Should Wives Be Submissive?

Should wives be submissive to their husbands (Ephesians 5:22-31)?

In spite of the historic and contemporary nature of this question, it’s really not the correct question.

Here’s the correct question: should followers of Jesus Christ be submissive to Christ and to one another?

When you look at the context of the passage of Scripture, you find astounding insights concerning what God wants in His church.

The preceding passage (Ephesians 5:15-21) fits around Paul’s call for the church to be filled by the Spirit. To be filled by the Spirit is to be controlled by the Spirit. Those who are controlled by the Spirit will fellowship with one another (Ephesians 5:19a), worship the Lord with all their heart (19b), give thanks to God the Father, and be submissive to one another because they are first submissive to Christ.

Taken in its context, this would suggest that wives (as well as husbands, children, slaves, and masters), should be controlled by the Spirit. Being controlled by the Spirit means they will be submissive to one another because of their reverence for Christ.

These are several truths to be gleaned from this passage of Scripture (Ephesians 5:15-33).

1. This is written to Christians.

2. It describes mutual submission.

3. The passage emphasizes duties not rights.

4. Christ speaks to wives and husbands, not about them.

5. In the context of that day, Paul’s words demanded from husbands a greater responsibility. It would be assumed that wives would be submissive. It would be unheard of to ask a man to serve His wife lovingly and devotedly.

5. Devotion to others comes from our devotion to God.

6. The passage describes a self-chosen submission to a self-giving love.

7. Marriage is a picture of Christ and the church. Christian marriage is a divine mystery.

We generally miss the meaning of the passage because we come to it with our defenses up and without being filled with the Spirit.

When we submit to Scripture and to our Lord, we begin to see God’s great plan for marriage.

For these reasons, marriage is about one man and one woman for a lifetime of service and devotion because of their great love for Christ.

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About Waylon

I am the senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Covington, Louisiana, a position that I have held since 1989.

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What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? — Mark 8:36 (NIV)