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What does submission look like? What are the roles of men and women in marriage?

In Ephesians 5, (we recommend you read the whole chapter) St Paul writes about the role of the woman and man in a marriage by likening this relationship to the one Christ has with the Church. How beautiful is that? Our ultimate example of a Godly marriage is following the example of our Lord and His Church. In verse 21, we read that we are called to submit to one another in the fear of God as brothers and sisters in Christ, which is the foundation for a fruitful marriage. Furthermore, in verses 22-23, St Paul writes, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body.” He continues in verses 28-29, “So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church.”

Submission is a beautiful cornerstone of God’s plan for marriage. God in His wisdom, has a plan for marriage. Unfortunately, today’s society is against His plan. As our Creator, He knows what system works best. The husband is called in Ephesians 5 to give his very life for his wife. He, as a man, is called to protect and love her above all. She is called to be his helper. If he is the head, she is the crown, if he is the builder, she is the wisdom, if he is the boat, she is the motor that propels the boat. 

Let’s look at the word submission. Sub: under + mission. So she first has to pick a man whose mission she can get under and help. They are 100% a team, one can not be successful without the other. She picks what kind of team to be a part. He needs her to accomplish his mission on the earth. He needs her wisdom, her intuition, her strength to take care of the family in order to accomplish their team’s goal which is to glorify God in whatever way they are called. A man must be about his business doing the work of God. The wife trusts her husband fully, believing and working towards building their family and their mission. He in turn is fully submitted to God, fully loving her and willing to give his life for her and their family at any time. This is NOT what the media is going to portray to us but this is a Godly picture of marriage pleasing to God. 

Ladies, submitting is not losing your voice, but it can be exemplified in trusting your husband fully, believing, and working towards his mission. Submission and love are both actions of service and sacrifice. We are called to serve and sacrifice for one another. The male can submit to his wife in certain aspects as well. Christ is the head of the Church, and He lowered Himself humbly to give the Church eternal life. That is the kind of love husbands are called to have. While it is not a daily occurrence that one has to give his life for another, this can be seen in other ways in daily life. It means giving up your desires so that the other may prosper. Submission does not mean one is superior and one is inferior but indicates through the example of Christ and the Church how we must conduct our marriages. 

St Paul ends Ephesians 5 with this: “This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” (32-33) This just tells us that the first message St Paul is writing about is the message of true love that is His sacrifice for us on the Cross and our life of submission to Him. Secondarily, we can understand it as a guide for marriage. We can also meditate on this scripture in this way, first our love and submission has to be strengthened in Christ before seeking to be unified with our partner.

In all this, let us ask God for true understanding and the wisdom to follow His plan, not ours. Is this a hard saying to accept? Let’s be honest, what do we see in today’s society, what fruit has come from the ways of popular society and on the other hand what is the fruit of a Godly marriage? Truly they are complete opposites. So, let’s aim to understand His plan and accept His will and the beauty He has waiting for us praying, “Let Your will be done.”

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