Now is as good a time as any to address this issue. There are several times throughout the New Testament where the topic of submission in the context of marriage arises. In Titus 2, Paul writes that older women are to:
train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, uworking at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.
Do you bristle when you read the words in bold?
I would not be surprised if you do. Many of us see images of sad, nearly enslaved housewives whose husbands constantly run rough-shot over them. We do not understand the big picture that the Bible brings to light when it speaks of submission.
There are 2 things I want to point out from this one line:
1. The misunderstanding of submission stems from the fall. When Adam and Eve sinned in the garden, God punished them and told Eve that her desire will be fore her husband but he will rule over her. In context, this points to sin disrupting the natural and good order of things. Sin creates a battle for power in the home, one in which wives wil constantly try to take over leading the home, but men will constantly try to abuse their God-given leadership and dominate their wives. Husbands ad Wives have been in an endless struggle ever since.
2. The Bible never says that women are to submit men. Oh boy is this important. So important that I think I’ll say it again. The Bible never, never, ever says that women are to submit to men. You can see the context of submission clearly in the verse from Titus above: submitting to their own husbands. The point of Paul’s argument is not to create some sort male dominant culture. He is seeking to women to live as God intended them to, free from any power struggle with their husbands, and lovingly submitting to them as the leader of the home.
Now, many of us don’t like the idea of submission at all, so any discussion of it is going to be a huge turn off. But the fact remains that God’s design was, and still is, that wives are to submit to their own husbands. This is made clear all over Scripture.
I’m not going to get into lots of proof texts here, but I do want to say why God designed marriage with this submission element in it: Wives are to submit to their husbands because marriage reflects two different relationships in which submission is massively important.
1. Marriage reflects the Trinity. Even though Father, Son, and Spirit are equal in status and power (this is most easily seen when Jesus says that we are to baptize in the NAME of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – one name signifies perfect equality), they are different in the roles that they play in creation, and there is mutual submission among them. The Son submitted to the Father’s will in going to the cross. The Spirit submits to both Father and Son in His work in the world today. But the Father does not submit to the leadership Son or the Spirit. They are united together perfectly, but their is loving submission within that perfect unity.
2. In Ephesians 5, Paul explains that wives submitting to husbands is only half the issue. The other half is husbands dying to themselves for the sake of their wives. In this way, Paul says, marriage gives us a picture of CHrist and the church. The husband is to be like Christ, lovingly sacrificing Himself for the sake of His bride, and the wife is to be like the church, perfectly and joyfully submitting to the will of Christ.
Sadly, we will always wrestle with this issue, at least until Jesus returns, but I do hope that this post is helpful in thinking through this issue Biblically.