“A hatred of women.”

That’s how Merriam-Webster defined this nosebleed term.

Screenshot: Merriam-Webster

And that’s one of the labels I got when I engaged lately with skeptics on Twitter regarding the issue of submission and leadership in marriage.

Screenshot of a portion of our Twitter exchanges.

With all the tweets flying in rapid-fire succession from all directions, I knew that 140 characters would not be enough to explain what I think the Bible really taught on the issue. But, I did try. One even tried to lure me to talk about other hot button topics. But I refused to be drawn to it because the discussion—heated as it was already—would go off tangent. For that I got more flak. Well, no offense taken because I knew the so-called kitchen would be hot. And, I could stand the heat anyway.

I assume my skeptical friends are well meaning. I assured them that I condemn violence against women, too. 

Screenshot of one of the Twitter exchanges.

I admit that there are men who abuse women on the pretext that the Bible gave them the right to do so. I condemn that also. The fact that men abused women by misquoting the Bible does not mean we throw away what it teaches just like the proverbial baby with the bathwater.

Yes, the Bible teaches that a husband is the head of his wife and that a wife is to submit to her husband. As far as it is concerned, submission is not suppression and leadership is not dictatorship. 

Let me quote the entire passage so we see the context.
21Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. 22Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. 25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church—30for we are members of his body. 31“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. (Ephesians 5:21-33, NIV)
The context of the relationship between a husband and his wife is “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. (v. 21) In this mutual submission, the wife submits to her husband and the husband loves his wife (vv. 22, 24, 25, 28). A man and a woman are equal before God. He just gave us different roles and responsibilities. It was not discrimination. It was a dedication. Our relationship with each other in marriage is a reflection of our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.

Image source: Unveiled Wife

Note that the passage parallels the words “submit” (v. 22, 24) and “respect” (v. 33). So, it was a submission out of an attitude of respect, not out of repression. Note also that the love a husband ought to give his wife is a sacrificial love (vv. 25-26. “just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her”) and a sustaining love (vv. 28-30. “husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. … After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body”), not a self-serving one.

Simply put, as declared in the Danvers Statement of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, what we see here is “the glad harmony portrayed in Scripture between the loving, humble leadership of redeemed husbands and the intelligent, willing support of that leadership by redeemed wives”.

Whether my skeptic friends would accept what the Bible teaches or not is their responsibility. But I just wanted to make it clear that what they think the Bible teaches is not what they thought it was. What the Bible teaches about marriage is clearly not misogyny.

My take? The Bible teaches that husbands and wives are equal in respect and different in aspect.


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