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July 10, 2008 / compassioninpolitics

Submission of the Wife to the Husband: Looking to the Example of Christ

2 Corinthians 5 : 21 – 33 The Christian Marriage Relationship 411 (AKA Hermeneutic Exegesis and Commentary )

Mr. DG Hollum, pastor and all around nice guy I met at Podcamp, recently did a breakdown of one of the most controversial biblical texts. Here is what DG had to say about this most famous text for analyzing Christ based husband and wife relationships:

The way I see it:

1) this is only for husband and wife, not male and female roles.

2) Christ is the example that qualifies “headship”, and “submission”.

3) this must be read with the first century culture in mind.

4) the submission of the wife to the husband is within the wider submission of everyone to each other in 21.

5) the motive for submission of the wife is within the context of the wife’s relation to the Lord.

6) this submission is regulated by the divine pattern of Christ’s relationship to the church.

7) so, the husband’s authority is regulated by Christ’s example and the principle of love.

I think #4 is quite interesting. It seems to suggest that #3, which I think is perhaps the most controversial claim, is already dealt with–perhaps there is not a need to consider the cultural context given that #4 is true.

Any disagreement with DG? Any disagreement with my commentary?


Leave a Comment
  1. D.G. Hollums / Jul 10 2008 9:05 pm

    thanks for the link back to me hope it can bring some discussion! And I reciently discussed this topic on the About The Church podcasts with Cliff Ravenscraft. and look for the About The Church podcasts under “Faith Podcasts”.

    Thanks again!

  2. Ariah Fine / Jul 22 2008 12:56 am

    I agree with it all, #4 is accurate. In the greek it actually says “Wives to your husbands” it doesn’t even say “submit” it’s only implied from the large everyone to everyone context.

  3. Karen Haught / Jul 30 2008 3:31 am

    Since we could walk, we women have been taught that the world was our oyster, we could do anything we put our mind to, and we didn’t need a man. Many of our husbands, on the other hand, were taught to be kinder and gentler than men in the past, to mind their mother and respect their sister. For many, the only example of family leadership was a woman. It seemed great at first, when we got married to our husbands. We went to work exercising all the leadership skills we had learned, and our husbands let us. It was, after all, what we each had been raised to do.

    Before long, though, we begin to resent feeling responsible for everything. We joke that having a husband is like having another child, and secretly wonder what benefit there is to having a husband. We grow irritated with the way they withdraw and resist doing even the smallest things we ask. When mothering doesn’t work, we turn to controlling, cajoling, criticizing, and complaining–and hate it. We become the very dominating beasts we are so afraid our husbands could be if we let them.

    This pendulum swing from husband dominance to wife dominance over the past generation or two is in evidence all over the world, from the most progressive, modern city, to the most impoverished third world village.

    We can talk about what scripture means or doesn’t mean, but the facts are that marriages simply aren’t working. They didn’t work before with the old model of wife submission and tehy aren’t working now with the new model of husband submission.

    A lot of people point the finger at men and say they need to love or lead better. Women often say, “It’s about mutual submission” or “When he starts loving me the way he’s supposed to, then I’ll think about submission.”

    God works on men most when they are leading their families, but a man can’t take leadership. True leadership can only given by someone willing to follow, and a man isn’t leading if no one is following. A wife, therefore, has the power to give or take away her husband’s leadership; but she has very real fears about relinquishing that leadership. Most men haven’t been taught how to be godly family leaders. How is she supposed to follow a husband who isn’t leading, or isn’t leading well?

    Telling a modern, independent, strong and capable woman to “be submissive” in the old fashioned sense, is like telling an oak tree to be a blade of grass. It’s impossible without being something she wasn’t designed by God to be.

    We were right to reject old fashioned, unbiblical submission; but we have replaced it with self-righteous, self-protective, controlling, and unbiblical wife dominance. We women, too, need to see where we have lost our way. Not by calling us back to the submission of the past, but by pointing the way forward to a new biblical understanding of submission that focuses on working with God to help our husbands be the men…whatever type of men…God designed them to be.

    As women, we’ve become so intelligent, so strong, and so capable, that we need to learn how to step back and give our husbands the opportunity to practice leading, without critiquing their methods or their results. We need to have the courage to let them make mistakes and let them turn to God for answers when the fearsome responsibilities of a family bring them to their knees. We need to stop trying to be our husbands’ mothers or worse, their Holy Spirit, and start having faith that God is powerful enough to work through our husbands to bless us. Only then will we be able to enjoy the fruits of our modern strength and capability and independence, while still reaping the blessings of having our husband’s spiritual covering.

  4. Marife Ceneze-Wosti / Dec 7 2008 7:43 am

    Hi Karren,
    I am very blessed by your writings. Actually, I just got married 23 September, barelymore than two months. I know that we are at the adjusting period. And what you wrote are all true and as if you are singling me out. I am comforted to know that I am not alone. I’ve been looking for people who could relate to my stories as I thought my marriage is abnormal. And thank God He showed me your writings. Thank you for unselfishly sharing your thoughts. I am very much helped.

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