By: Amanda Frittz
Ephesians 5:22-24 ESV “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.”
We’ve probably all heard this much-debated verse in the New Testament, but what does it mean?
To fully understand what this verse is calling wives to do, we first have to understand the source of the husband’s authority, and what the word submission means.
Where Does a Husband Receive His Authority?
It’s crucial to know that the husband does not receive authority from his power. A husband has derived authority. That means that a husbands authority has been given by Christ, who was given authority by God to rule over men and women alike.
It’s important to know that a husband’s authority has been appointed by Christ because then you know his power can not supersede that of whom gave it to him.
Thus, even though this verse calls wives to submit to their husbands, they first must be yielded to Christ. So, if your husband asks you to do something sinful, his authority is not higher than Christ.
What Does it Mean to Submit?
There are many misconceptions nowadays that to submit means, you must be a doormat. That is not the case. To submit is an action that requires deciding to yield to your husband’s authority.
Submission – the action or fact of accepting or yielding to a superior force or to the will or authority of another person.
To submit to your husband does not mean that you can’t give him advice and speak your opinion. It merely means that if you two can’t come to unison, your husband gets to make the final call.
Just like any business relationship, sports team, or organization, there’s someone at the top who gets the final say so. Every relationship and team needs structure to operate at its best ability. Your marriage is no different.
Should Wives Submit to Their Husbands?
Unity should always be the desired outcome between you and your spouse. If you’ve talked and debated your points and cannot come to the same conclusion, it would then be that the wife is called to submit to her husband. The only time scripture wouldn’t have you yield when can’t come to an agreement, is if submitting would lead you to sin.
When we submit to our husbands, we are ultimately submitting to God’s will in our lives. The scriptures make it clear that Christ has granted husbands authority over their family. They are to be the head of their household as Christ is the head of the church.
Does That Mean, my Husband has More Value Than me?
Just because women and men have different roles does not mean that God doesn’t value them each equally. If you go on to read the men’s portion of Ephesians 5, you will see that men have very high stakes in how they are to treat their wives.
Epehesians 5:25-28 ESV “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.”
We can also see in 1st Peter 3 that through submission, wives influence their husband’s heart. So wives, are not powerless to their husband’s ways, and they are not left to be doormats and treated poorly.
If you’re still struggling with you and your husband having different roles, I recommend listening to the following podcasts for more clarity on this topic.
- The Biblical Role of Being a Woman Part 1 and Part 2
- Should Wives Submit to Their Husbands?
- The Feminine Design Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3
What if Your Husband is not Spiritually Leading?
A lot of women desire their husbands to lead, but they have a husband who is willingly taking a backseat.
I would imagine that this problem is only going to get worse before it gets better as men are criticized for having assertive and strong personalities nowadays. Luckily, there are ways you can encourage your husband to spiritually lead while not accidentally leading yourself.
A good starting place is asking questions and desiring his opinion on things. This can be questions about the Bible, or questions about your household and kids. If he doesn’t have an immediate answer ask him to think about it more and come back to you with his ideas when he can.
There are some great podcasts on this topic that have gone more in-depth that I will list below.
- How a Wife can Motivate Her Husband to be the Spiritual Leader
- How to Encourage Your Husband to Spiritually Lead
- Encourage your Husband in Spiritual Leadership | Why Men Feel Inadequate to Lead
What if Your Husband is not Christian?
Whether your husband is Christian or not, you are called to submit to him. I think this is when submission can become scary as you both don’t have the Bible and God’s word to lead you.
2 Corinthians 6:14 ESV “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?”
Ultimately, this is one of the reasons that God warns us of being unequally yoked. As your husband will still have the authority of your household whether he is a believer or not. Of course, as long as his authority is not leading you to sin or breaking your relationship with God (e.g. saying you can’t read your Bible or asking you to watch porn with him).
Luckily, wives do have hope in scripture that they can change their husband’s heart.
1 Peter 3:1-2 ESV “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, when they see your respectful and pure conduct.”
Along with our conduct, wives have the power to pray. Pray fervently for your husband’s heart and know that God is listening to your cries. Also, find strength in knowing that by submitting to your husband, you are submitting to Christ and his will.
There are a couple of movies that are powerful examples of wives submission to Christ and being fervent in prayer transforming, their husband’s heart.
What if you Know Your Husband is Making the Wrong Choice?
Let’s face it, our husbands our imperfect like us, and even if they seek Christ, they are going to make mistakes. However, have faith that your husband is most likely seeking both your best interests and know that he will learn from his missteps.
There’s a saying my pastor always says, “a truck with a full load drives straighter.” That is to say that your husband will feel the weight of making decisions for you and your family, and he will begin making wiser and less selfish choices.
Encourage your husband to seek guidance from God and from other Godly men in any big decisions he makes. Whether or not you guys agree, this can be a significant step in receiving assurance or discovering potential problems.