Marriage Is A Picture of Gospel Submission

So far we have discussed that God’s original and ongoing purpose for marriage is to picture Christ and His Church. In the last post it was pointed out that marriage is a picture of Jesus’ union to the Church.

In this post we will discuss one of the more difficult subjects in marriage. The topic of submission creates a wide range of emotional responses. This is due to a misunderstanding of submission propagated by the culture. Unfortunately, submission is seen as a bad thing, because we have wrong opinions about it. Mankind has a sin nature. Due to sin, wives rebel against their husbands leadership, and husbands respond by sinfully dominating their wives (Genesis 3:16). We have a broken view of submission.

Submission is not a “caveman” like approach to marriage where a husband carries a club and drags his wife by the hair. Biblical submission does not abuse, devalue, or despise a wife. Biblical submission is not a matter of superiority and inferiority. The husband is not more valuable than his wife or of greater importance.

Biblical submission in marriage is a wife’s willful obedience to God’s command to come under the leadership of her husband. Again, this has nothing to do with inferiority and superiority. It has everything to do with illustrating the Church’s relationship to Jesus Christ.

The command to wives is given in Ephesians 5:22 and 24: submit to your husbands in everything as to the Lord.

The reason is given in verse 23. The husband has been created as the spiritual head of the home to represent Christ, the Head and Savior of the Church.

I repeat, this is NOT a matter of inferiority and superiority, ladies. You are equal to men in creation, being made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). If you have trusted in Jesus, you are equal to men in rescue from sin and position in the Good News of Jesus (Galatians 3:27).

An accurate picture of the Gospel is the issue. You have been made new in Christ to be a picture of the Church’s relationship to Jesus Christ. Your submission in everything to your imperfect husband looks beyond your imperfect husband to Jesus Christ, the perfect Husband. It looks to the relationship that Jesus’ bride has to Him. The Church submits to her perfect Head and perfect Savior – Jesus Christ. Your submission points the world and the Church to that relationship!

This is one of your Gospel purposes. You have been purchased from sin for God for this purpose. You have been redeemed as a wife to submit to your husband as a picture of Gospel submission. This pictures the submissive trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior at the first when we are saved. This also pictures the ongoing submission to Christ in the life of the Church.

Wives, you are submitting to Jesus by submitting to your husband in everything. Such submission pictures the church and displays your personal faith and obedience to Jesus.

No doubt you are thinking about the thousands of difficulties attached to this. You may be thinking, “If only you knew my husband! It’s impossible to submit to him!”

Let’s consider the struggles and challenges to obeying this command. The culture of sinners around us pushes back against submission, and it is because they are actually pushing back against the Good News of Jesus. Keep that in mind. Whatever static you hear from the world against biblical submission is actually the culture pushing back against Jesus Christ. The curse is the main issue here. We are all sinners by nature, including you and your husband, ladies. Genesis 3 says that wives will have a natural bent against their husband’s leadership. His sinful response to this will be to wrongly dominate his unsubmissive wife. Also consider who you are called to submit to. Your husband is a sinner. He is imperfect and at best a very poor representation of Jesus.

What is the solution to all of these sin problems? The Gospel is the solution to every sin issue. Christ has died to put an end to the curse’s effects on you and your husband. Christ has redeemed you to be His own possession. Christ has redeemed you to represent His glorious Gospel to the world and the Church

So, when you are not submissive to your husband, it is ultimately a sin against the God who redeemed you. It is a failure to rightly represent the church’s relation to Jesus and the Gospel itself. Realize the seriousness of this sin. It is a sin against God who saved you and designed marriage with this purpose.

Turn from this! Hope in the Christ who died for your sin. Confess to your husband When your husband fails on a daily basis, hope in the Gospel, and forgive as God has forgiven you (Ephesians 4:32).

Also, see beyond your husband. He is not the point. His failure is no excuse for your failure to obey God. See beyond Him to the perfect Husband. The perfect Husband is Jesus Christ, the Bridegroom of the Church.

In all this obey the Lord, trusting that His purpose in your submission is right, even when your emotions, nature, and culture say He is wrong. Your emotions, nature and culture are wrong when they rebel against God. He is never wrong.

I pray you can look to Jesus in Gospel hope in this. I know submission to an imperfect husband is no small or easy mission. Remember, Gospel witness is on the line.

In the next post, we will look at the husband’s Gospel purpose to represent Jesus by loving his wife as Christ loved the Church.

In Christ’s service,

Bill Whittington

(Please Note: When the word “marriage” is used in any post on this blog, it refers to the lifelong covenant union of one man and one woman before God. The gender references of male and female refer to the biological gender of individuals as determined by God at conception. This is the only way that the Bible refers to marriage and gender. Anything outside of these definitions rebels against the God of the Bible, therefore it is sin.)

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