One of the most controversial words in the Bible


Before you click away, don’t.

If your first instinct is to roll your eyes and get mad, this is probably a good article for you to read.

What has happened in our hearts as women that this word stings us so? It did for a long time for me as well. I’d like to offer a few thoughts on Ephesians 5:22 and why our hearts should soften to it and not harden towards it.

I would try to reason away the very clear teaching of Ephesians 5:22 (NASB 1995 used below)

22 Wives, be subject (*submit is the word here many translations use) to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. 28 So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; 29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, 30 because we are members of His body.

Too bad I could never get past the first verse without abandoning it, if I would have stayed in the game I would have noticed the rest of the passage.

We don’t submit because men are “better” than women. We don’t subject ourselves because our husbands deserve it. Submission is not based on if your husband is doing everything right all of the time.

We as women are called to subject ourselves to the leadership of our husbands because it is ultimately submitting ourselves to God’s will, submitting to His plan of Biblical headship, and obeying God’s authority for His order of creation.

It has nothing to do with how modern feminists paint this idea in a perverted light. They say that Biblical submission means the wife is a doormat and that the man is misogynistic and that the wife has no voice and is treated as property. When you hear this objection being made by women (Sometimes you’ll hear it in the church unfortunately as well) be sure to open The Bible with them and read to them the verses that come after 5:22.

In the first few years of my marriage I thought I was a better leader. Here are some prideful thoughts I had;

I read my Bible more than him.

But he’s not stepping up so I need to step up.

He doesn’t deserve to lead me because he has sin.

Yikes! I know. I hear other ladies make similar comments about their husbands, and give many excuses why they cannot or will not submit to the leadership of their husbands.

What older women have taught me is that there are only very few rare reasons to not submit:

  • Your husband is asking you to sin (lie, steal, cheat, etc.)
  • Your husband is experiencing psychosis and is mentally unstable and is dangerous to himself or others

When there are exceptions, everyone tries to make their case to fit an exception.  I have noticed that excuses abound in this department.

Do you know who submitted to the will of another? Jesus Christ. He submitted Himself to do the will of the Father. Are you or I any better than Christ Himself? (No) We see in the symbol of the Trinity that Christ is equal with the Father, yet submitted to Him.

Women are completely equal in value to men. God decided in His infinite wisdom that men are to be the leaders, there cannot be two leaders in a marriage. Have you ever heard of a company with two CEOs? Have you ever heard of a team with two head coaches? If you have, you’ll experience schism and conflict at many turns.

This article is not for husband bashing and making excuses, nor will there ever be here. We ought as wives to be more grateful and kind towards our husbands, as imperfect as they may be.

I know of single moms who have been abandoned with no help and they would love to have the caring and loving husbands that we do. Even if it means picking up his dirty socks from around the hamper…. what a small price to pay.

The culture of disrespect has seeped into the Church. The media portrays the father’s as dumb, helpless men who couldn’t find their way out of a wet paper bag. Don’t let this resentment and bitterness rub off on you.

Personally when this revelation came to me I rejoiced. I don’t have to make all the tough calls and be responsible for it, I give my husband my two cents and he considers what I say because he loves me deeply. It’s not a tyrannical reign of power, that’s not how God loves us. Our husbands are not called to force us into submission, that’s not submission. God did not force Christ into submission, it was voluntary.

Subjecting yourself isn’t this:

“Ok, I guess. You’re the “leader”, even though I think you’re wrong…..” *rolls eyes*

“I told you so! I told you that idea was stupid.”

Subjecting yourself is this:

Praying for your husband to make wise decisions.

Giving your thoughts politely and not trying to guilt him for not taking your way.

Respecting him when he doesn’t take your advice.

Time for a reality check here: how many times have you (and I) in our tendency to domineer completely ignored our husbands opinion and went our own direction? How would we honestly feel if our husbands treated us the way we have treated him in the past?

Ephesians 5:29 tells us that husbands are to cherish their wives, does this sound like tyranny to you? Men are called to the more difficult role, they are to sacrifice themselves for their wives as Christ did for the Church.

I hope this article inspires you to embrace the role we are called to do as wives with gratefulness and patience. Be encouraged that your husband doesn’t need to be perfect to be qualified for the role to lead you, and if we really take a look at the struggle of leadership in marriage, we have to encourage our men to lead so they will step up and do the role God has called them to.


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