And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything.
For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. (NLT)
Scripture can be interpreted in so many ways. Sincere and bible believing Christians can come to different conclusions when reading the same bible passage. Unless we rather arrogantly presume that those who differ from us are guilty of false teaching, we might have to presume God is not too concerned to clear it all up here and now.
Our text today has been understood different ways, but two things can be made fairly clear. One is that submission within a marriage is part of a general command to mutually submit to one another. Submission is not one way. The overarching principle in this passage is that we submit to one another. In the original language, verse 22 makes no sense if divorced from verse 21.
Another misunderstanding comes when we consider that word “submit”. It can cause us to have visions of cowering at the feet of some overwhelming force. Giving in to someone who has beaten you in battle. Surrendering control of your life to another human being.
And that is not what submission means. It rather means that we acknowledge that someone other than me has a greater claim on my life than I do myself. It means respect and a willingness to put another’s interests above my own. And when each person in a relationship practises that, there doesn’t have to be debates about who is “the boss”. We look after one another so we don’t have to spend time and energy frantically defending our own interests.
In this way, submission is another word for love.