Thursday in the Fifth Week of Ordinary Time

Ephesians 5:22-24

Wives, Submit to Your Own Husbands

Ours is a world in which feminism is regnant.  We hear today of “toxic masculinity,” implying that there is something inherently wrong with being a man or at least acting like one.  As a result, we see among contemporary interpreters of Scripture attempts to explain this passage away either as a shadow of a bygone culture or worse an example of ancient misogyny.  It is always painful for me to hear evangelical preachers dilly-dally around with it and in effect apologize for its being in the Scriptures before expounding upon it.  A godly woman should be offended by such patronizing and kindly tell the preacher after the sermon that she is big enough to both hear and obey the word of God without his making excuses for explaining it to her.

That said, the passage is plain enough: Wives are exhorted to “submit to [their] own husbands.”  The word, “submit,” is understood from the previous verse.  It is not the same word for “obey” as is used for children and slaves.  Other translations say, “be subject to.”  What is obvious is that the wife is to follow her husband’s leadership.  It is not a servile obedience the wife offers but one that is given voluntarily with her heart, mind and will; that is, she not only submits because she has to, she submits because she wants to. 

But we must add that latter part: the wife submits unto her husband “as to the Lord” just as “the church submits to Christ.”  The wife actually receives the honor of being referred to the Church of Jesus Christ in this way, for she is his Bride.  There is nothing more beautiful to Christ than his Church.  (And we shall discuss tomorrow the husband’s responsibility to behave towards his wife as Christ behaves towards his Church, but for now we must speak of her.)  And so as the Church gladly submits to Christ, so must the wife gladly do so, but not, of course, as a child, but better, as a wife who loves her husband and her Lord.

Some commentators will say that this is for the proper functioning of the family.  They speak of “roles.”  I don’t disagree with that, but I don’t like the utilitarian way that such an interpretation reduces the relationship between husband and wife, man and woman.  I believe that there is something natural to the “roles” each sex plays such that a godly marriage makes each sex more godly than before.  Marriage is both a natural and sacred institution where each sex learns better how to be itself as God designed before the fall, which can only be learned by being wed to a member of the other sex.  And this is a gift which God in His grace gives to all.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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