In this lesson focusing on Ephesians 5:22-24, you will learn biblical principles of submission and how to allow your husband to lead you and the family. God wants you to honor your husband and one way to do that is to be a helpmate that knows how to follow his leadership and encourage him as a leader.
Take your Bibles and turn to Ephesians 5. Before we get into this I want to share with you some insights from children on love and marriage.
Is it better to be single or married? Anita (age 9) says, “It’s better for girls to be single but not for boys. Boys need somebody to clean up after them!” Kenny (age 7) says, “It gives me a headache to think about that stuff. I’m just a kid. I don’t need that kind of trouble.”
Why does love happen between two people? Jan (age 9) says, “No one is sure why it happens, but I heard it has something to do with how you smell. That’s why perfume and deodorant are so popular.” Harlen (age 8) says, “I think you’re supposed to get shot with an arrow or something, but the rest of it isn’t supposed to be so painful.”
For the past three weeks we have been focusing on the husband. We took a detailed look at what it means for the husband to love his wife like Christ loved the church. Today we shift our focus on what God’s Word says to the wives. Look with me at Ephesians 5:21, “And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything” (vs. 21-24, NLT). Just as the husband is to be an illustration of how Christ loves the church, the wife is to be an illustration of how the church is to submit to Jesus.
Strong and healthy marriages are built on a solid Biblical foundation. If the husband would embrace his role as a loving leader and the wife would embrace her role as a loving helpmate in building a strong family, the process and construction of healthy marriages and families would be easier. Both need to embrace their roles.
Before we get started let me say a couple of things to the husbands.
- Husbands, it is your responsibility to make it as easy and enjoyable to follow your leadership. The more loving you are to your wife the easier she will find it to respectfully submit to your guidance and leadership as the head of the home.
- Husbands, your wife is about to hear some things that she may or may not agree with. Allow her the freedom to wrestle with it, struggle with it, and grow in it. Let the Holy Spirit encourage her, challenge her, and convict her where He wants, not where you want.
- A word to the ladies regarding me. I am a man. I am also a pastor. I’m going to do the best I can with what the Bible says about being a wife. I’m not going to do this perfectly. I’m asking you to listen to what ever God’s Word and God’s Spirit is saying to you through these next couple of lessons. I’m also asking you to give me some grace and mercy when I say things that may be offensive to you. My desire is simply for you to hear God’s Word and apply it to your life and there you will discover true contentment and satisfaction.
I believe every wife wants to be a loving and helpful wife. Just as God puts into the heart of men to love and protect their wife, God also places in the heart of women a desire to bless and love their husbands. This doesn’t mean it comes easy.
As a wife, God wants you to love your husband. You made a vow before God and others that you would love your husband for better or worse, in good times and bad times. Today, we are going to take a look at an important aspect of marriage but also a very controversial one: the Biblical principle of submission in marriage. We can’t look at everything about submission in one lesson, but I do want to give you something to think about from God’s Word.
A submissive wife understands submission to the Lord
Number one, a submissive wife understands submission to the Lord. It is impossible to properly submit to your husband if you aren’t submitting to the one you call Lord. Your relationship with Jesus effects your relationship with your husband.
Look closely at Ephesians 5:22 which says, “Wives, submit to your own husbands as to the Lord” (HCSB). That phrase, “as to the Lord,” means four things.
- “As to the Lord” is a salvation phrase. It assumes that you have a relationship with the Lord, that you are born again, that you are a follower of Jesus, and that you are a disciple who is growing and learning how to represent Jesus in your life.
- “As to the Lord” is a loving phrase. You are going to treat your husband the way Jesus wants you to because you are so in love with Jesus. You see the way you treat your husband as an act of worship to the Lord. This is why a woman who is equal to her husband, maybe more gifted than her husband, more educated than her husband, and makes more money than her husband can put herself under her husband’s authority and leadership because she is submitting to her husband as an act of obedience and love to Jesus.
- “As to the Lord” is a comparison phrase. The principles you apply to following Jesus’ leadership in your life you apply to following your husband’s leadership. You and I know that your husband is not Jesus. But this phrase “as to the Lord” carries the same idea as when Jesus said, “When you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me” (Matt. 25:40, NLT). When you show respect and honor toward your husband, Jesus receives that as showing Him respect and honor.
- “As to the Lord” is a boundary phrase. This phrase protects the wife so that her submission is within the bounds of what is in the will of the Lord. We will talk more about this later, but as a wife you are not obligated to commit anything illegal, immoral, or unethical because of your husband. If God’s Word says don’t do it, you don’t do it. You submit to your husband “as to the Lord” and the Lord would never have you contradict His word.
Before you can experience healthy submission to your husband, you must experience submission to the Lord Jesus. Your submission to your husband is to be an overflow of your submission to Christ. You submit to your husband “as to the Lord.”
A submissive wife learns how to yield to her husband
Number two, a submissive wife learns how to yield to her husband. This does not come naturally. When sin enter the human race in Genesis 3 it affected everything. It affected the animals, the ground, the weather, Adam and Eve. Part of sin’s affect on the woman was that she would have a desire to control her husband. As a matter of fact God commented on this in Genesis 3:16 where God says, “And you will desire to control your husband, but he will rule over you” (NLT). Part of the sinful nature in both men and women has created this conflict of who leads who in the household ever sense.
Fast forward to Titus 2 and we see what the older women are to be teaching the younger women. The Bible says, “Older women are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not addicted to much wine. They are to teach what is good, so they may encourage the young women to love their husbands and to love their children, to be self-controlled, pure, homemakers, kind, and submissive to their husbands, so that God’s message will not be slandered.” (Titus, 2:3-5, HCSB). A few thoughts from this.
- First, younger women are to be taught and encouraged in how to love their husbands and how to follow their husband’s leadership. Why? It doesn’t come naturally. Loving your husband and following his leadership is something you must be taught. It is learned.
- Second, older women are to be the primary teachers of the younger women when it comes to loving their husbands and learning how to follow their husband’s leadership. I am not to be the primary teacher telling younger wives how to love and follow their husbands, the godly older ladies in your life are to be doing that. I am to teach the broader picture and let you ladies work out the details.
Let me show you this real quick. Titus 2:1 says, “As for you, Titus, promote the kind of living that reflects wholesome teaching” (NLT). Titus is a pastor. He represents guys like me. Then in verse 2 we are told what to teach older men, verse 3 we are told what to teach older women, and in verse 6 we are told what to teach young men. So wives, seek out some older godly ladies to help you with the details of how to love and follow your husband.
- Third, the way you treat your husband and children can be used to slander God’s message. According to Titus 2:5 if a wife does not love her husband and rejects his leadership it can be used against the gospel in some way. As a Christian wife, you may read the Bible, go to church, and be involved in many good things but if you treat your husband poorly, speak of him rudely, and reject his leadership to the point that those around you know you don’t love your husband and you rule that home, then the watching world can and will use that to say, “See, Jesus and that Bible doesn’t help her or that marriage be any better.” The world will judge the authenticity and value of your faith in Christ more by how you live than by your theology. A Christian wife that shows consistent disrespect to her husband can be a tool in Satan’s hand to slander or dishonor God’s Word. This is a powerful thing we are talking about today.
This is why it’s so important for young wives and older wives to get together and talk about how to love and follow their husbands. You need older godly ladies in your life and if you are an older godly lady you need to invest in the younger wives.
A submissive wife’s ultimate authority is not her husband
Number three, a submissive wife’s ultimate authority is not her husband. Your ultimate authority is God. For this reason, if your husband asks you to sin, you must not, because you need to be in submission to your highest authority, the will of God as revealed in the Word of God. For this reason, if your husband commits a crime, you can call the police. If he ask you to lie, you can say no. Your ultimate authority is God, not your husband. In Acts 5:29 we are told, “We must obey God rather than men” (HCSB). If your husband ask you to do anything immoral, illegal, or unethical you should say no.
A submissive wife is equal to her husband
Number four, a submissive wife is equal to her husband. You and your husband are equal in value. You are both equally important. You are equals, but you have two different roles. A fork and a spoon are equals in the kitchen, but they have two different roles. In God’s divine design He created marriage in such a way that for it to work at the maximum level the husband should lead with a sacrificial heart and the wife should follow with a submissive heart. Again, you are both equal, you simply have different roles.
In Genesis 1:27 the Bible says, “So God created man in His own image; He created him in the image of God; He created them male and female [They both were created in the image of God, that is a value statement]. God blessed them, and God said to them [to both of them], ‘Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it. Rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and every creature that crawls on the earth’” (HCSB). God gave both of them the authority to subdue and rule the planet. You are equal to your husband because God made you both in the image of Himself and gave both of you authority to rule.
You are both equal, but you do not have the same role. You have different roles. This takes us to our final point.
A submissive wife yields to her husband’s leadership
Number five, a submissive wife yields to her husband’s leadership. Colossians 3:18 says, “Wives, be submissive to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord” (HCSB). As a Christian wife you recognize that God has given the headship or leadership of the home to your husband. There will be times that you and your husband will disagree about a matter, when that happens someone has to make a final decision. That someone is the husband and God will hold him accountable for his decisions.
Pam, my wife, she is really good at this. When there is more than one way to handle something we will sit down, discuss an issue, look at the options, talk it through together, I will hear her thoughts on it, and she will hear mine. Then she will say something like this, “I know this is a tough decision. You know where I stand on it, but whatever you decide I will support you on it.” She has just yielded herself to my leadership. That is a helpmate.
To the best of my ability I have given you several things from God’s Word addressing submission in marriage.
- This may be new to you and you may need to do your own personal study of what God means when He says wives should submit to their husbands. I want to encourage you to do that study. Dig deep in it to see for yourself what the creator of marriage has to say about your role as a wife.
- This may not be new to you, but God’s Spirit spoke to you about some things you have been saying or doing that causes your husband to feel disrespected and devalued as the head of the home. Talk to your husband about it and if you need to, ask for his forgiveness.
Before we wrap this up I want to say a word to the husbands. Men, if your wife falls way short of what has been mentioned here today don’t criticize her or nag her about becoming better. If she was here today, she heard what was said and she saw what the Bible says. You pray for her, encourage her, and be her supportive and loving leader.
To become the woman God wants you to be and to become the wife and mom God wants you to be you need to have Jesus Christ as the Lord of your life. He needs to be your Lord so He can be your leader. You need to have His Spirit inside you.