My wife and I love the sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond. Ray Barone is a sportswriter who lives on Long Island with his wife Debra and their three children. His meddlesome parents Frank and Marie live across the street. His jealous brother Robert lives nearby.
We also love the more recent The King of Queens. Doug Heffernan is a truck driver who lives in Queens with his wife Carrie and her crazy father Arthur.
Both of these shows hilariously portray the situations and struggles that married couples face. But on a deeper level, they reveal our culture’s attitude about a woman’s role in marriage.
Ray and Doug are irresponsible and lazy. They just want to watch sports, hang out with their friends, and shirk all responsibility. Debra and Carrie are the responsible ones who pay the bills, handle problems, and care for their families.
Our culture also has several sayings that reveal its attitude toward marriage. These include, “Happy wife, happy life,” and, “When mama’s not happy, nobody’s happy!” It’s common for a husband to be “whipped,” and for a wife to “wear the pants” in the relationship.
These shows and sayings are amusing, but what isn’t amusing is the truth they convey – wives no longer respect their husbands.
The Myth of Mutual Submission
Ephesians 5:22-24 says, “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church…Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.”
This is what the New Testament clearly and consistently teaches about marriage. Yet this teaching is offensive in our feministic culture. Many preachers have replaced it with the myth of “mutual submission.”
Preachers say that if a man truly loves his wife, she will gladly submit to him. So if she isn’t submitting to him, it’s his own fault. They also say that husbands should submit to their wives by selflessly meeting her needs.
Deconstructing the Myth
Paul tells wives to submit to their husbands “as the church submits to Christ.” The church doesn’t perfectly submit to Jesus, does it? So does that mean there is something wrong with His headship? Is He somehow failing to lead the church in love? No, of course not! It just means there is still disobedience and rebellion in our hearts.
The same is true of husbands and wives. Although a woman is married, there is still disobedience and rebellion in her heart. She must put those desires to death and submit to her husband. It is her responsibility, not his.
To justify the idea of mutual submission, preachers quote Ephesians 5:21: “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” They use this verse to interpret the following section on marriage.
But marriage isn’t the only relationship Paul discusses. He says, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right” (Ephesians 6:1). He also says, “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear” (Ephesians 6:5).
Why isn’t Ephesians 5:21 applied to these passages as well? Does anyone say parents should submit to their children, or masters should submit to their slaves? No, of course not! It doesn’t make sense for someone to submit to those under their authority. So why should a husband submit to his wife?
Why You Should Submit
God takes our attitude toward our spouse seriously. Peter tells husbands to be considerate and respectful “so that nothing will hinder your prayers” (1 Peter 3:7). He seems to be saying that if we treat our wives harshly, God won’t answer our prayers!
But a wife’s attitude is just as important. Paul tells wives, “Submit to your husbands as to the Lord.” There is a direct connection between a woman’s submission to her husband and her submission to Jesus.
If you won’t submit to your earthly husband, how will you submit to your heavenly Bridegroom? If you won’t submit to your husband, what does this imply about your obedience to Jesus?
Why is submission such a difficult concept? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below!
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