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I was watching Preachers of Detroit, a show about six preachers in Detroit and their families. On episode 3, the wives and daughters of the pastors, Bishop Corletta Vaughn, and famous gospel singer/evangelist Dorinda Clark Cole were eating lunch at a restaurant. A ladies pow-wow of sorts.

The subject came up of women in ministry. Bishop Vaughn and Dorinda were exchanging about how men, in the church, are cruel to their husbands for being married to such renowned women in ministry. Dorinda explained how her husband, being trusting and secure in who he is, makes their marriage work. She went on to say she respects him, honors him, and “submits to him…”.

“What does that mean?” Bishop Vaughn interrupts.

Excuse me? Bishop? Did you just ask what does submission mean?

After a lively discussion amongst the women, she continues, “But you do know we are to submit one to another. So how does that look? I’m nervous about us always submitting to him and they not submitting to us.”

Over the years, I’ve heard Christian men and women echo “We are supposed to submit one to another” as the great biblical equalizer to the wife’s biblical instruction to submit to her husband. Internally, I’ve always said to myself, ’Yea…but there’s much more to it than that’.

So…after hearing Bishop Vaughn’s question, I determined I needed to clarify this controversy.

Apostle Paul’s Thesis

The famous quote she and others are referencing is Ephesians 5:21. “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.” But to get proper context, you have to start at verse 15 and extend to the 9th verse of chapter six (reference these verses on your own).

The Apostle Paul is giving to the church at Ephesus instruction about how we should walk (i.e., govern ourselves) (v. 3-4), since we no longer walk in darkness but now walk in the light (v. 7-8).

His thesis is: Christians are to walk wisely (v. 15) and be filled in the Spirit (v. 18). This involves meditating and singing spiritual songs in your heart (v.19) giving thanks (v. 20), and submitting to one another (v. 21).

Read  the rest here.