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Women should submit to their husbands? What the Bible REALLY means

Ephesians 5:21-33 tells us the truth about submission between men and women.

Many people struggle with difficult topics in the Bible. One of these virtually taboo topics is Ephesians 5:22, which reads, “Wives should be subject to their husbands as to the Lord.”

This passage is often misunderstood, particularly when paired with the following verse: “since, as Christ is the head of the Church and saves the whole body, so is a husband the head of his wife; and as the Church is subject to Christ, so should wives be to their husbands, in everything.”

When the topic of anyone being submissive comes up, people often cringe. Of course people, men and women alike, rely on Ephesians 5:22 to explain away abusive or unhealthy relationships, but what does the Bible really mean?

When read in its entirety, Ephesians chapter 5 from verse 22 to 33 reads:

“Wives should be subject to their husbands as to the Lord,
since, as Christ is head of the Church and saves the whole body, so is a husband the head of his wife;
and as the Church is subject to Christ, so should wives be to their husbands, in everything.

“Husbands should love their wives, just as Christ loved the Church and sacrificed himself for her
to make her holy by washing her in cleansing water with a form of words,
so that when he took the Church to himself she would be glorious, with no speck or wrinkle or anything like that, but holy and faultless.

“In the same way, husbands must love their wives as they love their own bodies; for a man to love his wife is for him to love himself.

“A man never hates his own body, but he feeds it and looks after it; and that is the way Christ treats the Church,
because we are parts of his Body.

Husband and wife. Husband and wife.

“This is why a man leaves his father and mother and becomes attached to his wife, and the two become one flesh.

“This mystery has great significance, but I am applying it to Christ and the Church.
To sum up: you also, each one of you, must love his wife as he loves himself; and let every wife respect her husband.”

When read like this, the message suddenly becomes clear.

Women are no lower than men. If women are to submit to their husbands, who treat their wives with the same respect and reverence he does the church, then women are man’s equal.

We are all part of the Church, and Christ lives in us all. Men must love women as much as they love themselves and every wife must respect her husband as much as they respect the Church.

Neither sex is superior or inferior. When we respect and love each other, we develop an identity that cannot separate husband from wife.

The Lord did not create us to be dominated by one another, he created us to live our lives according to Christ’s example. Remember this and stand tall in your relationships.





  1. Patrick Gannon Reply

    Why then is it a sin for a woman to deny her husband sex? Google “Catholic marriage debt.” I can’t find the article, but I’m pretty sure another author pointed this out on this very forum in another article. A woman MUST submit to her husband’s demands for sex in the Catholic Church, or she commits a grievous sin. There are a few short term exceptions, but giving her husband sex is her duty in the RCC, as best I can tell.
    The convoluted babble in the article here is intended to hide the fact that the RCC is utterly sexist, following in the footsteps of Yahweh for whom women were essentially chattel. The RCC basically condones rape – forcing married women to have sex against their wishes. Even Mary wasn’t asked for consent…

  2. Katrina Fowler Reply

    A man should also not deny his wife. For her body is as his body, and his body is as her body. Both husband and wife belonging to one another, and not denying the other. Remember to read the bible, and not just trust what someone tells you. Also don’t forget to pray for understanding.

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