Ask Augustine with Dr. Paul Tambrino
Ask Augustine is a weekly column where professor/author Dr. Paul Tambrino discusses various theological questions with wit, clarity and substance.
Question #26 – The Bible States Women Are to Be Subject to Their Husbands. Is This a Put Down of Women?
No it is not. First let’s look at the entire text which is found in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians…
22) Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.
23) For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.
24) Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
25) Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
26) That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
27) That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
28) So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.
29) For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:
30) For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.Ephesians 5:22-30 (KJV)
For wives to be subject to their husbands does not mean she must obey him no matter what he tells her to do.
If a husband commands his wife to do something that God forbids or if a husband forbids his wife to do something that God commands, she must disobey her husband.
However, Paul is saying one of the ways a wife honors Christ is by being in submission to her husband. She is to defer to her husband’s leadership but not to his tyranny.“Whenever there is a division of labor the person who has the subordinate position is not necessarily inferior.”
A wife’s submission to her husband does not suggest female inferiority. Whenever there is a division of labor the person who has the subordinate position is not necessarily inferior.
Enlisted men in the service are not necessarily inferior as human beings to officers; workers are not necessarily inferior as human beings to their employers, etc.
In the Trinity (which provides the best model for submission without having any inferiority in the relationship) the Son is subordinate to the Father, and the Holy Spirit is subordinate to both the Father and the Son; yet the Son is not inferior to the Father and the Holy Spirit is not inferior to the Father and the Son.“A wife is to defer to her husband’s leadership but not to his tyranny.”
Some may reference Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus,” to refute what Paul stated or to contend that Paul is contradicting what he wrote in the above passage from Ephesians.
However, if one examines the full context of this verse in Galatians, it becomes clear that Paul is not dealing with family relationships in that passage but with the doctrine of salvation by faith in Christ.
Paul is saying that salvation is not restricted to Jews or to Gentiles, that it is not restricted to those who are in bondage or to those who are free and that it is not restricted to males or to females.“When a wife gives robot obedience to her husband she is not respecting him. And when a husband exercises his headship over his wife in a tyrannical way he is not respecting her.”
As one reads through the passage from Ephesians notice that there is an even greater demand placed on husbands, to love their wives “as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for (died) for her.”
What woman would object to submitting herself to a husband who loved her as much as Christ loved the church?
Would a woman consider it a put down to submit to a husband who was willing to give his life for her?
You see the passage is telling us that the role a husband is to have over his wife is to be modeled on the leadership of Christ.
In the marriage ceremony couples take the vow to cherish one another, that is hold one another in the highest esteem; to place an infinite value on one another.
This does not suggest a power struggle but that a man is to love his wife as he does his own body. Just as a man takes care of his body by nourishing and protecting it, he is to love his wife even more than he loves himself.“Paul is saying that the whole basis for the marital relationship is love, a love that respects and cherishes one another.”
When a wife gives robot obedience to her husband she is not respecting him. And when a husband exercises his headship over his wife in a tyrannical way he is not respecting her.
Paul is saying that the whole basis for the marital relationship is love, a love that respects and cherishes one another.
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