On Mutual Submission and Unique Roles – From my Reading Corner-

When my dear friend Elizabeth mentioned that John Piper’s book, This Momentary Marriage, a Parable of Permanence, was perhaps the best book on marriage she and her husband had read, I soon ordered my own copy. And now that I am reading it, I can absolutely say that I agree with her. Thanks for the recommendation, friend!

Here is an excerpt from the chapter entitled, Lionhearted and Lamblike, a chapter in which Piper deals with some of the problems of egalitarianism:

“…[F]ew things are more broken in our day than manhood and headship in relation to women and families. The price of this brokenness is enormous and touches almost every facet of life.”


“After declaring that there is mutual submission in Eph 5:21, Paul devotes twelve verses to unfolding the difference in the way a husband and wife should serve each other. You don’t need to deny mutual submission to affirm the importance of the unique role of the husband as the head and the unique calling of the wife to submit to that headship.

The simplest way to see this is to remember that Jesus himself bound himself with a towel and got down on the floor and washed his disciples’ feet (the bridegroom serving the bride), but not for one minute did any of the apostles in that room doubt who the leader was in that moment. In other words, mutuality of submission and servanthood do not cancel out the reality of leadership and headship. Servanthood does not nullify leadership; it defines it. Jesus does not cease to be the Lion of Judah when He becomes the lamblike servant of the church.”

“It is not enough to say, “Serve one another.” That is true of Christ and his church- they serve each other. But they do not serve each other in all same ways. Christ is Christ. We are the Church. To confuse the distinctions would be doctrinally and spiritually devastating. So also the man is the Christ-portraying husband, and the woman is the church-portraying wife. And to confuse these God-intended distinctions, or to abandon them, results in more disillusionment and more divorce and more devastation.”

“The role of the husband and wife are rooted in the distinctive roles of Christ and his church. The revelation of this mystery is the recovery of the original intention of covenant marriage in the Garden of Eden.”

“When sin entered the world, it ruined the harmony of marriage not because it brought headship and submission into existence, but because it twisted man’s humble, loving headship toward hostile domination in some men and lazy indifference in others. And it twisted woman’s intelligent, willing, happy, creative, articulate submission toward manipulative obsequiousness in some women and brazen insubordination in others. sin didn’t create headship and submission; it ruined them and distorted them and made them ugly and destructive.

…Wives, let your fallen submission be redeemed by modeling after God’s intentions for the church! Husbands, let your fallen headship be redeemed by modeling it after God’s intention for Christ!”

May God help us to reflect in our marriages the deepest meaning of marriage, the “drama of the covenant-keeping love between Christ and the Church.”


4 thoughts on “On Mutual Submission and Unique Roles – From my Reading Corner-

  1. Becky – I agree that its the best book on marriage that we have read as well. I would also highly recommend Piper's “Sex and The Supremacy of Christ” and “Give Them Grace” by Elyse Fitzpatrick..:-)


  2. Becky, Thank you for these quotes. I ordered this book in Spanish for my friend here. It's also available in PDF form free from Desiring God if someone can't afford to buy it.
    Now, all I have to do is read it myself! 🙂


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