As I counsel nationwide by phone/Skype, I find that abuse (verbal, emotional, physical, sexual) exists in some marriages and families that attend churches. This should not be so! The reason it does exist is because of the distortion of the use of scriptures that address the subject of submission. The reason I gladly submit to God is because He proved His love to me by dying on the cross to purchase my salvation. God is love. God is caring, loving, kind, good, protective and a provider. A wife willingly submits to (or arranges herself under) a godly husband who is loving, caring, kind, good, faithful, meek and has self-control as she submits unto the loving Lord. (The Fruit of the Spirit – Galatians 5).
If you study Ephesians 5 and read several commentaries, you will find that the secret to submission is based in verse 21, ‘submitting one to another in the fear of the Lord.’ This is mutual submission. Ephesians 5 repeatedly references the husband to love his wife as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her. It is a loving, caring sacrificial love. Not a demanding dictator attitude – that is not love.
Ephesians 5:1-5 (NLT) Living in the Light
5 “Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. 2 Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.
3 Let there be no sexual immorality, impurity, or greed among you. Such sins have no place among God’s people. 4 Obscene stories, foolish talk, and coarse jokes—these are not for you. Instead, let there be thankfulness to God. 5 You can be sure that no immoral, impure, or greedy person will inherit the Kingdom of Christ and of God. For a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.”
I want to focus on ‘live a life filled with love.’ When a husband and a wife both love God and love each other, there is love, joy and peace in the marriage and family relationships. Be challenged to read I Corinthians 13 (love chapter) and put your name in the place of ‘love’. Example: using my name, “Carol is patient and kind. Carol is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Carol does not demand her own way. Carol is not irritable, and keeps no record of being wronged. Carol does not rejoice about in justice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Carol never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful and endures through every circumstance.” Substitute your name in place of love and read it out loud to yourself. Peace and love will reign in a marriage when both spouses submit to godly love.
This passage of scripture tells us to put away childish things. When we grow up we will have clarity in our thoughts and actions – “but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. Three things will last forever—faith, hope and love—the greatest of these is love.” Verse 1 of the 14th chapter says, “Let love be your highest goal!”
In reference to sins, let’s read: 1 Corinthians 5:9-13 (NLT) 9 “When I wrote to you before, I told you not to associate with people who indulge in sexual sin. 10 But I wasn’t talking about unbelievers who indulge in sexual sin, or are greedy, or cheat people, or worship idols. You would have to leave this world to avoid people like that. 11 I meant that you are not to associate with anyone who claims to be a believer yet indulges in sexual sin, or is greedy, or worships idols, or is abusive, or is a drunkard, or cheats people. Don’t even eat with such people.
12 It isn’t my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your responsibility to judge those inside the church who are sinning. 13 God will judge those on the outside; but as the Scriptures say, “You must remove the evil person from among you.”
Paul wrote straight forward to the church at Corinth to not associate with a person who claims to be a believer who indulges in sexual sin (adultery, fornication = porneia = pornography, outer sex) or greedy, worships idols, or abusive, a drunkard, or cheater. Paul said, “Don’t even eat with such people.”
When a church leader instructs the wife of an abusive husband to submit to him physically, this advice is against the Word of God. Men addicted to porn sometimes try to force their wives to perform porn acts – this is sinful sexual abuse! A wife is never to be treated as a sex object or sex slave. The Bible teaches about loving one another in various places. When a person chooses to be abusive verbally that creates emotional abuse, physical or sexual abuse, this is sin unto the Lord. God does not demand submission to an abuser. God is love and He demands that we love one another. If we genuinely love God and others, we will never be abusive in any form.
God is never abusive to us. God said, “Be ye holy for I am holy.” Holiness is a condition of the heart that produces holy, godly words and actions. My book, God’s Design for Marriage, explains this principle in detail with an in-depth study on Ephesians 5. How we treat other people is how we are treating God. There is never an excuse for any type of abuse.
Every person is responsible to God for every thought, feeling and action. God is love and a God of judgment. His Word is the foundation for His love and His judgment. Any type of abuse must never be tolerated in the family of God or anywhere else. God does not demand our submission to Him. God loves us with a sacrificial love and came as a servant leader. When a godly husband follows God’s example, submission in marriage/family is not an issue.
1 John 3:18 (AMP) 18 “Little children (believers, dear ones), let us not love [merely in theory] with word or with tongue [giving lip service to compassion], but in action and in truth [in practice and in sincerity, because practical acts of love are more than words].” What we are in the home shows our true character. If we are not loving, patient, caring, kind, meek=having your strength under God’s control, good, faithful and have no self-control, we will not have love, joy and peace! What are your children learning from your conduct?
God is returning soon for a Bride without spot or wrinkle! We all must be holy as He is holy if we desire to be changed to be like Him when He returns in the clouds for His Bride! “Come quickly, Lord Jesus!”
Carol Clemans is a Holy Ghost filled Bible Teacher (50 years), Certified Pastoral Counselor (24 years), married (46 years) to ordained minister, Harold E. Clemans. She teaches for churches/conferences. Carol provides a unique counseling ministry nationwide by phone/Skype (636) 448-0121. Read ‘About Ministry’ detailed bio on www.carolclemans.org + over 300 articles, teaching CD’s & DVD’s, book: God’s Design for Marriage soft cover or eBook: amazon.com. Ministry refs: Pastor Daniel Batchelor, Dupo, IL & UPCI Supt. David Tipton, Jr, Raymond, MS.