“Wives, submit to your husbands.” This sentence has seriously bothered me, and I don’t even have a husband. It just sounds so. . . wrong. I believe the Bible to be true, wholeheartedly. But how in the world could this still apply? Why would I ever want a relationship like that?
I see scenes of domestic violence. Abuse. Women who need to be freed. The word grates on my heart: submit. That’s probably why the word is sour to you, too. You’ve seen situations where it is most definitely not OK.
Some men should be locked up for what they’ve done to women, and that makes us
mad: rightly so. No one should have to go through that torture. And so we generalize. Men are all just pigs; we’re better off without them; women should be totally independent. And if we are in a relationship? Maybe we should just devalue them right back.
Here, friends, is where we find ourselves. Many men use women for selfish gain and ego boosts, proudly dictating and stealing dignity. In response, many women generalize, applying an attitude of disrespect and disgust to all men.
It’s just all-round horrible.
So maybe we should take another look at what the Bible has to say. The phrase “wives, submit to your husbands” is only the beginning of a passage that talks about how Christian relationships of all kinds should look. Surprisingly, the section about marriage also gives instructions to husbands. I honestly didn’t know that until a week ago!
Take the time to read the verses in the dropdown box, then we’ll go from there.
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do 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 Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this 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 their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church—for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
This is beautiful! When a man loves a woman as if she was literally his own body, there’s no room for abuse, devaluing, or even small selfish motives. He’ll provide for her, care for her, listen to her, and sacrifice for her lavishly, because she’s one flesh with him. To do anything else would actually hurt him. It would be insanity.
Now let’s turn our attention to the ladies. The command is still the same: submit. But bear with me here. Can you imagine a man like the one I described in the last paragraph? He has your best interests in mind, in every way possible. He would never choose to hurt you or put you below him. Would it really be dangerous to listen to someone like that? To follow his lead? I don’t think so. Loving leadership of this kind is not a requirement for women to survive, but rather a gift for their lives.
When both husband and wife are fulfilling these roles, it’s a representation of Christ and the church. Just as Christ loved the church enough to die for her salvation, the church respects and submits to him. This is a relationship that’s centered around mutual respect and genuine, deep love. Both parties are fully invested in each other’s wellbeing.
This is not to say, however, that you’ll find a perfect couple. No matter how hard we try, we can’t love one another perfectly: and a small fault in your significant other does not release you from the responsibility to love them selflessly.
Overall, this passage has opened my eyes to a great reality: that a romantic relationship is designed to be a representation of Christ’s love. Whether or not we fully understand the roles God has given us, we are to pursue them with the assurance that he knows best. I pray I haven’t written with ignorance, as this is a touchy subject and I'm young and unmarried. It’s simply my hope that God would reveal fresh truth to you through his Word and what I shared. The image of a couple walking in these roles is truly beautiful.
Hello! I'm Anna, a college student living in the Midwest. I'm a strong believer in uncontrollable laughter, powerful words, and a morning cup of coffee. I pray these posts will encourage you to live a full life with and for God: unhindered. Follow me on social media for post updates!