Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
(Ephesians 5:22-24 ESV)
Smail words often very important when it comes to understanding the Bible. in today’s verse the word for tells us that the words that follow will explain the reasons for what was said previously.
Yesterday we learned that wives are to submit to their husbands. The reason why is the husband is the head of the wife. The context of this verse is marriage. This verse is not saying that men are to rule over women in society. God is establishing leadership within the family unit.
God is God of order. As far back as Exodus God established leaders who would make final decisions and would resolve disputes [Exodus 18:21]. Within a family, the husband has been given this role as we see here in today’s verse as well as in verses in the Old Testament [Genesis 31:1].
Every organization needs leadership, including the family. When there is no defined leader, one of two things happen. Either no one leads or multiple people try to lead creating factions. Either way the organization suffers. God does not want this. One of the major themes of the Bible, including this letter to the Ephesians, is unity [Ephesians 4:1-3]. Having leaders promotes unity.
By designating the husband as the family leader God is not saying He values men more than women. Everyone of us is subject to leadership in one way or another. Most people report to a manager at work. All citizens of a country have leaders in government (some of whom are female). But that does not mean that these people are more valuable. It simply means they have more responsibility. And with responsibility comes accountability.
Every husband/father will be held accountable by God for how well he lead his family, primarily in spiritual issues. Not only will these men have to account for their own sins but they’ll have to account for the sins of their wives and children. In the Garden of Eden it was Eve who sinned first by eating the forbidden fruit. Yet is was Adam who God held accountable [Genesis 3:6, 9-11].
Unfortunately there are many who misinterpret yesterday and today’s verses into claiming that they give males the right to dominate women physically and mentally. This is clearly not true. Being a leader does not mean being abusive. Being a leader means being a decision maker.
Good leaders invest in people within their organization and seek input from those around them. To that end, husbands should work to build up their wives and children spiritually and seek their input on important decisions. The husband has the responsibility for making final decisions but that does not mean he should act like a dictator.
The wife is called upon to support her husband’s decisions even in cases where she may not agree (i.e submit). This is no different from how leadership works in government or the workplace.
Notice that God commands wives to submit to their husbands but never does He command the husbands to lead. This tells us that husbands are leaders by default. The very fact that a man is married means he is the leader of his family. While he may need to develop leadership skills – and God will certainly help him do that – he is the leader whether he wants to be or not.
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