What it Means to Submit to Your Husband

Ephesians 5:21-33, is a hotly contested passage. What does it actually mean to submit to your husband?

Submitting to something or someone means you are “under the mission” of that someone or something; and in the case of husband and wife, the mission of the husband is to love his bride as Christ loved—and loves—the Church.

Jackie says she is completely on board with being under the mission of Bobby if his mission is to love her as Christ loves the Church.

If you look at Ephesians 5:21-33 more closely, you see it’s about a relationship of reverence and love. It’s not about who has the authority, or who wears the pants, in the marriage.

“Wives submit to your husband” is about the relationship between Christ and the Church.

“Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. As the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,  that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,  that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.  Even so husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.  For no man ever hates his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body.  “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”  This is a great mystery, and I mean in reference to Christ and the church.”

Ephesians 5:21-33

“This unequivocal insistence on the indissolubility of the marriage bond may have left some perplexed and could seem to be a demand impossible to realize. However, Jesus has not placed on spouses a burden impossible to bear, or too heavy – heavier than the Law of Moses. By coming to restore the original order of creation disturbed by sin, he himself gives the strength and grace to live marriage in the new dimension of the Reign of God. It is by following Christ, renouncing themselves, and taking up their crosses that spouses will be able to “receive” the original meaning of marriage and live it with the help of Christ. This grace of Christian marriage is a fruit of Christ’s cross, the source of all Christian life.”

Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 1615

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