Obedience to the Word of God, the Bible, is the signature of God’s children. God commands His children to love one another, be submissive to one another, children are commanded to obey their parents and wives are commanded to obey their husbands in everything. This particular command generates scoffing and derision from the world. Unbelieving couples will allow the practicality of mutual submission for the well-being of both individuals, but this has nothing at all whatsoever to do with God’s command to wives to be submissive to their husbands in everything. The submission God commands, this obedience empowered by the Holy Spirit, is not only for the spiritual well-being of the husband, but also for the spiritual prosperity of the wife.
22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. 30 For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. 31 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. Ephesians 5:22-33
The submissive wife is enveloped by the love of her husband and led by him for her greater progression in the faith and a closer walk with the Lord. However, suppose the husband isn’t walking in obedience to the Lord and doesn’t really rely upon Jesus for guidance and power to live a godly life. What is the wife supposed to do then? Well, God addresses just this situation in the Bible in the third chapter of 1 Peter.
18 Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh. 19 For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. 20 For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. 21 For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: 22 “Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth”; 23 who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; 24 who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed. 25 For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. 1 Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, 2 when the observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear. 3 Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel—4 rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. 5 For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands, 6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror. 7 Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered. 1 Peter 2:18-3:7
There are three relational situations where the believer may find they are mistreated. In each one of these circumstances they must rely upon the Lord Jesus Christ and do what is right. Servants must obey their masters and if they are mistreated, receive it patiently, following the example that Jesus Christ, the only One who truly did not deserve the wicked treatment that He received, gave us to follow by patiently trusting God His Father knowing that what He suffered served the greater purpose of saving sinners from their sins and the wrath of God. If wives are mistreated they are to follow the example of Sarah who had two opportunities to defy the command of her husband, Abraham, when he allowed her to be taken into the harem of Pharaoh and then Abimelech, (Genesis 12 and 20). God protected Sarah from harm when her husband neglected that duty by not trusting the Lord to protect both himself and his wife from these powerful leaders. Sarah did not give into fear and was adorned by her trust in God as she patiently and quietly waited for His deliverance. May we all live our lives with that same reverence towards our holy and loving God. Finally, husbands may have wives who are cranky and fretful, but God our Father exhorts husbands to dwell with their wives with understanding, honoring them as the weaker vessel so that their prayers may not be hindered. Mutual love and submission blesses us as we follow the example of our glorious Savior and live lives of godly sacrifice and submission.
What if the husband is grossly abusive, unfaithful, intolerant, vengeful and angry? Our kind and loving heavenly Father addresses this circumstance in the first letter to the Corinthians written by Paul.
10 Now to the married I command, yet not I but the Lord: A wife is not to depart from her husband. 11 But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce his wife. 12 But to the rest I, not the Lord, say: If any brother has a wife who does not believe, and she is willing to live with him, let him not divorce her. 13 And a woman who has a husband who does not believe, if he is willing to live with her, let her not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband; otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy. 15 But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace. 16 For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife? 1 Corinthians 7:10-16
The unbelieving husband who abuses his wife is causing gross strife and contention. The believing wife may depart from that abusive unbelieving husband. She is commanded to remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. For reconciliation to take place that means there must be a change on the part of the abuser. It is instructive for us to see what the Scriptures teach us about reconciliation.
18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. 2 Corinthians 5:18-20
Reconciliation is based upon the changed behavior of both parties. God does all that He can to make reconciliation possible, destroying the enmity that exists between the two parties, the sinner then turns from sin and receives that reconciliation. In the same way, the wife is reconciled to her husband when she forgives him because he has sincerely and completely turned away from abusive behavior. If the abusive husband does not repent, the wife may remain unreconciled and unmarried to him, there is no possibility of a relationship. His absolute refusal to repent breaks the possibility of reconciliation so the believing wife may remarry as the Lord leads.
Finally, even if your husband isn’t walking with the Lord Jesus Christ, but is a fairly decent man, providing for, loving and protecting his wife and children, the Lord will still use him for spiritual protection his family.
3 But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. 1 Corinthians 11:3
22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Ephesians 5:22-24
The Lord Jesus Christ has used my husband many times to protect me from spiritual dangers through the years even though he didn’t know why. At one church we attended, the Sunday School class was starting the 40 days of Purpose study. I thought it sounded great, being ignorant of the dangers, but my husband didn’t want to be involved. I submitted and at a later date I discovered how the Lord had used the headship of my husband to protect me from the devices of Satan. We must always trust that our obedience to the Word of God, the Bible, will always lead to blessing and spiritual strength as we grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Let us remember that only blood bought children of God, who through faith in Jesus Christ have been redeemed, have the desire and the Spirit empowered ability to live God fearing lives characterized by obedience to God’s commands given to us in His Word the Bible. God bless us.
17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. 18 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them. Colossians 3:17-19