Ephesians 5 used to tick. me. off.
You know, those verses that are all like "submit to your husband" and stuff? As a woman with some feminist tendencies, those verses really rubbed me the wrong way for years. I blame this partly on an ill-educated Bible study leader in high school, who told me that a Christian woman was supposed to be a doormat. I was taught that submission meant you shut up, stayed small, and sat at home all day taking care of the babies you aren't a real woman unless you had.
Fast forward 10 years (and some in-depth study) later.
Ephesians 5:22-24 says that wives should submit to their husbands, as to the LORD, because a husband is to his wife as Christ is to the Church. What an honor it is to be a reflection His relationship with the Church! The Church is called His Bride in Scripture. His spotless, beautiful bride...not a muddy, dirty doormat.
Ephesians 5:25 tells husbands to love their wives just as Christ loved the Church and died for her. Just as I am commanded to submit to my husband, my husband is commanded to love me to the point of death. The same God that tells me to submit also tells my husband that he needs to love and nourish me as much as he loves and nourishes his own body (verse 28). When that relationship is functioning as He intended, it is beautiful and symbiotic and God-glorifying.
What about when it isn't? What about when sin gets in the way?
First of all, Christ died and rose again in order to defeat sin that it might no longer rule over us. There is freedom and redemption and new life at the foot of the Cross. Sin has no power there.
Second of all, submission is more about the LORD and less about me. When I submit to my husband, I am submitting to the LORD. I am entrusting myself to Him and choosing to love Him and follow Him. I trust that He will take care of me and fulfill my needs. Also? My husband is commanded to submit himself to the LORD and answer to Him about the way he leads/loves me. God is the highest authority for both of us.
God loves marriage. He loves me. He loves my husband. His design for leading and submission within marriage is a good and glorious thing. It means I actively honor and respect my husband as the leader of our house, and my husband actively leads and loves me. It means that my submission to my husband is a reflection of my submission to God.
Also? Let's back up for a minute. In Ephesians 5, before we even get around to the topic of submission, God tells us to "walk in love as Christ loved us" (verse 2) and "walk as children of light" (verse 8) and "walk in wisdom" (verse 15). A woman that's walking forward is the total opposite of a doormat. A doormat gets stepped on, a woman of God steps OUT in truth. She trusts in her God and walks forward in His truth.
>> A note. A wife is never, ever called to submit to sin, abuse, or violence. If you are in a situation where abuse is happening, protect yourself and seek safety and wise counsel.
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(I'm embarrassed to admit that I typed 5:23 instead of 5:22...and even more embarrassed to admit that I'm too tired to go back and change it)
What are YOUR thoughts about Biblical submission?