“But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.” – 1 Corinthians 11:3.

I’m sure that most, if not all new Christians, especially married ones, do a double take when they come across Paul’s words in Ephesians 5. “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” I’m also sure that the new Christian husband had to have some real misgivings about trying to sell his wife on that idea. Most people immediately default to some type of bizarre patriarchal suppression of the wife by the husband. I can understand that, because it can seem to demean her rather than helping her to thrive.

All this week in the devotionals we have tried to shed some additional light on the subject of mutual submission. Let’s look at husbands for a second. Husbands are to lead like Jesus.

The Bible does call husbands to lead with humility, not from some sort of perceived superiority. Instead of bullying or lording over our wives, we are to lovingly lead them. An ideal marriage should look less like a conquered people and more like a Christlike sacrifice. That means the husband should love and lead his wife in sacrificial service that reflects the humility of Jesus. Wives are to submit like Jesus. 

In 1 Corinthians 11:3 we read: “But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.”  Biblical submission is anchored in the submission between Christ and the Father. The Christian wife should consider her Savior when she considers her calling to submit to her husband in the Lord. She is to think much upon the submission of the Lord Jesus himself as He left Heaven’s throne in service and submission to His Father’s will.

As I said on Sunday, this submission was not for Him, but for sinners like us. In order for Jesus to save a sinner, even one, He needed to submit, which He did completely. Jesus willingly takes the role of submissive son for the purpose of redemption. Every moment of every day, Jesus submitted to His Father. What did this look like? Jesus submitted to an earthly father who was imperfect, an earthly mother who was a sinner, to earthly governments and authorities who were flawed. The perfect one, Jesus, embraced this calling of submission to imperfect people so He could save imperfect people. Wives should let this walking, talking gospel instruct and motivate them to submit to their (imperfect) husband out of reverence for Christ.

In essence, Jesus is not telling husbands and wives to do anything He hasn’t already done. Further, He is not telling you to do anything that He hasn’t empowered you to do through the Holy Spirit. 

Discussion Questions:

  1. Why does submission seem difficult? Or out of step with modern society?
  2. Why do you think wives need love and husbands need respect (Ephesians 5:33)?
  3. Where does the power come from to implement the Bible’s teaching on mutual submission?
  4. Pray and ask God to help you with biblical submission this week.