HIS AND HERS?
We can clearly see in Scripture that wives are expected to submit to their husbands, and that husbands are to love their wives as Christ loves the Church and to lay down their lives for them. “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 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. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it” (Eph 5:22-25). These particular commands to husbands and wives may appear to absolve wives from the life-sacrificing love that is required from husbands and may also appear to absolve husbands from submitting to their wives.
However, in the broader body we are all expected to lay down our lives for one another and to submit to one another. Consider these scriptures: 1 John 3:16, “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.” Eph 5:21, “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.” In Eph 5:22-24, Paul was having husbands and wives focus on particular areas, but was in no way suggesting that wives were absolved from laying down their lives for their husbands nor husbands from submitting to their wives. Marriage does not nullify the general commands to submit to one another (Eph 5:21) and to lay down our lives for one another (1 John 3:16).
PRACTICING THIS LIFESTYLE
Practicing this kingdom lifestyle in the home has its challenges, which can be even more magnified depending on the context. Consider that in the context which Paul wrote, just as slaves needed a special focused word of exhortation to submit to their masters (see Eph 6:5-8), wives, who had all along generally been treated as 2nd class, also needed a special focused word of exhortation to submit. Especially that, in the light of the freedom of the gospel, it may easily have appeared to them that they needn’t submit to their domineering husbands anymore. Similarly, husbands may have needed a special focused word of exhortation at that time and in their culture to love their wives, as many would have been part of a culture where they treated their wives as 2nd class citizens, always at their beck and call.
In the context of all of scripture, it is clear that the message to husbands and wives universally is to practice a lifestyle of mutual love and submission. In other words, husbands, love means submitting to your wife too (Eph 5:21). Equally, wives, submission means laying down your life for him too (1 John 3:16). See also: Equality in Marriage 1, Equality in Marriage 2 Rob