If bowing is not automatically a form of worship, which the Bible shows it is not, then what is the difference between a woman bowing in reverence to her husband and a woman bowing in worship to God?
The answer is found in the intent in the wife’s heart and how she sees her husband verses how she sees God.
Is the woman bowing to her husband in obedience to God’s command that she affirm her husband’s earthly lordship over her by bowing to him? If so, then her bowing to him is not worship which is reserved for God alone.
However, if a woman sees her husband as perfect, sinless and all powerful like God and that is why she is bowing to him – then she is engaging in an act of worship which is sin.
In other words, when we bow to God, we are and should be acknowledging his perfection, his sinlessness and his being the all-powerful sovereign of the universe.
I am often falsely accused by my detractors, whether they be Christians or non-Christians alike, of teaching that I think women should regard their husbands as gods. And nothing could be further from the truth.
Instead, I teach what the Bible says that God has placed sinful and imperfect men as the heads of sinful and imperfect women. God does not call women to submit to, reverence and bow to their husbands because these men are perfect and all-powerful beings. God calls women to submit to and bow to their husbands in spite of their imperfections and weaknesses because of the position God as ordained men to over women.
A woman’s acknowledgement of her husband’s earthly lordship over her by bowing to him is an acknowledgement of Christ’s lordship over all creation and his authority to appoint her husband as her lord.