Series Five – Structure
Theme = God’s way for family, church, and society
‘Wives, submit to your husbands as 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 Saviour. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.’ Ephesians 5:22-24
Before conducting a wedding service I spend a few hours with the couple discussing the logistics of the service, the biblical basis of the marriage covenant, and the roles within a Christian home. On one occasion I was preparing two very nominal church goers for their wedding. When we got to the bit about how the wife should submit to the husband she exploded with, “Are you kidding. Do you really think that I would submit to this jerk!” I had no option but to back out of my involvement in their wedding. At the end of the Ephesians passage Paul states that the wife must respect her husband (Ephesians 5:33). Respect is the godly response to godly headship.
The problem is that so many women regard submission as an expression of subordination. In the business world the worker is subordinate to the boss, and so many women believe that husbands often perceive themselves as the ‘boss’ and their wives as the ‘workers’. This might be the perception, and it might be the reality in some marriages, but it is not God’s intended structural pattern.
If God has ordained that the man assume the headship role within a marriage, then the woman must assume the role of submission to that headship. If she doesn’t, then the structure will break down and it will only be a matter of time before the relationship will suffer in one way or another. Two magnets stick together when their poles are correctly aligned, but try to align them the other way around and see how they repel one another.
What is important to understand is that a wife’s submission implies neither servility nor inequality. Men and women are ‘one in Christ’ (Galatians 3:28) – husbands and wives are equal in the eyes of God, the church and society. Submission is the free-will decision to respect the husband’s ultimate judgement for the sake of family health and harmony. Submission is a choice and an evidence of strength of character and respect for biblical authority. It does not evidence weakness or inferiority.
I understand that sometimes things get complicated. What about the woman whose husband is not a Christian, or a believing husband who just does not exercise biblical headship? In my opinion, these are exceptions that in no way disprove the rule. God’s ways are best and when we live within unbiblical structures then we should not be surprised if we encounter problems.
If you are a woman married to an unbeliever, how do you handle the biblical call to submission? If you are struggling in this area then why not comment on this blog and I or others can reflect on what you say and respond in some positive way?