For wives, what respectful submission means
1. Submission to my husband begins with prayer and submission to the Lord, with an ongoing trust in his plan for my life and his plan for marriage. This trusting relationship with God is the foundation of submission.
2. Submission to a godly husband does not diminish a wife’s significance, importance or personhood. Since it is God’s order, it can only be strengthening and liberating to her. It will bring true joy to her and glory to God.
3. Submissiveness recognizes, values and affirms the tremendous responsibility that God has given the husband in the leadership of the family. Do you fear for him and pray for him, knowing he is one who must give an account before the Lord for the way he led the family?
4. Submissiveness involves prayerful, respectful communication, with much compassion and forgiveness included, since both of us have fallen short of the glory of God.
5. Submission to headship is never absolute, except to the Lord. Wives should never follow their husbands into sin.
6. Women were made to be complementary to their husbands. God has given us unique abilities to help strengthen them. Marriage is not two people in unison but two people in harmony, which makes a song fuller and more beautiful. Oneness is the goal of marriage – united to serve each other, the Lord, the family, and the church.
For husbands, what loving leadership (“headship”) means
1. I must lead. God has called me to be a leader. I must provide for and protect my family. I should be the first in my family to do the will of God. I should initiate prayer, teach the Word, and nourish my family in the Lord. I am to lead sacrificially, like my Lord.
2. I myself must be in submission to authority. I must lead by my own example of submission to God, government, church, employers, and others deserving my respect. “I too am a man under authority.” (Mt. 8:9) I am to lead with servant leadership, like my Lord.
3. I must lead in areas I’d rather avoid. I may delegate some tasks, but I can’t abdicate responsibility. I must not avoid making decisions in areas uncomfortable for me, such as child-rearing, finances, or other family decisions.
4. I cannot be independent. Headship involves an inter-relationship with the body. I am united to my family. I must care for my wife and family as I do for myself.
5. I must know my wife. If I am to lead well, I must truly understand her. I must learn how to listen and how to communicate with her. I must deal in gentleness (1 Pet. 3:7). I must encourage her strengths and help her weaknesses, as she does mine.
6. I must honor my wife. In God’s kingdom she is my equal partner (Gal. 3:28) and in many areas she is my superior. I must honor her as a fellow-heir of eternal life (1 Pet 3:7). She will be held up with honor in our home, and I should always speak respectfully of her and to her.