Submission: It’s a Choice

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Our culture has a very charged focus on women’s’ rights. There is no doubt that women have come a long way in forms of equality, but I believe historic moments such as; a woman’s right to vote, equal pay, and expectations to live a domestic life are things that should be separated when looking at biblical reference to “submission”.  Somehow…society ties it all together…and I am not quite sure where this all came about. The word “submissive” is known as the dreaded word in which Christians have been chastised for. The term alone has caused such an uproar that most can barely look past it. Sadly, this piece of scripture has been taken and skewed, cherry picked and distorted…to fit the lives and expectations of non-believers and believers everywhere.  I was one of them.

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…!