It actually works to promote the extreme opposite of hatred. But you won’t believe me if I just let it end there, so i’ll back it up. (For those of you who are interested, my scripture references are from the NIV translation.)
Submission, It’s become such a dirty word. I can’t think of any passage of scripture that brings out such a mixed bag of emotions among believers and non believers alike than Ephesians 5:22
22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.
Images of shackles and bondage immediately come to mind for some people not being free to have thoughts and ideas, having to cater to some sort of endless sexual appetite, not to mention the constant murmuring of “yes master” to his every beck and call. This is not what Paul had in mind when he wrote this portion of scripture. People get so hung up on this verse without bothering to read what comes next, let alone the whole chapter as a whole. Instead the common thing would be to read into the text many situations that aren’t there. The most common example being,
Are all women supposed to submit themselves to all men? Even those that want to hurt them for some strange reason?
The answer to this question would be no. A wife is only to submit to her own husband, not to every other man who might inquire. If he’s not your husband, you don’t have to.
Does it mean he gets his way all the time?
Absolutely not! The husband is to give up his life for his wife. This is not just referring to situations put his wife and the rest of his family ahead of himself and his own interests and desires. This means in a real life situation, the guy is not going to get his way very often at all. That’s alright though, because “getting our way” is not the point in God’s design for marriage relationships.
Submission was never meant to be a chore. Let’s take a look at what God requires of husbands in how they should treat their wives. Let’s pick this up at verse 25.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing[b] her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church. -Ephesians 5:25-29
Paul was writing to a culture that got submission all wrong. Men were taking wives to be seen and not listened to, to be used for their selfish pleasures. For men of that time, loving your wife, paying attention to her, and taking care of her needs was a completely new concept.
The kind of husband a wife would be submitting to also has to submit himself to God and take his God given responsibility seriously. He is not running the show, God is the one in charge of the whole thing. If the husband is taking his role and responsibility seriously, he will look out for her needs and keep her best interests at heart so that both of them can honour God in the way that they live. The husband accountable to God for all of his actions, including the way he treats his wife and family. If he is treating her as his own body, then no intentional harm should come to her in any way. Husbands are called to protect their wives, not because she can’t handle herself, but if the situation demands him to physically give up his own life for the sake of his wife and family he is to do it as Christ did for the church.
There are a lot of bad examples of submission out there and the media likes to pick up on these. It also doesn’t help that current culture has a warped understanding of what submission even is.
It’s not hatred, it’s not patriarchy, it’s not allowing yourself to be used for the selfish desires of another. It does not mean the wife is forbidden to share ideas and concerns with her husband, rather it is the opposite as far as those are concerned. How is he supposed to know what decisions to make if the couple does not discuss things together freely and openly? Submission, when lived out properly is allowing yourself to be loved and cared for by the leadership of a husband who does not lead with an iron fist but by giving of himself sacrificially to provide and care for his wife. Not because you couldn’t handle yourself, but because it is a gift God has given to you.
If a married man can get this right it will not be difficult for his wife. It was never meant to be.
We can talk about this all we want, but the only way women are really going to see how it works is if it is lived out in front of them. It starts with how you treat women when you’re single. Nine out of ten of us guys will eventually marry, which is a good, hopeful statistic for me. Look at the way Jesus treated women in the Gospels. Try to find situations to do the same. This can change the way women see us as a gender if enough of us get on board.
Let’s face it, guys, we need all the help we can get.