A popular point of controversy in today’s marriages is the word submission. Particularly in regards to women submitting to their husbands. Often times, this statement brings up very negative images of power and dominance but if we go to the biblical text we can come to a greater understanding of the word “submission” and see what a positive thing it actually is. The verse in question is Ephesians 5:22 which says: “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands out of reverence for Christ”. Taken on its own, the verse seems a bit unfair. But if we back up a verse and look at the context we can see how the verse is meant to be read.
Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 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. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. – Ephesians 5:21-22
Let’s begin by redefining the word submission. Submission means to present for the approval, consideration or decision of another or others; consideration of each other. If we take this as our working definition and apply it to the scriptures we come to a much more positive interpretation of this notion.
Verse 21 says that husbands and wives are to submit to each other. This means they are to be considerate of each other and present themselves for each other’s approval. This is a direct reflection of what Jesus did when he went to the cross. He submitted himself for the approval and consideration of the father as if to say “here I am, will my sacrifice be enough?” If we approach marriage as a mutual sacrifice of oneself for the sake of the other, the idea of submission becomes much more palatable. In fact, it makes us much more Christ like, which will result in a stronger and healthier relationship with one another and thereby a stronger and healthier marriage.
Remember that you did not submit yourself to Christ out of coercion or under duress, but with a joyful heart. That is because Christ does not force himself on us or demand we follow him. He calls us into his best will for us and we gladly follow. So if your husband is following Christ and seeking to lead you into the best life he can provide for you, submitting to him will be easy, gentle and joyful.
Submission is not anti-relationship. It’s being able to trust that person. Submissions comes easier when you’ve built a solid foundation of trust.
Terry & Julie Scott