Wives Submit to your Husband: What it Really Means

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A wife should submit to her husband. I am sure there will be some backlash for making this statement. Yet, that does not make it any less true. – at least for me.  I believe it so wholeheartedly that I vowed to submit to my husband on our wedding day.

I know this belief is unpopular.  There is a movement in our society to push girls and women to be strong and independent.  As a mother, I want my daughter to believe in herself, and not to think she is less than because she is female. My prayer for her is to grow up to know her worth, be self-sufficient, strong, and yes, independent. So, is this a contradiction?  I don’t think so.

The Definition of Submit

Before I go into what it means to submit.  I think it is important to define the word. The dictionary defines it as to “accept or yield to a superior force or to the authority or will of another person”.  It goes on to say, to “submit oneself” is to “consent to undergo a certain treatment”.

Now that we know what submit means, let’s look at what God’s word says.

Background

In Ephesians 5, Paul writes to the church of Ephesus.  Keep in mind the people he is speaking to He speaking to are believers in Christ.  In this chapter Paul address different aspects of how we as believers are to live. In verse 22 he starts to discuss marriage, and describes what a christian marriage looks like.

Immediately before Paul addresses marriage he makes an important statement.  He states “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God”.   This statement is clear.  All Christians are to submit.  We  are to put the needs of others before our own.  This is a general statement Paul applied to all believers.  Therefore, it is not a leap to say that this also applies to wives and husbands.

Context

Ephesians 5: 22 is the verse that states that a wife should submit to her husband.  But, like anything it must be looked at within its context.  Taken out of context, the verse can be dangerous. An arrogant man can take this to mean that his wife is less than or subservient.  He can use this to rule over her.  He would believe he is the boss and she is do what ever he says. That her opinion does not matter, and that she is there only to be at his beck and call. A man like this believes that a woman’s place is only in the home, and there only to cook, clean, bare children, and cater to his sexual needs. It is no wonder, so many women have an aversion to this verse.  But, this way of thinking is far from the true meaning of these verses.  The text actually addresses the roles of wives and husbands.  The first few verses address the responsibility of the wife.

Wives Only

Ephesians 5:22 says, “wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord”.

It is important to note that this is for wives only.  If you are not legally married, then this does not apply to you.  It does not matter if you have been together for 30 years.  There is something binding about standing in front of God, your family,  your friends, and vowing to be with the person you love for the rest of your life.  There is power in that ceremony.

Equally important, is that the statement tells wives to submit to their own husband.  I think this is where we get confused.  A women is not to be submissive to all men.  The requirement is for a wife to submit to her husband.  While being a wife is one of the most important roles that I hold, it is not all that I am.  I am a mother, a daughter, a friend, co-worker, and  a teacher.  The list goes on. The only role where i am supposed to be submissive is the role of wife.   A submissive wife may still run companies, and hold powerful positions in the community.

Ephesians 5:23-24 states: for the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is head of the church:  And he is the savior of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything”.

These two verses are the backbone of submission for the wife.  I will admit, once I became an adult, and was no longer under my parents rule, this was a difficult concept to grasp.  Am I just supposed to give up control to some man? Regarding everything?

What I came to realize is that I was not supposed to give up control to some man.  I was to give up yield to my man.  The man that God ordained to be my husband.  Initially, It was still a hard pill to swallow. Until i realized how this principle is surrounded in love.  Yes. Christ is the head of the Church. But did he reign with an iron fist? No. He reigned with grace, mercy, and love.

What I began to realize is that submitting to my husband is about honoring him and showing him respect.  It shows him that I trust him completely.  Does that mean it is easy to do? No, at least not at first.  The level of trust that it takes for anyone to submit to this extent is astounding.  But, it is possible. The key for me was knowing that my husband is the man the God has for me.  I also believe that he loves and cherishes me.  I also know that my husband loves Christ, and strives daily to be Christ-like. Therefore, everything he does, it is with me in mind.

For Husbands

Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;

The idea that a husband is to love his wife like Christ loved the church is powerful.  How much did Christ love the church? So much so that he gave his life.  To think, your husband is to love you that much.  I believe this literally, not figuratively.  Christ literally died for us.  Our husbands are to be willing to do the same.  Of course, I don’t ever want him to be in this predicament, but I believe my husband loves me enough to do so.  Believing that my husband is willing to make this sacrifice for me, makes it so much easier to submit to him.

Ephesians 5:28-29  So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies.  He that loveth his wife loveth himself.  For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:

The Bible charges husbands to love their wives as they love themselves.  Would a person that loves themselves mistreat themselves? Of course not. So, the man that treats his wife as property, and references the Bible as a way to justify his behavior is wrong.

Making it Work

Being a submissive wife is not always easy.  Most of the time, my husband and I agree, but not always.  But, communication is the key.  We each express our desires.  As a submissive wife, my role is to submit to my husband’s final decision.  Now, this is the thing…usually my husband’s decision is inline with my desires.

I cannot think of a time where he  “pulled rank” and said you are going to do something because I said so.  I asked him, if he could recall an incident when this happened, and he couldn’t either.  This is probably because he does not look as his role as a dictatorship.

He believes, as the husband he is to love and care for me as Christ does the church.  For him, that means to listen to me and to try to ensure that I am happy and fulfilled.  Anthony made a good point; he said that by being the head he actually must submit to me.  Think of it like our elected officials.  If we elect a person to office, we expect them to have our best interest at heart.  They are to represent our voice.  Our leaders are actually supposed to work for us.  If they do not, we vote them out.

Ultimately, in order to submit to your husband you must trust him completely.  You must trust that he will do what is right for you.  It is a tall order, I know.  The ONLY way it will work is to pray constantly.  Pray for your husband, that God gives him the wisdom and the discernment to be the husband you need.  Pray for yourself, that He gives you the ability to be humble and trusting.

What are your thoughts?  What works in your marriage?

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