"Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything."--Ephesians 5:22-24 This Saturday, my husband, Dan, and I will celebrate our 17th wedding anniversary. That may not be a long time to some of you, but for us it is a celebration. The past few years have been our most difficult ones yet. We found ourselves in unhealthy and painful cycles, developing poor relating habits which eroded our marriage. It is only by the grace of God that we have finally turned the corner this year. It is not a guarantee that we will never have problems again, but I sense that we are moving on. This does not make me a marriage expert, but I also have learned the painful way there are some things that are essential in a marriage, and that I cannot expect to see my marriage thrive if they are not nurtured.
One of the problems that we seemed to get stuck on was over headship in the home. I must admit that this passage grates at me. I like to be in charge! There's nothing wrong with being in charge. It's just when I take charge in areas that do not belong to me...that's when I get in trouble.
Interestingly, God assigns the job of headship to the husband, not to us. In a physical body, the head houses the brain and sensory organs of sight, hearing, taste, and smell. The brain is a part of the nervous system, along with the backbone/spinal cord and network of nerves. Together, these parts of the body help to regulate our body's functions as well as help us to learn, interact with the world around us and a whole host of other vital jobs.
Likewise, the husband bears a great responsibility. They need to be aware of all that's going on, make decisions and do what's best for the whole family. They are to hold up the rest of the body and give it support and strength. For many men, providing financially for the family is only one of the tasks a man is to oversee. Like my husband, many are the sole breadwinners. But a man is expected also to head the family as Christ leads the church. That's a tall order!
In our bodies, when there is damage to the brain or spinal cord, there can be paralysis or death. A weak back can be debilitating and it can be hard to heal. Sometimes there is progress, but nothing like it used to be. When our husbands are weakened, our families can also be weakened. It is to our benefit to care for our husbands and do all we can to help them to stay healthy and strong as well as to support them if they need it.
In our society today, the roles of men and women have become much more equalized. It is easy (and I'm speaking from personal experience here!) to forget that in God's way, we are not exactly the same. I'm not saying that we are unequal or less valuable than men. However, in our culture, in our desire to have equal rights, we have lost the unique distinctiveness that makes men and women so special. Our goal to be equal has neutralized much of what makes us strong.
The question is, do we trust God's wisdom or the world's? Sometimes, in my desire for fairness, I rebel at this verse because it doesn't sound right. However, I need to go back and think about that. If I think that doesn't sound fair, then it suggests that God is not fair. I know that is not true. God is completely just (Psalm 111:7 is only one such passage). If that is so, then Ephesians 5:22's mandate to submit must be the fairest---and best---thing for us.
This week, I hope that we can look together at ways that we can honor, respect and submit our husbands in a way that not only builds them up but builds up our marriages as well. I often take my husband for granted. My prayer is that this week, we will grow together in learning how to grow into being the godly wives they need to thrive and lead with confidence.