Fortunately while slavery remains a far more common blight than we might think, the impact of Christian culture on the world has rendered it illegal almost everywhere.
The fact is that the New Testament consistently gives the command to submit to others, even in oppressive and unjust situations. Those commands are in no way to be understood as justifying the systems and situations which are unjust. Telling wives to submit to their husbands does not legitimatize husbands bossing their wives around, any more than the command for slaves to obey their masters legitimatizes slavery.
This is clearly seen in Ephesians 5:21 which says “submit to one another in reverence to the king.” Because I revere my King Jesus, I submit to you. Nowhere do we see the corollary expressed in scripture–“assume authority over one another…” It is not a zero-sum game where for every winner there is a looser–where for every submitter there is an authority figure. We have one authority figure, our king, lover, servant, and brother–Jesus.
It is only after laying down this constraining principle that we read in Ephesians 5:22 “wives submit yourselves to your own husbands as unto the Lord.” He then goes on to explain that this is a picture of our relationship to our King Jesus. Nowhere does Paul imply, let alone state outright, that husbands should exercise authority over their wives.
In fact his fellow ambassador Peter says quite the opposite. We have already examined Peter’s statement that the followers of King Jesus constitute a separate nation. After explaining this and the awesome position we hold due to our king’s work in our lives; Peter goes to great lengths to enure that his readers not misconstrue their new position in the king as a basis for rebellion against terrestrial authorities. This is the context for Peter’s instructions to submit to human kings, masters, and husbands.
All these commands to submit are framed as modeling our king’s behavior.
For you have been called for this purpose, since the king also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously… 1 Peter 2:21-23