This week’s Sunday school lesson is a very interesting one. The title, Family Relationships, does not give a clue that it reviews one of the most difficult concepts in the life of some Christians, which is the concept of submission. At the very thought of the word, some people begin to visualize a dominant, overbearing and unloving husband and father scowling and commanding his wife and children to obey, obey, obey him! They see a trembling and fearful wife and children skulking about, afraid to disturb the “master” of the home. But is this what God intended when he established the concept of submission? Ephesians 5:21-33 and 6:1-4 give a description of the true meaning of submission in the Christian’s life.
Ephesians 5:21-33 (KJV)
21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.
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.
31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
33 Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.
Ephesians 6:1-4 (KJV)
1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.
2 Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;)
3 That it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.
4 And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
These scriptures give a clear picture of the love, order and sacrifice that a family is to follow. The very first scripture makes it clear that in a family that fears God, submission is the order of the day for both the husband and wife. There is no place for a tyrant here. Next, the scriptures establish the order that a marriage should have. God placed the man as the head in a marriage. He is to have the final say about how his family runs. It is clear that someone has to be the head in a relationship such as marriage; a two-headed beast is a freak! The scripture lets us know that this is the order that God established and we are to honor it. The scriptures go on to describe the type of man that God expects a wife to submit to. A man is to love his wife as he loves his own body. He is to nourish and cherish her. He is to respect her decisions as well as his own. In turn, she is to reverence and honor him. It would not be difficult to submit oneself to a man who seeks God about his role, responsibilities and decisions. The wife who is married to this type of man realizes that she is ultimately following God’s decisions. Godly husbands also realize that godly wives have the power to pray to God concerning her husband’s decisions. This type of environment will be loving, peaceful and free of abuse and harsh conflict. What a great environment it would be to raise children in.
Children are told to submit to their parents, but parents are also told that they should not provoke the child to wrath, which is angry, violent indignation. Parents are to nurture them and bring them up in a godly environment.
Following a man like the one described in Ephesians would be easy for any wife. The difficulty comes, however, when the husband is not following God. What is a Christian woman to do when she wants to live for the Lord, but the husband has no interest in living for God? Suppose he even forbids her to live for the Lord? Is she to follow his mandate and risk losing her soul because she feels that she has to submit to him? Absolutely not! She is to submit to her husband in every way that she possibly can but, with a sweet spirit, stand her ground when his decisions violate scripture. Let’s consider the following situation:
John Jones was a young man who attended church regularly, but he was a hypocrite. He would drink late into the night in the clubs on Saturday night. On Sunday morning he would stand as an usher in his local church, sometimes weaving and bobbing from the left-over effects of the alcohol that he had consumed. The pastor at his church knew that the young man had a real addiction to alcohol, but he refused to address the problem. After all, the pastor also drank a little wine for his stomach’s sake and felt that he could not advise the young man properly. The young man’s wife made up her mind that she wanted to live for the Lord. She got saved, filled with the Holy Ghost and then began praying for her husband to be saved. She was directed to a church by the Holy Ghost where the people lived according to the Word of God. They embraced her and prayed with her concerning her husband’s state. Her husband became furious because she was now saved and no longer went clubbing with him. He actually went to the pastor of the church that his wife was attending, and attempted to have the pastor tell his wife that she was wrong for not following him to the clubs and the lifestyle that he wanted for her. After all, he said, “I am the head of my house”. Needless to say, the wife’s pastor attempted to help the young man understand a man’s true role as the head of his house. The young man rejected the pastor’s advice and left angry.
There are some people who might deem the pastor of the young woman’s church to be wrong for not directing her to follow her husband’s lead. Fortunately for this young woman, her pastor was a true man of God who sought God for His perfect will. The outcome of this situation could have gone either way. The young man could either have had his eyes opened by God (hopefully) and became saved, sanctified and filled with the Holy Ghost, or he could ultimately have divorced his wife. Either way, the young woman did indeed do the right thing. She was kind, loving and submissive to her husband in every way that she could be, but when he attempted to cause her to leave Christ, she stood her ground. The key that unlocks the entire situation is Ephesians 5:21.
21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. (Emphasis added by the author)
May God bless you.