Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her.
—Ephesians 5:25

Another principle about biblical submission is that submission is limited. One of the fears people have about this doctrine of submission is this: what if a wife is mistreated by her husband? Is the wife to submit then? We need to understand what God’s Word says about submission.

Paul does say that wives ought to submit to their husbands in everything (Ephesians 5:24), but “everything” is qualified by everything that is within the will of God. Nowhere does God say that women ought to disobey God in order to submit to their husbands. And if you or your children are being physically abused, you need to separate and insist that your husband either stops and gets treatment, or the marriage is over. You say, “Where do you get that, Pastor?” I get it from the Word of God. Do you know the reason God destroyed the world by a flood? In Genesis 6, His stated reason for destroying the world was because of physical violence. God hates physical violence. And if you are being physically abused, you need to remove yourself from that abuse.

Submission is limited in scope. Wives are not to do everything their husbands say. Acts 5:29 says, “We must obey God rather than men.” But also submission is limited in sphere. Nowhere does the Bible say all women are to submit to all men. This doctrine of submission only applies in the relationship of the home and the church. There is nothing in the Bible that prohibits a woman from being a CEO of a corporation. The only realm in which this doctrine of submission applies is in the church and in the home.

Submission is also encouraged by example rather than by coercion. Husbands, you cannot force your wife to follow your leadership. The Bible does not say, “Husbands, act like dictators barking orders to your wife.” And the Bible does not say, “Wives, obey your husbands.” Instead, it says, “Wives, be subject to your own husbands” (Ephesians 5:22). That word is a military term that means to place under rank. A wife is to submit to her husband by voluntarily placing herself under his authority. And husbands, the way you encourage your wife to do that is by your own example.

Finally, submission is also encouraged by sacrifice. Ephesians 5:25 says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her.” The best way to encourage your wife to follow your leadership is to sacrifice for her just as Christ sacrificed for you. Husbands, leadership is not a privilege to be exploited. Leadership is a command to take care of the needs of your wife and of your children. Love them and sacrifice for them, just as Christ did for the church.

The “S” word for women is submission. The “S” word for husbands is sacrifice.

***
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The Truth about the ‘S’ Word” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2008.

Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.