What Wives Aren’t Supposed To Know About Submitting To Their Husbands

marriageIn all the hype over same sex marriage, I’ve noticed a resurgence of the call for the submissive wife.  And in the goal of making these unsubmissive wives submit, the single most often used section of the bible is Ephesians 5:22-24.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with this passage, I’ll quote it for you.

22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

–Ephesians Chapter 5

Now, taken like it is written, you might think that it’s laid to rest.  After all, there isn’t much ambiguity in this is there?  If you’re a wife, you should submit to your husband.  Period.

But like most things in the bible, this isn’t as clear cut as many would like for you to believe.  See, like all so many who want to change your behavior with the bible, they take a quote out of context.  I’ve talked about that before.  So, in the fairness of all things holy, let’s look at the rest of that tidbit.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy,cleansing[a] her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”[b]32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

–Ephesians Chapter 5

So, let’s go through that.  At first, it’s a command for husbands to love their wives.  That’s not so hard.  But look at the rest of the passage…  Husbands are to love them as their own body, to cherish them, to make them holy… to in effect, submit to their needs and keep them cared for and safe.  Yes, I said submit.  Depending on which translation you use, some even replace love in verse 25 with submit.  And that’s the big secret.  Wives, biblically, should submit to their husbands.  Husbands, biblically, should lose themselves in their wives.  So this isn’t a case of master and slave, but of two people becoming one flesh.  And that’s an ideal I think any moral person can get behind.

It’s so universal, it even applies to same sex marriages.  I mean, it really is the perfect relationship concept. Two people, merging their talents into one focus.  It really doesn’t get any better than that, does it?

Except, of course, it’s unattainable.  Like one of the basic tenants of Christianity, we should strive for sinlessness even though we are sinful.  This is another unattainable ideal to strive for.

And like most things in Christianity that looks so bad on the surface, when you get down to it… it is only bad until you get down to it and realize flesh and blood human beings are the ones perverting it to something nasty.

7 Comments

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7 responses to “What Wives Aren’t Supposed To Know About Submitting To Their Husbands

  1. Excellent post! I really enjoyed it! I try my best to live in a way that’s pleasing to God which includes submission to my hubby.
    -Shar

  2. Lets try this quick and dirty:
    “The wife should submit to the husband”- in the words of Harry Truman “the buck stops here”, i.e.- someone has to be the final authority in the household. And that is the husband. he should respect his wifes opinions and talents, but final decision making resides in him since ultimately he is responsible for what transpires in the family.

    “Husband should ‘love’ the wife”- you are actually pretty close. The husband should ‘love the wife’ as if she were a part of him. which is more or less the definition of “couple” and the term “become one flesh”. He should no more mistreat his wife than he cut off his own hand. But that does NOT translate into be a doormat for her.

    It’s not really that complicated, people just don’t like it.

    None of this has any bearing on same sex marriage. The Bible is quite (explicitly) clear that God thinks same sex is an “abomination” and not to be condoned. Which doesn’t mean they won’t win in the short term. They will.

    • I think it is fairly clear that the husband should love the wife to the point that he does not place his own needs about that of the wife. That is not the same as being a doormat to the wife. It also doesn’t mean that the wife should be a doormat to the husband either. In fact, taken in complete context, with women having no rights except those derived via their husbands, brothers, or fathers, then it makes sense. In today’s terms, where women derive their rights from simply being alive, the entire passage would be better understood as both should submit where appropriate and love with appropriate. It is silly to think the man has some divine right to be the “head of household” in all things, and actually would be entirely against the spirit of the passage. In any topic where the wife’s skills and abilities are superior to that of the husband, it would be in the couple’s best interest for the husband to submit to the wife. And, of course, vice verse being true.

      As for same sex being an abomination, lots of modern things are, biblically, abominations. If that’s your standard for what shouldn’t be allowed, then cheeseburgers rank the same as a man laying with a man as if he were a woman. So, again, the context of the culture is important. And using the submit where it is wise to submit, which is what I’m arguing is the point of the passage, it aptly applies to same sex relationships as it does to heterosexual ones.

      Unless you’re advocating a return to women as property. If that’s your argument, then we will never agree. On much of anything.

  3. Leslie

    Good post, but I find myself curious about which translations use “submit” in verse 25?

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