Posted by: Veroni Kruger | March 12, 2013

Violence Against Women 2

What about the “command” in Ephesians 5.22?

Ephesians 5.22 is probably the most popular verse in the Bible for those who love to teach on the submission of women: Wives, submit to your husband as to the Lord. Taken out of context, it sounds like a clear call to women to be obedient to their husbands. If the whole passage is studied, one finds that that is an emaciation of a profound and rich metaphor.

The previous passage describes how followers of Christ should live. It ends with a clear injunction: Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ (Eph 5.21).

Submission is thus a character trait of true believers. Every believer should live his or her life in submission to others. This does not speak of slavery, or blind obedience to the desires of others, but to a submissive attitude, where we realize the value of other believers in our lives, and that we cannot and should not attempt to live our lives as Christians without regard for each other.

This sets the tone for the passage on marriage. There should be submission in the church, and there should be submission in marriage.

The roles of the husband and wife are defined as being comparable respectively to Christ and the Church. This has tremendous implications for the interpretation of the term “submit”. In the relationship between Christ and the Church there is no suggestion of enforced authority. Although Christ has the authority as well as the power to enforce it, He leads by example and only through the willing acceptance of the Church. There is no enforced authority on the part of Christ. Conversely, there is no lack of freedom on the part of the Church. The authority of Christ over the Church is given to Him by the church, on the basis of His having loved the church, and having proven it by offering Himself for the church.

The two aspects of the marriage relationship mentioned in Ephesians 5 (love, submission) are not mutually exclusive parts. They overlap, inclusive of each other, and complementary. Put simply: there is a great deal of submission in love, and submission without love, is slavery.

God has given us a definition of love. Whereas John 3.16 is well-known and often quoted to show how great the love of God is, the same chapter and verse in the first letter of John is much less famous. Yet it contains a very concise description of love: “By this we know what love is, that He gave his life for us.” If husbands are expected to love their wives as Christ loved the church, this definition is absolutely relevant for the marriage relationship. There is a great deal of submission in loving someone to this extent – it represents regarding the other person as being of much greater priority than oneself.

The formula for marriage in Ephesians 5, then, makes it quite clear that there is no room for submission in the sense of being ordered to obey – the church does not obey Christ because it is compelled, but willingly, through her love for the Lord. The love that the husband is commanded to bestow on his wife, and the submission the wife is commanded to show towards her husband, are both parts of the same relationship. Love and submission are merely emphases of different aspects of one relationship. There is submission in love, and true submission can only take place where there is love.

Authority in scripture is characterized by protectiveness, rather than ruling over. This is particularly applicable in marriage.

The broader outline of the Gospel confirms this view on the relationship between a man and his wife. There is no distinction between male and female in the sight of God – Jesus is the first liberator of women in the history of the world.

Marriage is a partnership. One is not above the other. Rather, each has a specific role to play. In this manner marriage brings out the best in each partner, and together the partners form a team.

Véroni Krüger



  1. Thank you, Veroni. I was struck by your comment, “… the church does not obey Christ because it is compelled, but willingly, through her love for the Lord.” Perhaps one reason many are confused in their role as husband is that in truth they don’t see God this way, but as a powerful and dangerous threat who must be carefully appeased — at a minimum, fearfully obeyed. They call it “love” because they know they are supposed to, but it is really fear. The idol makes not only a terrible taskmaster, but an awful example of a husband and father.


  2. Great inspiration


  3. Dankie Pappie!


  4. Baie dankie vir daardie hoog gewaardeerde skrywes!


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Alexander F. Venter

Live a life of love as Jesus loved us...

Attempting Authenticity

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Martha Elizabeth Kruger

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