Mutual Submission In A Christian Marriage" Watch This Episode on YouTube


Related Messages

For a deeper dive into understanding the kind of submission spoken of here, consider listening to the following sermons as Dr. Caldwell exposits these verses of Ephesians 5:

Characteristics Of The Spirit-Filled Life - Parts 1 & 2

Submitting To One Another

God's Plan For Marriage

The Christian Wife - Parts 1 & 2

The Christian Husband _ Parts 1-4

Parents And Children

Christian Parents - Parts 1 & 2

Slaves And Masters - Parts 1 & 2


Mutual Submission In A Christian Marriage Watch this episode on Vimeo

Mutual Submission In A Christian Marriage

What is mutual submission, and does it apply to marriage?  Does Ephesians 5 teach mutual submission in marriage?  What does mutual submission look like in practice?

This week on the Straight Truth Podcast, host Dr. Josh Philpot talks with Dr. Caldwell about submission.  The discussion pertains to Ephesians 5 and centers primarily on verse 21.  But of course, it can’t stay there because Paul goes on to give further instructions for how this is to be lived out in other relationships.  One of those relationships is marriage.  Dr. Philpot says that it seems to him, in Ephesians 5:21, there is a kind of mutual submission taking place, which then moves into the marriage relationship in the following verses.  So then, he asks, does Ephesians 5 teach a kind of mutual submission in the husband-wife relationship as verse 21 says before these verses?

Dr. Caldwell says that rightly understood he wouldn’t have a problem stating it this way.  He reminds us that verse 21 comes at the end of a section where Paul has been teaching about church life and how believers are to live toward one another.  Verse 21 arrives at the point of mutual submission, reminding us that it's really about function.  It isn’t about essential value, and it’s not about ability; it’s about design.  Our Creator has a design for each of us in congregation life so that we are all well. We are all gifted differently, none of us possesses the exact same attributes of skill and other things of that nature.  But we all have to arrive at an understanding of what God has made us to do, and then we function together as a team.  So then, flowing out of verse 21 is this application principle that Paul applies to three specific relationships - marriage, parents and children, and masters and slaves.

What would mutual submission look like in a marriage?  It would mean for each person to embrace the role God has made for them to be and to live it out.  Scripture defines these roles for us, and each one of us must embrace that role; a husband as a husband, a wife as a wife, and so forth.  It’s the outworking of order, and that’s really what it’s about.  In that sense, says Dr. Caldwell, there is mutual submission.  A husband submits to his wife by embracing his role as a husband, as God defines it in Scripture.  A wife submits to her husband by embracing her role as a woman and wife as defined by Scripture.  These are not indistinguishable roles; God has designed and defined them for us.  A man cannot at one point embrace and assume the role of headship and leadership, and at other times his wife takes on that role; he would then have to be submissive to her.  The passage does not teach this.

Submission involves submitting ourselves to understanding and living out the roles that God has designed for us.  As Dr. Caldwell already stated, it is about design, function, and our well-being.  So even in marriage, there may be instances where a husband needs to submit to his wife.  Dr. Caldwell explains what this would look like.  A wife, at times, may need to call out errors and point to the need for change in her husband.  By doing this in the way Scripture would call her to, she does not blur or distort the roles God has assigned.  But a man who does not embrace and fulfill the role God has given him does blur and distort them, thus making his wife's life more difficult.  So as verse 21 applies to the whole congregation, verse 22 works out that application in the realm of the husband-wife relationship.

Then as we read the verses that follow verse 22, specifically verse 25, there's the idea of giving oneself up as Christ gave Himself up for the Church.  Does this idea of giving one's self up have any relation to this idea of mutual submission?  Dr. Caldwell explains that it calls for sacrifice and is part of the responsibility given to the husband.  He says it includes desires, but it isn’t limited there.  Dr. Caldwell speaks about the husband's responsibility to work, his responsibility to provide for and to protect his wife and family.  He says the time in which we live is confusing. Some couples think about the financial needs of their homes to involve mutual responsibility as if the wife is to get a job, go to work and provide the same way as the husband.  However, he believes if we look at the whole of Scripture, these are responsibilities given to the husband.  Sacrifice on the part of the husband includes more than just his interests.  It can be other things as well. It involves loving her by giving himself up for her, considering her interests more important than his own, which is just a biblical Christian principle found in Philippians 2 for each other in the life of the church.

About The Straight Truth Podcast

The Straight Truth Podcast: Christian Opinions in an Increasingly Secular World. Join Dr. Richard Caldwell, Dr. Josh Philpot, and their guests as they discuss news events, current affairs, and cultural issues from a Biblical point of view. Find the truth at

The Straight Truth Podcast is a weekly opinion show hosted by Dr. Richard Caldwell and Dr. Josh Philpot. Straight Truth is available as an audio podcast on iTunes or as a video podcast through YouTube or Vimeo.  The duration of the podcast is approximately 10 minutes. We release new episodes every Thursday.

The topics discussed in the Straight Truth Podcast are current events, matters that challenge traditional Christian values, and questions submitted by audience members. Dr. Caldwell, Dr. Philpot, and their guests seek to answer these questions with Biblical truths and from a Christian conservative point of view. The Holy Bible is the inspired, infallible, and inerrant Word of God; it alone is and will be the basis and authority of
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Season 22 Credits

Produced by
Juan Carlos Claveria

Executive Producers
Joshua Philpot
David Anders

Hosted by
Joshua Philpot

Social Media Descriptions by
Michele Watson

Graphic Design
David Navejas



Special Thanks to
El Centro Network

Music by

Motion Graphics
The Media Stock

Set Decorator
Molly Atchison

Walking In Grace Produces The Straight Truth Podcast - The Best Christian Podcast On The Web

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