When I asked this question last night on Sharing Life Issues, it was greeted with so much concern and worry that we may be straying away from the biblical theology that “admonishes” all women to submit to their husbands as the head of the home, and not the other way round.
Christians are champions of this cause and hold strongly to it for dear life. As if the mere mention of it in my question could pose a major risk to the survival of MANkind. I therefore made it clear, that this is not a ‘gender equality’ issue as it may be feared, but notwithstanding, bothers on such boundaries.
Asking women to submit to their husbands, in our culture and society today, is akin to expecting them to be ‘doormats’ – “as soon as the dowry is paid she has to be totally and completely submissive to her husband and that’s final!”. This is has been the general misconception over decades. I fear the part in the bible where Paul admonishes christians to follow this rule, has been quoted out of context for many years.
The topic is introduced in Ephesians 5:21 and extends to Chapter 6 Vs 9.
“25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her; 26 that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless. 28 So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. he who loves his own wife loves himself; 29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, 30 because we are members of His body. 31 For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh. 32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let each individual among you also love his own wife even as himself; and let the wife see to it that she respect her husband.”
Instead of asking husbands to lead their wives, Paul instructs them to love their wives. For Paul, loving takes priority over leading. The first goal of Christ’s sacrificial ministry to the church was her spiritual growth and purity – her salvation and sanctification. His second goal is divinely self – serving. So husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself (28). For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church (29).
It is important to note that being the head here is more of a spiritual /divine responsibility than a physical one. As the man is called to spiritual guide the wife in love and help in her sanctification. So this in a real sense should put men on their toes, as we would expect to be held accountable should our wives stray from true christian worship and love of God.
“The marriage manuals seem to equate loving your wife with making her happy, and so they encourage husbands to wash the dishes and to do the kinds which wives desire. This is not bad, in and of itself. We should seek to please our mate (see Romans 15:1), but our ultimate goal is to contribute to her purity and godliness. This may require decisions and actions which are not welcomed and certainly not warm and fuzzy. If our Lord has chosen to employ suffering for the purification of His church (see Romans 5;8; Hebrews 12), then surely the husband may also choose the uncomfortable way as a means to godliness for himself and his wife.”
So if we choose the bible to be our manual in the interpretation of submission in its true sense, we must consider every bit of it, and truly desire to love our wives as Christ loved the church and gave His life for her. Let us not be blinded by the word itself, but truly understand the meaning and follow it to the letter.
Do you feel there is something about this kind of submission that crawls under your skin? Please share