1 Corinthians 11:11-12 In the Lord, however, woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman.  For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God.

The Apostle Paul has just been discussing what has become a very vexed question among God’s people today – not only in terms of ‘male headship’ in the Church, but in terms of whether his term ‘head covering’ is referring to hats or length of hair!  And it is significant that, in the midst of all this, he reminds the Church at Corinth what he had pointed out to their brothers and sisters in the Galatian churches, namely, that “there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28).

Although men and women have different functions in the nuclear family and, by extension, in the family of believers, it is clear from God’s Word that there are three areas in which we are exactly IDENTICAL: in our created dignity (Genesis 1:27), in our native depravity (Romans 3:23), and in our redemptive privilege (Galatians 3:28) – “we are ALL ONE IN CHRIST JESUS”.

In today’s Corinthian passage he points out how interdependent we are on each other, and it is not without significance and import that he introduces his definitive statement about our different functions in the family and the Church (Ephesians 5:22-33) with the over-arching statement, “SUBMIT TO ONE ANOTHER out of reverence for Christ (Ephesians 5:21).

His direction to wives to “submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Saviour.  Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.” must therefore be understood and applied within that blanket statement about MUTUAL submission; and, consistent with this, there is NO command to husbands to ‘rule over’ their wives, but only to “LOVE your wives, just as Christ LOVED the church and gave himself up for her”, using the Greek word, ‘agapate’ which refers to the self-denying, self-sacrificing, other-person-centred love that Jesus epitomised and gave currency to.

It is so sad that too many men have distorted Paul’s meaning by reading (and therefore misapplying) the verses that were only intended to be read by their wives!    My wife’s willing ‘submission’ is a far cry from my requiring it of her!  Let us all remember, in all our relationships, that ‘everything comes from God’ and is therefore best lived out in a way that is consistent with the whole of HIS revealed truth.