This verse is NOT saying that husbands can be as demanding and nasty as they want and a wife must submit. The verse actually puts a limit on what a wife is to submit to, by saying she is to submit AS THE CHURCH IS SUBJECT TO CHRIST.
How is the church subject to Christ? With her free will. She (we) love(s) Him because He first loved us. I John 4:19. Her love and obedience is dependent upon his love, care, and sacrifice. Without His loving self-sacrifice, her obedience would be pure stupidity and a mockery of the Good News of the Gospel, because it would no longer be good news. In the same way, without a husband’s love and self-sacrifice, a wife’s submission becomes symbolic of the church submitting to the demands of Satan.
How can the church put so much emphasis on wifely submission and so little emphasis on husband self-sacrifice when it provokes increasing sin from husbands? Hebrews 10:24 “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works.” Such sinning is very serious in the eyes of God. Hebrews 10:26:
For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of Grace?
Husbands who mistreat and abuse their wives in non-physical ways are sinning willfully. They are refusing to obey huge portions of scripture, which include the commands of Jesus, Himself. Many of them twist and misrepresent scripture to coerce their wives. The above passage says they have no more sacrifice for sins because they are despising the sacrifice Christ already did. When there is no more sacrifice for sins, they can expect and look for judgment and fiery indignation to devour them. They use passages like this on their wives, when they themselves are the ones who are disobedient perpetrators of violence upon a person they vowed to love and cherish.
Church leaders apparently do not understand the extreme violation that husbands inflict upon their wives with verbal, emotional, spiritual, and psychological abuse. The thinking is that if the woman has not been physically harmed, it is not that serious and she should forgive him, give him a clean slate, and stay with her abuser.
The problem is that men do not have the same areas of wounded dignity that women have. For a man to experience a similar violation, his wife would have to ruin his bright red convertible that is his pride and joy. She would smash in all the windows, bash in the doors, hood, top and trunk, slash the tires, and gash up the paint job. The pastor would then tell the husband to forgive her, fix the car or get a new one and try to get along. So the husband would start fixing his car, but his wife would destroy all the repairs and add another dent or two. Again, the husband would go to the pastor for help, and the pastor would tell him to turn the other cheek and forgive her. Every repair the husband attempted would be totally wrecked by his wife, until she even had the engine sawed up and and the gas tank cut in two. Once the car was totally destroyed, the pastor would still advise the husband that he is married for better or for worse, and that damage to his car was no biblical reason for divorce. The husband would go home like a whipped dog, feeling totally violated by his wife, revictimized and betrayed by his pastor, like he had to put all his things in storage because he could not trust his wife to not destroy them, and like he was a prisoner with no way to defend himself from harm in his own home.
In the same way, wives are decimated when their husbands trash them with tongue-lashings, scripture abuse and etc. The submission pastors and entire churches impose upon wives—especially when so many of them are abused—is in essence requiring them to submit to their husband’s destruction of the wife’s identity, dignity and inner person. Just as the car gets “totaled,” so does the wife.
But the Church of the Itching Ears prefers to count it a grievous sin if a wife chooses not to submit when her husband demeans and abuses her, and by their stance end up encouraging husbands to sin even more. The Church of the Itching Ears is more concerned about the letter of their law of power and control, than about actual truth, mercy, uprightness, or justice.
II Timothy 4:3-4 NIV “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.”
Waneta Dawn is the author of "Behind the Hedge, A novel,"a story about a woman who grapples with her husband's demands that she submit--no matter what. Please visit www.wanetadawn.com