In Christian weddings that I have officiated and have attended, verses that are often shared to the couple to remind them of their roles in a marriage are Ephesians 5:22 and 25. The two verses command the wife to submit to the husband (v.22) and the husband to love the wife (v.25), both in reference to the relationship that Christ has with the church.
As I read through the book Every Man’s Marriage by Stephen Arterburn (author of Every Man’s Battle) and Fred Stoeker, I was introduced to a broader application of the command to submit – that this was not just limited to the wife to submit to her husband but the husband must also submit to his wife – a submission that paves the way to the ultimate purpose of marriage which is marital oneness.
Now before anyone reacts and makes a rebuttal against the husband submitting to the wife and says this is unbiblical let me clarify this first. This statement does not mean reversing the role that God has designed. God’s design is that the husband is to be the leader of the marriage and family, the one accountable to God. The idea that the husband submit to the wife does not contradict with this but is actually a biblical truth on marital leadership.
Jesus came not to be served but to serve. He showed servant leadership and servanthood requires submission. As a husband is called to lead the marriage, he is told to do so with a Christ-like, servant’s attitude. Besides, prior to Ephesians 5:22 is verse 21 which says, “submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
The problem is that the command to the wife to submit is what husbands tend to focus on in a marriage relationship when the focus should be on the command to love his wife as Christ loved the church. A lot of times the submission command is used and abused by husbands to control their own wives for selfish reasons. This tramples the wife to the depths of her soul.
1 Peter 3:7 “Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.”
We must be considerate and respect our own wives as the weaker partner – in the sense that she is fragile so we must handle her with much care. ]Handle her like a piece of china. That’s what is implied in the term “weaker partner”; not being of a lesser value.
I would challenge husbands out there to try this and I guarantee and immediate turn around in your relationship with your own wives – she would instantly feel that you are one and that you are for her.