Last time we talked about the book of Ephesians, we talked about the directive in chapter 4 to “live a life worthy of the calling you have received”. If you happened to go crack a Bible and look that passage up, you’ll have noticed that much of the rest of the chapter goes on to talk about what that looks like. And if you kept reading, chapter 5 seemed like much of the same—and it is—but if you read long enough you probably hit a nice little speed bump: “wives submit to your husbands…”
Ouch. In our current context (almost) nothing about that phrase seems right. In fact, we hit our heads so hard on that sentence that we hardly notice what comes after it. We live lives that require small or large degrees of submission everyday: to bosses, teachers, supervisors, leaders, parents, and so on. Yet we find this phrase misogynistic and offensive. Yeah, ok, this passage has been abused in the not-so-distant past, so fine, we’re tender about it. Surely, let’s be on our guard to prevent future abuses. But can’t we grow a slightly tougher skin on this one, just so we can dig a little deeper into what the passage really means? As a (very) soon-to-be-married woman, I do not take offense with this verse. Granted, I do not claim to be an expert on understanding what it means, but I am not too scared or angry to talk about it. I talked about examples above where we submit to bosses and leaders and so on, but I don’t actually think that those examples are precisely the same thing as a wife submitting to her husband. For goodness sake, there is much more in the chapter after this sentence about the husband living sacrificially for his wife—but we never get stuck on that one do we?
What do you think? Where have you seen this work? Have you seen it be a source of strife? What do you think this whole thing is about, and do you think that we can actually do this in a culture that is trying to fight against gender inequality?