21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. 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. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing 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.” 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.
‘Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ’ v.21, this is the crux of the matter in the marriage relationship. The husband’s role as head of his wife is equated with Jesus’ role as head of the church. Jesus submitted to God, but that did not make Him less than God. The wife is to submit to her husband as he submits to Christ, and Christ to the father.
This is a very controversial topic. Here are a few of my observations:
The wife’s submission is voluntary, out of love and respect for her husband. Submission does not mean that the wife is to be silently obedient. Especially in our culture, each contributes to decision making and planning, but where there is disagreement, the wife respects her husband’s final say.
The husband is to love and care for his wife as much as he does himself. Men have a huge responsibility to treat their wives as Christ loves his bride the church and so build trust and respect from their wives.
This is an ideal picture. Where both partners honour each other and Christ, the wife and husband have nothing to lose and much to be gained in the relationship. This passage is not describing a ‘power’ hierarchy. Both husband and wife are equally God’s children and have their own individual relationships with Him
There are people who are destructive in a marriage. Paul does not cover all the circumstances that spouses may find themselves in. We need to ask God for guidance in our difficulties, as he is just and wise.
Lord thank you for your example of love and submission. Please bless the marriages of your people. Protect the vulnerable and the children. Help us as wives to build up our husbands with love and respect, as they honour us, so we can all experience joy and peace in our families. Thank you, amen.
Written by Dimity Milne