Wives Submit to Husbands?

Discussion in 'Family Forum' started by RoderickE, Feb 13, 2010.

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  1. RoderickE

    RoderickE Puritan Board Freshman

    A church in England preached Ephesians 5:22 and Colossians 3:18 and immediately many women members were so offended that they quit the congregation. So what does Eph 5:22 and Col 3:18 say that is so offensive?

    Some of the women congregants said they were "disgusted" by the sermon which was accompanied by leaflets. Further, a woman member asked,

    Before we get into the texts in question, let's look at the responses by some of the women. Clearly the two texts cited, call for wives to submit to their husbands, and these are New Testament texts, not something brought over only from the Old Testament in case someone implies these concepts are "done away with in Christ". But some of the responses by the women show that they want to believe only the things they want to believe about the Bible. This pastor isn't making up some personal concept but rather is merely preaching Christian concepts.

    Maybe rather than summarily reject the message, the women should ask themselves, "Yes, that concept is in the Bible, but what does it mean?" Does it mean women are to do whatever their husbands tell them without question? Does it mean women can never talk in Church?

    Another woman congregant said:

    Is every sermon we find to be non-contemporaneous with our views to be dismissed as "medieval" or out of touch with modern times? What kind of Faith will we end up with if we impose our beliefs on the Bible rather than having the Bible shape our beliefs and practices?

    Now let us look closer at the texts in question. The entire context of Eph 5 is not only submission of wives to husbands but submission of Christians, "as children" to God and submission to each other as a community of saints. Christianity is not a lone-ranger religion despite how it is often depicted as a "personal faith". As a matter of fact, Eph 5:21, one verse before the wives submit to their husbands verse, we read:

    Is it merely 15th-century gobbledygook for Christians to submit to one another and worse yet in "fear" of God?

    Next, let's look at the full context of the wife submission verses.

    As you notice, the full context gives us the reasoning behind the concept, that is husbands are the head of the wife as also Christ is the head of Church. When we deny that a husband is the head of the wife do we also deny that Christ is the head of the Church? Keep in mind I am writing this article as a married man, married 20 years. I fully discussed this issue with my wife on more than one occasion and discussed this specific article. And how fitting I write this article one day before Valentines Day. :)

    But what does in submission to everything really mean? Does it mean, well everything? That wives should just do everything they are told by their husbands without question? Is that how the Church submits to Christ? Do individual Christians, even the apostles themselves just do everything Christ said or did they sometimes question Him. Not question in rebellion or disobedience but in clarification. Now, granted husbands and their judgment is not perfect like Christ's so when a husband is questioned, as Christ was often questioned even by His followers, a husband may need to relent and change his decision.

    But before we go on, let me continue the context of the quote, for it does not end with calling women to submit. So often, as my wife pointed out we focus on the fact that the text tells women to submit to their husbands yet we do not hear many sermons preached on what men must do toward their wives.

    Just how much does Christ love the church? He gave Himself for her. Or more specifically, he was defamed, ridiculed, tortured, and ultimately killed for the Church. How much more self-sacrificing can you get than that? So, the problem is, while we see and understand the Bible calling for wives to submit to husbands, how much do we really understand the kind of self-sacrifice a husband should have for his wife? Does ANY husband really love his wife like that yet we want women to submit like the Church submits (is supposed to) submit to Christ? And quite frankly, there are many husbands that aren't "leading" their wives or their families -- many are off concerned about themselves, their work status, their social status, everything but a self-sacrificial love for their wives. I'm not saying we should then drop the whole thing on both sides, but rather each should strive more to live up to these biblical precepts, realizing we will often fail.

    Looking further at the Colossians 3 context, we read:

    Maybe if submitting to your husband is "disgusting" so too is it "disgusting" for husbands to love their wives and not be bitter toward them. Maybe it is "disgusting" that children are told to obey their parents in all things. Maybe it is "disgusting" that fathers are told to not provoke their children?

    The point is, while we may find things in the Bible which are sometimes difficult for our human nature to practice, nevertheless as Christians we need to be receptive to what the Word of God is saying and not blame the message on the messenger.

    Do some people take the wives submit to your husbands text out of context? Yes, some husbands use it as a license to boss their wives around, forgetting the self-sacrificial role of the husband. Some people want to claim it is merely a culture precept, meant only for those immediate times but no longer for today. Again, so if that is the case, then should husband's loving their wives and children obeying their parents also be cast away as only a 1st-century thing?

    Christian marriages fail, Christian families fail when we turn away from the Bible, claiming it is so "medieval" that we pick and choose what to believe and what to practice. If we behave like that, that is no longer a "Christian" marriage or "Christian" family.

    So, as the Bible says; wives submit to your husbands, husbands love your wives self-sacrificially and without bitterness, children obey your parents, fathers do not provoke your children but treat them gently. What is so "disgusting" about that message? Why would a Christian become offended by that message?

    The UK article can be read here: Church orders wives to 'submit' | The Sun |News
  2. au5t1n

    au5t1n Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    The lack of desire to submit is one thing. What I'm more concerned about is how easily they dismiss the Scripture, if they are Christians. The question they need to ask themselves is, "Was I just offended by the way the pastor preached it, or was I also offended by the text?"
  3. Andres

    Andres Puritan Board Doctor

    I agree with Austin. God's word should offend our wicked hearts. But for the Christian, he/she should take the offense the scriptures cause and allow the Holy Spirit to work sanctification in their life. The women in the article seem to love themselves more than God's truth and this is a most woeful position to be in.
  4. Galatians220

    Galatians220 Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    These women are showing themselves to be stiff-necked unbelievers. It's right and predictable that they would be offended by God's real word. If those verses are preached and expounded upon by a godly minister who cares about his flock, they would always be seen as pearls of wisdom from the Lord Himself by believers and as grossly offensive by unbelievers. Thus it shall ever be.

  5. Jack K

    Jack K Puritan Board Professor

    An underlying assumption made by those upset at the idea of wives submitting to husbands is that submission is a bad thing to be avoided. We've missed the fact that in God's topsy-turvy kingdom, Christians submitting to each other is a good thing. We should all be eager to submit where appropriate, even look for such opportunities (Eph. 5:21). Husbands model Christ when they love their wives. But wives also model Christ, who submitted perfectly to his Father, when they submit to their husbands. So there is great honor in Christian submission.
  6. Rich Koster

    Rich Koster Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Imagine that..... preaching out of the Bible. What's next... asking us to make some sort of commitment to Jesus as Lord (not just Savior)???:think:
  7. jambo

    jambo Puritan Board Senior

    I think it is symptomatic of a non-Christian society when anything that is found to be offensive in the scriptures is dismissed as being a Victorian or medieval concept that no longer applies today. Even the idea of sin is seen as a leftover from a bygone age. Man likes to think of himself as having outgrown the bible and that he knows best. Although these wives would not submit to their husbands, they expect the church to submit to them.
  8. Marrow Man

    Marrow Man Drunk with Powder

    How about submission to God's word and God's will?
  9. au5t1n

    au5t1n Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    [​IMG] Good sir, this is the 21st century! We'll have none of those primitive, medieval ideas around here!
  10. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritanboard Commissioner

    Let's face it, in our fallen nature, nobody wants to submit... to anything.

    Husbands don't want to submit to God,
    Wives don't want to submit to their husbands,
    Children don't want to submit to parents,
    Employees don't want to submit to employers,
    Citizens don't want to submit to the magistrate,
    Particular churches don't want to submit to their vows or constitution on polity,

    We live in a time not unlike many others.

  11. Bern

    Bern Puritan Board Freshman

    Hi guys,

    This is my local Church of England congregation. I feel sorry for the Vicar there, as the papers portrayed it as if he was saying that women have to be like slaves. It was the Sun newspaper which is always exaggerating stories to make them sell. Thankfullly the Lord knows the truth, and if he preached the truth, then God will bless him for it. In my opinion, a pastor is better off without people in the congragation that will not sumbit to the plain teaching of scripture.
  12. jambo

    jambo Puritan Board Senior

    "But it must be true. I read it in the Sun"
  13. SolaScriptura

    SolaScriptura Puritan Board Doctor

    Quite frankly, I'm encouraged... to be in the Church of England and be so staunchly conservative... that's bold... American style! Well done!
  14. Bern

    Bern Puritan Board Freshman

    Yeah, its not common these days for CofE ministers to stand by the scriptures due to pressures from within. Unfortunately CofE has become quite wishy washy now. St Nicks in Sevenoaks is certainly one of the more scripturally sound churches in this area.
  15. SolaScriptura

    SolaScriptura Puritan Board Doctor

    Any chance there will be any reprecusions from the ecclesiastical powers that be?
  16. Bern

    Bern Puritan Board Freshman

    Not sure yet, we'll have to see how its handled. Thankfully the Vicar hasn't issued an apology for what he said... all he said was that he didn't mean to offend people by the way he conveyed biblical truth. I think thats fair enough. There are some CofE churches in my area that are faithful to the bible, but they are getting fewer all the time, and some of those are offshoots from mainstream CofE.
  17. lynnie

    lynnie Puritan Board Graduate

    It helps if submission is presented as roles, one to take the pressure as head and one to be the helper, and the preacher stresses that no spiritual, moral, or intellectual inferiority is intended. To be be honest, if I lived in England with the huge influx of Muslims and the problems they are having in some places there with Muslims, I would be very, very, careful how I worded it and explained it, because of the associations with Islamic men and how they view submission. Very sad for the preacher of course, but Islam is coloring the meaning of submission so that women are inferior creatures if not outright vessels of Satan to tempt men.

    During the sermon Rev Oden also blamed "modern woman" for the high divorce rates in the UK.

    Boo, I'd walk out too. Try putting some blame on wimpy men who have abdicated their roles as head- especially in the prayer closet. I've seen plenty of bad wives and plenty of equally rotten husbands. Blaming only women is just plain stupid.
  18. SolaScriptura

    SolaScriptura Puritan Board Doctor

    To blame only women is fallacious. But it must not be missed that everything in our culture - including the law - is against the man asserting himself as the head of the house. Our culture (by that I mean Western culture) has become so feminized that a man can only be the head of a house if the woman will let him. In even the most godly households, where the man is the wise mature and Christ-like leader he is meant to be, if the woman has a change of heart and decides to not submit, there is literaly nothing that he can ultimately do. So while we in this venue like to tell me to be men, that simply will not do when thanks to the culture the woman is the one holding all the cards... she must first be told to LET her husband lead. So in that regard, I can totally see where the preacher was coming from.
  19. calgal

    calgal Puritan Board Graduate

    With all due respect Chaplain, there is a missing piece in your argument: If the man loves his wife like Christ loves the church then submission will not be an issue. What I have seen is where submission is an issue either the woman is the head of the household or the man is ordering his wife around like she is a subordinate.
  20. SolaScriptura

    SolaScriptura Puritan Board Doctor

    Ok. You can keep thinking that. But I know the culture. I know the way everything in our culture is infected by feminism. You may not like the way it sounds, but the bottom line is that a man can only lead if she will let him.
  21. Bern

    Bern Puritan Board Freshman

    Lynnie, don't forget that the media is almost always biased against Christians. I doubt Rev oden placed all the blame on "modern women"...I suspect highly that he mentioned it while talking about other causes of marital breakdown and general decline in family roles, but some people got offended and the papers got hold of it. It wouldn't be the first time thats happened here.

    Ben, to a great extent I think you're right. In fact I know people who have terrible difficulties in their marriage because the guy's wife will not allow him to have control over anything. I also agree with Gail, because a selfish husband makes submission very difficult indeed for the wife. Its a two way thing. I think the main problem in our culture is that many church leaders are afraid to teach on this subject because of incidents like this one involving St Nicks church in Sevenoaks. I seriously think that all couples who are engaged to be married should be put through some sort of pre marriage course before they tie the knot, so they understand what is required of them and why... I think that would solve a lot of the problems some Christian couples have in married life. Usually its the culture dictating the values, and if it goes unchallenged, people may never realise that God expects them to be different.
  22. lynnie

    lynnie Puritan Board Graduate

    Bern you are right about the media and I should have assumed that anything they report about Christians is biased.

    As far as feminism goes and what men can't do, I'd say you have to take it on a case by case basis. My experience is that some guys will do anything to placate their wives and avoid conflict, and the problem is the wimpy guy. Even when their passivity is leading to damage, they don't want to have a knock down drag out fight if they put their foot down and say "this is how its gonna be sweetie- no, we don't go into debt on the credit cards for that junk, and no, the kids are not going to do that". They'd rather abdicate. You can say the wife won't submit but my position is that if he hasn't initiated good biblical counseling for himself or both of them because the marriage is so bad, he is abdicating headship just on that grounds. He should not let a bad marriage go on w/o seeking some serious help.

    And don't misunderstand me.....I've seen women that are full blown control freaks and I am not trying to blame men primarily. The culture is not just feminized but also emasculated, and the emasculated men are that way by choice, they can't play the victim card, but women can be almost witches even in the church.

    Phew, this makes me feel like I never ever want to nag dear hubby about anything ever as long as I live, even if I feel well meaning :)
  23. Montanablue

    Montanablue Puritan Board Doctor

    I suppose I'm the odd man out here, but I actually don't feel that our culture is "feminized" at all. (Although I'm not even entirely sure what that means)Perhaps its because I live in Montana, where the cowboy is cool and kids start chewing tobacco at age ten. If anything, at least in my region, I would almost say that we err no the side of encouraging men to be too macho and running roughshod over everyone. But that aside, I agree with Lynnie. I can honestly say that in my experience men that lead with kindness and compassion, respecting the opinions of their family members (even if they don't always go along with everything) rarely have trouble with "control freak" wives or children. It seems that others trying to take over happens either when (a. the man is a tyrant and abuses his authority or (b. he refuses to make decisions or provide leadership, so there's a vacuum.
  24. Bern

    Bern Puritan Board Freshman

    There's plenty of guys over here who are just silly little boys who don't want their lives to change once they get married. They thinkl they can still act like they did when they were 18 years old with no responsibility. A lot of the problems stem from that too.
  25. SolaScriptura

    SolaScriptura Puritan Board Doctor

    The "silly little boy" syndrome in a modern context is seen as a cause of women 'needing' to step up. And it may be that now the culture has come to that point. But historically the "silly little boy" syndrome was sympotmatic - or the result of - the women taking the authority.
  26. kvanlaan

    kvanlaan Puritan Board Doctor

    I find it very humbling that my wife submits to me and feel the burden of that responsibility keenly. It is not to be taken lightly.

    But that is likewise culture (in this case local), not biblical manhood. It is a perversion. Christlike manhood is realizing that we are servant leaders but with authority granted us by God, it is incredibly empowering to realize that my position in our family is God-given and God-authorized. It gives great power and authority but the burden of responsibility is likewise enormous.

    Our culture is feminizing the men to where many 25 year old 'men' are nothing but giant, emasculated children and the women have been taught to be everything a woman should not be. Thankfully, we serve a sovereign God.
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2010
  27. CatherineL

    CatherineL Puritan Board Freshman

    Christian women have a unique opportunity within our current culture to really be authentically different. People really *notice* when a wife is biblically submissive and has a gentle and quiet spirit. They may not know what to call it, but they notice it.

    Kathleen, I'm almost positive that its just that Montana has not been able to be feminized. A last outpost! Come to DC and you will be in for a shock with the girly men. And the women who like their men girly. *shudders*
  28. Michael

    Michael Puritan Board Senior

    I know what you mean Kathleen. When I was living in Louisiana and rural Mississippi it would've been hard to imagine what everyone's talking about when it comes to feminization. Actually hadn't even heard of it. But then I moved to the city and then...the suburbs. Somewhere there's a leak in cultural manhood. The difference is unmistakable.
  29. au5t1n

    au5t1n Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I agree with Montanablue, but I would add that masculinity can be defined different ways. Yes, the culture has an obsession with teaching boys and men to be "masculine" by chewing tobacco, lifting heavy objects, watching lots of football (not saying that's always bad), and being obsessed with women's bodies and mistreating women, etc. But this is not the same as taking a spiritual role of leadership in the family, being a good shepherd to his children, etc. Our culture has plenty of the former kind of masculinity, but not enough of the latter. In fact, I think the former is the culture's way of hiding the fact that they obviously have lost all real masculinity. It's a facade.
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2010
  30. Michael

    Michael Puritan Board Senior

    Just a thought, but one that I think has some merit. There is an ongoing debate about "life imitating art" vs "art imitating life". I personally find the former to be prevalent in urban and suburban areas, while the latter to be more common in rural settings. This has a good deal to do with the increased erosion of biblical manhood in more dense populations in my opinion.
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