Should a Wife Submit to her Husband?
In today’s world, the concept of submission in marriage tends to create a negative and combative response. Within various secular schools of thought related to feminism, gender identity and LGBTQ ideology, the concept of a woman submitting to her husband can be considered to be either sexist, oppressive or irrelevant in today’s current culture.
Indeed both men and women were created with equal worth before God. This means that men cannot claim to be of greater value or worth than women, and neither can women claim to be more valuable than men.
However the Bible is also clear in relation to God’s design and order regarding marriage, in that men and women have different roles. The variation in roles between the two sexes is integral to the proper health and function of a marriage?
Concerning the different roles of both wife and husband in marriage, the Bible says the following:
Ephesians 5:22-33 says: Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 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. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands
25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ 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 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. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
The ancient Greek word translated submit is [hupotasso] which means “to arrange under”; “to yield to one’s admonition or advice”
Submission does not make the wife a servant to the husband. It does not mean that a wife should allow herself to be physically abused. Submission does not mean that a wife cannot exercise critical thinking or express a different opinion from her husband. Neither does submission suggest that the wife is not equal in worth to her husband.
Both husband and wife are equal before God, however it is only their functions within the marriage which differ.
Submission is the act of yielding or consenting to the authority of another. Submission incorporates voluntary obedience and respect. It is a recognition that the husband has been given authority by God to lead his family and that the husband ultimately makes the final decision within the home.
According to Ephesians 5:22-24, wives are required to submit to their husbands in the following ways:
1) Wives, submit to your own husband. So concerning her home and family affairs, a wife does not submit to other men, but only to her husband. She does not allow another man to control her marriage and family affairs because she is one flesh with her husband alone, and nobody else (Genesis 2:24)
Matthew 19:4-6 says: He answered, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”
2) Wives, submit as unto the Lord. This means she submits to her husband out of love and obedience to the Lord and within the parameters or boundaries of God’s word. Therefore if her husband were to request his wife to do something which contradicts the word of God, for example: worship idols, perform criminal activities or participate in anything that might put her life in danger, then the wife is not obligated to submit as such actions would not please God.
Why should a wife submit instead of the husband? The answer is found in Ephesians 5:23, “For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the Head of the church…”
Therefore the marriage between a husband and wife parallels the marriage between Christ & the Church. The Church is the bride of Christ whilst Christ is the bridegroom.
Marriage is a reflection of the relationship that God has with His people, in the sense that mankind must recognize the headship of God and be willing to voluntarily submit to God’s leading.
Women who submit to their husbands make their home and marriage a delight. Men are motivated and inclined to love their wife even more when they feel respected by their wives.
A woman who respects her husband reflects the qualities of a good wife.
In the beginning when the first human couple was created, the principle of headship of the husband was designed by God.
Adam was created first, and then Eve was created to be a “helper” for Adam (Genesis 2:18-20).
When both Adam and Eve sinned, it was Adam who was ultimately held accountable by God for not taking headship (Genesis 3:17; 1 Timothy 2:13).
1 Corinthians 11:3 says: But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.
1 Corinthians 11:3 means that the husband is to submit to Christ, just as Jesus submitted to God the Father – and so the wife is to submit to her husband.
Masculine and Biblical leadership is important in a marriage and family. Men are required to love their wives as Christ loves the Church. Men are required to lead their families in a manner that glorifies God.
Therefore both men and women must understand their roles in order for a marriage to work and function in a manner that pleases God.