People, especially religious people, use this verse to guilt women into submitting to their husbands, “no matter what.” That’s not the context of the passage. Not only does it come after the verse that tells us to submit to one another, verse 22 adds “as to the Lord.”
Think about the attributes of God. He is loving, kind, good, and faithful. He has done everything for us, to the point of dying for us. God makes it easy to love Him.
It is not burdensome to submit to someone whom we know will never hurt us, has our best interest in mind, who is working things out for our good, and who has an amazing future in store for us. Even during hard times, it’s easy (I don’t mean that lightly) to follow God because we know WHO He is. We know His attributes.
Verse 25 says, “Husbands, love your wives just as Christ also loved the Church and gave Himself up for her.” Husbands are to love their wives with the attributes of God. When he is loving like God, the Fruit of the Spirit will shine through - joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Will it be perfect? Of course not. But, that is his aim.
When a woman knows that her husband is doing his best to love her the way Christ loves her, she will feel safe submitting to him.
The Bible is not some archaic book that has no relevance to our lives today. It's not a book that merely gives laws about what we can and cannot do. It has theological and life principles given to us by our Creator. Who knows our lives better than the One who knit us together?
When husbands live out the role God calls them to, and women live out the role God calls them to, relationships can work.
Marriage can be great.
My abusive ex-husband has not turned me away from marriage. In fact, he taught me what marriage should not be, which in turn, caused me to learn what marriage should and could be. I do hope to be married again sometime in the future to a man who will love me the way Christ loves me. I hope to have a relationship with a man the way God intended. I still have a dream, which I had since I was a teenager, of being in ministry with my husband.
More than that, however, is my desire to educate young men and women who are in relationships about how God intended marriage to be. I long for couples to have great marriages. Marriage is a blessing and it can be amazing. I have been praying a lot lately for the marriages of some of my friends who are going through difficult times. It has been on my heart so much.
Husbands, love your wife the way God loves her. Wives, submit to your husband. Both of you, submit to God in everything. Let Him lead you. Work on your relationship with God - it's the one that comes first. As you draw close to God as an individual, He will help you draw close to Him and each other as a couple.
Don't give up the fight for healthy relationships. If you need counselling for your marriage, please get it. There are some amazing counsellors and pastors who can help you navigate the difficult times. You are not alone.
If you are in a physically harmful relationship or there is a safety concern, please find someone who can help you get out quickly and safely.