When Christians talk about wives submitting to their husbands in marriage - we are almost guaranteed to be accused by many of being benevolent (at best) dictators trying to keep our poor suffering wives subjugated - as well as barefoot, pregnant and standing in the kitchen. Christian women who support this I am sure are viewed by many as female "Uncle Tom's" supporting the subjugation of all women. As a man, I should just keep my mouth shut; but I have never shown much wisdom. Then again, husbands are to submit too; something that gets left out of this discussion a lot.
I will link two posts elsewhere: The hiatus is broken [at Habbakuk's Watchpost]and Submission in a Nutshell [at Intellectuelle]. Some internet links: Christians for Biblical Equality, The Meaning of Christian Marriage, and The Submission of the Christian Wife, and The Submission of the Christian Husband. Finally, this post centers around:
Lexie, at the Intellectuelle link above cited this definition of:
Ephesians 5:21 and be subject [upotasso: In non-military use, it was "a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden"] to one another in the fear of Christ. 22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26. so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. 28 So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; 29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, 30 because we are members of His body. 31 FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND SHALL BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH. 32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church
Submit: v. intr. - To allow oneself to be subjected to something.And one truly magnificent example:
"Jesus allowed Himself to be subjected to the cross. He could have opted out, but He chose not to because of His love for us. Restraint of strength is one expression of power. Choosing to submit and serve is another expression of power."The decision to submit is a voluntary one - it cannot be forced on the wife or husband. It has to be voluntary because it is an expression of obedience to God; and He looks at our heart.
My most important imperative in my life and my marriage is to obey God - and to submit my ego and self to Him. As I do that, I will love my wife as Christ loves me; because that is what I am told to do and if I love her that is what I would want to do. As is pointed out in "The Submission of the Christian Husband":
"If the wives are commanded to submit, then the husbands surely must be instructed to lead. But they are not. Instead of commanding husbands to lead their wives, Paul instructs them to love their wives."How does Christ love me? Sacrificially, unconditionally, meeting all my needs with no expectation (or need) for me to meet any of His. Feeling that love for me; I channel that to all people but particularly my wife - my self actually in a one flesh (two become one) relationship that mirrors Christ and His church (Him the head, the rest of us the Body); and the duality of God and Son. I love her, above all, as I love myself - because she is myself and to harm her harms me.
My wife too has this relationship with God. This leads to another spiritual relationship our marriage should mirror - the Trinity. My wife and I are one flesh; and we each, and as a duality, have a relationship with God. Therefore, we comprise another triune relationship that mirrors the Trinity for the world.
God's central human-to-human relationship on the planet, marriage, is such a deep spiritual and theological pool because it mirrors not only Christ's sacrificial, loving relationship to His Church; but the duality of Christ (God and man, God and Son) and the nature of the Trinity. From "The Meaning of Christian Marriage" (linked above):
Our text is based upon a principle, which is vitally important and yet little understood in our times: God has established certain institutions in this world which are earthly symbols of heavenly realities. The nature of the heavenly reality determines the nature of the symbol. Stated briefly the substance dictates the symbol . . . To pervert or distort the symbol is to distort the picture of the heavenly reality, which it represents . . . Christians have become far too casual about the commands of our Lord pertaining to symbolic actions . . . There may be a few areas of our Christian life where we have a measure of freedom to change a symbol, so as to make it more pointed to our culture, but we have no right at all to disobey, change, or distort God's symbolic commands when they distort the picture they are to portray concerning the substance."How do we accomplish Biblical submission in order to display this symbol properly:
True submission is not difficult, my friend, it is impossible. There is no way that we can, in and of our own strength, submit. But that only means that we must look to God to produce that of which we are incapable, but which His word commands. Our text on submission follows immediately upon the teaching of Paul concerning being filled with the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). It is only as the Holy Spirit controls our life that the will and the ability to obey His commands are produced. To submit to one another necessitates that we die daily, that our flesh by crucified, put to death. This is God's work, and we must trust in Him to do it. This is God's work, and we must cooperate with Him as He does it." -- "The Submission of the Christian Wife" (linked above)Now for the brain cramp. Kyle in the Habbukuk's comments (linked above) rightly says:
" . . . this understanding of man as the head of woman as God is the head of Christ has a notorious history of tyranny, oppression, and abuse . . . isn't it the oldest trick in the book for a dictator to defend himself by claiming that he loves his subjects and acts in their best interest? A dictator is a ruler with absolute power, whether it is exercised for good or ill. And when he starts comparing himself to God and his subjects accept the analogy, there is nothing to stop him from using his power for evil and no recourse for the subjects."Of course, all sorts of nasty things can happen. I can open up myself in vulnerability (loving my wife as Christ loves me) and my wife can take horrible advantage of my servant heart. My wife can choose to submit and I can take horrible advantage of her servant heart. We both place ourselves by faith under God's grace by obeying Him - and open ourselves up to sacrifice on His account. We have taken up our crosses. Therefore, as is pointed out in "Submission of the Christian Wife" linked above:
". . . our text has much to say to the young woman who is considering marriage. A commitment to marriage to a young man is the commitment to a lifetime of submission to that man. If there is any one question which should be in a young woman's mind concerning marriage it is this one: 'Is this the kind of man I want as my 'head,' to whom I will submit in all things for the rest of my life?' Surely our text suggests the necessity of premarriage counseling, so that an independent, objective third party can help in arriving at the answer." [The future husband should also look at what he is submitting to]Here are some questions I would not have thought to ask. From "The Meaning of Christian Marriage":
"For those who have chosen to set aside the teachings of Paul and Peter on the roles and responsibilities of husbands, and especially of wives, I have [these] question[s]. If you have set aside certain biblical commands, duties, and actions, with what have you replaced them? What are you doing which boldly and dramatically reflects the headship of Christ over His church, and the submission of the church to Christ? . . . What is it that you have replaced God's symbols with, which brings about persecution for your identification with Christ and the proclamation of His glorious gospel?"