Wives, Submit to Your Husbands
Wives, Submit to Your Husbands
October 3, 2007
“Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.”
1. The parallel exhortation in Ephesians expands this simple command: “ Wives be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church. . . But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their own husbands in everything ”(Eph. 5:22–24). In spite of its straightforward clarity, Paul’s simple statement has been widely challenged in our day, even by those claiming to be evangelicals.
2. The principle of authority and submission in the marriage relationship is found throughout the New Testament. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 11:3, “Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman.” He also penned this principle in 1 Corinthians 14:34–35: “Let the women keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but let them subject themselves, just as the Law also says. And if they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church. ”
3. To Timothy he wrote, “Let a woman quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being quite deceived, fell into transgression ” (1 Tim. 2:11–14).
4. Paul goes on to say that the woman is delivered from any stigma of inferiority to the man by the blessed achievement of raising up godly children (1 Tim 2:15). Note also that Paul traces the woman’s submission back to the order of creation, not the Fall.
5. Titus 2:5 instructs women to “be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be dishonored.” Sarah’s obedience to Abraham is a model for other women to follow (1 Pet. 3:6).
6. For nineteen centuries Christians understood without confusion the plain words of Ephesians 5:22–24: “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.… Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.”
7. They also understood, for nineteen centuries, Colossians 3:18: Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. And they had no problem understanding Titus 2:5, where Paul says that older women are to train young women to be “submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.” Nor did they have trouble understanding 1 Peter 3:1: “Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives.”
8. But these verses became an embarrassment to many Christians as feminism began to gain influence in the mid-twentieth century. How could Paul dare to tell women to be submissive to their husbands? If these submission verses were allowed to have their plain force today, it would be impossible to support the egalitarian agenda of abolishing any unique male leadership in marriage and then subsequently in the church. (egalitarian: The view that all functions and roles in the church are open to men and women alike.)
9. In previous generations some people did speak about “mutual submission,” but never in the sense in which egalitarians today understand it. In his study of the history of the interpretation of Ephesians 5:21, Daniel Doriani has demonstrated that a number of earlier writers thought there was a kind of “mutual submission” taught in the verse, but that such “submission” took very different forms for those in authority and for those under authority.
10. They took it to mean that those in authority should govern wisely and with sacrificial concern for those under their authority. But Doriani found no author in the history of the church prior to the advent of feminism in the last half of the twentieth century who thought that “submitting to one another” in Ephesians 5:21 nullified the authority of the husband within marriage. They took it to mean that those in authority should govern wisely and with sacrificial concern for those under their authority.
Your worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God's grace. And your best days are never so good that you are beyond the need of God's grace. - Jerry Bridges
God has promised forgiveness to your repentance; but he has not promised tomorrow to your procrastination.
- Augustine of Hippo
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