Human beings are naturally selfish because we are born with a sinful nature that pushes us to put our needs and desires ahead of everyone else’s needs and desires. In reality, we all want what we want when we want it. Just visit a preschool for a day and you will see that I am right!
James, the half-brother of Jesus and the Lead Pastor of the first Christian church in Jerusalem wrote…
“Do you know where your fights and arguments come from? They come from the selfish desires that war within you. You want things, but you do not have them. So you are ready to kill and are jealous of other people, but you still cannot get what you want. So you argue and fight…” James 4:1–3 NCV
The only antidote for selfishness is submission – “voluntarily forsaking some of your needs and desires to serve another.” Submission promotes healthy relationships and gives practical structure to our ever-developing society. Because submission is necessary for orderly, productive, and safe society, God commands us to practice submission throughout our lives.
- We are to submit to God.
“Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” James 4:7 NKJV
- We are to submit to our government authorities.
“Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God.” Romans 13:1 NLT
- We are to submit to our parents.
“Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do. Honor your father and mother. This is the first commandment with a promise: If you honor your father and mother, things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on the earth.” Ephesians 6:1–3 NLT
- We are to submit to our elders.
“Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” 1 Peter 5:5 NKJV
- We are to submit to our employers.
“Servants, do what you’re told by your earthly masters. And don’t just do the minimum that will get you by. Do your best.” Colossians 3:22 The Message Bible
Now obviously, submission is not intended to be an unquestionable action. We are to submit according to God’s will. God does not expect citizens to submit to governmental leaders that lead us to do things like slavery, genocide, and terrorism. Likewise, God does not expect children to obey their parents if their parents ask them to do something sinful like engage in incest, theft or murder.
How Does Submission Work In Marriage?
1st – The Apostle Paul tells married couples to submit to each other as they submit to Christ.
“…submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Ephesians 5:21 NLT
After commanding us to “Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do” (Vs.17), Paul tells husbands and wives to submit to each other (place their mate’s needs ahead of their own needs) out of respect for Christ’s will. Paul calls both parties to fulfill their God-given submissive roles in the marriage.
After the Apostle Paul tells husbands and wives to submit to one another under the authority of Christ…
2nd – Paul tells wives to submit to their husbands in everything.
“For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything.” Ephesians 5:22–24 NLT
Many have used this passage to suggest that the Apostle Paul believed women to be inferior to men. But, Paul’s command for wives to submit to their husbands in everything doesn’t have anything to do with who is the stronger, smarter sex. It has everything to do with God created the husband to be the head of the household. Wives need to respect their husband’s God-given role as the leader of the household and help him become a better man, a better father, and a better husband.
After he uses just a few verses to teach wives how to practice submission in marriage, Paul uses the rest of Ephesians Chapter Five to teach husbands how they should practice submission in marriage.
3rd – Paul tells husbands to love their wives.
“For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself. No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church.” Ephesians 5:25–29 NLT
God commanded husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church. Husbands are called to prove their love to their wives using sacrificial words and actions. As the leader of your household, husbands must lead in demonstrating love in their home. As Jesus willingly died for the church, husbands are to willingly sacrifice for their wives.
Paul tells husbands and wives to submit to each other as they submit to Christ’s will. For a wife, submission is showing her husband the respect his head of the household position deserves. For a husband, submission is loving his wife so much she feels respected. If a husband and wife fulfill their submissive roles, their marriage will succeed. If a husband or his wife refuse to fulfill their submissive roles, their marriage will fail.
If you’re considering marriage, or you want to know how to greatly improve your marriage, I encourage you to purchase my book: The 10 Habits of Magnificent Marriages. It is available through Amazon.