“Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot wash it away. If one were to give all the wealth of his house for love, it would be utterly scorned.”
– Song of Solomon 8:7
It is very common to hear people say that men were instructed to love their wives while women were instructed to respect their husbands. Now, it is usually safe to say that men are the ones required to love their wives and it is also common to hear people say women are the ones required to submit. Is that true? Is that what we were taught in the word? Should women be the only ones to submit while the men love? Is there love without submission and is there submission without love? We are going to take a look at few places in the Bible and know what the Bible really teaches and how we can apply it to our everyday life. We will be looking at profound places in the Bible that speaks volume about submission and love.
“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” Ephesians 5:21
We owe everyone a duty of submission, both pastors and members, husbands and wives, parents and children all owe each other the duty of submission. We submit to the roles people play in our lives, we submit to the purpose God has designed them to carry out in our lives. The central theme of Ephesians 5 isn’t marriage but following God’s example as His beloved Children and walking in the way of love which Paul clearly stated in the first verse. There is no love without submission and there is no submission without love. Before instructing wives to submit to their husbands, Paul pointed out the need for a mutual submission for where there is love there is accountability. In verse 22, Paul was asking the women to submit to the roles of their husband as leaders just as Christ is our leader but verse 21 brings a kind of balance. Paul was talking about submission to leadership and not an absolute authority of man, the authority of a man is not absolute, it is the authority of Christ that is absolute. Where the Bible likened submission to Christ and submission to man is on the basis of leadership and not on the basis of authority. This is why Paul started this discourse with “submit to one another” which in other words means “be accountable to one another.”
An absolute authority means you would do things without explanation, without agreement and just the way you want but the Bible says in Malachi 2:14 that marriage is partnership and therefore it must operate on the basis of agreement! Man was never given that kind of authority as the leadership of man is meant to operate in the confines of humility and total submission to the office of his wife and his wife submits in return. Christ is the main focus and there is something we need to understand here. As the woman was instructed to submit to the man just like the Church (which they are part of) submits to Christ, the man was asked to love their wives just as Christ loves the Church. Both have an example to follow, both need to understand the operations of God’s love and follow suit. The Bible says in verse 25 “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her .” Look carefully, the wives were asked to submit in everything and the husbands were asked to love in way Christ loved that He even gave up himself for the Church; in this way husbands should give up themselves for their wives. The Bible says concerning what Christ gave up “rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” Philippians 2. To the wife, the man should not regard himself a boss but a person tasked with the burden to serve his wife in certain ways. It is in this manner that a man loves his wife and it is in this manner that both submission and love becomes mutual. The woman submits to the man in everything with respect to the absolute authority of God’s word and the man gives up everything including his ego for his wife with respect to God’s word. Following the example God has set is the main focus as we see in Ephesians 5:1. Both submission and love all stems from walking in the ways of love as God has clearly shown us in Christ.
Concerning love, the Bible didn’t just use the word “love” to address how a man relates to the wife, it was also used to address how a woman relates to the husband. The Bible says in Titus 2:4 “Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children.” Loving one’s spouse isn’t exclusive to the men alone, women are to love their husbands too! Truth is, God designed the woman to play assistive role to their husbands and not to men in general! Women can be independent in the society, running for public offices and all of that but a woman becomes her best in the home when she plays assistive roles to her husband because she is more skilled and detailed in keeping the home. A woman alone can keep a home, a man alone cannot keep a home but when they do it together, the advantage becomes formidable. In marriage, men have to loosen their ego, give it up entirely and admit they can’t do it all! A loving man is humble to his wife to the point people begin to say “she is controlling him.” Yet, the man is very decisive when it comes to matter he can handle! Men may be good at providing and women are good in managing provisions but women are also good in providing when their husband isn’t capable of doing so.
Submission means yielding to something else, faithfulness is a fruit of submission and another word for faithfulness would be loyalty. In Malachi 2:14 the Bible says “It is because the Lord is the witness between you and the wife of your youth. You have been unfaithful to her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant.” God requires men to be faithful to their wives of which He is a witness! God puts into account every covenant of marriage and is interested in your faithfulness! Wives brings about favour and unfaithfulness to them brings about disfavour! There is nothing you can do about this, it is not a law of Moses, it is a principle! Faithfulness is a kind of submission, it means yielding totally to your marriage and the woman with which you entered that covenant. The Bible continues in verse 15 “Has not the one God made you? You belong to him in body and spirit. And what does the one God seek? Godly offspring. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful to the wife of your youth.” The man is accountable to God who made both his body and Spirit, the man has no absolute authority as to do what he wants and God who is the chief marriage registrar requires faithfulness from that man to his wife! God knows the benefit of faithfulness in marriage and how unfaithfulness can destroy a family! God requires this kind of submission from the man to the woman in the context of being loyal to the covenant of marriage!
While the society may argue that men are polygamous in nature, God who made men says otherwise! It is lack of control and total disregard for the word of God that makes men yield to lies and live without control. God personally requires of husbands to be faithful to their wives because that is an expression of His faithfulness to the Church. In verse 16 of Malachi 2 the Bible makes a very profound remark “The man who hates and divorces his wife,” says the Lord, the God of Israel, “does violence to the one he should protect,” says the Lord Almighty. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful.” God sees unfaithfulness and hate towards the wife as violence against someone you should protect! This is how God view unfaithfulness and it is only this disloyalty that can lead to divorce! With love, in the highs and lows, divorce is impossible. Proverbs 3:3 makes it clear that love and faithfulness cannot exist separately for faithfulness is the proof of love! The reward for faithfulness is unexplained favour!
Now the issue of submission and love shouldn’t be about which gender should submit and which gender should love! Both the husband and the woman is tasked with the duty of love and submission which cannot exist without another. God has set an example of love which everyone that wants to have a beautiful marriage must work on. This is not a matter of who is weak and who is stronger as the Bible says in Ecclesiastes 4:12 “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” When two becomes one, they become stronger but when disunity enters the body, one doesn’t just become two, it shatters into so many pieces! The woman needs the man as much as the man needs the woman and there is no gender role in being faithful, accountable, submissive and loving! As much as you should, go ahead and love, go ahead and be submissive and go ahead following the examples God has laid down for you. People say men are egocentric and therefore their woman should massage their ego right? While that sounds good and may work for a while, there is no ego in love! Love cuts down ego! (I Corinthians 13:4-5).
That marriage will work! Do everything in love!
God bless you!
I am George O.N
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