One of the most commonly misinterpreted verses in the bible is Ephesians 5:22, “Wives, submit to your own husbands.” Historically, this verse has been skewed in favor of misogynistic ideals to support husbands in the seat of absolute control over their wives. This ideal has been abused heavily during several different periods of history, which most of us are already familiar with. During the second half of the 20th century, as misogynistic ideals gave way to feminism and equal rights movements, this notion was held under heavy scrutiny, and it was found by scholars and theologians alike that this verse was actually speaking of a reciprocal treatment.
The full verse goes on to describe that a husband and a wife must submit to one another. The bible describes the relationship between a husband and a wife as one where each partner must fulfill the other’s needs. And although they are different types of needs, they are equally valid and equally protected by God’s plan. Outside of a husband and wife relationship, men and women are described in the bible as both having equal access to God. Men and women both have a full identity in God outside of marriage. When marriage is added to the situation, and a husband and a wife naturally come to one another to have certain needs met, their needs are similar but not at all identical.
The bible describes women as needing a significant amount of affection and protection from their husbands. The bible mentions nothing about women needing men to do their thinking for them or to make them whole as people in anyway. They need affection because they have a need to feel adored and precious to their husbands, and they need protection as an extension of that affection, to know they are so loved by their husband that he would lay down his life for them. Reciprocally, men need to feel that their perspectives, contributions, hearts and minds are respected and cherished by their wives, which allows them to properly care for their wives by knowing they take their perspectives seriously.