Sunday, 23 October 2016
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. Ephesians 5:22
Admonitions for wives which are very similar to this one are found in Colossians 3, Titus 2, and 1 Peter 3. Other much more carefully worded restrictions upon women are noted throughout Paul’s writings as well. For modern times, women who believe it is ok to preach or teach or have authority over men will simply disregard those prescriptions, or twist them out of their intended context, in order to justify what is explicitly forbidden. They will also take descriptive verses from the Old Testament (a dispensation which has ended), or from the book of Acts, completely out of context in order to again justify that which is forbidden.
The one verse from Paul which they hold up as relevant in allowing women to teach, Galatians 3:28, is again torn out of its intended context. Paul’s words there show that there is no spiritual difference in men or women, just as there is none between Jew and Gentile or slave and free man. But the fact that Paul mentions the categories is intended to show that the physical distinctions still exist. Slaves remained slaves in Rome, Jews remain Jews even when coming to Christ, and women do not become men when they become Christians. However, there is no spiritual subordination in these categories, and no “lesser salvation” for any of them.
Understanding this in proper context, wives are to “submit to” their husbands. A hierarchy is set within the family unit. The man is the head of the household and the woman is to defer to the man’s decisions. It is inappropriate, and against the natural order of things which was established at the very beginning (Genesis 2), for women to have the lead role in family matters. God has ordained it this way. Families and societies which do not follow this model will inevitably be dysfunctional in regards to proper biblical standards.
Albert Barnes rightly identifies four areas which the woman is to submit to the man.
- In domestic arrangements.
- In regard to the laws which are to regulate the family.
- In business matters.
- In everything, except that which relates to “conscience and religion.
The last category is intended as being in conscience according to God’s word, and in religion according to what God has ordained. A woman is not to follow her husband if he is in violation of either of these two precepts. In all other ways, they are to submit as is indicated here and elsewhere in Scripture. And, further, women are told to submit to their husband “as to the Lord.”
This is explained in the next verse. Simply put, it is because the Lord requires it, the Bible directs it, and the Spirit (who breathed out Scripture) testifies to it. To not follow this standard is to be disobedient to the Lord.
Life application: Modern society fights against the words of this verse. Women are told that the Bible is archaic and even inappropriate, but God says otherwise. He has ordained all things according to His wisdom. To reject what is stated here is not less detrimental to right living than being a homosexual or a drunkard.
Lord God Almighty, Your word is truth. It has ordained certain roles within society for men and for women. It further defines those roles within the family. However, it has become “unfashionable” to follow Your word and to reject this order which You have established. This is detrimental to the family, to the society, and to our relationship with You. Help us to follow Your word alone, and to be obedient to the hierarchies which You have established by Your sovereign will for the proper conduct of our lives. Give us willing hearts to be obedient to You and Your word above all else. Amen.