Earlier this year I read a website that explored people’s favourite worst Bible verses.
Unsurprisingly Wives submit to your husbands was in the list. And it irritated me.
It also irritated me that whoever put the list together obviously hadn’t bothered to read to the end of the account about Abraham and Isaac because they didn’t appear to have any idea that Abraham doesn’t sacrifice his son.
Yes, as any English teacher knows, it’s always good to read a sentence in the context of the text that it comes from, otherwise you could completely misunderstand what it’s saying. I know from my study of English literature, that I would often have to read a sizeable chunk from an 18th century satirical novelist before I truly understood what they were saying. Pull out just one random sentence and you’ll easily muddle up the message.
Since this is a biblengod blog, you might prefer a professor of theology’s thoughts on this matter:
“A text without a context becomes a pretext for a proof text.”
That’s D.A. Carson with a quote from his father. What it means is: if you just read a random sentence somewhere (anywhere) you can make it say whatever you want it to say.
I believe that if you’re going to take issue with something in The Bible, at least read the context that the one sentence comes from. Let’s do that with the Wives submit to your husbands verse.
Wives submit 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, of which he is the Saviour. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
Husbands love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies.
There is more to this passage but at least that’s more context that the discussion often gets.
Yes, Christian wives are told to submit to their husbands, that’s clear. But look at what Christian husbands are told to do: love as Christ loved and give themselves up for their wives. That translates into sacrificial living if ever you read about it.
Christians believe that Jesus (Christ) sacrificed himself on the cross for the church.
A Christian husband is supposed to sacrifice himself for his wife’s sake. That could look like a whole bunch of things, including literally laying down his life to save his wife’s, if the need should ever arise.
I don’t know about you, but I firmly believe that wives have got the better deal.
Yours in context,