When we talk about Biblical submission between a husband and wife, many feminists scream at the mere mention of the word.
Others wrongly misapply its meaning and use it as license to abuse their spouse—which is never approved by God.
But true Biblical submission in marriage is a beautiful thing and meant to reflect something much deeper.
Ephesians 5:22-24 says: “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husband.”
What does this mean?
It means God has placed the husband as the spiritual leader of the home. Even if the wife is more spiritually mature than her husband, the husband is still in charge of leading his home and God will ultimately hold him responsible for that role.
But submission isn’t meant to be something feared or dreaded. True Biblical submission is joyful and willing!
Think about the times in your life when you trusted someone who cared for your best interests – perhaps a doctor or a family member. You likely joyfully submitted when they directed or guided you, right?
Well in marriage, it’s so much deeper.
Yes, the woman is called to submit to her husband as the leader of the home… but this doesn’t mean she’s a silent doormat without an opinion and that he makes unilateral decisions.
Any godly man would welcome his wife’s thoughts and views and defer to her insight as well. But yes, should a situation arise where they disagree, the wife is called to submit to her husband.
However, a wife is never called to submit to her husband if it involves her to do something that would be sin against God like lying, stealing, cheating on taxes, watching pornography, etc.
And in marriage, the husband has an important responsibility to his wife too!
He is actually called to die for his wife – the ultimate act of sacrificial love.
“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body.
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.”
This example of submission and sacrifice isn’t just about an earthly marriage. It’s meant to reflect the relationship Christ has with us, His church. Loving His church enough to die for them.
The wife submits to her husband, just as the church submits to Christ. And the husband is called to lay down his life for his wife, just as Christ laid down His life for His church.
John Piper says in Desiring God:
“So marriage is like a metaphor or an image or a picture or parable that stands for something more than a man and a woman becoming one flesh. It stands for the relationship between Christ and the church. That’s the deepest meaning of marriage. It’s meant to be a living drama of how Christ and the church relate to each other.”
So when you hear of Biblical submission, know it is designed to be something beautiful and holy.
And while the feminists of the world may baulk at the idea and consider submission as degrading, you can rest assured knowing you are living out your faith in a countercultural way and bringing glory to God.
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