In The Myths of Submission, we learned that submission isn’t about making women inferior and men superior, nor is it about both husband and wife mutually submitting to each other. Submission is, however, a beautiful image of Christ’s relationship with the Church. Because of this image of the gospel, there are many wonderful truths about submission .
Biblical Definition: “putting yourself under” or “submission in the sense of voluntary yielding in love.” (Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, Walter Bauer) This matches well with one of the English definitions: “to defer to another’s judgment, opinion, decision, etc.”
Just as Christians submit to each other voluntarily, children choose to submit to their parent’s authority; workers voluntarily decide to do what their bosses want; citizens choose to submit to their government’s authority; wives choose whether or not they’ll submit to their husbands. God doesn’t force submission; He desires it from you and wants you to trust Him by submitting to His will for your life. Anytime God asks you to do something it’s always for your best. That’s the beauty of His plan.
2. In Everything!
This is the part I have a really hard time with. What if he’s wrong? What if he’s not following Christ right now? What if my opinion is right? Then I’m reminded of Eph. 5:24 and I know as I’m subject to Christ in all areas of my life, I’m also subject to my husband. Now, that doesn’t mean that if your husband asks you to lie, steal, or murder that you have to obey him because he would be asking you to sin. Christ is your ultimate authority and if what your husband is asking you to do blatantly goes against Scripture then you answer to Christ first and foremost.
BUT if you and your husband have to decide to sell the car or not and he decides to sell it, then submission means yeilding to that decision. If Christ asked you to do something you didn’t want to do, would you submit to Him or not? You would be compelled to and the same goes for your husband’s decisions. Believe me, I understand having to submit to your husband when you disagree. There have been times when I didn’t think my husband made the choice I wanted, but since Scripture commands me to submit, ineverything, I trusted that God would protect us and I voluntarily submitted to my husband’s leading. So just as you’re commanded to submit to Christ in everything, you should also be submissive to your own husband in everything. (Eph.5:22-24, Col. 3:18)
Thankfully, the Lord honors obedience. If your husband has been making some decisions you disagree with but you obey your Heavenly Father, He will protect you and bless you because of your obedience (1 John 3:24). God will take care of your husband but your responsibility is obeying God and He’s asked you to submit to your husband. It’s a huge trust builder in your relationship with God when you see Him work in your life and bless your life, all because you laid down your own will and obeyed God’s will. He promises to take care of those who follow His commands and He will bless your obedience to His Word.
4. A Battle With the Flesh
I’m going to say something that might sound kinda harsh. If you have a problem with submission then you have a pride problem, whether that’s submission to your husband, your boss, your parents, or God. Believe me, I’ve been there, I understand. My flesh battles daily with submission to Christ and to my husband because I’m a prideful, sinful being. I want my way and I don’t want to serve anyone but myself. That’s why God’s way is so radically different from the way our flesh wants to go and why it seems so contrary to what our culture believes.
Following Christ means living in a radically different way and the truth is: If you won’t submit to your husband then you won’t submit to God – because submission to your husband is submission to God. When you refuse to follow God’s role for you as a wife, you’re saying you know better than God and His role of submission isn’t best.
Interestingly enough, I’ve never heard someone argue against submission but also say “How dare you ask me to love my wife!” or “Commanding a husband to love his wife was only for that culture, it doesn’t apply to us anymore.” Why do we reject the Scriptural mandates that ask us to give up of ourselves but we wholeheartedly welcome those that make others give up of themselves for our benefit? Because our flesh despises authority (2 Pet.2:10) and it wars within us wanting to satisfy its selfish desires. Submitting to your husband’s leading goes against every fleshly thing within us; because if you did, Satan knows the Gospel would be furthered and Christ would look attractive to the world (Titus 2).
Do you trust God that He has your best in mind when He asks you to submit to your husband?
When God’s people follow His design for marriage then it’s a beautiful and complementary unit. If you ask my husband, my friends, or my family they would say that I do submit to my husband and I’m loving marriage! Alex is my leader and my head, but he’s also my equal. When there are decisions to be made, we talk it out, I give my opinion, he gives his, and usually we agree but the final responsibility rests on his shoulders, along with the positive and negative consequences.
Since these roles are so fundamental and crucial to the Gospel, it’s of utmost importance to marry someone who follows Christ and His Word, respects and cares for you, and walks in wisdom. Since Alex is my spiritual leader, he disciples me, and I seek his advice for my life decisions because I trust his leading and what would be best for our family, which strengthens our marriage. This was a hard thing for me to begin to do since I’m an independent person. Then I got married and I learned I had to not only involve Alex in my decisions, I had to submit to his leading. It was a struggle at first, but as I’ve obeyed Scripture’s commands and experienced Alex’s care, wisdom, and love, I now desire his leading and trust him. It’s awesome to be able to share life and the burden of decisions with someone else.
With obedience to Scripture, comes truly seeing and experiencing the beauty of the plan God intended when He asked wives to submit to their husbands and husbands to love and sacrifice for their wives. Alex sharpens me with his leading and I sharpen him with my submission. We live life together, study together, debate together, and wrestle over life’s decisions together. The more I submit to Christ’s leading in my life, I grow both in my relationship with God and with Alex.
You may be asking, “Why the big deal over submission?” It’s a big deal about it because there’s a lot at stake: The Gospel. Submission is commanded so that the word of God will not be dishonored. (Titus 2) Marriage mirrors the Gospel and when the roles within that marriage get distorted then the Gospel is distorted. We must stick with what the Bible says and submit to the Lord’s calling, no matter how different it make look in our world. Our roles as wives matter because it shows Christ to the world.
The husband’s role in mirroring the Gospel matters just as much as the wife’s so we’re having an actual husband address the guy’s side of things. Also, in July we’ll be having an interview on the practical side of marriage, submission, and husband leadership. But, until then, I hope you’ll come back to Unlocking Femininity on June 28 to read about God’s role for husbands and how that affects the Gospel!
Both of your posts on submission were great! You brought out some very important points on the subject of submission. Marriage is a beautiful thing that God has created. If people rebel against God’s plan for marriage then they are ruining its beauty. Submission is not giving in to oppression but instead it gives us the freedom to be the Godly wives God calls us to be. I really enjoyed this post, it was a blessing. <
You have a lot of courage to write with this much clarity and to do your best to follow what God’s word actually says, as opposed to what you may wish it said.
The battle of the flesh is a real one because husbands make mistakes–sometimes after a decision is made, you’ll find out what you wanted to do was actually the right idea, even though he decided something different. That’s hard–you were right! He was wrong, and you went along with him anyway!
But I especially liked your closing personal experience with the blessings of following God’s plan and embracing your complementary roles. One thing you could have added was the resulting marital harmony and the blessing to the children who learn from watching their parents interact with respect and order.
A wife who respects and honors her husband is truly a blessing to the relationship, it increases his responsibility and improves the quality of decisions he makes.
Now, that doesn’t mean that if your husband asks you to lie, steal, or murder that you have to obey him because he would be asking you to sin. Christ is your ultimate authority and if what your husband is asking you to do blatantly goes against Scripture then you answer to Christ first and foremost.
So, what if your husband makes you ask permission to go to the restroom? What if your husband makes you return a vacume cleaner because you made the purchase without his approval? What about the husband who demands sex….even when you are having physical problems? The what if’s could go on and on. But, I think you see my point. In the end the husband really does not ‘rule/lead’ persay, (though most try to intimidate and instill fear to achieve thier goals) as the wife can decide when biblical leadership turns into a controlling ego trip and not submit.
Terri, I think those are important questions. Wives are told that unless they are not being asked to sin, they must follow directives from their husbands. There are no other limits established. It’s nice if the husband consults her, but if he chooses not to consult her, then the wife must do as she is told. I’ve seen writings by hierarchalists which include such things as hair styles and clothing preferences in the list of decisions that wives cannot make for themselves unless their husband allow them to do so.
In a patriarchal culture such as when the Bible was written, it did bring honor to the gospel if wives ordered their lives according to that structure. At this time in history, however, it does not bring honor to the gospel to establish a structure which subordinates women within a culture which establishes women as equals.
It is a misnomer to call the structure promoted by hierarchalists “equality.” When a woman is subordinated because of her gender, when she is seen as needing a “spiritual leader,” when she is instructed that it is always her place to give another person his own way because he was born male and she was not, the woman is not equal.
It seems to me that when the submission ethic is applied unevenly that men can make thier own boundries (and do). They are left unchecked to do as they please and demand that thier wives conform to thier will. Unless thier is proof that the husband has asked the wife to do some outrageous sinful act such as adultery, steal, murder etc. (the biggies) then the fact that the husband micromanages and dictates to his wife(in unnumbered ways) is a matter of indifference to the church. Sexism is Sexism whether it be Malevolent or benevolent. When a husband is asked to love the wife as Christ loves the church and gave himself for her. That does not equal leadership, that equals death. And I would think, at the least, death to his own selfish interest? I have asked why the husband emulates Christ in His Authority while the wife imitates Christ in His submission? The fact that the husband is asked to love and the wife asked to submit does not mean that the husband does not have to submit and the wife does not have to love. Like it or not love contains aspects of submission.
“Absolutely, Terri! Your statements about the husband being presented as though his “role” is to emulate authority and the wife’s “role” is to submit to authority goes along with this statement taken from the article:
I’m going to say something that might sound kinda harsh. If you have a problem with submission then you have a pride problem.”
When hierarchical men deny that they also have a call to submit in marriage, is the above statement to be applied to them?
The truth is, it is obviouly not those who believe in mutual submission who have a problem with submission and are therefore prideful. They are acknowledging that submission is an important aspect of a healthy marriage.
It is interesting that those who exempt themselves from the call to submit to their wives as their Christian sisters, because they have been born into the privileged position of maleness, feel free to point to their Christian sisters/wives–who they are called to love–and judge them as prideful if their wives don’t see marriage as a call for them to be unilaterally submissive. Hierarchalists impose a hiearchical structure onto the most intimate of relationships, claim a God-given right to have their own way in all marital decisions (except sinful ones), and then they accuse their wives of being prideful if they don’t agree to this system.
And somehow this is equated with their call to love their wives as Christ loves the church.
I am so grateful to the Lord for your clarity and wisdom. As I read your articles I find myself saying right out loud, “I love this woman!!” or “I love this website!”
Thank you for the hard work and transparency you put into your articles. You are a blessing!