Ephesians 5:22 commands the wife to submit to her husband while Ephesians 5:25 commands the husband to love his wife. But are these two separate things? I do not think.
Submission is always an act of love and love is always an act of submission. These are not unrelated commands. In fact, they can be one in the same. Love is not a warm, fuzzy or tingling feeling that you have. Love is an action that involves submission, or giving up something important to you so that someone else can benefit.
John 3:16 says that God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son. God subjected his Son, Jesus Christ, into the hands of sinners to be tortured and ultimately killed so that these same torturers and murderers would have a means of getting to heaven. That’s love. But it was also a tremendous act of submission.
The Bible says in John 15:13: Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. Again, we see that this great love is accompanied by an act of great submission. Submission and love go hand in hand.
Even in Ephesians 5:25, where God commands the husband to love his wife, he gave the example of Jesus and the Church: “…just as Christ loved the church, and gave himself up for her.” Jesus loved the Church giving his life for her. Once again, we see that love and submission are one and the same thing.
Jesus, while speaking to the disciples, said in John 14:15, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” Thus, one way to love Jesus is to submit your will to his commands.
When there is true love, there is true submission. You can’t have one without the other. Every time I love my wife, I submit my will to hers. I choose to do something that she wants instead of what I want. She, in turn, does the same for me.
So why then did God put it this way? Why didn’t he just use the word ‘love’ or ‘submit’ in both cases? I believe that God worded it in such a way to appeal to the fullest of our nature as men and women.
Women define themselves by their relationships. When a woman is insecure, she often seeks to dominate or control her relationship in order to feel good about her, to feel safe. Even during her attempts to control the relationship, she will think that she is loving her man. She won’t necessarily see it as something else. God used the word ‘submit’ because it strikes at the heart of her actions. She does not love until she submits.
Men, on the other hand, are defined by their work or their ability to perform a duty or a role. Most men, however, do not willingly relinquish these roles to anyone, male or female. They tend to say: ‘I can do it myself’, ‘I don’t need help’, ‘I don’t need instructions’, etc. When you use the word ‘submit’, a man thinks of giving up. Most men get stubborn when you tell them to give up. But using the word ‘love’ will strike at the heart of a man’s failure. By refusing to move, or give an inch, he has not loved his wife as he should. He make me love, and he will have submitted. He needs to understand that submission is not an act of surrender, but an act of love.
I believe that God chose these words to best fit our particular nature and roles. It just shows how clever and intelligent God is.
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