Should a wife be submissive?

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Question: How should a wife be submissive to her husband? What does the Bible teach about the duties within marriage?

Answer: From your Email it seems you are a female who is keenly interested in what the Bible says about how a wife should be submissive. As a woman who has twice been a wife herself I understand you desire for answers. We humans tend to judge women and the whole intent of the marriage covenant relationship throug the eyes of a carnal human rather than through the heart of our Creator.

I have been a wife to my second husband for more than twenty years. He mentioned something to me that seems to be one of the keys to understanding the concept of being submissive in marriage. He said that Jesus and God the Father are the supreme team. If Jesus is the head of the church that the Father has given to him, then he is the head of the bride or wife in the spiritual marriage contract between humans and God.

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God commanded a man to love his wife in the same way that Jesus loved us (1John 3:16, Ephesians 5:25). This assures women, if this command is obeyed, that they will not receive abuse and makes it very easy for her to submit to her husband.

The Bellelli Family
The Bellelli Family
Edgar Degas, 1860 - 62

So what does Jesus' behavior toward God the Father have to do with being submissive? Jesus is, in a sense, the spiritual wife in this relationship where he has willingly submitted his will to the Father. Should not wives be doing the same for their husbands?

Being submissive is a voluntary behavior. Forcing it because someone judges a woman as rebellious is not right. The men who do this have betrayed the trust of the females in their lives. Many women, used for sexual or economic reasons, become divorced for some selfish whim. God does not want humans to treat each other in this manner.

We are told to love our neighbor as ourselves and to treat them as we would want to be treated (Matthew 19:19). In a marriage relationship, the closest "neighbor" to a wife is her spouse. In another place, Paul warns us that adultery (a form of betrayal) causes the sinner to be grieved in his own soul (1Corinithans 6:18).

The word 'submit' means to put oneself in another person's hands. Chaos happens when everyone is trying to lead at the same time. This is why God designated the man in a marriage (Genesis 3:16) to be the leader of his wife and the rest of the family. This leadership role does not mean she is less intelligent or talented than him but is a recognition that she is the physically weaker vessel (1Peter 3:7).

A man's eternal life is in jeopardy if there is a hindrance in his prayers. Her role is to carry and care for the children that will come from this relationship. If a man loves his wife as himself, which is what Jesus told them to do, then it is not very difficult for her to be submissive and trust him to make finalize family decisions.

In some cases, when the woman has more expertise on some issue then he has, he is expected to submit to her so that there is peace in the family (see Ephesians 5). We are never to lord it over each other for any reason (Matthew 20:25 - 26).

To be submissive is not just for females but also for us all. We learn and grow from talking to each other whether a husband and wife or brother and sister or mother and father with their children and are told to keep a humble and contrite heart. We are to develop relationships of trust and confidence and respect with all men so there is an element of submission in everything we do.

Women today have almost given up their role as first teacher to their children and have forsaken the role of wife and mother for the world of work. Therefore, to understand the meaning of being submissive from God's perspective we must first submit to him and do as he has instructed so that we may all benefit from a lifetime of blessings.

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