Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Wives, Submit to Your Husbands

HCSB Eph 5:22 Wives, submit to your own husbands as to the Lord...
All my life this has been interpreted for me to mean that wives were to be submissive to their husbands. And that is true, in context.

Look at the previous verse:
21 submitting to one another in the fear of Christ.
So we are all told to submit to one another, but then wives are singled out as needing to be submissive to their husbands. Why? Is it because women need more instruction than men in being submissive to one another?

Let's look at one more aspect of the context. This letter was written to the people in the city of Ephesus. Ephesus, as you'll recall from Acts 19 (and from extra-Biblical history), was the headquarters of the cult of Diana/Artemis. This was a matriarchal town, in which the women were the priests; the women were the government officials; the women wore the pants in the home. These women who were converting to Jesus had spent their entire lives believing that women were to be in charge.

Paul was telling these Ephesians to submit to one another, and emphasizing to the women that the Christian culture was different than that to which they were accustomed, and to stop lording it over the men.

This background may also have bearing on the instructions written to Timothy, who was the church leader in Ephesus at the time (1 Tim 1:3):
HCSB 1 Tim 2:11 A woman should learn in silence with full submission. 12 I do not allow a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; instead, she is to be silent.


Sheri said...

I read recently about a survey in which men responded that to a man it is worse that his wife does not respect him than that his wife did not love him. Her respect was more important to him than her love! Needless to say, to women it was the reverse, she could deal with him not respecting her better than the thought that he did not love her. Hence, the Bible says for men to love their wives and for women to respect (or, as usually translated, submit to) their husbands.

But I also wonder about the choice of words "submit to your own husband". Could that mean submit to your own husband and as opposed to someone else's husband? Or to not show more respect to another man than you do to your own husband? After all, how many husbands want to hear their wives praising another man or looking up to him more so than she does to her husband?

Wendy said...

Good post, Kent.. we have lost so much from being alienated from the context in which the Bible was written. A letter to a particular church is a particular cultural context is not a universal law to bind on all people for all time.