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Sunday, November 10, 2013

Does the Bible Really say that? Excerpt from my book, 9

Must the husband always be the spiritual leader?

Some Christians believe that the husband must always be the spiritual leader, in a home where both husband and wife are believers. Here’s part of the Biblical evidence for that position:

Ephesians 5:22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, and Christ also is the head of the assembly, being himself the savior of the body. 24 But as the assembly is subject to Christ, so let the wives also be to their own husbands in everything.
25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the assembly, and gave himself up for it; 26 that he might sanctify it, having cleansed it by the washing of water with the word, 27 that he might present the assembly to himself gloriously, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without defect. 28 Even so husbands also ought to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself. 29 For no man ever hated his own flesh; but nourishes and cherishes it, even as the Lord also does the assembly

This passage seems to indicate that wives are, indeed, to be subject to their husbands. It also lays some serious responsibility on the husband – Christ-like, sacrificial love. It can’t be taken as justification for male dictatorship. However, it is unfortunately true that sometimes, when this passage is quoted, the previous verse is ignored:

Ephesians 5:21 subjecting yourselves to one another in the fear of Christ.

Different translations of the Bible present Ephesians 5:21-22 in different ways. The King James begins a new paragraph with verse 22, thus indicating that a new thought begins there. (There were no paragraph markings in the original Greek manuscripts. Translators have put in paragraphs where they seem to make sense.) But the New King James, and other widely used translations, do not. The New Living Translation ties the two verses together, as follows:

21 And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. 22 For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord.

This indicates that the verses are part of the same thought.

I am not expert enough to argue that one treatment, or another, is correct, but clearly there is at least some evidence that the submission is not all in one direction. But there is also evidence that the submission is mostly by the wife, to the godly, loving husband. (See Colossians 3:18-21, which is similar to the passage above, but without the “submit to one another.”)

It is possible that culture played a role in this matter. Having the wife as head would most likely have been a strange concept in Biblical times, among the peoples of Bible lands.

The above is an excerpt from my recently published e-book, Does the Bible Really Say That?, which may be obtained free of charge, or purchased from Amazon for $0.99, which is the lowest price Amazon lets an author set. Scripture quotations are from the World English Bible, public domain.

The previous post in this series is here. The next post, God willing, will consider the same topic.

Thanks for reading!

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