it takes to keep peace in her home. She lovingly depict the virtuous woman [Prov. 31:10-31] who uses wisdom to maintain joy in her home. Wisdom speaks [Psalms 133] that where there is no unity, oneness or godly accord between a man and his wife that is they are not living in harmony and of the same mind and thinking and feeling alike, the fullness of the blessings of God cannot reside there.
“A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life” Prov. 31:10-12
A virtuous woman places her trust in The Lord, and through the healing of that relationship she may find it possible to build and maintain trust in her husband also. She strives to build up her man, not tear him down. She will desire to speak life into her marriage, not be the death of it. She will seek ways to find the best attributes of her spouse, and she will ruminate on those. She will fan the flame of his confidence, she will inspire him with loving words, and she will back up her compliments with adoring actions that represent her praise.
A virtuous wife realizes her affections will be reciprocated in time, but she doesn’t perform based on what she can get out of the relationship. She serves the marriage out of selfless love, and while walking in this mindset she finds it quite easy to speak words of love and affirmation to her husband.
A virtuous wife strives to honor her spouse. She realizes from God’s word that honor in marriage is a characteristic for both parties, but she doesn’t act honorable only when she feels it’s reciprocated. She honors her husband because this is what God commands for her as a wife. She knows diligence will show her a return of what she puts forth, and she understands her loving respect of her husband honors her relationship with The Lord.
A virtuous wife prays for her spouse, but it doesn’t stop there. She prays diligently, without ceasing. She prays selflessly, not praying for what’s in her best interest, but in what’s God’s best for him. A virtuous wife knows her best contribution to her husband is her prayer life for him. She knows that in so many instances she cannot change circumstances or change her spouse, but that nothing is impossible with God. She is the priest that presents her husband case before God.
“Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another” Romans 12:10
I am not shying away from talking about sexual relationship between husband and wife. It is a known biblical fact that a woman must not deny the husband enjoyable sexual acts except they both agree to temporarily give themselves to praying and fasting. Sexual intimacy should not be used as weapon to punish your spouse [when you deny him/her for no just cause] or used as bargaining chip to get some things from your spouse.
Paul makes three points about the submission of wives to their husbands in the book of Ephesians:
A. The submission of wives to their husbands stems from the wife’s submission to Christ [5:22].
God has ordained an order for the church and the home in which male and female are to reflect His image [Gen. 1:28]. Part of the image of God involves the voluntary submission of the Son to the Father. Though equal in His deity, the Son yields Himself to the Father’s plan. As Jesus explained, “I can do nothing on My own initiative…. I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me” (John 5:30). Jesus submitted even to the cross. So wives should voluntarily submit to their husbands.
Thus God’s plan is that in the home, women, who are equal persons with men before God, are willingly to submit themselves to male leadership for the carrying out of the divine plan. The main reason a wife should submit to her husband’s leadership in the home is to please and obey God. If you challenge or undermine your husband’s leadership, you are resisting the lordship of Christ in your life [Eph. 5:22].
B. The submission of wives to their husbands is because the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church [Eph. 5:23].
Resisting God’s authority and wanting to put himself on an equal (not higher, but equal) plane with God was Satan’s original sin: “I will make myself like the Most High” [Isa. 14:15]. When God put man and woman in the garden to reflect His image, He put the man over the woman, as implied by the order [1 Cor. 11:9] and purpose (to be a helper for him–helpers aren’t over the ones they help, except in the case of God) of her creation.
First, headship of men is a divine arrangement and they will be held accountable if they misuse or fall short in their responsibility. Headship of men implies accountability and responsibility. Your head is responsible for what your body does. If a person does something stupid and gets hurt, we don’t blame his body, as if it did something apart from him. We blame him, and we question whether he acted wisely, which is to question his headship! If you are the head of a department at work, and the department doesn’t complete its assignment properly, you’re the guy they go after. The head is accountable and responsible for those under his charge unto the Lord God.
Whatever happens in the family, God holds the husband primarily accountable and responsible for it. This doesn’t mean that a wife should be totally passive if her husband is being irresponsible, but it does mean that come judgment day, men cannot blame your wife for the lack of spiritual direction in your home! You’re it! As men, we need to take the initiative in the family to read the Bible, to pray, to be involved in the church and in serving the Lord, and to train our children in the things of God.
Secondly, headship implies seeking the well-being of the body. In your physical body, your head is not out to hurt or abuse the members of your body so that your head can profit, but to protect and nurture your body. If your body suffers, your head suffers. Concerning Christ’s headship of the church, Paul states, “He Himself being the Savior of the body.” Of course the role of Savior is unique to the One who shed His blood for our remission of sins.
But there is a principle that applies to every position of authority, namely, that God never grants authority so that the one in authority can serve himself at the expense of those under his authority. God gives authority for the protection and well-being of those under that authority. If a man abuses his authority over his family by serving himself rather than by building up his family in the Lord, he will answer to God! Even as Christ the Head gave Himself for the salvation of His bride, the church, so husbands are to give themselves in love for their wives.
Two captains cannot control a ship, women should take their place of second in command. There should be no contention in a loving home but one complementing the other. She is not a dormant partner! But she uses all wisdom and godly understanding to build her home
“Every wise woman builds up her household, but the foolish one tears it down with her own hands” Prov. 14:1
Remember that …” By wisdom a house is built; it is made secure through understanding” Prov. 24:3
Christian marriages should be radically different from worldly marriages. In a Christian marriage, rather than competing with the husband or trying to manipulate him to get her way, the wife willingly submits to him, seeking to build him in the Lord and to do all she can to please him. The husband rather than bullying his wife or, as often happens, passively letting her have her way so that he can buy himself some peace, the Christian husband provides loving leadership, sacrificially giving himself to build and nurture his wife in the Lord.
The point is, the world ought to look at the way a Christian couple relates to one another, recognize the unique beauty of this kind of marriage, and say, “I want that for myself.” That’s when we tell them, “The way you get it is by repenting of your selfishness and sin, trusting in Christ as your Savior, and submitting to Him daily as your Lord.”
Some of the godly virtues of a good home builder is her trustworthiness [Prov. 31:11]. Her husband could trust her completely; she was honest, truthful and loyal, and he could rely totally upon her discretion. Her Affection for her husband is much [Prov. 31:12, 28]. She greatly loved the man who greatly loved her, and this was the basis of this wonderful marriage. Lastly her godly influence in her home is great [Prov. 31:23}. When her husband sits in council among peers or on his job, they always immediately associated him with his wife, because she was known to be such a gracious and godly lady.