The Reason Wives Won’t Submit
The Bible is pretty clear. Wives are to submit to their husbands.
Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. – Ephesians 5:22
Yet, it seems most Christian wives do not subject themselves to their husbands as they do to Christ. Most Christian wives recognize the headship of Christ and are willing to obey all He has asked. The question becomes: Why aren’t they submitting to their husbands in the same way? Are these wives being unbiblical? Are they being poor Christian witnesses? Are they too worldly?
I believe the answer lies a few verses down:
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, – Ephesians 5:25
Wives aren’t submitting to their husbands because husbands aren’t loving their wives as Christ loves us. These commands to wives and husbands are intertwined. They are not separate from each other. This scripture is defining the perfect marriage relationship.
Marriage as a Type
God is teaching us that Marriage is a type (a pattern) of the relationship between Christ and the Church. In other words, when God created Marriage, He did so to give us an idea of what the relationship would be between Jesus and His Church in eternity.
…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. – Ephesians 5:27
In order for the Church to be Perfect – holy and blameless with no spot or wrinkle or any such thing – Jesus would need to love the Church and the Church would have to submit herself to Christ. Jesus did not expect that His Church would submit to Him without cause. Therefore, He gave Himself first so that the Church would know His love for her.
The Christian Husband’s Attitude
This is how a husband is supposed to love His wife. It is the attitude a husband should have regarding his wife. He can only expect his wife to subject herself to him if he has already loved her sacrificially.
It is clear that husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the Church. What did that look like?
Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.Philippians 2:8
Jesus humbled Himself before the Church was ever subject to Him. He gave His life for her before the Church was expected to submit. He did not say, “I will humble myself and die on the cross because my Church is submitting to me.” Instead, he said, “I will humble myself and die on the cross despite my bride hating me and treating me wickedly. Though they have abandoned me and it is their sins that have hung me on this cross, I will die for them.”
Because Christ has had this attitude, we give ourselves up to him. We subject ourselves because Jesus loved us sacrificially.
This is the way husbands are to love their wives. Until we do, we are asking the wrong question. We should not be asking why wives aren’t subjecting themselves to their husbands. Instead, we should be asking why husbands aren’t loving their wives as Jesus loves the Church.
Every husband will say he would die for his wife. But would he humble himself and do things that he hates or is uncomfortable?
It is the husband who has taken on the ways of the world. Christian husbands have decided they will not love sacrificially but only in return. “She doesn’t do this. She always does that.” Husbands have determined they will only love their wives if there is some benefit to themselves. We might love them unselfishly in many ways, but we are not ready to give up everything to love them. “That’s too hard.”
My Personal Lesson
Before Jackie’s broken back, I thought I was a selfless husband. I helped with the kids, the laundry, the dishes while working to pay the bills and caring for the house. What a great guy I was. After she was hurt, I actually felt resentful that I had to do my part and her part as well. I would blow up at her thinking it was her fault she was not keeping up with her part of our bargain.
A couple of Christian friends sat down with us and helped us talk it out. I realized how selfish I was. I loved my wife for all the wrong reasons. I thought the same way the world did. I prayed for God to change my heart and He did. I stopped complaining and began looking for ways to serve her. I wouldn’t let her do anything that might bring pain to her back. Some people might say I spoiled her. I would say they need to have God change their hearts the same way He changed mine so they too can see what sacrificial love looks like.
When a husband gives up all for his wife, the wife submits to him. Why wouldn’t she? There is nothing that this husband won’t do for his wife. Why wouldn’t she follow him to the death?
The Circle of Love
This becomes a beautiful cycle. Since there is nothing this husband will not give for his wife, the wife trusts that he loves her and will do anything for her. She not only submits to him but gives of herself in the same way. There is now nothing she will not do for him because of his love for her.
There we have the Biblical view of marriage: The husband will do anything for his wife and the wife will do anything for her husband. A Perfect Marriage. Like Christ and the Church.
Husbands – what do you need to sacrifice to fully love your wives? Wives – what about your husband keeps you from fully submitting? Share in the comments below.
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