By Bryan Fischer
Follow me on Twitter: @BryanJFischer, on Facebook at “Focal Point”
The out-of-the-mainstream media - remember, they represent the far left fringe of the political spectrum - has been all atwitter over Michele Bachmann’s statement several years ago that Scripture indicates that wives are to submit to their husbands.
This statement was turned into an attack question in the Iowa debate last Thursday night and into “gotcha” questions when Ms. Bachmann appeared on Sunday morning talk shows.
This provides a suitable occasion to review the Bible’s teaching on the role of husbands and wives in marriage. What am I about to say likely will surprise people on both the left and the right.
As an aside, you cannot find a more stark contrast between Islam and Christianity than on their respective teaching about marriage. While Islam instructs husbands that they literally may beat their wives into submission (Sura 4:34), Christianity instructs husbands to imitate the example of Christ, who loved his bride (the church) so much that he died for her.
This is just another example of the profound, unbridgeable chasm between the value system of Islam and the value system of the West. They are and always will be irredeemably incompatible. Every advance of Islam in America will come at the expense of liberty and of rights for women.
Now there is probably no other concept that is more misunderstood, both inside and outside the church, than the Bible’s teaching on submission and headship.
The first myth is that in a Christian marriage only the wife submits to her husband. But the first statement the apostle makes is this: Both husbands and wives are to “submit...to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:21).
So a Christian marriage is to be one of mutual submission, not the domination of the husband over the wife. There is a profound sense in which a Christian husband submits to his wife as much as she submits herself to him. Submission takes a different form for the man than it does for the woman, but it is submission nonetheless.
The Scriptures clearly instruct wives, “Submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22). The word “submit” is comprised of two Greek words, one of which means “under” and the other of which means “to set” or “to arrange.” So a wife is instructed to arrange herself, put herself, set herself, under the leadership of her husband in the home.
What’s critical to understand here is that there is no verse in the Bible that instructs a husband to see to it that his wife submits to him. This is a matter between a wife and her Lord, not between a wife and her husband. It is not her husband who is asking her to submit, it is God. It is a matter of reverence for Christ rather than for her husband that prompts her to voluntarily arrange herself under her husband’s leadership.
is a gift that she gives to her husband, not a right that he demands. She demonstrates her reverence for Christ by not challenging her husband’s leadership in their home but by supporting him and working with him to help him succeed in shaping and directing the life of their marriage and family.
How does a husband submit himself to his wife? Husbands are told to “love your wives, as Christ love the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25). That is, he submits himself to his wife, not by giving up his headship, but by refusing to use it simply as an excuse to get his own way, or as a cloak for his own selfishness. He submits himself to his wife by making a determination to use the authority God has given him in his home to give his wife and children what they need rather than to get what he wants. He exercises his headship by laying down his life, laying down his self-centered interests, in order to do what is best for his wife.
Marriage is not and can never be a democracy. Somebody has to have the tie-breaking vote when the poll reveals a one-to-one tie. In a Christian marriage, the husband is the tie breaker. The way it is designed to work is that a wife willingly defers to her husband on those rare occasions when they cannot agree on a course of action, and the husband makes the decision that his conscience tells him is best, not for himself, but for her, their marriage, and their home.
If a husband believes before God that the best decision in a given situation is different than the one his wife prefers, he does not order her to follow him, he asks her to. He asks her to defer to him and follow his lead. The decision is then up to her. He’s not forcing her to do anything. He leaves the issue squarely where it belongs, between her and her God.
Now back to the Bachmanns. Ms. Bachmann’s husband Marcus urged her to run for the White House, and enthusiastically and without reserve supports her in her campaign. Bottom line: Horror of horrors to our leftwing friends, Michele Bachmann is in fact submitting to her husband by running for president.
(Unless otherwise noted, the opinions expressed are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Family Association or American Family Radio.)