The Same Thing

(Spectrumbot) #1

I haven’t been married that long, but in the short time I have been I think I have learned a thing or two. That doesn’t mean my marriage is in any way perfect, but as I strive to be the husband that I believe God would want me to be, I have spent some time thinking about just how to accomplish that goal. Ephesians 5:22 just might be the most famous text on marriage and family – “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.” It seems like men have been using this verse to subjugate women since it was written. In response, those who believe in the equality of the sexes have been ignoring/rebelling against this text in response to it use (or really misuse) by those who support conservative constructions of the relationship between a husband and a wife. Now I am not here to argue that wives are not to submit to their husbands. I believe in following biblical counsel. However, I am here to point out to all us husbands that the submission of a wife does not occur in a vacuum. As men we like to quote verse 22, but we rarely quote verse 25 – “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it…” I believe that a husband has no right to expect submission from his wife if he is not loving her as Christ loved the church. So I think the analysis has been misplaced, at least as far as men are concerned. It is not my job to figure out what it means for my wife to submit. My job is to figure out what it means for me to love my wife. Luckily for us husbands, the same man who gave us this counsel has also given us a definition of love.

When we look at 1 Corinthians 13, we can use its definition of love to help fill in the logistical space created in Ephesians 5:25. Here is the long list of responsibilities that men have in loving their wives, taken from 1 Cor 13:4-6:

· Love is patient

· Love is kind

· Love is not jealous

· Love does not brag

· Love is not arrogant

· Loves does not act unbecomingly

· Love does not seek its own

· Love is not provoked

· Loves does take into account a wrong suffered

Whew! That’s a long list. And if we as men are not willing to do these things for our wives than we have no right to expect our wives to submit to us. But amongst this there is one requirement that I find particularly interesting. Paul counsels us that love includes not seek[ing] your own. But what does it mean to not seek your own? In the context of a person to person love relationship, I believe that not seeking your own means that you are willing to submit to the wishes of your partner.

Wait a second. Look at the system we have now created. Our wives are supposed to submit to us. But we are supposed to be loving our wives, which will include submitting to them (because in love we are not seeking our own). So it isn’t that my wife submits to me, or that I submit to her. We are in this marriage doing the same thing, and mutually submitting to each other. Someone may be wondering who makes the decisions, who gets the final word when we’re busying submitting to each other. God does! When we’re seeking to fulfill the wishes of our partner, and that submission is returned, we give the Spirit the room it needs to operate in our marriage and in our homes.

Now I know this works because I have experienced it in my own marriage. I cannot say that my marriage has ever been unhappy, but I can say that my marriage got better when I stopped being concerned about whether my wife was being fair to me and started focusing on loving my wife. At one point I decided I was not going to seek my own and that I would submit to my wife and only object when I had a good reason. Once I did that the most amazing thing happened. As I changed my marriage got better. Now my wife has told me that she saw my example and followed it without me having to ask, but the truth is I hadn’t noticed. I was so busy focusing on my responsibility in my marriage (to love her) that I wasn’t paying attention to whether she was returning the favor. Now the majority of our arguments come not because we fight for our own way, but because we fight to defer to each other. I don’t get it right every day, but my life got better when I decided to love my wife and give up my life for her as Christ did for the church.

I have mentioned before that God always gives us evidence for our faith. Where is the evidence that our wives are supposed to have in order to submit to us? It comes from us loving our wives and showing our willingness to submit to them. If we are truly to be the heads of our homes then we should be the first to subjugate ourselves as an example to our wives and our families. Jesus did the same thing and became our ultimate example. He was willing to subjugate Himself and come to Earth for us. While here he was the first to kneel down before His disciples and wash their feet. For too long we as Christian men have gotten the equation backwards. We expect submission from everyone in our families and are unwilling to give of ourselves in the same way. If faith is going to be present in our homes, and if we are going to live the life of faith, then that faith must be preceded by love, which Paul said was the greatest of these.

Jason Hines is an attorney with a doctorate in Religion, Politics, and Society from the J.M. Dawson Institute of Church-State Studies at Baylor University. He blogs about religious liberty and other issues at

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

(k_Lutz) #2

Brilliant! God is the Head. Run with it.

Trust God.

(Thomas J Zwemer) #3

Betty and I were married on June 30, 1949. During those 61 Years, I have decided all the big issues. I asked her to marry me. if another comes up, I am ready to make it. Tom Z

(Ole-Edvin Utaker) #4

Reading this article I get the distinct feeling that it is written within a framework of gender hierarchy – upon matrimony, women should somehow yield to male authority. Despite the reference to Paul’s admonition to “love their wives”, I sense a flavour of male headship …

When Alexander Tocqueville, reporting on the vibrant associative life of America in the 1830s, discussed the idea of American individualism, he was specifically referring to “adult white maleness”, and that male independence entails female dependence?

I live in Europe, and I wonder if the notion of American individualism implies a gender hierarchy that demands that women surrender to a form of male headship in the family? Women should administer the home, so that men can pursue a career in the public sphere? Is women’s confinement to home a presupposition for men’s liberation and opportunity to succeed as, say, commercial and political actors?

But, isn’t this a form of institutionalized social inequality? Or, is it just a practical division of labor, between breadwinning and household work?

Is Tocqueville’s discourse on individualism and gender roles in Jacksonian America helpful in understanding the debate on WO within Adventism today?

I think it is!

(Steve Mga) #5

There is a Need in the World, in Society, in the Home, in the Individual mostly of all for WOMEN to be ALL that they can Be.
It is important that the Men of the Church especially begin with their little baby daughters and encourage them to know that there is no limitations on Who they can be, What they can be, How they can use their feminine God given talents in the World, in Society, in the Church, in the Home, and themselves as an Individual
Call it Women’s Liberation Movement, or what ever.
We need to Unshackle our Daughters, our Wives, our Mothers and allow them to be ALL that they can BE. In the World, in Society, in the Church, in the Home, and mostly of all to Themselves as God calls them in their Hearts and Minds.
Our Adventist First Feminist told us “there is no limit to the usefulness of ONE”. This Also includes little girls, teen-age daughters, adult daughters, wives and mothers.
This paradigm about Women needs to be taught to our little sons, our teen-age sons, our adult sons, and as Men in the Church, to each other.
Perhaps then, we will see Eph 5:25 being displayed in All Facets of Church Life.


Philippians 2:6 " Who being in the form of God, thought it not a thing to be grasped to be equal with God",. I appreciate this article, I am also recently married and the humility, patience and Love that our Lord and savior Jesus Christ demonstrated has been invaluable to me. I have read books on marriage, we did premarital counseling, sat through numerous family life programs and the most valuable relationship advice to me is remembering" Love does not seek its own" and " Love is patient". There are some things that I did not expect :joy: eg, mood swings, right now my wife is pregnant and she has the strangest requests​:relieved: . I took for granted how different we are. I know we are equally valued in the eyes of the Lord, but we are also different. :blush:

(Andrew) #7

I read this article within an increasing sense of frustration. It was pretty obvious where he was going with his argument . But what is frustrating is that the piece is descriptive, rather than prescriptive.

From my experience with marriage, it is a truly profound institution. But it is also, a very practical one.

There are not many things you do in life which will require more commitment, sheer determination, compromise and money! :wink:

When problems come your way, you can forget about notions of equality, headship or gender roles. Sheer determination (bloody mindedness!) born out of love will get you through. If you believe in it, you will fight for it. And that may mean looking for methods and strategies outside to help.

And if you should be fortunate enough to build a marriage, you will find you are not in fact equal, but greater than equal. 1+1=3

(Elaine Nelson) #8

Be assured that a pregnant woman is also very confused about her changing moods and physical feelings. To realize that for 9 months a new human is taking shape is a tremendous responsibility resting on her and for some it is much more difficult than others.

Also, today there are few marriages that do not involve equally working spouses, and usually during pregnancy and soon after. It can overwhelm the average couple if there is not loads of patience and equal sharing of duties. Marriage, to be successful must be an equal partnership, just as it is in a business. When either partner feels that his employment should take preference, there will be inevitable conflicts.

(Andreas Bochmann) #9

The premise of the article is that this is what verse 22 says - the “qualifier” comes with “but men should also love their wives”. While I agree that men ought to talk about what it means “to love”, the premise is misleading.

The Greek in Eph. 5:22 reads: wives to your husbands. The verb “submit” is borrowed from vs. 21. Everything following vs 21 is Paul’s exegesis what he means by submission … to one another.

(Peter) #10

Then you’ve been married nearly 66 years, Dr. Zwemer. Not 61. :wink:

(Thomas J Zwemer) #11

Thanks, my math used to be better. I still remember the wedding. a hot June night in a non-air conditioned church. The pastor had a 400 page book and he began on page one. Two pages later, to my relief, he turned over 390 pages at least. Tom Z


It seems to me, that in all the noise that continually arises in the disscussion of the topic, the one thing that gets overlooked is that submission/domination of one partner over the other was NOT God’s original ideal for the man/woman relationship. Man and woman were to be joined together as one flesh, distinct, and yet completely united in purpose, much like the triune God that we serve. The perversion of roles entered the picture as a result of sin. But espite that, shouldn’t our goal be to pursue God’s intended ideal? Isn’t that what a fulfilling Christian experience is all about? As for Paul, why are we putting so much stock in the relationship counsel of a man who was never married?! :slight_smile:

(Elaine Nelson) #13

Those supporters of headship and against WO always use the curse on Adam and Eve as the plan to be followed now, rather than the ideal BEFORE sin’s curse.

(Frankmer7) #14

Paul, as Saul of Tarsus, was likely a member of the Sanhedrin. He operated and moved in the upper echelons of Judaism. If so, he had to have been married.



(George Tichy) #15

I bet you feel very empowered being in charge of the “big” issues.
But you have not been busy at all making decision on them, right? There are only “minor” issues to be dealt with…

(George Tichy) #16


Marriage is such a great thing that who invented it… never married… :wink:

(Elaine Nelson) #17

“Have been” is likely correct. But when he wrote of being single, “like I am” was his ideal state. Either widowed or a cynical view of marriage.

It was also unusual to be a single Jewish male after 30, as was Jesus.

(Elaine Nelson) #18

As one unnamed man said of decision makers in his marriage: " I make the important decisions: who should mow the lawn, take out the trash, and buy the food. My wife makes all the incidental ones about which house we should buy, what model and make of car we should drive and whose job dictates where we live. All the rest of the major decisions, I decide." :smile:

Another claimed vehemently: “I wear the pants in this family. But sometimes those panty hose are awfully hot in summer.”

(Gerhard Dr Svrcek Seiler) #19

It is just my phantasy, but how about this couple Aquila amd Priscilla - or : Priscilla and Auqila ? Or Andronicus and Junia, the Apostle couple ?

The quotation from Ephesians , OK. But what about 1. Cor 7 : 3., 4. ? (One version : Thn opheilomenhn eunoian - the due benevolence - mutually !

The ones namen obviously seemed to practice equality in their life… The text quoted clearly speaks of equality.

(Elmer Cupino) #20

I would surmise the success to @tjzwemer marriage is his wife has allowed him to do it her way, all the time. Let this be a lesson to all of us. :smile: