The individualism of American culture is a picture of hard work, self-determination, and success. It fosters an attitude of, "I don't need anyone" so much so that good conservatives bristle at the thought of "it takes a village" (Hillary Clinton) and "you didn't build that" (Barak Obama). And, at the risk of alienating my conservative friends, I agree, none of us achieves anything in a vacuum, and for Christians, the community of faith is to be the central aspect of our lives.
The Apostle Paul was teaching the Ephesians about the high call of unity, and that working together in love was the way in which the world sees God's hands and feet in action. The ultimate expression of that unity is when we come to the point of trusting one another by submitting ourselves for the well being of another person. But how does that work out in practice?
It would have been laborious to write every situation in which believers should mutually submit, so the Apostle describes four venues that were and are core relationships in the church that identify the most difficult acts of submission: Wife to Husband, Husband to wife, Child to parent, and slave to master (we will view this as employee to employer). Today we will take the first, wife to husband.
The word submit after "wives" isn't in the original Greek. It is placed there for clarification linking it to the verse before. "Submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives to your husbands." The word submit was a military term meaning to voluntarily place yourself under the influence of someone else, to obey, or submit.
I can hear the screams, "Submit? That's archaic! What if my husband is lazy, indifferent, mean, irresponsible, or worse abusive." Not to sound insensitive but if that is what your husband is like you have bigger issues then submission. The fact remains that the Apostle says that the wife, in order to maintain unity, is to do that which the fall has made most difficult, submit to her husband in everything.
One of the consequences of the fall was that the wife would desire to be over her husband and usurp his role. In Christ wives are redeemed and part of that redemption is the reestablishment of created roles, and places the husband as head of the house. Irrespective of his ability to fulfill his role properly the wife is to show reverence for Christ in her behavior.
The marriage relationship is s microcosm of the Church. How the family functions shows the world how the church functions. Therefore as Christ is head of the church so he has placed the husband as the head of the home. Frankly women, I would rather not have the responsibility.
When my wife and I stand before the Lord he will not ask her why my family did or did not follow after him. As head of the home the husband will have to answer for the family and that should be enough to cause us to tremble.
But we live in a fallen world, husbands don't always take up their role gladly, so what is a wife to do? Submit, and it may be the most difficult thing they ever have to do, but God' grace is sufficient. If your husband is not a believer then by your gentle and submissive life the love of God is manifested. If he is a believer he will respond better through respect and not nagging, submissiveness and not dominance.
However, If your husband is abusive, physically or emotionally you need to protect you and your children. Remove yourself from the situation and seek help. This is the one caveat. In all else submit.
Submission doesn't mean that you don't have input or that you don't have any responsibility. It just means that at the end of the day the final decision rests on the husband. For some wives this is frightful because their husbands have not shown themselves trustworthy, for others it is a relief because it unburdens them.
This isn't complicated but it is difficult, but God gives strength to those who trust in Him. When wives see their act of submission to their husbands as an act of obedience to Christ it shows a rampantly irreligious culture a new and better way. Remember women that the next blog will be about the most difficult way for a husband to mutually submit. I'm just saying.
Ephesians 5:22-24 "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."