“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her…” (Ephesians 5:22, 23, NKJV).
For some, the word, “submit” which has negative connotations. The word used for “submit” is hypotassō which was a Greek military term meaning “to arrange [troop divisions] in a military fashion under the command of a leader”. In non-military use, it was “a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden”. The wives’ submission is to be voluntary not forced or demanded. And when they submit to their husbands, they are doing as if they are doing it to the Lord. The husband is the head of family just as the Lord is the Head of the church.
The husband is in the leadership role and the wife is in the supportive role. Eve was Adam’s helper. Sarah obeyed her husband and even called him, lord (1 Peter 3:6). However, submission doesn’t mean that the wife is to be totally subservient to her husband. For example, Sarah told Abraham to send Hagar and Ishmael away. Abraham was displeased about this because of his son but God said to him, “Do not let it be displeasing in your sight because of the lad or because of your bondwoman. Whatever Sarah has said to you, listen to her voice; for in Isaac your seed shall be called. Yet I will also make a nation of the son of the bondwoman, because he is your seed” (Genesis 21:12, 13).
If something is bothering the wife, she can share her concerns with her husband instead of trying to resolve whatever it is on her own. Husbands should feel comfortable talking to their wives about anything. Being the leader of his home, doesn’t mean that he has to bear the burden alone. No man is an island. God created Eve to be Adam’s companion and his second in command.
Wives are there to help to ease the burden. They offer advice, counsel, support, etc but ultimately, the husband is the one who makes the decisions, provided that they are in harmony with God’s will and word. The wife doesn’t submit blindly any more than the husband loves foolishly. Adam loved foolishly when he listened to Eve and ate the fruit (Genesis 3:17).
How husbands and wives relate to each is other is how Jesus relates to us, the church. The wife doesn’t usurp or undermine the husband’s authority but recognizes that he is fulfilling God’s role for him. To oppose, undermine and usurp him would to oppose God Himself. Likewise, if the husband does not love the wife as he is called to do, He is disobeying the Word of God.
Husbands are encouraged to love their wives with the same unconditional, sacrificial love that Jesus has for us. The word used for love is agapaō which is a divine, self-sacrificial love. It is this love that God manifested toward us when He sacrificed His Son for us. A husband is to love his wife with kind of love while she is to submit to his authority. Both are acting Christlike when they relate to each other this way. Their roles do not make one superior and the other inferior. There is mutual love and respect.
The husband doesn’t abuse his authority but he treats his wife as he would like to be treated. “Husbands love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church.” Likewise, wives ought to treat husbands as they themselves want to be treated. Respect your husbands, don’t undermine them. They need your support. Husbands and wives, do unto each other as to the Lord.
Sources: Biblical Hermeneutics; Living Faith