Because Christianity is bigger than Biblical manhood or Biblical womanhood (Blog of Retha Faurie)


This blog post is not a teaching, but a question. Feel free to comment if you have an idea what the answer is.


“Eph. 5:21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

22 Wives, (submit yourselves) to your own husbands as to the Lord.”


All believers should submit (mutually) to one another (which proves that submission is not about being lower in an authority hierarchy). And wives should do it (submit? submit mutually) to their own husbands.

I wonder if Paul could have meant:

I want all believers to submit (yield, be loyal, work along with) to one another. And wives, do not get so caught up into submitting to the people at church – so busy with church work, so enthusiastic about learning at church, so likely to follow what the church teachers say – that you forget that your own husband is also someone you should (mutually) submit to. Don’t get so focused on the needs/ ideas of everyone at church that you forget him. Your husband is your provider (source), the church leaders are not.

From knowing some 21st century (and previously late 20th century) church ladies, that sounds like a sensible thing that a few women in church needs to hear. And church in that society could have been even more exciting for women: It may have been the first time most of these women were taught, and the first time they – if not slave owners – would experience that men have to mutually submit to them.

But would it be anachronistic to see that as a possible message Paul could have given to women in that age?

Comments on: "“Wives (submit) to husbands” – could this be what Paul meant?" (4)

  1. That is a good possible explanation! I, too, think that we should use common sense in interpreting scripture. We should think about the people themselves, like you do.


  2. Wow, that makes a lot of sense to me! Thank you for posting this. You have given me a fresh perspective on this scripture.


  3. I’ve also thought it might be another caution to wives. Once they learn of the great liberty and authority that they have gained in Christ, resentment toward the authority structures (sometimes heavy handed) they have always been under might surface.


  4. My view is that the remainder of Chapter 5 and continuing into Chapter 6, Paul is showing how mutual submission works in the three most prominent social structures of the day (and today too). I like your take on it and that certainly could be what he meant. I look at it slightly differently. I believe for both husbands and wives, Paul is telling them that to mutually submit in marriage you have to do the thing that is hardest for you to do. For wives, that means voluntarilly placing yourself under someone who has probably (along with society) forced you into that position your whole life. While that would be very hard for women in Paul’s time, it is equally as difficult for women today in a post-feminist world. So Paul’s intruction is equally applicable for the Ephesians as it is for the contemporary woman.

    Conversely, Paul orders (not suggests – orders) men to commit thier lives to loving service to their wives. Definately something that is difficult for men who view themselves as “king of the castle”. This is just another form of submission – a placing of others in front of onesself. Again, this crosses cultural and millenial boundaries.

    Paul’s instructions are extreamly counter-cultural (no surprise there) but wholey in keeping with the Lord’s teachings of love your neighbor and the last will be first.


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