Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Husband and Wives as Christ and the Church

I was doing dishes this evening and I was simply musing on something, and I figured I would put it up on here for consideration. I would especially ask for a few wives ( maybe even my own) to comment.

In Ephesians 5, Paul likens the Husband and Wife to Christ and the church, and says that wives are to submit to their husband's as they submit to The Lord. Now in general if Jesus were to ask you to do something, and you were to fail to do it (ie, the 3 and prayer on the Mt. of Olives) it would be sin. My thought was, does this follow with the husband wife relationship or is Paul simply saying that this is the seriousness with with you are submit to your husband.

So ladies, If you husband asks you to clean the house, make dinner, have sex, whatever, is it in your mind that you are to submit to him as to Jesus. Do you think you are to submit to the request as if Jesus was asking?

As a note, I have no conclusion, or statement either way, I am not looking for my wife to do something, but I am posing a serious theological question.


Courtney said...

I think just as man submits to God, the wife is to submit to her husband (barring him asking her to sin) as she would submit to God because he is the authority the Lord has placed over her. It glorifies God for a woman to submit to her husband... so we do it for God's glory, not man's.
Paul makes a reference to Sarah submitting to Abraham, and calling him Lord- not replacing God, but recognizing the authority her husband has.

We don't always enjoy submitting, because we are sinful, carrying out the part in Genesis where women are told they will want their husband's position, and yes, we sin when we don't submit, because we are defying God. Just like men sin every time they don't love like Christ loves, which is a much greater task to fulfill than that given to women.

aaron said...

A quick two cents on the matter... this topic brings up the egalitarian and complimentarian debate. Are there role distinctions in marriage and within the body of Christ? I think that Scripture clearly reveals roles, or the complimentarian position. Men are the head house and women ought not to be preachers in the church. Men are the leaders in the body of Christ. Similarly one could argue just as there's a hierarchy within the Godhead, so it is between man and woman. At the same time men are to love their wives as Christ loved the church who died and gave himself up for her. Is this a call for husbands to sacrifice themselves or in a sense submit to the wife?

Dan said...

Awesome discussion topic! I'm not a woman, so I'll keep my comment short:

I definitely don't think it is sinful should a woman not do what her husband says. We are not Christ, we are simply to love our wives like him. The wife is to submit as the church submits to Christ, but he is not submitting to Christ, only her husband. I think it is dangerous for the male mind to believe that our wives submitting to us is equivalent to them submitting to Christ.

Ken Cook said...

Dan ~

Thanks for the response. Do you think Paul makes a distinction when he says Wives submit to their husbands as they would Christ, between the quality of submission?

Dan said...

Good question. Remember, I'm not a theologian, so my answer is rooted in a lack of study on the topic (maybe a reason to keep my mouth shut?) but here's what I think:

I don't see anything that makes submission (or lack of it) an issue of sin. Paul said, "as unto the Lord." As is an adverb that means "to the same degree." However, we see no extra statement that suggests that it is a sin not to.

In fact, sin isn't even discussed in that passage. We aren't told what the repercussions of disobeying either Christ or the husband is. We know from other passages what sin is against God, but here we don't know what sin against a husband or wife would be (except in other places, adultery is forbidden for a husband and his wife can carry out repercussions...I'm sure there are others). I guess the simple answer here is that the Bible is silent on this matter.

I don't mean to be overly cautious, but please know that I am still in seminary, still learning, so my answer is based on an English-only study, and a quick one at that.

Ken Cook said...


I understand where you are coming from totally. Real quick, Can you think of an example where Not submitting to Christ is not Sinful? Or where one is called to disobey one who has authority over them? ( the obvious exception here is when they are ordering you to sin, ala peter and john with the Sanhedrin).

I am enjoying your thoughts.

Dan said...

The simple fact is that I don't know how it could ever be ok to disobey (or not submit) to Christ, which is why I drew the distinction. As for the authorities over us, I'm not sure yet. I've been thinking over everything, and I need to think/study some more. Let me get back to you on that one.

Ken Cook said...


Merry Christmas.

I have to be honest man, and please don't take this as overly offensive, but it seems to me that you are presupposing the evangelical feminist position. It seems that you are a priori saying that the one thing the text couldn't be saying is that Women Must submit to their husbands as to Christ. I guess my question again is exegetically, what is your understanding here? Is there a textual reason to make the distinction you have or is it strictly presuppositional. As a note, you didn't make the same distinction when speaking of Men loving their wives as Christ... I find that curious.

Dan said...

Merry Christmas to you as well! No offense taken at all. Remember, I'm just starting out. You are far more advanced than I in this subject or any other.

I do have a presupposition, but it is not a feminist one. The background from where I come from is that I know and understand the fallibility of man. However, from an English translation (ESV), let me propose the difference between the woman's responsibility and the man's.

Woman: submit "as to the Lord."
Man: "as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her"

In the male situation, Paul not only gives the instruction, but an example from Christ's actual life. In the woman's situation, we only have the directive.

The bottom line, as I see it, is that the woman breaks the directive by not submitting. In this case, you are correct...it is sin. However, the man breaks the directive and makes a mess of Christ's example.

Again, the fact is that I'm not theologian. I am a fallen man who knows I can't love my wife as Christ loves the Church, and I have a hard time requiring my wife to submit as she would submit to God. However, I am blessed to have a wife who does a fine job of submitting to me.

Anonymous said...

and lets not forget that Husbands are to love their wives like Christ loved the church. A man who humbly serves his wife like Christ served and loved the church, even humbling Himself to come down and die a horrible death for her, and washing His disciples feet. Imagine how easy that kind of man would be to submit to, and I'm glad I can say my humble husband is easy to submit to, not so for others, and I feel for those women alright