Marriage and the Submissive Spouse

I heard a lot of conflict from the Christian couples who I counseled over the years about the bible and submissiveness. The women didn’t want to shun their faith, but felt that their husbands were taking the “submissive wife” part of the bible too literally, especially the younger couples.

Ephesians 5:21-32 contains the discussion and advice that Paul wrote about in his letter to the Ephesians. It was a letter that was designed to be a guideline for living together as a married couple. Some of Paul’s ideas have been greatly misunderstood, but the overall idea was to live together without arguing all of the time. Yes, women were supposed to be submissive, having the last word in any situation was left for the man of the house, but husbands are cautioned to be fair and just, not causing their wives any suffering. The point was that the couples were supposed to have discussions, and as a last resort, the man would have the final say if they were unable to reach an agreement.

“21 and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ. 22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her; 26 that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless. 28 So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; 29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, 30 because we are members of His body. 31 For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh. 32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let each individual among you also love his own wife even as himself; and let the wife see to it that she respect her husband.”

Paul is talking about loving each other as one would the church and the Father, that is to say, with respect and reverence, but the point is made for both the man and the woman, not giving the husband carte blanc permission to treat his wife any way that he chooses ( see24-28.) If you respect ach other and treat each other as members of your faith first and as a couple second, I predict that your arguing will lessen considerably.