Wives Submit Yourselves
Ephesians 5:22: Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.
At first glance this can seem like an unreasonable command but there is a deeper issue here. The main issue is not between husbands and wives. The main issue is between wives and God and between husbands and God. Is God worth submitting yourself to? A wife might answer: *Yes, but my husband is not.* Another question: Did God know before He said this that husbands would be unworthy? Of course He did. The main issue for both a husband and a wife is to be submitted unto the Lord. If they are both submitted to the Lord there will be no conflicts.
James 4:7: Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
Receiving Jesus includes receiving His authority. Receiving Him and submitting oneself unto Him are inseparable. Attempting to receive Him without receiving His authority would be attempting to receive a partial Jesus, a false Jesus. The secondary issue is being submitted unto a husband, which will be a reflection of being submitted unto the Lord and will provide a harmonious marriage and a marriage made in heaven.
Ephesians 5:22 is one of many instructions in the chapter on how to be followers of God in the way that His children ought to be His followers.
Ephesians 5:1: Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;
The definition of the word as is important. It means like or in that manner or even as. The word does not necessarily mean identical.
The way in which a wife deals with her husband will almost invariably be a reflection of how she deals with the Lord. While her relationship with her husband is only a reflection of her relationship with the Lord, a reflection is very precise, at least in one dimension. Her relationship with the Lord will be the cause and her relationship with her husband will be the effect. If she has a troubled relationship with the Lord she will have a troubled relationship with her husband. If she is a follower of God she will be a follower of her husband. If she dishonours God she will dishonour her husband. If she loves God she will love her husband. If she is in a right relationship with God she will be in a right relationship with her husband. If she is unselfish with God she will be unselfish with her husband. If she is self-willed with God she will be self-willed with her husband. If she tries to control God she will try to control her husband.
The conflicts between a husband and a wife are a battle between the will of the husband and the will of the wife. The peaceful solution is for both of them to want and have the will of God. Problems in husband-wife relationships become the worst when one or both mates are unsaved. In those cases, one or both of them will be battling for the will of Satan.
A believing wife will know the differences between God and her husband. She will know that God always knows best, she will know that her husband does not always know best and she will know that she, herself, does not always know best. The passage does not teach that she must treat an evil husband in exactly the same way that she will treat a righteous and loving husband or a righteous and loving God. A believing husband will know that an unsaved wife will not always behave properly toward him just as he does not always behave properly toward the Lord. He will also know that his attitude toward her should be like Christ*s attitude toward people. Christ loves the lost and He is the Head of the saved.
Colossians 3:18: Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.
This is also truth: Husbands, love your wives and give yourselves for them as it is fit in the Lord.
Ephesians 5:22-25: Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. 24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. 25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
Titus 2:4-5: That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.
A key word in any discussion of marriage is the word love. In Ephesians 5:25 the love of a husband for a wife means to love in a social and moral sense. In Titus 2:4 the love of a wife for a husband means fond or affectionate love. A husband should understand that his wife*s love may not be socially or morally logical to him. A wife should understand that her husband*s love might elevate facts and morals and seem lacking in affection.
The word love in Romans 5:5 and the word charity in 1 Corinthians 13:4 are the same word. They are agape. God*s kind of love.
Romans 5:5: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7: Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; 6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; 7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
When we receive Christ into our hearts, God*s kind of love is added to and outshines the inferior kinds. The most obvious difference in these kinds of love is that God*s kind of love is unselfish. A husband with Christ in his heart will love his wife socially, morally and unselfishly. A wife with Christ in her heart will love her husband fondly, affectionately and unselfishly. Neither a husband nor a wife without Christ in their heart will be able to accomplish the totality of this kind of love. A husband or wife who does not love their mate unselfishly is not a Christian, or at least, not a practicing Christian.
Did Christ die for husbands and wives that did not deserve it? What we all deserve is Hell. Anything this side of Hell is ours only because God is merciful. If the Lord has loved a husband, died for his horrendous sins against Himself and forgiven him, why should the husband not forgive a wife for her lesser sins and love her? If the Lord has loved a wife, died for her horrendous sins against Himself and forgiven them, why should she not obey the Lord, overlook her husband*s lesser sins and submit herself to him?
It is never appropriate to submit to evil or participate in it. There is nothing in any of these passages that says that a husband or wife ought to approve of the sins of their mates or aid in them or participate in them. One with a sinning mate ought to try to reprove the mate of that sin. We should never submit to evil and we should always submit to righteousness. It should never be a problem to submit to love. Not submitting to love is what people do who refuse God*s invitation to a relationship with Himself. A wife who does not submit to a loving husband does so out of self-will. It can be difficult for a wife to discern whether a husband is leading her in God*s will or in self-will. With God*s help she can discern the difference.
Ephesians 5:33: Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.
Adam Clarke*s Commentary:
*That she reverence her husband.* Let the wife ever consider the husband as her head, and this he is, not only by nature, but also by the ordinance of God. These are very important matters, and on them the apostle lays great stress.
Many problems with marriage can be avoided by Christians not marrying unbelievers.
2 Corinthians 6:14-16: Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? 15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? 16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, 18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.
When two unbelievers marry and one of them later becomes a believer there is a different set of problems. One mate will begin to prefer the will of God and the other will not.
1 Corinthians 7:10-16: And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband: 11 But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife. 12 But to the rest speak I, not the Lord: If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away. 13 And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy. 15 But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace. 16 For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?
God hath called us to peace. It can be very difficult for a believing mate to be at peace with an unbelieving mate. Christians ought not to use an unsaved mate as an excuse to disobey God.
2 Corinthians 6:17-18: Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, 18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.
It is difficult for a believer to be separated spiritually from an unbelieving mate and yet living with them physically. In a sense, they will be living alone together.
Matthew 10:34-38: Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. 35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. 36 And a man*s foes shall be they of his own household. 37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.
Until the unbelieving mate becomes saved, do not be surprised when there is conflict rather than peace. An unwise believing mate can be lulled into expecting peace when there are times of false peace. There will be no real and lasting peace until both mates are saved.
The believing mate ought to continue to love the unbelieving mate. The most loving thing that a believing mate can do for an unbelieving mate is to encourage them to give their hearts and lives to the Lord. And remember that they themselves cannot save the unbelieving mate. Only God can do that. The next most loving things that a believing mate can do for an unbelieving mate are to pray for their salvation and live a godly life before them.
If Romans 8:28 is true then the believing mates can be encouraged that when it is best for them to have a believing mate, when it is God*s purpose for them to have a believing mate, He will get that done.
Romans 8:28: And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
There are some differences between the instructions for husbands and wives.
1 Peter 3:7: Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.
1 Peter 3:1: Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;