When I first started reading the Bible a few years ago, I came across that verse — you know, the one about how women have to submit to their husbands — and I have to admit, I felt super uncomfortable about it.
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. — Ephesians 5:22–24 (NIV)
I mean, in my head, there I was, a young woman in the 21st century, conditioned to be independent and to live on my own terms. I was his equal and I most definitely was not going to bow down and submit to him. (Yes I know, there’s no mention of bowing but for no logical reason whatsoever, it pretty much meant the same thing to me at the time.)
Fast forward a few years and I’m not gonna lie, I’m still not a huge fan of the word ‘submit’. But thankfully, with the help of the Bible, we can understand what it really means and we can recognise that submitting to our husbands does not mean we need to bow down and worship them at all.
Submitting to your husband doesn’t mean you’re inferior to him. When you get married, you become ‘one flesh’ with your husband (Genesis 2:24). You two are part of one body, you simply have different roles to play in the marriage.
Submitting to your husband is fulfilling your role as a Christian wife (Eph 5:22; Col 3:18; 1 Peter 3:1). It’s allowing your husband to fulfil his role as a Christian husband — his role as the head of the woman and household (Eph 5:23; Col 3:19; 1 Cor 11:3). Not to boss you around, but to be kind and considerate with you (Eph 5:25; Col 3:19; 1 Peter 3:7) and love you as he loves himself, as Jesus loves us (Eph 5:28–30).
Submitting to your husband is not all about being obedient to your husband, it’s about being obedient to God. Jesus showed us what it means to be obedient to God (the Father) to the point of death (Phil 2:8; Romans 5:19). Now we need to live in obedience to Him (John 14:15; John 14:21).
From a secular point of view it might seem like women submitting to men is making us unequal, less important or giving us a lower status in society. But we don’t conform to the ways of the world (Romans 12:2), do we? As Christian wives, we submit to our husbands out of love and because we are ultimately submitting to and being obedient to God.