Why are there so many unsuccessful marriages today? I believe that even more than a lack of commitment, there is a lack of understanding. Just like so many areas of God’s word, this topic of Submission in marriage has been perverted and distorted to the point that it has become something disdainful. Gone are the days with strong male roles. In it’s effort to empower women, the feminist movement has emasculated men. Submissive wives, are no longer the norm, or even the exception.
Wives submit to your husbands as you do to the Lord. -Ephesians 5:22
What a backwards concept in our culture today. With so much emphasis on feminism, independence and self-sufficiency, godly submission in marriage tends to get swept under the rug. But what if submission wasn’t passivity? What if submission didn’t mean simply swallowing your desires and surrendering your sufficiency altogether?
When Paul speaks of submission in marriage, he is painting a beautiful picture of what God intends for a healthy and thriving relationship, so when we hear the word submission, we don’t have to shudder or wave our hands – pointing to the “old days”.
‘But why does he get to be the one who leads?’ we question, but the simple answer is because he does. That’s who God appointed to lead. “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. -Ephesians 5:23″ Who am I to argue with the creator of the universe? Any leader of anything will tell you what a burden the responsibility of leadership can be. Those of you who are single mothers or sole bread winners for your family are familiar with the weight that rests so heavily on your shoulders. We are not meant to carry that weight alone. When you are constantly at odds with your husband, you tear apart the support system of your family unit. When you work together, hand in hand, you submitting and him honoring you, God’s purpose in marriage is fulfilled.
The truth is that both husbands and wives are called to submit… both to God and to each other. Women are called to submit, yes. But men are also called to submit to the point of laying their lives down for their wives. Paul’s admonition begins with love. “husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church…”
Now, think of how Christ loves you. Broken, flawed, you. The you that has on more than one occasion turned your back from His relentless love. His fierce love.
The man, God gave you, is called to love you like that. Friend, you are called to submit to the man God gave you. Godly submission will revolutionize your marriage.
However, submission is not putting your husband’s will and authority above that of Christ.
My marriage is not perfect, and I don’t claim to agree with every decision Mi-amore has made, or will make in the future. However, I will follow his lead. I will honor his position and respect his God given responsibility to lead.
There have been several times, over the course of our almost five year marriage, when Mi-amore has made decisions that I did not agree with. It frustrated me that his opinion ultimately seemed to be the only one that mattered in the end. In those moments, I felt justified in my frustration and in my resistance to what I perceived as his “control”.
Earlier in our marriage I was very vocal and since I really didn’t have much of a filter when it came to Mi-amore, when I was angry, he knew it, when I was annoyed, it was obvious, when I disagreed, oooh I made it loud and clear, the Swahili woman in me would really come out to play.
Let me just say that keeping a tight rein on my tongue and yours as a wife is the mark of a very wise woman. This took a lot of practice and prayer. It may feel very empowering to let your voice be heard and to let your husband feel every stinging dagger and insult that you have to throw in that moment.
This act of submission, keeping a rein on your tongue, is one that serves you both. Words are like toothpaste. You can’t put that toothpaste back in the tube. Words, once spoken, are here to stay. Even when apologies are made, the sting and regret of hurtful insults remains, so I had a tough decision to make, I had to learn how to put myself in his shoes and replay what I said and trust me those words were not so kind.
If we share our opinions in a respectful way rather than a “How could you be such an idiot?” kind of way, we will be acting with maturity. Plus we’re all more receptive to differing opinions when they are presented with respect. While being shown love is most important to a woman, being shown respect is even more important than love to a man. When you show disrespect to your husband by doubting or mocking his decisions, you emasculate him. An emasculated man cannot be a leader. A small word of confidence and support from you goes a long way towards building up your husband. We underestimate the power our words have over our husbands.
When he knows you are in his corner, especially when you disagree, he has the ability to lead your family with wisdom and clarity. He may make some mistakes along the way, but together you will make it right and God can reward your obedience by redeeming those mistakes. All things work together for good for them that love God and are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28).
Where there is an issue that you simply cannot agree on, submitting to his leadership means his decision is ultimate. Is that always easy? Nope. Does that mean he is always right? Nope. What a greater responsibility and standard our husbands are held to because of that! So what can we do? Is it just our lot in life as wives to have opinions that don’t matter or wants that are ignored? I don’t think so. Our greatest calling is to pray for our husbands. Pray for their wisdom. Pray for them to be in close communication with God and accountable to other Godly men.
Remember the greatest act of submission, when Jesus went to the cross in our place. Because it was God’s will and not his own. He prayed to change it, but God’s will remained. (Luke 22:42) Wherever you find yourself in your marriage today, look to the example of Jesus. Think of what Jesus sacrificed for us. Understand that the relationship between Christ and the church is meant to be mirrored by husband and wife. If Jesus was willing to sacrifice everything for his church, that’s the kind of dedication and commitment He demands from your husband for you.
In a nutshell, being a submissive wife means stepping aside a bit so that God can show our husbands how to lead our family in the way He intended. It’s about giving grace and respect to our husbands on a daily basis. It’s about being obedient to God by embracing the roles of marriage as He outlined them in the Bible!
Submission takes humility. It also takes a lot of prayer and relying on the Holy Spirit. But so does Godly leadership. When we look unto Jesus as an example, and reflect His love and Self-sacrifice as we lovingly choose to submit to the husband God has placed in our lives.