December 29, 2015 by Stacy McDonald

Why Husbands Should Submit

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I got your attention, didn’t I? But it’s true! Over the years, I’ve spoken and written on the topic of feminism and the way many of its philosophies have harmed marriages and families. However, it’s important to remember that the danger goes both ways.

I think we’ve all seen the topic of submission in marriage abused and twisted, at least to some extent. But over the last few days, I’ve discovered some pretty horrendous and offensive websites, led by men claiming to be teaching biblical truth on men’s and women’s roles. While pretending to represent happy, healthy families, these guys are nothing more than arrogant, self-centered misogynists blindly leading the blind.

These men take a few Scriptural truths and hyper-focus on them in a most twisted and self-serving way …until they are no longer truths at all.

Keep in mind, a one-sided view of Ephesians 5:22-33 can be just as damaging to the family as radical feminism! Any time there’s a lack of balance, somebody’s going to hit the ground and get hurt.
Walking Over Seesaw
In fact, I have to wonder if it was this sort of imbalance that helped to cause the spread of feminism in the first place. Any time a group of people are oppressed or mistreated, there will eventually be an uprising. It’s the nature of tyranny.
We all own our own sin; and a man who disobeys God will cause just as much harm, if not more, as a woman who does the same thing. Remember the Garden.
Ironically, it seems the men who ramble on and on about biblical submission seem to be the same men who simultaneously refuse to be accountable to their own elders (if they are even members of a church at all). They behave as though submission is a woman-only thing. Or maybe it’s just an everyone-else-but-me thing. Convenient. But I digress.
First, keep in mind, in Ephesians 5:22, Paul gives his instruction directly to the wife. He doesn’t tell the husband to “see to it” that his wife submits. A man who “rules his household well” does so in humility and love, without stomping his feet and acting like a selfish brat. In fact, in verse 25, Paul had a few direct words for the husband, so I think we can surmise that Paul intended for him to focus there.

“Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.” Ephesians 5:1-2
And here’s a thought for these guys: Just like a wife who nags her husband, a husband who demands anything from his wife will likely create bitterness and resistance, rather than true heart-submission to God. When everyone focuses on how much they can get out of it, nobody gets much.
Husbands and wives should both focus on outdoing one another in love and sacrifice. Yes, that means we will sometimes give and do what we don’t feel like doing, but it sure doesn’t mean we can demand it.
If you treat your wife like a piece of property that exists for your personal gratification and ego, and you’ll wake up to an unhappy slave longing to get away from you. Love doesn’t seek its own way (1 Corinthians. 13:5).
If you behave like Mr. Bossy Pants just wanting your own way, or if you treat your wife like her purpose in life is to gratify your every selfish desire, ignoring hers, you’ll expose yourself for the demanding, self-centered, jerk you are. And yeah…your wife will notice. And so will your children. The rest of us already did.
Instead of using the Scriptures to beat me over the head, my husband makes it easy for me to respect him. He does this by loving me, valuing and respecting my opinions and abilities, nurturing our relationship, listening to me, serving our family, and often putting our needs and desires before his own. In other words, my husband submits…to God. He’s amazing like that.

“Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another.” (Romans 12:10)
And can you imagine if I lectured my husband on how God’s Word requires him to love me and lay down his life for me on a daily basis? It would probably backfire in my face. Most people don’t enjoy serving someone who is forcing them to serve. So, it goes both ways. It’s a lot easier to run across the street with someone than to drag their unwilling body to the other side.
A Christian marriage is all about mutual love, honor, respect, and self-sacrifice. And none of these things can be demanded from the receiver. If they are demanded or forced, they cease to be genuine, and instead become a source of division, angst, and possibly even hatred.
Ephesians 5 talks about the various ways we’re to submit to one another. Whether you’re a husband, a wife, a child, a pastor, a master, or a servant – we’re all called to submit to someone—to put aside our rights to “whatever” for the sake of the Gospel.
The analogy of Christ to His Bride is neither a directive to worship my husband nor an opportunity to manipulate him into serving me. Rather, it’s a sacred picture of love, sacrifice, commitment, respect, mutual service, and godly order. A properly functioning marriage is a union that happens to bring joy, and not hardship, to all sides. May our Christian marriages paint a beautiful, fascinating, and honest picture of Christ’s mysterious communion with us, His Bride.

“The nations shall know that I am the Lord…when I am hallowed in you before their eyes.” Ezekiel 36:23



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4 Responses to “Why Husbands Should Submit”

  1. Elaine says:

    Hi.
    Just thought this was beautifully said and wanted to say thanks for putting it into words.

  2. hh says:

    Stacey,
    If my mouth could open and speak, without going blank from fear & stress, etc., I would say the exact same thing you just wrote!
    Thank you!
    I must not be alone, as you didn’t write this specifically for me.
    I’m going to send this to my husband. Not in a mean way at all!
    I’m going to just say that these words are truly how I feel.
    It probably will not do anything, but I’ll try.
    Thank you again, Stacey.
    I’ve been “heeding” your wise words ever since I first heard you at our homeschool conf. in WA back in 2007 (?).
    God bless and Happy New Year!

  3. anon says:

    Thank you so much for this balanced, well-written post. There are so many blogs out there that I cringe to read and fear that although well intentioned, they are actually doing disservice to submission.

  4. Paul says:

    The text does NOT say that husbands should submit to their wives.

    Have a look at the Expositor’s Greek Testament
    “It is best to connect the clause, therefore, with what precedes it, and to take it as a fourth coordinate clause, giving yet another way in which the condition of being “filled with the Spirit” should express itself. The former three dealt with spiritual converse, praise, and thanksgiving; this one deals with what is due from ourselves to others. It is appended to the other three as a summary statement of duty in our relations one to another, of which particular applications are to be made. Thus it leads easily on to the special obligations which are next enforced. ”

    The KJV translates Eph 5:21 quite accurate
    Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

    It is a summary statement that people should submit to each other AS A GROUP, NOT AS INDIVIDUALS. I.e. there should be submission among you. It does not tell who should submit to whom. That follows next:

    Wives submit to husbands, children submit to parents, and slaves submit to masters.

    The pattern is clear to see.

    From another viewpoint; Paul mentions that wives should submit BECAUSE the man is the head of his wife, just as Christ is the head of the Church.
    If you learn that husband should submit to their wives, you logically should defend that Christ should submit to the Church, i.e. not Christ is Lord, but the Church is Lord. A terrible blasphemy!

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