A Beautiful Partnership
by Paula Sulzle
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do 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.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church—for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.
However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband (Ephesians 5:21-33).
We start this section of Scripture with what seems to be a strong command. In our culture, “submit” has become a word that often conjures feelings of angst or rebellion, a place where selfish pride takes root. Even as Christian women, we have succumbed to the ways of the world and scoffed at the word and all that it entails. But why is that? Is it because we haven’t seen submission carried out in a God-pleasing and selfless way? Maybe we’ve seen submissive women getting trampled on by those placed in the headship roles. Let’s take a look at what godly submission truly is, and we’ll see that we will want to embrace submission because we know God wills it. He will bless us through it.
The Bible, in its original languages, was not written with chapters, verses, or headings. At times I feel like the chapters create a break in our minds, like we should stop reading and come back to it later. Yet when we do that, we may lose the continuity of the message. Our text today is a good example. Earlier in Chapter 5, Paul urges us to understand what the Lord’s will is. He tells us to “be filled with the Spirit” and gives us several ways in which we do that. Submitting is one of those ways. Now, as we see in our text, he gives us one setting in which submission is carried out: the home, with husband and wife.
We see God’s unique calls to husband and wife as he instructs wives to submit to their husbands and husbands to love their wives as they carry out their unique calling as the head. In each circumstance, Paul brings our focus back to Christ. We all submit to Christ first and then carry out our unique callings to make this marriage partnership a beautiful dance.
In each circumstance, Paul brings our focus back to Christ. We all submit to Christ first and then carry out our unique callings to make this marriage partnership a beautiful dance.
Wives, we submit to our husbands not as inferior to them. No, we’ve already studied how we have equal status before God. We submit to them as to the Lord. Submission is honoring our God-given head and respecting his leadership. Through it we receive God’s protection, care, and guidance since God is working through him. When I allow my husband to lead as God called him to, my role as his suitable helper becomes a true joy.
Husbands love their wives because Christ’s complete and perfect love compels them to do so. God has given husbands a bit of his authority. This is a huge responsibility—but one a husband carries out as a selfless and loving leader.
Will I submit perfectly and at all times? No. Will my husband lead and love perfectly and at all times? No. Will God cover us with his grace perfectly and at all times? Yes! When both husband and wife follow God’s design for them, this relationship will be a beautiful partnership, one in which the family grows closer to Christ and closer to each other.
Will I submit perfectly and at all times? No. Will my husband lead and love perfectly and at all times? No. Will God cover us with his grace perfectly and at all times? Yes!
For Further Reflection
Meditate on or write about how you feel about submission after reading this devotion. What blessings do you see from this beautiful partnership—either in your own life or in the marriages you see around you?
Dear God our Father, Creator of marriage, forgive me for the times I have resented my role of being a submissive wife and suitable helper to my husband. Help me to honor and follow your design for head and helper in my marriage. Cause husbands and wives to respect your will for their marriage and help them carry out their unique roles. You promise to bless marriages and families as they submit to Christ as their head. Guide us through your precious Word. Amen.