Ephesians 5:21-24 (JDV)
Ephesians 5:21 submitting to one another in the fear of Christ.
Ephesians 5:22 Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord,
Ephesians 5:23 because the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the congregation. He is the Savior of the body.
Ephesians 5:24 Now as the congregation submits to Christ, in this way also wives are to submit to their husbands in everything.
submitting to one another
It is very easy to use this passage as a proof-text for male superiority in the church. After all, the passage does say that husbands are the head of their wives, and their wives should submit to them in everything. It would be tempting to think that if our females would just learn to yield to our wills, there would be no interpersonal problems.
Except that Paul is not saying that. Paul never says that males are superior in any way because they are males.
He does encourage wives to submit to their husbands, but he also encourages husbands to submit to their wives by sacrificially caring for them, like Christ does for the congregation (5:25). He begins his teaching on this subject by the command “submit to one another” in verse 21, which is mutual submission. He outlines the details of this mutual submission in verse 33, where he tells husbands to care about their wives like they do themselves, and wives to respect their husbands.
This mutual submission is not about who’s the boss, it is about how each of us can reflect the dynamics of being the congregation of Christ in our interpersonal relationships – particularly if we are married.
Lord, give your congregation the wisdom to refrain from the domination of anyone, and the good sense to stop using passages like this as proof-texts for that domination.