Read Ephesians 5:21
21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. (NIV)
There is quite a bit of debate about whether wives should submit to their husbands. Indeed, the verse following this one seems to say so. But two things need to be added: one is that this verse ‘controls’ the following verse. The word ‘submit’ doesn’t actually appear in verse 22 so it is clear that mutual submission is the context within which submission of wife to husband occurs. It is one example of mutual submission.
So we might argue that while wives are to submit to husbands, husbands also submit to wives. This is fairly typical of the mutual ethic of the Bible. Rights and responsibilities belong to each party in a relationship. One person doesn’t have it all his or her own way.
The other point that needs to be stressed is that ‘submission’ is not to be seen in terms of someone kneeling in homage before a superior person. It is not defined in terms of obedience though at times it may involve this. To submit to someone is to recognise they have a claim on your life, to courteously respect them. It is very much an expression of love rather than servile obedience.
And all our submission to one another is worked out in the context of love and the context of our wanting to honour Jesus. If husbands and wives truly love one another, issues of ‘submission’ will work themselves out. If love is not present, we are merely arguing about words.