If we look at the Book of Ephesians we will understand what we are reading by reading carefully. I use the KJV. I do not support the use of any of the "international English, Common English, or other translations because first and foremost they, in my opinion distort the KJV text in order to fulfill some particular angle. Secondly the language and syntax of the KJV is contemporary with the translations of other ancient texts so that when we find particular words and phrases we can cross reference those with other ancient texts. This is nearly impossible with the newer "modern" translations. Anyway. Back to Ephesians.
Ephesians is not the words of Jesus and it says so:
1Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:Now understand that with the above, we understand Paul to be speaking to "the saints. " So when we are reading Ephesians 5 it is Paul's opinions and it is directed at the aforementioned "saints". Ephesians 5 states:
1Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;
2And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.
3But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;
4Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.
5For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.
6Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.
7Be not ye therefore partakers with them.
8For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:
9(For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)
10Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord.
11And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.
12For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.
13But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light.
14Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.
15See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,
16Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
17Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.
18And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;
19Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;
20Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;
21Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.
22Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.
23For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.
24Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
25Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
26That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
27That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
28So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.
29For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:
30For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
You'll note that these are general statements given to the collective known as "the saints" it is general instruction on how to live and applies across the board. You will notice that everything up through verse 21 is directed at the saints. Once we hit verse 22, we find that Paul makes a specific reference to wives and specific references to husbands. In other words, the commentary prior to verse 22 are general. and is punctuated with a full stop. End of thought. Verse 22 indicates a brand new line of thought for Paul. It is clear that Paul is telling his "saints" that they owe each other a general, non-specified, type of submission but that wives owe their husbands a degree of submission above and beyond that which is required by the general population of "saints."
[update 12:10 PM]
Some "scholars" attempt to read verses 21 and 22 as an ongoing thought. The grammar used does not indicate that at all. Rather the semicolons used prior to verse 21 clearly show that those thoughts and the final submit ye to one another are connected in the same thought and that verse 22 starts a new, if related thought. What those "scholars" are proposing is that they knew better how to translate the original greek transcript better than the scribe(s) authorized by James. However; we cannot trust that assertion since those scribes are not here to defend their particular translation and why they put the specific punctuation where they did. therefore; it becomes the current scholars words against dead scribes, a wholly unfair proposition. It is better to take a wide view of all of Paul's writing to understand what Paul's position is in regards to women and he does so elsewhere as I note next.
Now for anyone confused about what kind of submission Paul is referring to we need look no further than 1 Timothy 2:12:
But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.Paul is writing to his "spiritual son" Timothy and the chapter in the New Testament is, like ephesians, a list of things to do and not to do.
it is clear that Paul feels that men are the head just as Christ his the head of the Church. It is also clear that Paul feels that women are to be under the authority of men, be it a husband or other authority figure. To suggest that these passages state or imply otherwise is wrong or at the least dishonest.