Wifely submission is easy

Previous posts were on intelligent submission is not required and the problems with intelligent submission.

Ephesians 5 is one of the most word play twisted passages I’ve ever seen from the Scriptures. All you need is a simple reading of what it says. Read what the words say.

Ephesians 5:22 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.

Let’s go over it line by line.

Ephesians 5:22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord.

  1. Wives should submit to their husbands, as they do to God. This is the concept of authority.
  2. The nature of God is not sin. Therefore, if a husband is potentially in sin or potentially leading into sin, then she should respectfully and humbly tell him that it may be a sin. That’s the bare minimum of being a helpmeet and a Christian.

What happens with churchian pastors and other so-called teaching on this passage is that the deceivers attempt to give a wife a way to weasel out of her obligations. Your husband is potentially telling you to sin? Instead of telling wives to bring it up respectfully with a humble heart, it’s often “you don’t have to obey him” without any instruction the correct path. I think it should be pretty clear that when wives hear “you don’t have to obey him” without correct instruction, it stimulates the rebellious nature within them.

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.

Paul draws another analogy to the authority of the husband in the marriage relationship. Here’s the part about this that wives miss. The wives are one with their husbands as Christ is with the Church. Not a new revelation, as it mentioned many times in the Scripture, but is easy to forget.

If a wife approaches a potentially sinful situation with disrespect and a gloating attitude that is the same as hurting herself. The wife is injuring her own relationship with her husband. Since she and her husband are one, she needs to act like she is one. If you’re a Christian, any interaction even with your sin or his potential sin must be met with the fruits of the Spirit.

24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.

The qualifier, obviously, is as to the Lord. Likewise, in this verse the Church is subject to Christ: namely subject to moral authority not immoral. To borrow a line from Zippy: authorities, including the husband in a marriage relationship, have the capacity to create moral obligations. A wife not in obedience to a moral obligation is sinning.

This is as simple as saying: “If there’s potentially a sinful situation, I’ll let you know respectfully and humbly before I obey. If it turns out not to be a sinful situation, I’ll obey.”

How easy is that? But in churchianity there is hours and hours of discussion on what “submission” means and “when or when not to obey.” Are you kidding me? Can there be any doubt that we’re a rebellious people?

The real overarching key is that the fruits of the Spirit should be guiding any interaction, and that wives need to be proactive about being a godly helpmeet in their relationship. A wife whose heart is for her husband will look for ways to be respectful and obedient even if there is a potential sinful situation, while a wife who is rebellious will look for ways to disobey, take advantage, or rub it in his face.

Titus 2:4 so that they may [b]encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.

Titus 2 instructs older women on what to teach younger women, not what not to do for good measure. As I showed in the previous post on the problems with intelligent submission, teaching what not to do can often mislead wives into sinning and destroying their own relationships as evidenced from the comments. Those wives are disobeying their husbands and the Scriptures in 1 Peter 3.

Proverbs 14:1 The wise woman builds her house, But the foolish tears it down with her own hands.

Unfortunately, given our culture, any discussion on marriage and submission even in the Church often ends up on the latter. Both the pastor(s) and wives look for ways to be rebellious and to destroy their own relationships instead of building them up.

Wifely submission is easy. But rebellion runs deep, starting from the garden.

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34 Responses to Wifely submission is easy

  1. Neguy says:

    I continue to be astonished at pastors who claim not to know what the meaning of these terms are. My own pastor really believes we need to go back to the Greek and understand what kephale (head) meant in the context of Paul and that culture, etc. True enough in one sense. But the standard of interpretation they put on this is one that they would never apply to any other scripture. Occam’s Razor provides an easier explanation: they don’t want to believe it.

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  3. @ Neguy

    Yeah, that’s very weasel-like. Paul gives multiple analogies of what headship is: Christ and the Church being one of them.

    Is there any doubt of the nature of Christ-Church relationship?

  4. feeriker says:

    I continue to be astonished at pastors who claim not to know what the meaning of these terms are.

    I’ve never yet heard a pastor make that claim in a convincing manner. They ALL know full well what these terms mean. They reveal their true Modernist selves here: they are simply embarrassed and ashamed at this passage of Scripture (one of these days in the very near future I see myself being involved in a major confrontation over this attitude).

    My own pastor really believes we need to go back to the Greek and understand what kephale (head) meant in the context of Paul and that culture, etc.

    If your pastor is a typical Protestant seminary/Bible college grad, your grasp of Greek is probably far superior to his. Regardless, in this case there is no ambiguity; “kefali” (the phonetic transliteration I always use), in both the ancient and modern Greek means not only “head” in the physical/anatomical sense, but also in the figurative sense, as in “boss,” “chief,” “main,” “lead[er],” “principle,” etc. This is Greek 001, and anyone with even a rudimentary knowledge of the language who claims otherwise is either completely ignorant of it or is being disingenuous.

    True enough in one sense. But the standard of interpretation they put on this is one that they would never apply to any other scripture. Occam’s Razor provides an easier explanation: they don’t want to believe it.

    Exactly (refer to my previous statement).

    It really infuriates me to see these passages deliberately avoided. A few months ago the assistant pastor of my church literally recoiled in horror as these verses appeared on a PowerPoint slide during the message. He all but shrieked “Move on! Move on!”

  5. Coastal says:

    I always see this come up at the church I attend. “You are to submit unless you are told to do something illegal, immoral, or otherwise violates a biblical principle.” Just how often is a Christian husband going to ask a wife to do this stuff in the first place? Even in the off chance that this does happen, she’s still required to obey him a la 1 Peter 3 and the Abraham/Sarah example.

  6. Looking Glass says:

    They know what it means, but they’re ashamed of it. It’s a culture vs Christ issue, and the culture has won this round. To the death of many Souls.

  7. feeriker says:

    Wifely submission is easy. But rebellion runs deep, starting from the garden.

    Also “very simple” for even the densest wife: if you trust your husband, then you have ZE-RO reason not to submit to him. If you DO NOT trust your husband, for whatever reason, then YOU (not he) have a very serious problem, one that is almost always self-inflicted, and that requires immediate, fervent prayer and repentance.

    TL;DR version: If you don’t trust your husband, then why did you marry him?

  8. SnapperTrx says:

    DS,

    I have a question I would like to ask you, is there some way I can email you? I apologize for posting this here, but I really don’t know of any other way to reach you. Thanks.

  9. @ SnapperTrx

    The about page at the top has my e-mail and/or a contact form

  10. SnapperTrx says:

    Duh. Sorry. I should start looking at peoples actual blogs instead of just the WP reader. Thanks.

  11. Robyn says:

    The act of submission for a wife is equal in clarity to the authority of a husband; they are both simplistic in a matter of Law of the roles. However, the skill and ease of application take years to develop and mature into. Submission is only as easy as the skill level of the leadership. If the husband is a weak leader, he will call out more resistance (kenegdo) from his wife.

  12. fuzziewuzziebear says:

    We live in a culture that has granted primacy to women. No wonder there is so much resistance to the concept of submission. While it was true in the first three centuries that being a Christian was rebellion against Roman order, it may be so again.
    However, if she doesn’t bu into this, it reduces marriage to a very weak partnership.

  13. Robyn says:

    Then it’s his responsibility to see that she does buy into it. Having a marriage “reduced to a weak partnership” is not an end-game option for a son of God, is it? Nor is it a healthy picture of Christ and the church.

  14. Jonadab-the-Rechabite says:

    Pastors teach submission by teaching all the times and ways one can avoid submitting, that way it is clear what submission does not mean. By teaching exceptions we can understand what “all things” does not mean, just like by teaching how to sin, one is really teaching how to obey. It is like teaching sobriety by getting everyone drunk!

  15. feeriker says:

    Submission is only as easy as the skill level of the leadership. If the husband is a weak leader, he will call out more resistance (kenegdo) from his wife.

    Ah yes, the “weak leadership” trope. Rapidily surpassing in popularity the “command to sin” trope as a ready-made excuse for wives not to submit.

  16. Robyn says:

    @ feeriker …. if that’s what you think it is, you are mistaken; at least in our marriage. My Husband is my Dominant, it is he who says men are weak and lazy and use strong women as an excuse to sin in lack of leadership. When, in his opinion strong women are a blessing from the Lord, on which to sharpen your leadership skills.

  17. @ Robyn

    An interesting take.

    Though, it is unwise to put a stumbling block in front of the struggling, if you get my drift.

    And yes Jonadab’s post was sarcasm.

  18. Jacob says:

    DS, how would you describe the overarching command of Eph 5:17-33, taken together without the distracting section heading between v21 and 22?

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  20. @ Jacob

    I covered this a bit in this post:

    https://deepstrength.wordpress.com/2014/03/14/is-there-mutual-submission-or-not/

    Basically, the passage is about being “imitators of God.”

    1. The first part of the passage in v1-16 is what NOT to do in general as Christians.
    2. The second part of the passage v17-21 is what to do in general as Christians.
    3. The third part of the passage in v22 onward gets into specifics about marriage relationship and continues in chapter 6 with other relationships.

    Honestly, the chapters kind of screw things up for us because they separate integral sections on specific commands. This is similar to 1 Peter 2 and 3 in which Paul’s “likewise” is split from 1 Peter 2 and 3 which denotes a similar topic (namely, authority).

  21. Robyn:

    May I suggest to you that not all men are dominant or are taught to be dominant. It doesn’t help that many men grew up in churches that have effectively emasculated them for decades. Many have been taught servant leadership and pandering to women.

    As men, we learnt very early in our childhood how to identify a dominant “alpha” male leader when we see one. You can be forceful in your comments but please refrain from rebuking men here. If your husband wishes to rebuke men on blogs, he is more than welcome to. I believe we can benefit from his experience and wisdom. But I do not really think that it is in your place — as a woman — to rebuke other men.

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  23. feeriker says:

    My Husband is my Dominant, it is he who says men are weak and lazy and use strong women as an excuse to sin in lack of leadership. When, in his opinion strong women are a blessing from the Lord, on which to sharpen your leadership skills.

    So for how many years has your husband been an evangelical pastor?

  24. Robyn says:

    @ feeriker: So, for how many years have YOU been an evangelical pastor; you should know this information.

    Your question is irrelevant because I strove to submit to him for 18 years before he became a disciple of Christ. Submission is not about “what type of husband you have” or “what he does.” God worked through him before he was a believer and he works through him now as well. He is my head and can be completely trusted … because I completely trust God.

  25. feeriker says:

    @ feeriker: So, for how many years have YOU been an evangelical pastor; you should know this information.

    Putting words in someone’s mouth. How very bold (and very arrogant).

    So do tell: why is it that I, or anyone else, “should know” anything at all about you? Rather presumptuous (and also arrogant) of you. But alas, not surprising, given what we’re reading from you here so far.

    Also, if what you are trying to tell us, in your own distinctly SIW-ish manner, via the words you put in my mouth, is that YOU, and not your husband, are an evangelical pastor (no, I have not been to your blog to read all about your life story and have no intention of doing so), then further conversation on any topics relevant to this blog is clearly pointless. Woman as pastor != Scriptural, something you are most certainly aware of, which negates the need to waste further time and energy in debate.

  26. Robyn says:

    @ chokingonredpills”

    “May I suggest to you that not all men are dominant or are taught to be dominant. It doesn’t help that many men grew up in churches that have effectively emasculated them for decades. Many have been taught servant leadership and pandering to women.”

    -Yes I understand that all men are not dominant but it doesn’t change the fact that God expects all men to step into the mantle that He has placed on them by choosing their gender to be male; and by giving them a wife.

    “As men, we learnt very early in our childhood how to identify a dominant “alpha” male leader when we see one.”

    -we were discussing submission as it relates to marriage, the one who makes the final decisions in marriage, the one with the authority is the dominant one. It is that to which I was referring to MY leader.

    “You can be forceful in your comments but please refrain from rebuking men here. If your husband wishes to rebuke men on blogs, he is more than welcome to. I believe we can benefit from his experience and wisdom. But I do not really think that it is in your place — as a woman — to rebuke other men.”

    -I didn’t rebuke (although, as a sister in Christ I am free to do so) I was attempting to clear up a comment that was categorically wrong about my heart and head of submission and that I make an excuse to NOT submit. It is my Husband (my Dominant) that would be the best gauge of that about me; that’s why I brought him and his view into the conversation.

    -no, I would never tell a man how to manage his own wife and home —as a woman —- in regards to their marriage and their own family. I am a leader of women and children, not men. But in the body of Christ I am not a wife, I am a sister. And what was said to me, as I stated earlier, was wrong. I follow this blog because I am interested in the male perspective of submission and like the way DS articulates it; not to “teach” or “rebuke” other men.

  27. Robyn says:

    You are twisting back the words you tried to put in my mouth.

  28. aliad1 says:

    I was listening to one of my girlfriends the other day as she discussed how she was learning to submit but was not being a doormat, and felt sympathy at this experience of having to walk that tightrope, worried that you’ll fall in to rebellion on one side or doormatisum on the other. Then I had an epiphany. There is not sin of doormatisum. I was so used to pastors and leaders including in their call for wifely submission “I’m not saying you have to be a doormat” or similar phrases, I a had uncritically assumed that “Don’t be a doormat” had an equal moral standing with “Wives be submitted to your husband.” It was very freeing to realizes I didn’t have to try to thread myself between two contradictory commands but only to obey one.

  29. @ aliad1

    Correct, there is no such thing the sin of doormat.

    I wrote about this in the marriage structures post:

    https://deepstrength.wordpress.com/2016/04/15/marriage-structures/

    This so-called “sin of doormat” is false humility in disguise. It’s something that encourages rebellion under the guise of being submissive.

    Many a pastor has fallen into this insidious trap.

  30. Jonadab-the-Rechabite says:

    This so-called “sin of doormat” is false humility in disguise. …Many a pastor has fallen into this insidious trap.

    I wonder how many of these same pastors would also dare to accuse the early church of being doormats. How could the sin of being human candles for Nero’s garden not be condemned for being “doormats” or Blandina’s many sins like of being tossed about by a bull while restrained in a net being forced to sit bare-skinned on a red-hot copper chair etc. Surely the sin of being a doormat is most starkly displayed among the persecuted church of the early centuries.

    Christianity is the “doormat” religion. The prophets of the OT were mistreated, Our Lord was beaten, abused and murdered, the apostles save one were all killed as “doormats” and the one who died of “natural” causes was exiled and his persecutors tried to burn him in oil. We are exhorted in Romans 8:36 “As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”

    It is odd indeed that martyrdom is valued when men give up there lives, but when a women gives up a little “girl-power” it is called a sin. When a wife submits in a way that doesn’t benefit her in the way she wants she is guilty of the sin of being a “doormat”. It is in being a “doormat” that she is being conformed to the character of Christ, but in refusing to be a “doormat” she is resisting becoming like Christ in His submission and meekness.

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  32. I agree with you. It does take many years to develope the submission that God desires. Your trust should be in God who gives you your mate. Only He knows the true person so when things don’t look right, that’s when you go to God on how to approach the situation. He will give you the direction.

  33. infowarrior1 says:

    Reblogged this on Breaking through illusions and commented:
    Rebellion. The old sin. Popping up again and again

  34. loftspeaker1 says:

    When men take their places as sons of God and women take their places as daughters of God there will be harmony in the marriage and in the home. God is not the author of confusion.
    Every Christian husband and wife both have their roles to fulfill, not one more important than the other. He should be the kind of husband that his wife should want to submit to him, she should be a wife that he can love, honor, and respect.
    Take a look at my blog for Christian wives: loftforum.wordpress.com

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