The Bible instructs all believers to be humble and mutually submitted to one another, never “lording” their God-given authority over another (1 Pet 5:1-7). This is also true in a godly marriage.
It is not important who is “right”. What is important is that believers – including a married couple – work toward unity and agreement. A godly and loving marriage is a partnership, in which two people are growing together as one (Gen 2:24; Matt 19:5, 6). A husband and wife must have many conversations and share their thoughts openly with each other in order to come to a place of “oneness” and agreement in their marriage.
AN IMPORTANT NOTE
It is important to note that a woman does not have to subject herself to harm or abuse in the name of submission; and a husband is charged never to exploit a wife’s trust or misuse his position of authority (Eph 5:25-29; 1 Pet 3:7). A godly husband will never intentionally harm his wife or family, or ask them to do anything that is contrary to the Word of God.
It is equally important to note that a loving wife, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, is precious not only to her husband (Prov 31:10, 11), but also in the sight of God (1 Pet 3:4). Even if a husband fails at times to provide loving, godly headship, a wife’s gracious attitude will still allow the testimony of Christ to be raised (1 Pet 3:1-7).
Submission is a difficult subject to understand. There is much abuse of this principle by those in authority; and much resistance to it by those who are to be under submission.
But remember that submission is a dear principle established by an all-loving, all-wise God. He intended for a wife to be protected and blessed by her husband’s loving, Christ-like headship.
A woman’s true freedom can come only through the knowledge of genuine truth (John 8:31, 32), and the application of that truth in her personal life (Jas 1:22). It is through trust in God and His order that a wife can be fully released – truly liberated – to become all that God desires her to be.
THE BIBLICAL MEANING OF RESPECT
Ephesians 5 contains a second instruction for wives: “Let the wife see that she respects [reverences) her husband” (v.33).
The original Greek word for “respects” is phobeo, which means “revere, be in awe of, [reverential] fear”.
This does not mean a wife is to be afraid of her husband. Phobeo is the same kind of “fear” or reverence that we are to have of the Lord (Ps 5:7). We honor God and hold Him in high esteem, not cower because we are afraid of Him.
In the same manner, a wife is to hold her husband in high esteem and honor him as the God-appointed head of the home. A wife can submit to her husband, and obey everything he asks her to do. But if her attitude does not reflect respect or reverence for the position God has given him, she is not practicing true, godly submission.