Wives, Submit To Your Husbands Part 2
Submit. The word that strikes fear in some and makes others very uncomfortable. Whenever topics on marriage come up and Ephesians 5:22 is read, almost every woman will ask me, "Do I have to submit to my husband?"
I have lived in different countries with different cultures than that of the North American or Western culture and in some of them, marriage is not so much a union based on love rather one based on convenience or necessity. Passion, mistaken for love, might play a part but the idea of forming a deep friendship with your spouse in some cultures is an unknown concept. In a relationship based on convenience or necessity, and depending on how the roles of men and women are perceived in society, it is not always easy for a wife to be able to trust her husband, much less submit to him completely. She might obey her husband only because he controls the finances, but not because she truly wants to.
As a Christian, I have learned early on that if we say we follow Jesus, our identity and culture need to be based on His kingdom, on who He says we are, who we are created to be, and not on the culture we live in. So, culture notwithstanding, let us see what the Word teaches on this topic.
In the first part of this study, we see the reason God created women to be man's helpmeet. We also see how sin later corrupted and tainted everything including the relationship between the man and the woman. Now, let's have a look at what marriage between a man and a woman is supposed to look like starting with the word "submit".
Ephesians 5:21 says, "Submit one to another out of reverence for Christ". This verse comes first, telling Christians that we are to submit one to another. Then, in verse 22, Paul tells wives to submit themselves to their own husbands. The word, "submit" in both verses comes from the ancient Greek word, "hupotassomai" which is a military verb to organize soldiers into formation to confront the enemy.
In telling Christians to submit to each other Paul is telling them to consider each other over themselves and to also be ready to honor and co-operate with each other's leadership in various areas as we work towards a common goal for the gospel and against what the enemy throws at us. In the same way, wives are to place themselves in a position to fight alongside their husbands as well as defend them against the enemy while voluntarily honoring and co-operating with their husbands' leadership as someone under their protection.
"Submit" in these verses does not have the same meaning as another Greek word, "peitharcheo" which means "to obey authority without question". Wives are not told to blindly obey or to be a slave/servant to their husbands as some have interpreted the word to mean.
No one can obligate another person to submit because more than an act, submission is actually an attitude of the heart. God wants all of us to submit wholly to Him but He has also given us free will to choose, and if God does not obligate us to submit to Him, no one person can obligate another to submit to them.
To submit is a voluntary act in response to being loved and feeling secure in that love. This is where husbands need to understand that if their wives know and are secure that they are loved, they will submit voluntarily and naturally to their husbands, placing themselves under their protection while taking up a position alongside him to fight for their goals. This means that husbands have a responsibility to ensure that they love their wives as Christ loves the Church. It does not mean that as a leader, the husband is exempt from all wrong-doing and is allowed to do as he pleases. On the contrary, as a leader, the husband is answerable to God on how he leads his home.
Being submissive to our husbands does not mean we have to be subservient and quiet, speaking only when spoken to, and always only agreeing with our spouses. Marriage is a relationship between two people and a relationship cannot thrive without communication. In order to have good communication, both parties involved must share ideas, opinions, jokes, laughter, joy, and pain. In order for that to happen, wives need to talk and listen just as husbands need to do.
There is a line, however, of how wives should speak. We have to be careful of how we speak and what words we use. Our words can hurt and destroy, so if our role as wives is to fight for, respect, honor, and support our husbands, we need to watch how we speak and what we say. Our role is to build up our husbands so they can reach their God-given potential, and not be contentious women to the point our husbands would prefer to be anywhere but with us.
A marriage is a place where both husband and wife submit to each other, which is why Paul tells us to submit to each other before he tells wives to submit to their husbands and husbands to love their wives. This clearly shows us that marriage is not a place where the husband is superior and the wife, inferior. Both are to submit to each other, honoring and respecting each other while fighting one for the other. Both are to love each other even though Paul does not specifically say that wives are to love their husbands. As a husband remembers to constantly love his wife, so will his wife voluntarily place herself under his leadership and protection.
We have a common enemy, Satan, and he is relentless in his pursuit to rob, kill and destroy all that God has created. God created family, and when families are weak and dysfunctional, all of society is affected. One of Satan's main strategies is to have men and women, husbands and wives, fight against each other instead of for each other.
Let's remember what ezer kenegdo means, why we were created, and what the meaning of submit is so that as women, we will take up our positions alongside our men and fight with, and for them against the true enemy of our souls.
*To read Part One of this study, click this link.