This issue of submission is one that causes a lot of confusion. Wives submit to your husbands. I hear so many people, men as well as women, using it as a way to justify oppression. In Ephesians Paul speaks on submission;
“Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. 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…. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church….Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband”. Ephesians 5:21-33
I genuinely do not think that this scripture should cause as much confusion as it does. I think it is pretty simple. Firstly, people tend to ignore the part where he says submit to one another, this is extremely important because it means that both husband and wife should yield to one another instead of each demanding their own way. As scholar Claire M. Powell writes In ‘Ephesians; IVP woman’s bible commentary’ , “Paul never specifies any cultural action or practical application from this passage”. It is evident that Paul was of the belief that if you are filled with the Holy Spirit and you want to live out of reverence for Christ, then you will instinctively submit to each other. You will yield the right way.
The scripture also says husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church. Love your wives as yourself. Wives submit to your husbands. It is common logic. If you loved your wife as Christ loved the church, if you loved your wife as you loved yourself, you would never submit her to do anything that you yourself would not do. That is not what the scripture was talking about when it referred to submission. If you truly treat your wife in the way you would treat yourself and expect her to submit in certain things, they must be things that you yourself would be willing to do. If you love your wife as yourself submission comes easy to her as it would not be the submission of abuse and maltreatment the way some men intend to. She trusts that everything you ask of her will be for her betterment. Some people take the word submission from the scripture and then step away from the scripture and fill it up with what they want, they stray from the biblical meaning and use it to fulfil their own ungodly wishes.
When Paul writes, “Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her”, I believe he is saying, listen Yeshua chose to be ridiculed, beaten, whipped and killed for our benefit. He did not die for his benefit. That is the example for husbands. Are you willing to stress yourself daily to make sure your wife gets what she needs? With authority comes responsibility. You cannot be demanding submission when you abuse your authority and behave irresponsibly as a husband. Show me a husband who is willing to lay his life for his wife and next to him you will see a woman who has no problem with submission.
Submission does not mean you give up rational thinking. It does not mean that if the person you are submitting to wants to do something illegal, demeaning or that puts your life in danger you can do it and then say to Yahweh “Well I was just submitting to my authority like you requested”. For example Romans 13 says that Christians must submit to the governing authority right? Yet in Acts 4 Peter and John directly disobeyed the governments order. Why? Because Adhering to that order would have meant disobeying God. Submission does not mean that you stop using your brain and say yes when you are being asked to do something that violates the word, your conscience, or common sense.
Submission is not acting through or living in fear. It does not mean you degrade your wife. It does not mean you lord over her and control her to make your own life easier. It does not mean you bully her or strip her of all forms of opinion or influence. This is mans selfish interpretation of the biblical version of submission. Marriage is ONE union. Your wife is a part of you. Your rib. She trusts you to lead. Meaning you will not lead her down the path of despair. It is a two way street. You use your power as the head to benefit her not lord over her. You treat her how you would want to be treated and she will submit to you easily. Treat her well and your blessings will be endless, after all “he who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favour from the Lord” . Together as one you are powerful. Your wife is not your slave. She is not inferior. She is an extension and a reflection of you.