21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. – Ephesians 5:21 – 24
Submission. It’s become a dirty word in our society hasn’t it? “Submission means being a doormat”, “Submission means you have to do whatever the other person says”, “Submission makes you less-than-human”. And as a “native” in the world of feminism, and a wife myself, I have to say I struggle a little with this idea of submission! Submitting means I can’t guarantee I’ll get my own way. It means putting someone else’s needs before my own.
If, like me, you hear submission and are tempted to switch off and tune out, can I encourage you to stick with God’s word here for a minute? Submission is not something anyone can inflict on or demand of anyone else (that’s called abuse); instead it’s a gift men and women in God’s church offer their leaders (“submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” v21) and Christian wives – not all women but specifically wives – offer to their husbands. In fact, Paul seeks to show how this honours those who submit in church, and especially wives to their own husbands, by showing that submission is something wives model for all of the church to follow.
And if you’ve been around churches a little while, you may have had heard that husbands are to ‘head up’ their family like Christ did his church- the same Jesus Christ who came “not to be served but to serve”, and died for us. That’s a big call for you, husbands, and church leaders. I’m praying for you! I saw this kind of leadership when, as I was sitting hearing the stories of two young women who had been abused and dominated by the men in their life, one of the church husbands and elders came out, and began sweeping the leaves off the pavement. His demonstration of servant leadership provided a stunningly beautiful contrast to the way these women had been treated previously. Submission to a leader like this can be joyful.
I wonder how we might bring joy to our church leaders who seek to serve us this week, by offering them the gift of submission (without abdicating the use of our intelligence, our insight and our skills to help them!)? And if you’re a wife, to your husband?
– If this passage has raised concerns for you, you have questions, or you think you might be in an abusive situation where someone has demanded submission from you without your consent, please contact the church, a domestic violence helpline, or Danae Woodward, if you’d like to chat further. –
Dear Heavenly Father,
We are a broken world of people who often seek to dominate each other to get our own way. But you came to serve, not to dominate. Please forgive us when we have used our strength, our position, our influence or our intelligence to dominate or overpower others. Heal and protect and comfort all those who have been abused in this way, and help each of us to consider how we might lovingly seek to serve others’ needs. Please equip the leaders of our churches, and all the husbands in marriages too, to lovingly serve their people, and for all under the care of church leaders and godly Christian husbands to find ways to bring joy to others by submitting.
In Jesus’ name,
Danae Woodward – Creek Road Campus