The Western society has taught us that men and women are equal; they frown at every form of domination or oppression of men by women. This is acceptable, as God did not create any man to dominate another. Rather, God made man in His image to dominate, rule and reign over all creatures on the earth. Concerning his fellow human beings, God says to “honour all men” IPet2:17, it means to show them respect coupled with appreciation. It also means to treat them with dignity. It does not however mean to be subject or subordinate to them. It therefore means that no man has authority over another man or has the right to oppress or rule over him except he is a divinely constituted authority or government.
Since God is the author of marriage, it is better to consult him on how it should run. The relationship between Christ and the Church is the prototype of God’s intention for marriage. God instructs wives to submit to their husbands as the Church is subject to Christ, He also instructs husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the Church. The Oxford Dictionary defines submission as “the action of accepting or yielding to a superior force or to the will or authority of another person.” In every advancing country and organised institution of man there is a duly constituted authority which subjects and citizens answer to. In the same way, God ordained that in the marriage institution, the man should be the head, the leader setting the pace for the family. Never mind what Western civilization and feminist philosophies have taught that husbands and wives are equals. No, they are not; one is higher in terms of authority than the other is.
God made the husband to be the head of the wife, just as Christ is the head of His Body – the Church. God wired the husband for leadership, setting the course and the path to follow, while the wife is to follow the leadership. You know, it is funny that in the natural design of things, people do not question things or try to redesign, because it makes sense and going contrary to it implies serious repercussions. A vehicle is designed to be driven by a driver, not two. For two people to drive it is a disaster. Commuting in commercial buses is even a practical example, passengers like to instruct drivers on what to do, one is shouting “move to the left, join the fast lane”, and another is shouting “stay here”. They are actually distracting him. I remember an instance; the driver had to protest to a passenger that she should please stop instructing him as she was causing him to lose focus. Leadership like driving is intense it requires focus.
As stated earlier God says the wife is to submit to her husband while the man is love his wife as Christ loves the church. Submission here means to willingly give over to the leadership of someone else. Embedded in most of the domestic arguments and conflicts in marriage is power struggle; either the wife wants it her way, or the husband wants it his way. In Ephesians 5:21, Paul was encouraging Christians to submit to one another, specifically he illustrates submission in three categories of relationships; husbands and wives; masters and slaves; fathers and children. In all three, one is higher than the other, has more powers than the other. In Paul’s era, wives had no legal rights, the husband could do whatever he wanted to do without the wife’s consent or opinion while the wife had to seek the husband’s permission before doing anything. Besides, the teachings of that time was that women were damaged, inferior versions of males. There was likely to be constant power tussles, the wife who is being dominated, rebelling against the dictatorship of the husband and making life miserable for him; and the husband asserting his authority forcefully. However, Paul offers a better solution, he says to the person in the weaker position- the wives, slaves and children submit do not resent, resist and rebel rather submit, work hard at pleasing the other person. Then he addresses the persons in a more powerful position, – the husbands, masters and parents, use your power and influence to benefit the “lesser” person, do not use it to just make your own life easier. In essence, he is saying do not lord it over them. Submission therefore means that I voluntarily limit what I might do naturally in this relationship in order to benefit you. In the same vein, if I am in a position of having more power, instead of doing what I might do naturally and use that power to make my life easier, out of reverence for Christ I’ll use my power instead to serve you. I would give up even my life in order to benefit you. The second part of that scripture Ephesians 5:22 says husbands should love their wives as Christ loves the Church. The way Christ demonstrated His love for the Church was to die for her. This is a selfless, sacrificial love not being a dictator.
Submission is personal
Submission is personal; it is a personal responsibility. The scripture does not say husbands tell you wives to submit or wives tell your husbands to submit. Instead, the instruction is to each person individually, that is, each person is supposed to work on his attitude. The wife works on her submission to her husband and how she can do it better, while the husband works on loving his wife and how he can do it better.
Submission and love; perfect flow
Just as Paul enjoins wives to submit to their husbands, he also enjoins husbands to love their wives. A man who loves his wife will command her respect more than one who abuses her and it is natural to want to submit to someone that loves you sacrificially
Submission is practical
Submitting to someone does not mean becoming a doormat or doing something illegal or that violates God’s command. Submission does not mean staying with an abusive or violent husband that simply is endangering one’s life.
Submission does not mean complying with something that violates scriptures, your conscience, or common sense. Submission does not mean being stupid or that you have given up your brains.
The Quest Study Bible puts it this way: “A submissive spirit runs counter to society’s values and it always has. However, it remains God’s standard for all believers—male and female—for all time.”
Submission may not seem like our societal values or culture, or what seems to be in vogue but God’s truth holds for all time. God gave the instruction not to put us in prison but to make life comfortable for us. A sign of a prosperous relationship where there is love and submission is when you and your spouse are becoming better people and there is evidence of growth in freedom, joy and character. If not something is missing; practice what God says and your life will be better for it.