Submission in marriage should be practiced by both parties in the institution of marriage. The bible is clear, that is both man and woman should submit to each other out of reverence to God (Ephesians 5:21). However, for the sake of order, the man is given the benefit to lead the family as the head. This doesn’t disqualify the woman from playing a role of leadership.
Most often we are tempted to think that submission was a result of sin. However, that’s not the case. According to John Piper, “sin didn’t create head-ship and submission; it distorted them and inclined them
toward being ugly and destructive.” The type of headship described is servant leadership. [Luke 22:26].
It should be noted that a woman who has not learned to submit to Christ can never submit to a mortal man. Her carnal nature will deny her the ability to bring her strength under control, hence resisting God’s order in a family.
The woman has equal capabilities, equal rights, grace, and qualifications to lead in a family setting. However, for the sake of order and God’s original design, she allows herself to be under the care of a man. This doesn’t make her inferior, it means she is wise enough to avoid conflicts in the marriage that might arise due to the preconceived concepts from society. This is God’s design for marriage.
The male counterpart on the other hand should allow the woman to exercise leadership under his influence. The man should have a great purpose and vision that gives his woman a role to play. She should be able to find her purpose within the man’s vision and purpose.
This is so since we can’t have two visions in the same room, it will only stir up conflict and consequently lead to division and divorce. The man should avoid making all the decisions by himself, he should listen to his wife’s opinion. The man should not exercise dictatorship, rather he should have an open ear to listen to the desires of his wife as they have become one.
Biblical examples of submission
A good example is that of Abraham. God told him to listen to his wife Sarah concerning the issue with Ismael and his mother. In the first place, Abraham never consulted God concerning Sarah’s idea to take his maid for a wife. He should have soughed to know God’s will concerning the same. He executed the idea blindly because of his desperate need for a child.
We have a wrong preconceived concept and definition of submission that is contrary to God’s design of marriage. We think submission is control, yet it is not. Our culture undermines women; however, the bible declares that God created man (male and female) in His image and likeness. Before the eyes of God, we are equal, and heirs to the kingdom of God and His divine salvation through Christ Jesus. The word man stands for a species, that is a male and female.
Then, why submit in marriage?
Submission doesn’t mean being overruled, taken advantage of, being manipulated, or taking over without considering your spouse. Those who do so should be ashamed of themselves. As I said earlier, the two parties in a marriage are equal. That is, they have equal abilities/ capabilities, and can lead a family. Why submit?
- For the sake of order in a family.
- It is a sign of obedience to Christ, just as He submitted Himself to God to rescue the church.
- It makes the man feel appreciated by being given the advantage to lead the family, ad being accounted responsible. A woman determines the success or failure of her husband.
- Men define respect as love. It is the responsibility of a man to love and cherish his wife and not vice versa.
What the Bible teaches about submission.
Again in Ephesians 5:21, Paul is addressing the concept of submission to a congregation of believers which is the church, and how that correlates with their personal obligation to each other.
This doesn’t disqualify the verse from being the foundation on which the next verse should be based [the one on women submitting to their husbands]. This verse sets the stage for us to understand the content of what Paul was addressing so that we may not miss the actual revelation of his message.
Most men distort the scripture to suit their wicked desires. They misuse the text in Ephesians 5:22 without even considering the context of the entire chapter. The entire text teaches how we can effectively submit to Christ as a church, and uses the same analogy and principle in a family setting.
It also describes our need to submit to each other out of reverence to God. This scripture shows that we cannot submit to each other unless we submit to Christ Jesus first.
In Ephesian 2:25, we learn how Christ submitted his desire and life for the sake of the church. All men are expected to behave in the same manner, to lay everything down for the sake of their wives, even their own life. By doing so men submit to their wives by responding to their needs to the point of risking their own life out of love. This is true submission.
To whom is Ephesians 5:22 addressed?
To women who have learned to submit to their Lord Jesus Christ. Those who have learned the spiritual discipline and principles of bringing her carnal nature under control. A carnal person by default is rebellious and cannot submit to anyone including God (Romans 8:5-8). Consequently, a carnal woman outside the Will of God can never submit to a man. The state of her heart is corrupted and rebellious.
How men can submit to Christ by loving their wives.
Ephesians 5:25 is clear that a man should deny himself for the sake of his wife. He should love her just as Christ loved His church and gave Himself for her. However, a carnal man can’t submit to his wife through loving her. A man by default is self-centered. Paul taught that a man should love his wife to the extent of giving his life for her. The question is, who is ready to give up his precious life for another?
It’s only a man who has fully submitted to Christ that can truly love his wife. A man who has learned the spiritual principles of following Christ. The Bible argues us to be conformed to the image and likenesses of Christ. If Christ submitted to God by giving up himself for the church, then, each man ought to do the same. The submission should be out of reverence to God and not a man.
The concept of submission works perfectly in a marriage where Jesus is Lord. Where both parties have fully submitted to God and brought their carnal nature under control. Since they have learned the spiritual disciplines, it is easier for them to surrender to each other.
As a man, don’t expect to be respected by default. You have to earn it and not demand it. You have to treat your wife with honor, treasure her and be a responsible husband and father. Treat her as you would treat yourself. Everyone has a role to play to create an environment where love and respect can blossom.
Biblical concept on submission in marriage
Both genders, male and female were created in God’s image and have equal standing before God the creator. The roles they play in marriage have nothing to do with a lack of equality as some feminists suggest.
The concept of a woman submitting to her husband doesn’t necessarily mean a wife is lesser than her husband. Consider the trinity. The Son submitted to The Father and that didn’t make Him lesser or inferior. Yet the scriptures say that The Father and The Son are equal and one. [John 10:29].
If you assume that The Son is lesser than The Father, then you have broken the trinity. Each Has His role to play, yet is the same person, united in the trinity.
The same is true in the marriage union, as the two have become one. [Genesis 2:24, Matthew 19:5,Ephesians 5:31-33, 1 Corinthians 6:16]
Myths about submission in marriage
The corrupted culture and media have taught women that submission means total control by the male counterpart, to listen and take what is given you without questioning, being under the total influence and hash leadership of a man. People need to be enlightened on this theme and encouraged to rise and take their position of leadership.
We are living in an era where single parenthood is rampant. Women are left to exercise leadership which they were never exposed to previously.
“Submission doesn’t mean inferiority; it is the wisdom to bring your strength under control.”