Liv and I often come across couples who struggle with the passage in Ephesians 5:22-25, submission of a wife to her husband. Men are often frustrated that their wives will not submit like they read in the Bible. In fact, these frustrated men often ask me, “Jerry, how do I make my wife submit to my authority and headship as a Christian husband?” No lie. So, just for men, I have put together 5 ways you can make your wife submit to you based on the often quoted Ephesians 5:22-33. Whip out your bibles, read along, and be prepared to change your marriage for eternity.
1. Pay attention and follow the right instructions!
Men, the very first word in Ephesians 5:22 is “Wives”. That means that those three sentences on submission are for the wives to read and follow. It has nothing to do with you, and it definitely is not instruction to you to ask that your wife submit to your headship. Go ahead and write in your bible after that first word in verse 22 “Husbands, skip to verse 25,” because that is where the instructions for husbands start. It’s the verse that starts with “Husbands.”
2. Stop trying to make your wife submit!
No where in Ephesians 5:22-33 do you find the phrase, “Husbands, demand, enforce, expect, and make your wife submit to you.” If you can find that phrase ANYWHERE in the bible, let me know, and I will mail you a dollar. I’ll save you the trouble. That phrase is NO WHERE in the bible. Stop looking for it.
3. Love your wives as Christ loved the church.
Jesus Christ gave up His life for His church. He not only died for it, Jesus also lived for it. Everything He did built God’s kingdom on earth. Jesus selflessly served us in His death and resurrection. To expect that your wife submit to your authority or headship or leadership, is selfish and does not serve or love her the way Christ loved the Church.
Many husbands are all willing to take a bullet for our wives, but are we willing to live for our wives? Would you be willing to turn off that sports game, turn to your wife, and talk? Everything you do as a husband should be to build up your wife. Love her and serve her needs.
4. Love your wife as you love yourself.
You’ll defend your own honor, enjoy your own hobbies, make yourself happy and feel good. Do that for your wife, too. Be the man she wants and needs you to be. Don’t just let her run off with her friends for girls night out. Make yourself interesting to her on her level. You want your wife to understand you? Start by understanding her first. Yes, a relationship goes both ways, but you want to be the “head” of the marriage, so you must also be willing to make the first step.
5. She is your partner, a gift from God, not an employee.
Verse 31 reminds us of what God said in Genesis 2:23-25. A husband and wife are not meant to be man versus woman. There is not supposed to be a Battle of the Sexes. Instead, the two will become ONE FLESH, one body, one team. You and your wife are on the same team, and she should never be considered your enemy in anything.
Keep in mind that God is all about free will. Our faith in Him is freely chosen. Our wives marrying us was, hopefully, a choice freely made. On that same token, if you wish that your wife submit to your leadership as husband, then you must accept that her submission is more of a freely chosen response to how you have already submitted to Jesus Christ and submitted to her needs as a daughter of God. Headship as a Christian husband is not a monarchy or a dictatorship. Think of it more like a Presidency and you are up for re-election every day.
I want to close with a reminder of a phrase we often use but rarely think about. We often refer to our wives as our “other half”, smart men use the phrase “better half”. Remove that half through divorce, neglect, or animosity and you are no longer the “whole” that God intended you to be.
It may be that you have divorced. God can heal your heart and unite you with someone else if your previous marraige was not restored.
Whatever your situation may be, first marriage, second or third marriage, men, love your wives, submit to her needs out of reverence for Christ (Ephesians 5:21.) Under no circumstances, are you to try to make your wife submit to your headship.