The part of scripture I am about to talk about raises almost more eyebrows, more debate, and more disagreement than almost any. It is this “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.” Ephesians 5:22. This verse is straight forward and leaves no doubt what God’s will for a wife is in the marriage. Why the controversy? Men have abused this verse badly. Women do not want to be ruled.
Let me start this by saying that it is not the man’s right to demand this of his wife or, enforce it in any way. This is her gift to give to you to show her love to the LORD. Yes, a gift to be given not co-horsed, beaten, prodded, or other methods by men to get her to submit to him. Nor is this to any other man either, just her husband. So let us explore this gift of love.
Submission by definition is, to give over or yield to the power or authority of another. So God is saying a wife should yield to her husband as unto the LORD. Yes this does mean in all things. There is only ever one reason she should not yield and that is if it is direct defiance of the LORD’s commands.
So why would God say this? Why would God tell women to submit to her husband when she is fully capable of making good decisions on her own and in many circumstances maybe be even better than her husband’s? How is this relevant today when women are strong leaders and are able to be equally good at supporting the family as a bread winner? Well the answer we hear a lot of times is that God said so. While true, it does not make it easier to do.
Here is the reason why. For in submitting to her husband she is allowing God to be in charge over her husband instead of her. In Genesis chapter 3 after Adam and Eve eat from the tree we see God’s judgment on them both for disobeying God.
16 To the woman He said: “I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children; Your desire shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you.”
17 Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’:
Although in the account we are not told what Eve said to Adam as to get him to eat of the fruit. Clearly in verse 17 God tells us that Adam heeded the voice of His wife. Adam chose to listen to her instead of God.
“No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” Matthew 6:24. Although this verse seems to only be talking about money or wealth, I contend that this is talking about anything we put in place of God. This does apply to the marriage relationship also. If your husband is listening to you or following your direction how can He serve the LORD? Even though what you want is right and good.
Even when a man wants to follow the LORD women can be very persuasive. There is a scene in the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding where the women are trying to get the husband to allow the daughter to go to school. In this scene one of the women says men are the head but the women are the neck. “Wherever the neck turns, so does the head.”
In addition to the women being very persuasive we see as prior to the fact of God’s judgment the reason why God decided to do what He did. 9 Then the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 So he said, “I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.” 11 And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?” 12 Then the man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.” 13 And the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
Adam instead of taking responsibility for his actions, not only blamed the woman for his trespass but also God because He created the woman for Adam. Eve instead of blaming herself for not listening to God through her husband she blamed Satan. It is for these very reasons that God said that a man must lead and a woman shall follow. Because they did not stand up and bear the blame for their actions. This has been the case for sin throughout history. Instead of bearing the responsibility for our own actions we seek to blame others. Men no longer have an excuse of “well the woman made me do it,” and women do not have the excuse any longer in that the devil made me do it. He has made us responsible for our own actions.
This is important because the only way we can be forgiven is if we own up to our failings and disobedience. God wants to forgive us and have mercy and grace on us. Matthew 9:13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” Neither Adam nor Eve ever asked for forgiveness for what they did, instead they just blamed others. If they had asked, I truly believe that things would have been different.
So wives love God by submitting to your husband and allow God to deal directly with your husband and cause Him to do His part. In doing so you show your husband mercy, grace and love, allow God to be in charge. In doing so you are free from being blamed by your husband for his failure to listen to God, and you cannot be used by the enemy to lead him astray. In addition wives please pray without ceasing for your husband’s relationship with God, for his decision making, for health and safety at work, pray against temptation, and for open and honest communication with you.