Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 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. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. (Ephesians 5:22-24)
We’re beginning with the instructions to wives, before we go on to those for husbands. There are several obvious points that are made here. But the overarching point is one about submission.
We saw in verse 21 that the general responsibility of all believers to one another is to submit. We submit mutually to each other, being more concerned about the other than we are about ourselves. We are to approach all of our relationships with humility, unselfishness, self-denial, and a desire to meet the needs of the other person.
So the general spirit of all relationships should be one of submission, and then in particular, “Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord.”
She is to willingly follow the leadership of her husband. This is very specific, by the way. She is not available to all men. She is not told to be submissive to all men, only her own husband.
It says in Colossians 3:18, “Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.”
This is fitting, this is appropriate, this is proper, this is right before the Lord. It is not a cultural preference; it is a spiritual command.
There is a limit, by the way, to what is fitting in this role of submission. It does not mean that a woman submits to her own husband in that which dishonors God. In Acts, when the apostles were commanded not to preach, they said, “We must obey God and not men.” If it comes to that, you have to choose to obey God.
But in the created order and in the proper design of God, it is legally binding by the commandment of the Almighty Himself that a wife be in submission to her husband.
It is fitting, Paul says, before the Lord. His leadership is given by God, and she is to recognize that, and in a humble spirit of loving submission come under that leadership.
First Peter 2 and 3 make it clear that wives are to submit even to husbands who are not characterized by Christlikeness. You say, “I have a husband who’s disobedient to the things of God, who’s indifferent to Jesus Christ. One who is not kind and loving.” All the more reason, Peter says, “So that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives” (1 Peter 3:1-2).
And again I remind you that this is to be done “as is fitting,” and fitting has its limits; you’re not to be submissive if he commands you to do directly that which opposes the Word of God or commands you not to do that which the Word of God does command you to do.
Maybe you have a husband who is a trial to you, either because he’s unsaved or he’s a disobedient believer. He fails to fulfill all of your hopes and expectations for what you would want as a husband. He comes short of what you hope for and maybe what you thought he was, and you are gravely disappointed. He cares little for how you feel, it seems.
This is all the more reason to be submissive — all the more reason to demonstrate to him a meekness, a purity, a respectful kind of behavior, as in 1 Peter 3:4.
It doesn’t mean you have to kill your personality. It doesn’t mean you have to become a robot. It doesn’t mean you have to become boring. It doesn’t mean you never give your opinion. But there needs to be, deep down in your heart, gentleness and quietness. That hidden part is precious in the sight of God.
This post is based on a sermon Dr. MacArthur preached in 1996, titled “God’s Pattern for Wives, Part 1.” In addition to serving as the pastor of Grace Community Church and the voice of Grace to You, Dr. MacArthur is the chancellor of The Master’s University in Santa Clarita, Calif. You can learn more about TMU at www.masters.edu.
|cookielawinfo-checkbox-analytics||11 months||This cookie is set by GDPR Cookie Consent plugin. The cookie is used to store the user consent for the cookies in the category "Analytics".|
|cookielawinfo-checkbox-functional||11 months||The cookie is set by GDPR cookie consent to record the user consent for the cookies in the category "Functional".|
|cookielawinfo-checkbox-necessary||11 months||This cookie is set by GDPR Cookie Consent plugin. The cookies is used to store the user consent for the cookies in the category "Necessary".|
|cookielawinfo-checkbox-others||11 months||This cookie is set by GDPR Cookie Consent plugin. The cookie is used to store the user consent for the cookies in the category "Other.|
|cookielawinfo-checkbox-performance||11 months||This cookie is set by GDPR Cookie Consent plugin. The cookie is used to store the user consent for the cookies in the category "Performance".|