I disagree with the belief all together. I feel that the bible encourages egalitarian relationships.
Here are the two main verses that people harp on: Ephesians 5:22 and Col 3:18.
Eph 5:22 “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the lord.” KJV
Col 3:18 “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the lord.”
Now, based ONLY on these 2 verses, people have argued that marriage is supposed to be a dominate-subordinate relationship, because if you’re supposed to submit yourself to your husband as you do to the Lord, then that means your husband is the boss of you. That’s based ONLY on those two verses. The passages surrounding Eph 5:22/Col 3:18 indicate that husbands are supposed to sacrifice themselves for their wives as well. The bible emphasizes MUTUAL submission in all types of relationships, including marriage.
Eph 5: 21-22 “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of Christ. Wives, submit to yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the lord.”
Eph 5:25 “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.”
Eph 5:28-29 “So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife, loveth himself. For no man ever hated his own flesh; but NOURISHES AND CHERISHES IT, even as the lord does the church.”
Col 3:18-19 “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the lord. Husbands, love your wives and do NOT BE HARSH with them.” NIV
Col 3:20-21 “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.” KJV
Col 3:22-23 “Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Masters, provide your slaves with what is RIGHT AND FAIR, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven.” NIV
(The companion verses in Ephesians are 6:1, 6:4-5, 6:9)
These passages discuss how things should be between spouses, parents/children and masters/slaves. If you notice, both sides of each relationship have responsibilities and are expected to submit in some way. In addition, there are a few things to point out: #1 Men are asked to love and sacrifice for their wives as Christ does for the church. Consider what that means: Christ offers humanity unconditional love, acceptance and nurturing. Christ endured torture, pain and anguish and DIED for the church. Men are not only supposed to sacrifice themselves for their wives, but sacrifice MORE. Men are not only supposed to love their wives, but almost provide MORE love. I’m not saying wives should be lazy or nonchalant about how much they love or sacrifice. What I’m trying to show is that God is not in support of relationships where wives are being treated as less-than subordinates or servants. Like I said, people have used Eph 5:22/Col 3:18 to justify spouse subordination. There’s no way that slaves deserve what is “right and fair” (Col 3:22), and wives do not. #2 Notice that the word “obey” is used in relation to masters/slaves and parents/children, but NOT with husbands/wives. I don’t think that’s a coincidence.
1Pet 3:7 “Husbands, in the same way be CONSIDERATE as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will HINDER your prayers.”
There’s a couple of things to point out with this verse as well. #1 It’s so pertinent that you treat your wife fairly, that your prayers will be HINDRED if you do not do so. #2 The verse says that wives are HEIRS with their husbands. Heirs WITH you, not behind you or underneath you; NEXT to you. #3 It says be CONSIDERATE of your wives. Being “considerate”, and as the Colossians passages indicate, being “nourishing and cherishing” does NOT involve being a monarchial ruler, a slave-driver or a boss.
I’ve seen so many Christian martial relationships in which the wife’s feelings or thoughts are disregarded or unacknowledged. I’ve seen husbands do and say things to their wives that they would never tolerate from someone else. They are not treating their wives as they would “treat their own bodies.”
The bible has been used to oppress wives, and it’s time for it to stop. Wives, know that it’s ok to stand up for yourselves and not tolerate maltreatment. God wants you to have a spouse that is going to honor and respect you and treat you as an equal partner.