The other day, I was changing the channels on my television when I hit a station and heard the voice of a well-known preacher. He was speaking on the subject of marriage, which is a favorite topic of mine, so I stopped for a moment to listen. It wasn’t long before he made a statement that I hear often repeated from the pulpit of both synagogues and churches. “There is a hierarchy in the family: husband, wife, and then children and this is G-D’s plan for the family structure.”
I cannot tell you how many times I have heard those or similar words being spoken by rabbis and pastors, yet, no matter how hard you look, you won’t find this in the Scriptures. Most often, when making this statement, pastors will quote from Ephesians 5:23-24 as their proof text.
For the husband is head of the wife, as Messiah also is head of His community—Himself the Savior of the body. But as Messiah’s community is submitted to Messiah, so also the wives to their husbands in everything.
And if one just reads those verses, it is easy to see how they would conclude a hierarchy, or flow chart, of authority from these words. The problem is that Ephesians chapter 5 does not begin with verse 23, and only two verses earlier in Ephesians 5:21, we read:
Also submit yourselves to one another out of reverence for Messiah.
Notice that verse 21 also isn’t the beginning of chapter 5, which begins not with a lesson on marriage, but rather it begins with twenty verses encouraging believers to abstain from unrighteous acts against one another. Then we get to verse 21, which instructs first that husbands and wives must submit to one another, then and only then does the text continue with the husband’s responsibility for his wife. You will note that I used the word responsibility rather than authority because a careful reading o