“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.” – Ephesians 5:22-24
It’s good, on a regular basis, to review what the Bible actually says about the roles in a household. Today, let’s consider the wife’s place. But first, here’s the biblical bottom line in understanding marital roles: men and women are equal under God in every way. They are equal in importance, in standing, in significance, in privilege, and in worth. But here is the mistake often made: equality does not require or mean sameness. That is the error of the world that we use the Word of God to displace.
God’s Word instructs wives to submit to their husbands. The Greek word for submit is hupotasso. It was originally a military term. It means to subject or to subordinate yourself. The idea is to place yourself under. No one forces submission. It is a willing choice that a godly woman makes as unto Christ. It’s a voluntary commitment followed by a regular practice of yielding to her own husband.
Yield! This is the Word of the Lord. A wife’s place is to yield to her husband. If a collision is about to take place, if two people are trying to go at opposite angles, wives—your responsibility under God—is to yield at that point of conflict so it doesn’t destroy your marriage.
Here’s how John Piper and Wayne Grudem summarize submission in their great book, Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. “Submission refers to a wife’s divine calling to honor and affirm her husband’s leadership and help carry it through, according to her gifts. It is not an absolute surrender of her will. Rather, we speak of her disposition to yield to her husband’s guidance and her inclination to follow his leadership. Christ is her absolute Authority, not the husband.”
The most important question (often not even asked) that a woman should answer before saying “yes” to a marriage proposal is, “Am I willing to yield to this man as Christ’s representative in my life for the rest of my life?” Failure to settle this question doesn’t invalidate your marriage—it just means that you may be in for a much harder experience in voluntarily yielding to your husband out of obedience to Christ. If that’s your situation, you will need to depend continuously on Christ for wisdom and strength as you live for Him.
How does the wife’s place as the designated yielder match and illustrate the role of the church as designated yielder in her relationship with Christ?
Father, the place of a wife is a high calling from You to serve her husband and children out of the strength she gains from You. Help those of us who are wives to continually look to You for wisdom in speaking, in acting, and in yielding when each of these is part of our role in marriage. Thank You for making our place clear, even though it is a challenge for us. It simply reminds us continually how much we must rely on Your help. In Jesus’ name, Amen.