I wrote the book “Submission is NOT a Four – letter Word” in 2018. As soon as it hit the market I had a comment from a lady who said “I don’t believe in submission.” And she wasn’t the only negative commentator. That’s when I knew Satan was mad. He didn’t want women, or men, understanding God’s meaning in His Word. Satan wants us to think only of ourselves so that our relationship with God suffers. Needless to say, I have not sold very many copies.
The opening verses from Ephesians 5 are often used as whips to keep women in line with religion. Whole denominations use these words to deny women to have any say in the church, and in their marriage. I was attending a church when we first moved to Northern KY and, at that time, my husband was not going to church with me. I wasn’t even sure of his salvation, and it scared me. I went to the pastor to get counsel on how I could persuade my husband to go to church with me. His final advice was, “Well, you made your bed and now you have to lie in it.” Wow, that’s pretty godly, eh? The message I received was that what I wanted didn’t matter. The pastor could not help me because it was not my husband asking for the help. Now, this is a pretty drastic example, but there are so many others.
Criticism of those called to share what the Holy Spirit gives them is rampant right now. Gifted Christian women writing books that are read by both men and women. Christian women speaking at conferences where both men and women choose to attend. These women have been “put in their place” by what I know to be godly men who accuse them of misinterpretation of the woman’s place in God’s plan. But the blessings from these shared words fall on those who choose to read or hear them! I know that God has called me to minister primarily to women. He has allowed me to go through life with a testimony that can help others grow in their walk with God. And I praise Him for using me! I also have a burden for those who accept Christ as their Savior then expect life to automatically be angelic: no temptations, perfect life from that point on. My book “From Self – esteem to God – esteem” teaches how to live with Christ as your example and what to do when you fail in that. And if a man reads this book and is strengthened in his walk with God, then hallelujah! I’m sorry, I cannot, in all good conscience, put on the front of my books, “for women only.”
God created us in His image, male and female, He created us to have insight and abilities that are nurtured and led by the Holy Spirit. God did not intend for there to be only half of His creation to be able to write or speak God’s Word. He gives that ability to whomever listens and responds to His call. Having said all this, I firmly believe in submission God’s way. Anything I have ever done to serve God, since my marriage, has been with the support and guidance of my husband as the spiritual head of our home.
Ephesians 5 provides a godly outline for submission. I firmly believe that if we follow this with a humble heart, we will be fulfilling our calling no matter what gender we are. But because we live in a fallen, sin – filled world, this path has often been broken and has led to many misunderstandings. I don’t profess to know all that God knows, but He has revealed so much to me over the years. Since I wrote this book, I have taken every critical comment and prayed over it. I have asked God to direct my thoughts and beliefs if they are not in line with His. And I believe that this revelation has been because I do have the desire to serve Him. Let’s look at these verses together and pray over our own situations as we do.
Let’s start with verses15-17, 18b, 20 – 21: “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore, do no be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is…be filled with the Spirit…giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
- Paul is giving instruction on Holy Living to the Ephesians.
- He is warning them to be careful of how they walk with the world; stressing that the days themselves are evil
- We (synonymous with the Ephesians) are to be wise and listen to the Holy Spirit as we read God’s Word and hear what God’s will is; not listening to the world’s interpretation, but God’s.
- And we are to give thanks to God for speaking truth to us; we are to listen closely as we pray, because if we are walking with God the way we should be, then our desires will change to match His
Ephesians 5: 25 – 27 “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the Word, so that He might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
- First command of this passage: husbands love your wives.
- How should a husband love his wife? As Christ love the church and gave Himself up for her. Wow, that is one big responsibility. Makes you think twice about getting married if you have to give whatever you want in order to love your wife. That means following God and putting her in front of everything as Christ did.
- Why? So that the husband can be the example of serving God. The church was cleansed by living water, the Word of God. The wife, through the husband’s godly example will also be cleansed by the Word. By reading the Word together, by being encouraged to do Bible study and fellowship with other Christian women. This comes through the concern, the love, of the husband for his wife’s soul.
- By doing this, the husband can walk tall, can serve God without spot or wrinkle because he is following God’s diving structure for marriage and he is doing that so that his wife, and I’ll stretch this a little, so that his family is also serving God fully.
- This is how marriage should be. This is what submission is. Husband and wife both loving God, living as Jesus lived, and walking in the Spirit.
Now let’s go back to the opening verses of Ephesians 5: 22 – 24 “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.”
Oh, boy, this is going to be fun; can’t wait to see the comments, but here we go!
I’ve looked at the Greek word for submission and I have looked into various writers on the subject. Mostly what I have found from the writers is a continuation of what submission means from that particular denomination’s by – laws. So I kept searching for the truth. Some will say I looked until I found what I wanted the writer to say, but I am only looking for the truth.
- I am going to break this down, as suggested in a writing by Stant Litore, into three parts: Part 1 – Etymology, Part 2 – Context, and Part 3 – Head of the Wife
- Part 1 – Etymology: The word being translated as “submit” is the Koine Greek verb hupotassomai. This is a combination of the verb tasso, with the prefix huo. So far we’re agreed that this verb is all about the ordering of rank. What we miss is that it is a military term that is about forming up for battle and about stationing yourself to support. I think that we can all agree that if a husband and wife stand together in battle Satan doesn’t have a chance. The word submit is often interpreted by us as “Wives, do what your husband says.” A better translation might be “Wives, support your husbands.” Or “Wives, arrange yourselves for battle for your husbands.” There is no prayer stronger than the prayer a wife lifts up for her husband. She goes to battle for him on her knees. That is submission. Submission to God through prayer for the spiritual head of her household.
- Part 2 – Context: Paul is writing to lead the Ephesians to forsake the “bondage” of the ways in which people in their culture have lived in their past (Ephesians 5: 1-20), to live joyously instead in new ways, “singing and making melody…giving thanks for everything.” Then after the verses about husband and wives, the passage goes on to build toward being strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might, with each, man and woman, putting on the whole armor of God. Fighting the devil together. When we try to separate how man and woman, husband and wife, are “allowed” to serve God, we are fighting against the the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. We are not fighting each other as it appears. The anger and judgment we feel is a tool of Satan that he uses against us whenever he can. Oh, my, I have heard so much criticism and that is just not Jesus. As long as we are focused on making sure either man or woman is doing what we think they should be doing and judging them in the same breath, we are losing our focus on God. Let God be the judge and let each man and each woman answer to Him.
- Part 3 – Head of the Wife: The Greek word kephale does mean “head.” It also means “authority” or “leader.” In Koine Greek it has two meanings; “head” and “origin.” In the Greco – Roman society, the husband was of the house was the provider and the source of the house’s income and resources. The breadwinner. But the same word does not, by itself, mean “master.” Ephesians 5:22 – 23 could be saying that just as Christ is the source and the provider for the church, husbands in Ephesus are the source and provider of the well – being of our house. This is supported by the recommendations that follow: for husbands to love (not rule over) their spouses; for husbands to act sacrificially on behalf of their spouses, and for wives to arrange themselves, like a battle – regiment, in support of their spouses.
I trust in God’s directive for how women are to serve Him. I in no way would usurp the Christian authority of my husband, my pastor, or any other man or woman that God placed over my spiritual life. I know that my husband is the provider for our home, no matter whether I am working or not. I know that I will follow his lead as long as he follows God’s lead. And I will be right there by his side: praying with and for him, making decisions with him, and following God (whatever that looks like) through trusting God to speak to my husband and me together.
We are not the judge of anyone else on earth; God is the only judge and we are each accountable to Him alone. Each and every hour, I want my focus to be on walking in the Spirit so that the plans of Satan are defeated. May God bless you always.