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Do wives have to submit to their husbands?

Quick Answer: Do wives have to submit to their husbands? If so, what does it mean to submit within the marriage context? While Scripture does teach the importance of wives submitting to their husbands in Ephesians 5:22, it teaches this in the context of mutual submission to each other which is to occur in marriage and in the church (Ephesians 5:21).

Diving Deeper: Christian theology has often focused on the importance of wives submitting to their husbands in Ephesians 5:22. However, this is not a standalone verse. The verse can only be understood in context.

In Ephesians 5:21, Paul encourages Christians to submit to one another mutually. This mutual submission is to be done out of reverence for Christ. In other words, the husband submits to the wife by loving her as Christ loved the Church (Ephesians 5:25), and the wife submits in similar fashion to the husband – all with Christ’s submission to the needs of the church in focus (Ephesians 5:29).

Scripture is clear: Christ is the head of the church, and marriage is meant to be an expression of this headship. However, headship in God’s kingdom does not mean the exertion of authority through power. As Christ embodied for us, godly leadership is about love and servitude (Matthew 20:28).

Let’s Make It a Conversation!
1. What does healthy submission in marriage look like? How about unhealthy submission?
2. How does the highlighting of mutual submission in marriage help you gain a healthier view of Ephesians 5?
3. React to this statement: Husbands are invited to act like Christ who gave Himself up for the church.


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