Biblical Pictures

So, today’s reading is one of those controversial hot potatoes that can cause dissent and disunity and disagreement, and yet really needs not to. It’s an often misunderstood passage because it’s so often incorrectly cited and quoted. One of the key reasons for this is because of some very modern connotations of the language used within it.

But still, we’ll wade in and try and get a rounded picture of what is being said here and, most importantly, a biblical one.

Submission and Language Change



As you likely know, I’m an English teacher and while I will endeavour to refrain from overdoing this as an English language lesson, I will point out a few principles we need to keep in mind when we look at this passage through 21st Century eyes.

Language changes. Some language becomes obsolete (any cursory glance at a Shakespeare text will show you that) and new words are being coined all the time. The advent of technology itself has brought about a whole swathe of language that is new in my lifetime alone.  And with that, language that is not new but still exists changes in connotation. Acceptability of language changes (this can be very commonly seen through racial language for example) and due to modern trends and buzzwords, different associations become entangled with words’ original meaning.

So we need to proceed with caution in applying very modern connotations to words that have held very different connotations in previous generations and centuries.

Submission is a word that can conjure up all kinds of negative thoughts and feelings because we associate it with slavery, with domination, with being powerless or being duty-bound to someone who does not have our best interests at heart.  And surely there are times and places when this means all of those things…but all that stresses is why, along with connotation, context is so important.  Part of the reason why this is such a misunderstood passage is because only part of the passage is ever referred to, understood or even known about.

I implore you, then, to read well around this passage so that you gain a full and Biblical picture of these issues…these questions will hopefully prompt some thinking that will help us all ensure that the portrait we paint of submission and the role of wives and husbands is a Biblical one and not one that is driven or shaped by modern society’s standards and/or moral codes. If you’re struggling with where to begin, then take a look here: The Beautiful Faith of Fearless Submission.


Thoughts for Today


Keeping the Context – Wives AND husbands, equal and different



  1. Paul does indeed tell wives to submit to their husbands, but let us NOT lose sight of the whole verse: Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. What do you think this means? In what ways do we submit to the Lord that will provide a pattern for wives and the relationship they have to their husbands?
  2. Paul ALSO tells husbands that they have a responsibility towards their wives:  Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,  that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendour, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.  In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.  What is the responsibility of the husband?
  3. Why is it important that the whole passage is viewed, and not just one or the other role?
  4. This is not a passage that in any way validates abusive relationships, or gives the husband an excuse to be domineering, unkind and render his wife powerless.  How does the whole passage stress the importance of the centrality of Christ in any relationship?
  5. How are wives and husbands equals but different?  Take a look at Galatians 3:28, Genesis 1:27, Romans 3:23.


Prayers for Today



  • It might be that you struggle with the whole picture here and what it means. Ask God to help you understand, and how to apply it to your life in a way that is first and foremost honouring to him.
  • There are plenty of marriages where one of the other partner by no means lives to these standard, and for a whole host of reasons. Maybe you are in a marriage whereby your spouse by no means takes this kind of view, maybe your spouse isn’t saved.  Maybe you are friends with others struggling with this. Let’s pray today for those people whose marriages are struggling, that God would be the centre of them.


Grace and Love

Helen x


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: