Does God show partiality?
For there is no partiality with God. Romans 2:11
So stated in many places in scripture, this ought to settle that question—NO, he does not.
That being true, it cannot then be an issue of partiality between genders when he commands:
Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. Ephesians 5:22, similarly in Colossians 3:18
In 1 Peter 3:1 we read:
In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands
"In the same way" as what? This may seem hard but Peter is referring to the preceding section where we read:
Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect 1 Peter 2:18
If he shows no partiality even between male and female then why this command to be submissive? Why would God ask a woman, who may be more capable, to submit to a man who may be less capable simply because of gender? Certainly not for reasons of partiality especially based on gender.
First, this is not really about gender, this is about the relationship between a husband (a man) and wife (a woman).
...there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28
It would seem reasonable that every organization should have structure, someone who carries the extra vote where, as in a husband/wife scenario, there might be a stalemate.
I suspect there is another reason for this submission command and it pertains to a His determination to transform us both into the image of Christ. This, I believe, is His highest priority for our lives—after receiving salvation. This transformation requires our cooperation to progress and, when we become aware of our shortcomings, we ought to be more willing to cooperate.
It would seem that in the nature of each gender we find specific character traits, weaknesses, flaws, or sins of which we must be made aware.
Where men are challenged in considering the needs of another over their own, God commands them to love their wife as they love themselves. Men have, in their nature, a tendency to put all their attention into their work and/or their hobbies. To the degree that our love for God we are motivated to obey him. At this point we come face to face with our weakness and our inability to do so, driving us to confess this failure and asking for His help.
We see another tendency in the creation record which might suggest that Adam was content to listen to Eve's voice rather than to lead. This may be re-enforced in that boys are raised by mothers—the first significant woman, and leader, in their lives. The habit is difficult to kick and yet God has decreed that the husband is the head of the household. This goes against man’s social development.
Conversely, Eve’s weakness might also be evident in that garden of Eden event and become evident in those things God requests of them.
Why was Eve approached by the “serpent”? Was there a recognized weakness to be exploited? There is no record of God having instructed Eve regarding the forbidden fruit, she would have received that from Adam. Eve was created second, as a by-product of Adam. Even today, women are generally shorter and weaker than men. Did Eve have an inferiority issue? Was if fed by the promise of being like God if she just tasted the fruit? Do women feel a need to assert themselves over men? Apparently God thought so:
To the woman he said, “I will greatly increase your labor pains; with pain you will give birth to children. You will want to control your husband, but he will dominate you.” Genesis 3:16 (NET)
In this verse, two issues are made evident. First, God confers 'pain' in child birth as punishment for disobeying/eating the forbidden fruit, and second, God reveals that, as a result of eating, a 'control' issue has become a part of Eve's nature.
Women appear to have a tendency to lead, direct, or at the extreme, control. Does God ask them to submit to their husbands because they need to face this flaw, confess it's existence, and ask His help in removing it?
Remember, in Galatians 3:28 above, it's God's intention that male/female be equal, however, this newly acquired flaw works against that intention.
Will facing the challenge of submitting to her husband bring the wife to an awareness that leads her to surrender that desire to control to Holy Spirit in exchange the Christ-like nature that we read about:
You should have the same attitude toward one another that Christ Jesus had, who though he existed in the form of God did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped, but emptied himself by taking on the form of a slave, by looking like other men, and by sharing in human nature. He humbled himself, by becoming obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross! Philippians 2:5-8 (NET)
I wonder if some marriages are on the rocks because the wife' feels unfulfilled in not being able to get her husband to conform to her expectations...
Where a husband needs to constantly choose to love his wife, not as a servant, but as he loves himself and to treat her with great care, so too the wife needs to live in submission to their husband, lifting him up and revering (fearing) him, constantly surrendering to God her innate tendency to control. Each spouse carrying out God’s command for their lives motivated by their love for Him, regardless of their spouse’s success in meeting God demands in their lives.
When we, in our love of Him, try to obey His commandments such as to love our wife or submit to our husband, then we come face to face with our inabilities—the sin within—be it self-love or control or whatever. Only when we become aware of these can we confess them. Only then can God work through those issues for our holiness.
God’s commandments show no partiality, they actually work to produce equality as we become more Christ-like.
A husband who loves his wife as he loves himself will, in love, lift her up as his equal, as one who is special to him. A wife who follows the headship of her husband will find herself lifted to a position of sharing equally with him as he loves her as he loves himself.
Giving ourselves to be obedient to God in this way is akin to other forms of giving. It is to be carried out quietly, before the Lord to the same degree as other forms of giving—neither our spouse nor our left hand ought to know or be reminded when we are doing these things.
Giving ourselves to obey His commands gives Father room to reward us with peace, joy, an abundant life, and blessings beyond words.
©2013, Dr Steven Bydeley, a man.
All publishing rights reserved. Permission is herewith granted to reprint this article for personal use and to link or refer to it; however, no commercial re-publishing of the material in this article is permitted without prior written consent.
Steven is the author of Fathered by God and with his wife Dianne, co-author of Dream Dreams and Dreams the Heal and Counsel. He has been a guest on the Miracle Channel, Trinity Television, and Crossroads Communication, and have taught internationally on various topics.
Without Prejudice. © 2023, Steven., house of bij de Leij., of man.