Ephesians 5:22-25 (New International Version)
22 Wives, submit to your husbands as 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.
I found myself wondering what these verses really mean when I recently re-read the familiar passage. These verses seem oddly old fashioned in this age of equality.
I find myself asking; does God really want us to do this; and does it mean that we lay aside our minds and “just submit?”
In the hilarious movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, a woman said of her autocratic husband, "He may be the head of the family, but I am the neck and wherever the neck turns, the head goes.” We all laughed! What is it about that statement that is so funny? Is it the thought of the husband thinking he is in charge when to the audience, he so obviously isn’t?
I haven’t had such a problem with submitting when it came to big things. I always felt that in any relationship, when the rubber hits the road, there needs to be a leader. Things like which country we live in came about because I believed that God was leading Paul and so I was following him. I would follow him anywhere. It’s the little things in which I have a problem
A young friend recently was sharing his hopes and fears about marriage. He felt that he’d reached the stage in life where he was ready to settle down. He has his own place, a job he enjoys and he is ready to share his life with someone when he finds her. But he was very clear that he is who he is and he didn’t want anyone intruding on how he lives his life--telling him which movies to watch and stuff like that.
I smiled to myself and thought that when he finds “the one,” that will be the last thing on his mind--at first. But I admit that there is some basis to his fears. I think that women are prone to having an ongoing mental process of questioning everything; at least I know this is true of me. It’s not so much a matter of “submitting,” as of honouring and respecting the choices my husband makes and who he is.
Basically, as my young friend hit upon, it’s about stepping back and not taking away the dignity that he had when he came into relationship with me and of honouring his separateness as a human being, even while we are “one.”
Read a little further and the verses seem to confirm this because they refer to “respect.”.
Unfortunately, the closer we are to someone, the easier it is to develop a habit of disrespecting them—perhaps not always in the big, obvious ways, but in multiple little ways.. I am guilty of this tendency, I confess; and it’s something I want to change. I want to honour my husband as I honour God—and this is what I think these verses are talking about.
Ephesians 5:32-33 (New International Version)
32This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.
33However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.