A little background…
I grew up to be a very independent woman. The idea of ever submitting to anyone was not something I found flattering. Who would ever want to submit? And to a boy (man) at that! In my younger years my relationship with Christ was just developing…so I fell in to the category of “cherry picking” verses that allowed me to find justification as to why certain biblical expectations were ludicrous and would never, ever, be applied to my life. As I have grown deeper in my faith, I have found a way to look at scripture and biblical reference about submission differently.
Ephesians 5:22-33 NIVWives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
I get it. Reading it can make anyone cringe especially, if you are someone who is just starting to explore Christianity. I too had a hard time understanding this passage. It never did sit right with me. I had heard it at a wedding or two throughout my life and every word made me more and more deaf to Christianity.
The Greek root definition of submissive is to voluntarily place oneself underneath another (emphasis mine).
Lets substitute the words ‘voluntarily place oneself underneath’ in to the Bible passage and then see if we feel a little bit better about it.
“Wives, voluntarily place yourself underneath your own husbands as you do the Lord.”
There…it feels a tad better doesn’t it?
We get to choose. We always get to choose. Free will is written all over in the Bible. And submission is a choice. It is not a demand by our husbands. It is not something requested of us by force. It is however, a request from God…He wants to work through our husbands, to partner with them in order to help lead our family. Remember, it is a team effort and every team has a coach (God) and a captain (your husband). And a winning team is successful because of the teams ability to trust the system and have faith in the leadership.
Being submissive calls people to have inner strength and self-control. It is the opposite of weak willed. It is a term that sadly gets skewed and confused. Submission is the key element in the smooth functioning of any business, government or family. Submission prevents chaos. Think of all the ways in which we submit everyday of our lives. If you are employed and have a boss…you submit to their authority in the work place. As individuals that make up a community we submit to the law. As law-abiding citizens we submit to the federal and state governments. Submission is all around us, in all that we do, it really isn’t all that uncommon.
My husband and I have been married for three years now and together for over seven. We don’t have this marriage thing perfect, and I doubt we ever will. The beautiful thing is that we are working together to make it as good as it can be by helping one another grow in the areas we are weak. When we first got married I was quite a pistol, to say the least. I was selfish and wanted my way all the time. I am sure my husband was thinking, “What did I get myself in to?” We quarreled often. We had to find a way to live together, share a bank account, and live peacefully within a new space. Over time I have learned a lot about what it means to be a “submissive wife” I have taken the term in its true form and apply it in a way that works well for our relationship. When it comes to big decisions in our marriage. I trust my husband’s opinion. I trust his leadership and I trust he will seek God in all things. I trust he has my best interest at heart. This doesn’t mean that I don’t share my opinion (trust me I do that quite well…just ask him). This doesn’t mean I have lost independence and I do not feel passionate about issues. This doesn’t mean that we don’t disagree. This doesn’t mean that he walks all over me. This doesn’t mean that I don’t give him a piece of my mind once in a while. This doesn’t mean there aren’t times when I end up being the one who makes the final decision. This doesn’t mean I let my husband lead me down any sinful or wrongful paths. This doesn’t mean he abuses his leadership position in our household. What it does mean is that we share ideas, opinions and thoughts, we weigh pros and cons, discuss different options and if we can’t come to a mutual decision on something after taking time to think it through, I ultimately trust his judgment and allow him to make the final call.
A perfect example…
Just the other day I brought up to my husband that I would like to buy a new blender. Not just any blender but a Vitamix or Blendtec, which costs anywhere from $350 – $600. My husband was not impressed to say the least. You see, he is a realist…and realistically in his mind…this was just not doable for us at this time in our lives. I threw a bit of a fit…I may even have cried a tad…(sad I know). But I REALLY wanted a new blender. I’ve been getting in to smoothies lately and the thought of having a perfectly whipped non-chunky blended green smoothie was something I wanted to experience. Yes, we already had a blender. But it isn’t the best. After much arguing and attempts at persuasion he still said “No”. He mentioned that the money should go in to savings because of our unknown financial situation as we move forward in new career paths. We needed to be prepared for change. After throwing a fit, stomping my feet like a five year old, I gave up. I decided even after being difficult…that I just wasn’t going to win this one. I trusted his decision. I very well could have said, whatever, I have a job, I make my own money, I am buying it! But that is not how marriage works…and it is a good thing I took his thoughts seriously…because just days later the motor in the passenger side seat of our SUV decided to die. The cost to fix it you ask? $700+ (yikes)! Lets just say, the money we didn’t spend on the blender will definitely come in handy and be applied towards a need vs. an impulsive want.
There is no secret to how we make this marriage and submission thing work. It is a daily challenge, but we get through it as a team. From the beginning we knew we were entering a marriage that was equally yoked. We knew that one another put God first. I knew that my husband had a heart full of love for Christ. I knew he would always seek God’s guidance with difficult and big decisions in life. This was enough to reassure me that no matter what, Christ was at the center of our relationship. This doesn’t mean that if you aren’t equally yoked with your spouse you can’t make it work. It just means you are going to have to work hard. You are going to have to be prayerful and find ways to make compromise. You are going to have to find ways to grow together, closer to Christ.
This life is never ending road map. With twists, turns and dead ends. It is much easier to navigate when you have your best friend on your side. Working together. Unified.
My next blog post coming up later this week on the 14th and is going to focus on looking at the male role in “submission”. Our culture hears the word “submissive” and right away focuses on the scripture that talks about wives submitting to their husbands…what they forget to do is read further…this love story doesn’t end there. It is just beginning. And you’d be surprised at how much more God requests of our husbands…
To be continued…!
W.E. Austin says
We just finished reading your blogs on a wife submitting to a husband in marriage. You do make some interesting points. And it seems to be the predominate thought among American Christians these days, especially among American Christian women. Unfortunately, many take a passage or two of scripture and attempt to build a “doctrine” around them.
What we need to do is look at the entirety of the Word of God starting with Genesis. In Genesis 1:26-28 God (meaning God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit) said, “Let US make man in OUR image according to OUR likeness and let THEM HAVE DOMINION over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth. So God created man (humans) in His own image, in the image of God He created him (humans). Male and female He created THEM. Then God blessed THEM and God said to THEM, “Be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it. Have DOMINION over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
Genesis 2 gives us more detail of what occurred. In verse 18 the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper COMPARABLE (equal to in all things) to him.” Verse 20 says that there was not a helper comparable (or equal to) him (Adam). Verse 21 says that the Lord God administered a very powerful anesthesia (LOL) and performed surgery on Adam. The Lord God then took a rib from Adam’s side to create the woman. Notice He did not take it from the head of Adam so that Eve would rule over Adam. Neither did He take it from Adam’s foot so that Adam would rule over Eve. The whole submission thing came into existence after the fall. It was not God’s original intent. The submission idea is a “religious” idea. Islam is filled with it.
It should be fairly obvious that God’s original intention was for both male and female to have equal authority over all matters. NOT that one partner should always acquiesce to the other partner’s judgment.
In the book of Judges 4&5 God chose a woman named Deborah to be His judge & prophetess (the one who spoke His words verbally) on all matters pertaining to His people. What this basically means is that He chose her to tell everyone, male and female, what His opinion was on any given subject.
Please forgive me but based on what you wrote, “When it comes to big decisions in our marriage. I trust my husband’s opinion. I trust his leadership and I trust he will seek God in all things.” “…I ultimately trust his judgment and allow him to make the final call.” Sounds to me, and I could be wrong, but you are taking a secondary place in your marriage. You need to seek God ON YOUR OWN and by that I’m talking about spending time with Him and His Word (especially the New Testament).
One of the biggest differences between “religion” and “relationship” is that religion seeks have to one over the other. Relationship says both are truly equal in all things. Allow us to show you what the New Testament says. In Matthew 22:23-30, Mark 12:18-25 & Luke 20:27-35, Jesus said this in response to the Sadducees question in regards to whom would a woman be married to in the resurrection. What Jesus was basically saying was there is neither male nor female when it comes to the things of God. This same idea is repeated in Matthew 19:4-6, Mark 10:6-8, Acts 17:28-29 & Galatians 3:28.
I was born again 32 years ago as of this writing. Over the years I have seen many godly Christian women put through all kinds of hardships because they “trusted” that their husbands would spend time in prayer and get the mind of God on any given situation. Based upon 32 years of being around Christian married couples I’m not a big believer in this. By the way, I’m a man and also an ordained minister. My wife and I have been married for 30 years. True confession time; more often than not, when I exerted my “Christian male authority” card, the result was less than pleasing. I’m just saying if you are relying upon ANYONE ELSE to hear from God better than you can, I’m afraid you’re headed for some rough waters.
Thank you for this article. It is much needed in this world where we see women walk over and belittle men. I have shared it on http://www.sisterskeeperblog.wordpress.com
Great post! I totally agree. I believe somewhere along the way “submission” became equated with “oppression” – when they are, in fact, two very different things! I’ve written a post about it – just haven’t found the courage to hit the “Post” button on it yet.
Samantha Elizabeth says
Hit post Beckey! I would love to read it 🙂 thanks for sharing. It is definitely a touchy subject…but one that needs to be spoken out about.