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Pointers along the way #472

Wives, submit to your husbands
- Jacob Ninan

In real marriages there are different scenarios happening around this theme. The increasing trend is for egalitarian roles where there is no question of wives submitting to their husbands since they are both equal! We can see the increasing number of marriage vows which omit the dirty word 'submit'. The emphasis here is on equal sharing of responsibilities between the husband and wife in as many areas as possible. What exists in many tradition driven marriages is that husbands dominate their wives, which the husbands consider as their right, and consequently there is abuse and denial of rights for wives. Some wives meekly give in to their husbands without any dissent. Some wives even dominate their husbands!

None of the above is what God has in mind for families. "Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord" (Ep.5:22), "Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord" (Co.3:18). Certainly there is a sense in which everyone is to submit to one another (Ep.4:21), which is to recognise and value someone else's unique strengths and role and to accede to them. This applies even in the husband-wife relationship. But at the same time we must not forget that God defines a certain role for the wife in relation to her husband and it is that she should recognise he has authority over her (1Pe.3:5,6) and yield to that. God has made such an arrangement for a family in order to maintain order and harmony.

Husbands need to recognise that wives are not inferior persons (Ga.3:28), and respect their role and contribution in the family. When God gave a wife as a help to her husband (Ge.2:18), one such help is a different opinion which can balance his own many times! A wise husband will realise this, and consider her views also before he makes a decision on important matters in the family. He also takes advantage of his wife's strengths which complement his own. At the same time he does not hand over the authority for making decisions entirely to his wife in the guise of loving her.

Wives who recognise that the authority that God has given husbands is for their good and protection (husbands are given as helps to their wives!) find it easier to submit. The responsibility for making major decisions and facing the consequences will be with the husbands! Yet wives have to handle this in a responsible manner, not failing to give their own ideas to their husbands before allowing them to take the final call.

No healthy marriage can work without disagreements. If either spouse gives in to the other for the sake of avoiding conflicts it will deprive the marriage of their inputs and they will be neglecting their responsibilities. A mature relationship is where differences are recognised and appreciated and the couple knows when to give in amicably.

Husbands who love their wives make it easier for their wives to submit, and wives who subject themselves to their husbands make it easier for their husbands to love them!


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