22Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— 30for we are members of his body. 31″For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
A married woman of God is a submissive wife. Most people think that this is old fashioned, but this is clearly spoken of in Scripture as mandatory. But it is not as harsh of a command as it is often made out to be. The purpose of the marriage relationship is to show what the relationship is like between Christ and the church. It is meant to be completely pure and blameless, and so is marriage. Just as the church is supposed to submit to the will of Christ, a wife is to submit herself humbly to her husband. Unfortunately it doesn’t always look this way due to rebellion.
Submission does not make someone a doormat. Reading beyond the first three verses of this passage is important to get the context. Just as the wife is to submit to her husband, the husband is to love his wife and keep her pure. This is in line with Christ’s role with the church. The Christian is considered “in Christ” when they are born again. Christ makes that person new, cleansing the old self and giving the new nature. He loves the church so much that he died for her so that she can be made new and receive salvation. In the same way, the husband is to show his wife that unconditional love and self-sacrifice. So you see, self-denial is not only for the wives, but also for the husband. In that sense, both have a role of submission.
A husband and wife are one. As such there should be no division in that relationship. “A house divided against itself will fall.” A husband is to love his wife completely. This leads to freedom, not bondage. The wife’s part is to submit. That plays out in many practical ways in everyday life. Again, this does not mean the husband may misuse her, because he is supposed to love her, and not be harsh with her (Colossians 3:19). But it means that she should tend the home. It may mean ironing his shirts or rubbing his back or any number of things that are asked or expected. The husband has a right to be served in these ways. This also means that it is improper for a woman of submission to talk back to her husband when he asks her to serve him in these God-honoring ways.
Many women have trouble with the idea of submitting. But let me tell you, I have a true joy when I serve my husband. At first it seems difficult to have a list of expectations, and it is easy to rebel. But we serve the Lord in serving our husbands, and when you are serving God with a willing and thankful heart, even washing dishes is worship, and even folding clothes can bring joy. When these things are submitted to GOD, even the most mundane tasks bring joy and worship and praise to God. Then they are no longer burdens.
Remember, we serve a Savior who says “my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”