Ephesians 5:22 says “Wives, submit to your own husbands.” Culture has made it seem that submission is synonymous for restriction, subordination, and dictatorship. In Ephesians 5:22, submission is synonymous for trust and respect. She is to trust and respect her husband because he is the leader of the household (Ephesians 5:23). What most people don’t realize is that directly after this, Paul addresses husbands. He says “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her” (Ephesians 5:25-26). A wife is able to submit to her husband when he selflessly loves her. This selfless love creates the space and security for healthy submission.
This blog is not meant to tell women how to submit better; it’s meant to tell men how to love better. Ephesians 5:25 is talking about a selfless love. It tells husbands to love their wives like Christ loved the church. How did Christ love the church? He loved the church by giving himself up for her. He didn’t descend from Heaven to be served, but to serve. The God of the universe came down to serve the very people that rejected him. This is the perfect example of love. He loves us despite when we deny his name, reject him, betray him, spit in his face and sin against him over and over. This is a love that is committed to us. A husband is to love his wife the same way Christ loved the church.
Love is about self-denial, not self-fulfillment. Because of sin we are selfish. If husbands lead in a way that gravitates towards self-fulfillment, how is a wife supposed to submit to him? He is using his position of leadership to feed his selfishness. A wife can’t trust and respect a husband who is about himself. Christ’s love shows he puts the church before himself. Husbands are to put their wives before themselves. If he can submit to the needs of his wife by selflessly loving her, he will be leading well. This is not a domineering, superior love; it is a selfless, submissive love. As the husband submits to the authority of Christ, he is able to submit to his wife’s sanctification by loving her well.
I am not married, so I understand that I haven’t been able to walk the talk yet. I am writing about things that are easier said than done. Despite not being married, I must say this still applies to me. As I prepare for marriage someday, I am learning to love well so I can love my wife well someday. As I allow God’s love to sanctify me each day, I will be able to help sanctify my wife by loving her the same way Christ loves me.
Wives, submit to your husbands…husbands, love your wives well so they can submit to you with trust and respect.