On Saturday, Justin and I were watching a movie called "No Greater Love". It was a movie that I grabbed out of the bargain bin, but as it turns out, it was produced by a church. Essentially, the story goes like this--during a time of great turmoil in their marriage, the wife walked out leaving the husband with their 10 month old son, and wasn't heard from again. Several years and several cities later, the husband and wife accidentally bumped into each other. The wife had found God and stopped drinking, but hadn't been able to find her ex-husband and son. Eventually, she finds out that her "ex" husband is technically still her husband--he never officially divorced her after she left. Anyway, they decide that maybe they'd like to reconcile, but she is nervous because she is now a Christian and he isnt.
During one scene, she tearfully turns to a friend and says something to the effect of, "I'm supposed to submit to my husband, but what if he tells me to stop reading the Bible or stop going to church?!" Justin and I both groaned.
In the past couple of years, Justin and I have observed this line of thinking quite often--sometimes at Bible study (as a point of clarification,we attend a Bible Study at a church that identifies itself as a "Fellowship" church, while Justin and I both identify ourselves as being Lutheran. Occasionally, some differences in application arise, as would be expected), sometimes just in casual conversation with friends--this idea that wives are called to submit to whatever their husbands say, even if they disagree. Justin and I have talked about this at length, both amongst ourselves and with our pastor(s), and I'd like to share a bit about our beliefs regarding submission in marriage. As always, I understand that not everyone may share our beliefs, and that's okay.
The idea that wives should submit to their husbands comes from Ephesians 5:22, which is a verse that was prominently featured in the book Love & Respect (and the corresponding Bible Study) by Emerson Eggrichs. However, it seems to both Justin and I that that particular verse often seems to be taken out of context. Ephesians 5:22 itself reads, "Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands as you do to the Lord." However, Ephesians 5:21 is often excluded, and gives us the context for the statement that comes after it. Let's look at them together:
(21)Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. (22)Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands as you do to the Lord.
In actuality, both husbands and wives are called to submit to one another. But interestingly enough, during the time that we participated in the Love & Respect study, verse 21 was never mentioned--this may have been specific to our particular leaders, so if anyone else has had a different experience, please chime in!
Taking a look at the Greek words used gives us an even deeper understanding of these two verses. See, the Greek word for submit, hupotasso, is NOT the same as the Greek word for obey, hupakouo, Paul does use hupakouo in reference to children obeying their parents, but does NOT use it in terms of wives obeying their husbands. Rather, the word hupotasso as used in both verse 21 and 22 roughly translates to mean "to line up under".
Essentially, the passage is framed like this:
Verse 21: Hey both of you--if you're going to do this marriage thing, you need to put each other first.
Verses 22-24: Wives, here's a couple of ways that you can demonstrate this idea to your husbands.
Verses 25-33- Husbands, here's a couple of ways that you can demonstrate this idea to your wives.
In other words, husbands and wives are both called to line up under the other--putting the other's needs above their own. It is not blind obedience, but an intentional desire to put someone else first based on a relationship that is hopefully rooted in love, respect, and trust.
How do you guys approach this pretty controversial passage?