Okay, here's one that can be hard for all of us. "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord." Ephesians 5:22. "Let me get this straight. Not only do we have all those virtuous woman verses, but there's more?" Yeah...and this one can be tough to understand. I want to talk about the why of this commandment to us. Sometimes it's easier to do what is right, if we but have some understanding.
Children are to submit to their parents. Why? Mostly for reasons of protection. We teach them so when they are older they will be critical thinkers, handle themselves well in stressful situations, not get hurt sticking their hands on hot stoves.
My husband wouldn't ever allow me to walk out of the house in a skimpy shirt showing half of my bra or chest. I submit in this for several reasons. I agree with the fact that my body is for him alone. I don't want to cause other men to stumble in their relationships with their wives or with God. I understand and agree with his thinking. What might happen, however, if I were not to submit? All manner of bad things might I suppose, but chiefly, other men would be viewing what is rightfully my husbands. This would cause discord in our relationship. My husband is protecting our relationship. One of the reasons we are to submit is for reasons of protection.
We have a budget. I'm expected to keep to that budget. If I did not, we would reap the consequences of my shortsightedness. He is protecting us from financial ruin, or at least making sure our bills are paid. I will say here that we all fall, and there are times when either he or I or both of us will spend money we really don't have. I'm thankful for the grace my husband displays when I do make mistakes and I try to have some grace and mercy also.
Sex is a subject most people don't want to get into. I don't really want to either, but I will for just a moment. If you do not have sex with your husband, you could cause him to stumble, at least in his thoughts. I didn't say "will"; I said "could". Men are fallible. Also sex releases stress, brings you closer together, and brings beautiful children into the world. I'm not talking about skipping due to fatigue once in a while. I'm speaking of the wife who refuses more often than not. Sex is part of God's plan in a marriage. This is something you must work out with your husband. It is a necessary part of marriage.
There are a lot of wives with complaints that are probably legitimate. Husbands have expectations mostly because they are protecting you, your household, or your relationship. There are some husbands out there who are a bit harsh. They expect a lot out of their wives and have little tolerance. An extreme example would be expecting the house to be perfectly clean all the time while homeschooling 5 children. The wife of this husband should submit. I have opinions about this type of husband. I think he is neglecting his own responsibility of loving his wife enough to listen and understand her situation. But before God, she needs to do what she is commanded to do...submit. For the purposes of this commandment to wives, submit even to harsh demands. Pray that your husband will relent, by all means. Pray God will give you strength to carry out such a demanding lifestyle. Also, submit.
The Greek work of submit in this verse speaks of a continual act. It's not a once and done kind of thing. This is a daily attitude. It means to continually be thinking of your husband and what he would want even if he is not by your side at the moment. Such as not walking out of the house showing half your chest to the world as you go about your errands while he is at work. Don't have inappropriate relationships with those of the opposite sex. By inappropriate, I don't mean just having an affair. I mean flirtatiousness. I mean divulging the inner workings of your marriage. This also means don't get into a hen party with other women who are bashing their husbands. Respect your husband and put yourself in his shoes.
I should also say here that this verse does not say we need to submit to every man. Women are not inferior beings taking orders from the male population unable to speak unless spoken to. We are to submit to one man...our husbands. If my dad says I should do or be something that is in direct conflict with what my husband wants, I need to listen to my husband, not my dad. Once you are married you cease submitting to your parents. By all means listen to the wisdom of your parents, but your husband is the one you live with and cleave to. Your life is with him and what you do or don't do will affect him, just as what he does or doesn't do directly affects you.
Churches today have perverted this verse in so many ways. Some religious people might take it to mean that women aren't to have any kind of authority whatsoever. This is not true. The virtuous woman had the freedom to be industrious, made her own money, and bought land with it in which she chose to buy a vineyard. If her husband kept her under lock and key, she would not have been able to make these kinds of decisions or buy and sell things. She carefully thought about that vineyard and purchased that land. In her consideration, I'm sure she thought about her husband, for she does good and not harm to him all the days of her life. In the act of doing good to her husband, her mind is on him all the time and she considers his thoughts and wishes. She might even have sought his opinion or counsel on the subject.
Of the 123 million women age 16 years and over in the U.S., 72 million, or 58.6 percent, were labor force participants—working or looking for work. Women comprised 47 percent of the total U.S. labor force. Women are projected to account for 51 percent of the increase in total labor force growth between 2008 and 2018.
The secular world is completely backward. The media tells us if wives are smarter than their husbands then they should wear the pants. If the wife brings home more money, then they should be in charge of the budget. If and if and if. There is no if here. Husbands aren't required to submit to an IQ test. Husbands aren't required to be better at cleaning or finding things. They are put at the head of the household because that is God's plan. If I am better at budgeting then I am allowed to put a budget together and my husband and I will sit down and deal with it together, but in the end, if he chooses to spend all our money on coffee and fishing gear, well then he just does. I wrote a post on this called Men Screw Up. Click that title and have a look. It's well worth reading. There are some things I'm just better at, and my wise husband might seek my counsel on such subjects, but the ending action comes from his decision.
It's true that submitting to a husband who takes his command from God to love his wife is easier. Regardless of whether your husband is loving or not however, doesn't come into play here. The command to us is to submit. A husband with a fear of the Lord will exercise his authority with grace, mercy, and wisdom as much as he is able. He isn't perfect just as you are not the virtuous woman all day every day. He will make mistakes and sometimes for years struggle with the same things. You might struggle keeping a clean home. He might struggle with spending money wisely.
Let's look at Ephesians 5:22-33.
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.
I might write a post on what husbands can glean from Proverbs 31, but in truth, I feel that may be counterproductive for wives. All too often wives will say something like, "See here! You are supposed to ___________." This is not submission. Our hearts need to be submissive, and our actions will likewise reflect that. If your heart is not submissive, I suppose the action is better than a full on rebellion. It is harder to submit with a heart that is in the wrong place though. God's plan for marriage isn't one of rebellion and discord. It's one of peace and harmony. You play your role as he plays his. Always have a forgiving and understanding heart. Pray for your marriage daily. Guard your home. Practice the fine art of submission with dignity and gracefulness.