My immediate reaction to this statement is to scowl and prepare my argument. “I am not under anyone but God. I am not a servant. I am not less than my husband because I am a woman.” But the problem with my thinking this way is that this is, in fact, biblical.
I was talking to the ‘rents and their friends the other night about this exact thing, being the only one arguing against being “under” my husband. I was trying to speak up for women and be the strong feminist I am. And let’s face it, what I was saying has truth to it and is important. But where we were disagreeing was not the theology behind the saying, but the words themselves.
My dad wrote a post about this exact thing which you can find here and I think it is extremely helpful.
I am not less than my husband.
I am not a slave.
I am not ‘below’ him and do not have to live my life around his wishes.
What we rarely hear about this statement is what it actually means.
If I were to marry a man and be his wife, I would be called to ‘submit’ to him, another word that comes with bad connotations. Paul uses this word Ephesians 5, saying, “wives submit to your husbands” but the word he is actually using translates as a military term. In the military there are different ranks, different people who do different jobs and when they all submit to each other, or in other words cooperate then they can go forward to win the battle. This I did not know until talking to my incredibly brilliant father. The first things that come to my head after hearing this word is ‘less than, follow, obey, just puke right now to get out of this conversation’ but the true reaction should be ‘hell yeah I’ll cooperate with my significant other while they do the same so we can win this mother-fudging war!’ “Submission does not mean subjugation or the diminishing of your personhood. In the ancient world, “submission” was a military term used to describe soldiers positioned in rank to mutually protect one another and increase the likelihood of victory.” – Jack Hayford
So while Paul signals out one spouse to submit, he calls the husband to love their spouses like Jesus loves the church.
But being ‘head of the household’ he would have to then turn around and serve me. He would want to bring me coffee in the morning and help build me up. It’s a circle. He’s my umbrella, causing me to be under him, but he is also my partner, serving me as we work together to win the war.
It’s extremely important to know the true meaning behind verses we hear every day. All too often is a verse used against someone else, used to inflict pain or make a point that just doesn’t line up with scripture. So where I was immediately offended by a common saying, there was actually truth in, it was just hidden behind our culture’s screwed up interpretations.