Bow to Your Partner

Ephesians 5:21-33 has sadly become a hot topic in the modern church, but it's been more heat than light, with many voices making it more complicated than it has to be.

As we seek to understand the meaning of "submit" in this passage, it really does help for us to go back to the original Greek. In Paul's day, there were two words that meant submit with obedience; Paul used one when he talked about the dutiful relationship children have with their parents and in another passage, he used a similar word when talking to Timothy about our response to civil authorities. Here the word is more along the lines of showing devotion. 

Patriarchy has been the norm of human society practically from day one; why would Paul remind wives to do what they were already doing? Everything else in the passage speaks to going against the norm of human nature or of society.

Jesus is the ultimate example of the voluntary yielding that Paul is getting at. He was God in flesh, but chose to submit to the Father's will over and over again. 

Husbands are to love their wives with an unconditional, self-less love that goes far beyond a lustful, prideful, or selfish love. When Paul uses the metaphor of the head, he is referring to an actual body and how the body and head must work together. It's all a mystery, but through bowing to our partner, through mutual yielding, we, with the Spirit's help, can reach a love that is not of this world.