In the early days of our marriage my husband would jokingly quote the following portion of scripture to me “wives submit to your husbands”.
I would just smile quietly and tell him to go and read the rest of that scripture!!
“wives submit to your husbands as to the Lord”.
Contrary to popular belief, the Biblical meaning of submit does not mean ‘to obey, give in to, have to serve’. The true meaning of the word submit “describes the Christian grace of voluntarily yielding one’s preferences to another” it does not mean to obey.
“The Greek word for “obey/obedience’ is hupakoe, which means to listen to or to harken to. Submission (hupotasso) means to get under and lift up, or to put in order. It does not mean obedience.”1
Our duty as wives is to encourage our husbands, to love them, to support them and lift them up.
The Biblical duty for husbands entails far more. When husbands finally read further after the ‘wives submit yourself to your husband’ part, this is what it says:
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her… in the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church…” (Ephesians 5)
A husband needs to treat his wife exactly the same way he treats himself. He needs to feed and care for his wife, he needs to love his wife as Christ loves His people.
Jesus embodies the word love. Love is patient, love is kind, love is not rude, love is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered and keeps no record of wrongs. Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes and always perseveres.
A husband is commanded to love his wife in exactly that manner! I am not sure how marriages, where partners do not know the Lord, survive. Surely, it is only with God’s grace and His love flowing through a husband’s life, that a man is able to love his wife as Christ has commanded.
I am so thankful that I was born a woman!
It states in the same passage that “the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church”.
In any organization or business there has to be someone who is ultimately in charge of the business, someone who can take command and lead and make a decision after consulting the relevant people in the business.
This is exactly the role of the husband – if you disagree on a course of action in your marriage, or both have strong, opposing feelings about a decision that needs to be made – it is the husband, who after consulting, discussing and praying the matter over with his wife, then has to make the final decision about the situation.
If you are living and loving each other in your marriage as Christ has commanded you must, it will not happen often that you will reach a point in your marriage when the husband has to make the final decision. You will generally be ‘giving in/compromising’ with the one who is the most passionate about something.
My husband and I have been married for over twenty-two years now and in all these years there has only been two times that we have really disagreed over something and not been able to compromise on it and he has had to make the final decision.
Writing this has brought to mind an incident that happened when our middle child was about six years old. I was hosting a tea party for a group of moms and we were gathered around the kitchen table and at one point the topic of conversation turned to “who wears the pants in the house – the wife or the husband”. There was a vigorous discussion around this point and our Amy just happened to be walking through the kitchen at the time. One of the moms turned to her and asked “So, Amy, who is the boss in your house?”
She stopped in her tracks and answered “God!” and kept going.
I thank God that her father and I have been able to be a witness to her that neither the wife nor the husband ‘lords it over the other’ but that the ultimate authority in a Christian marriage is God.