In more than 35 years of pastoral ministry I haven’t met a man, married or unmarried, who couldn’t quote this biblical phrase from Ephesians 5:22 “Wives, Submit!” Oh, they may even be un-churched, unsaved, but they knew women are “supposed” to submit to men.
I heard a nationally known preacher once say, “Women, accept it, you are inferior to men.” Of course, in 2015 he would be taken out “behind the wood shed” BY WOMEN!
Why does the Bible say things like this? Isn’t this one of the reasons people say the Bible is so outdated? Could God have been thinking about this century or was he even aware culture would change and we would need a Book that can change with the times? Let me address this last set of questions first.
Truth is truth no matter the age or century.
We know mathematical truth is true throughout eons of time. The laws of physics remain untouched. The Bible is timeless truth written by men who were inspired by the Hoy Spirit.
The Bible is a Divine/human document. Both the words and writers are inspired by God THEREFORE the Bible is “God’s infallible Word”. That settled; let’s now answer this question, “Did God really say, ‘Wives Submit’?”
Let’s read the passage in its context: Ephesians 5:21 – 24 NIV 21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. 22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
In this passage we discover, YES, He said women are to “submit to their own husbands in EVERYTHING.” We probably need to start with a working definition of “submit”.
The word means to “yield the right of way”. Have you ever gone to an intersection and seen a YIELD sign. We learn this means let the other person go first then it’s your turn. Great you say, “then I get to choose whatever the family gets to do and everyone can take their turn after me”.
Like in the old days when baths were on Saturdays and the whole family took a bath on the back porch in THE SAME #2 washtub. They started with Mom & Dad then from the oldest to the youngest ALL IN THE SAME water.
That’s where the saying came, “don’t throw the baby out with the bath water”. (Poor Baby, and poor family where men think this is how submission is interpreted, “I get to go first”).
There are THREE key truths in this passage that inform us on how to implement biblical truth in modern society:
#1 – Submission is mutual, “21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Yielding the right of way is for both men and women. Actually, it is for the whole family but it isn’t likely self-absorbed children or teenagers will gravitate to this quality too early in life. But it is a truth based upon the golden rule, “Do unto to others as you would have them do unto you” or the Law of Love. Christ modeled this submission for us by being willing to die for our best interest. Out of reverence for Him we follow His lead.
#2 – Women are equal to men. The passage above says, “wives, submit to your own husbands”. It doesn’t say, “Women submit to men”. There is role clarification for the dynamics between a husband and wife. In the beginning God created humankind in his image and He made them, “Male and Female”… both are in His image. “Great”, you say, “she still has to give to me first”. Well, read on.
#3 – She is to submit to her husband “AS SHE DOES TO THE LORD”. The truth is He continues in verses 25 – 31… seven verses for the husband; three verses for the wife. Now ask yourself the question, ”What am I asking my wife and my family to yield to?” Is it self-centered or Christ-centered ideals. The Christian man, because he has surrendered to Someone else to be in charge of His life MUST yield the right of way to Christ. Women love Christ, they love to follow Him, and they devote their lives to serving Him. Are you like Christ? This is where true submission is realized.
The biblical principle for a glorious marriage may not be easy but it’s simple: “wives treat your husband like you treat Christ; MEN act like Christ”. Be willing to die for the salvation of your family, Become the savior (little “s”) of the family and be willing to sacrifice for their good. Ask them simply to follow you as you follow the Lord.
As you surrender to Christ’s Headship, you will see others follow you as the head of the family. As you “yield the right of way” you will witness the family follow suit. Even your teenagers are begging for a role model. They are looking all around for one. You can be the one who models Christ character, someone they can submit too. Let’s be true men of God and love our families as Christ loves them. Then we’ll reap the benefits of our family’s submission.