Summary: A look at the command for wives to submit to their husbands
His name was Ray Bartlett and he was famous. He wasn’t always famous. He wasn’t always famous, but he became not only famous but reviled and hated as well, right across Canada. Not bad for a small town lawyer. It was when Bartlett became a judge that he put the town of Truro on the map. All across the country people were talking about him, and their opinions ranged from having him tarred and feathered and then shot, right through to people who really disliked him.
Judge Bartlett gave Truro a name as being a narrow, provincial backward little town. But it gets worse then that, Ray Bartlett professed to being a born again Christian, came from a very conservative evangelical church. And the reason he was hated by all the women and a good majority of men was his interpretation of the scriptures. It was well within the mark to say that Judge Bartlett had given evangelical Christianity in Canada a great big black eye.
How could a family court judge in a little town in Nova Scotia cause a national uproar? Easy! A woman who appeared in Bartlett’s court appealed her case to the Nova Scotia Attorney General. it would appear that the woman was seeking a legal separation from her husband because he was beating her. Instead of issuing a bench warrant keeping her husband away or granting the separation that she had asked the Judge pulled his battered old King James Bible from under the bench and read Ephesians chapter five verse twenty two Wives submit yourselves unto your own husband, and then he sent her home.
Needless to say the appeal court wasn’t all that impressed with the Judge’s interpretation of the law or the scripture. But the worst was yet to come because upon further investigation it was discovered that Bartlett was regularly sending women back into potentially explosive situations with the admonition to submit to their husbands. Let us say that the courts were not amused.
But how come? We’ve all heard the words countless times, "Wives submit to your husbands" maybe we’ve even said it countless times "Wives submit to your husbands" This morning we are going to look at just exactly what those words mean, and how they can affect our marriages.
It all goes back to Genesis 2:18 The Lord God said, "It isn’t good for the man to live alone. I need to make a suitable partner for him." Well I’m sure that you all know the rest of the story, it’s found in Genesis 2:23 and the man exclaimed, "Here is someone like me! She is part of my body, my own flesh and bones. She came from me, a man. So I will name her Woman!"
And everything went well until Satan came into the garden and tempted Eve to eat from the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and the next thing you know she had eaten them out of house and home. She tempted Adam and he ate and through their twin actions sin entered into the world.
Now to say that God was a little put out would be an understatement, he was a lot put out and so he pronounced curses on all three participants when they were caught. Eve’s curse is found in Genesis 3:16 Then the Lord said to the woman, "You will suffer terribly when you give birth. But you will still desire your husband, and he will rule over you."
Now it would appear that up to that point that man and woman were equal partners in the eyes of God. Remember what we had read earlier in Genesis 2:18 The Lord God said, "It isn’t good for the man to live alone. I need to make a suitable partner for him." The way that God created that partner is spelled out in Genesis 2:21-22 So the Lord God made him fall into a deep sleep, and he took out one of the man’s ribs. Then after closing the man’s side, 22 the Lord made a woman out of the rib. The Lord God brought her to the man,
The Beacon Bible Commentaries state "The Rib can mean both the bone and flesh attached to it. It is the part of the body nearest the heart, which to the Hebrew was the seat of affection. Woman was not made of an inferior substance."
God gave Adam a partner not a slave, not a servant but someone who would share the responsibility. Had Adam been meant to rule over his wife from creation then it would not have been necessary to have stated in Eve’s punishment and he will rule over you. It was from this punishment that the Hebrew family took their order, 1) husband 2) wife 3) male child 4) female child and 5) slave.