Sweet Submission

I wonder if, after reading my title, some of my readers (especially you gals) are thinking: “Sweet Submission! Is she nuts?” And, I guess that in our modern times when feminism is still a hot issue, the subject might be considered a throw-back to less enlightened times.

However, as a Christian, I have chosen to believe that the Bible is the inspired words of God and that He says what He means and means what He says, and that I need to be obedient to His word and instruction. So it behooves (how’s that for a word!) me to do my best to understand what God has said in His word.

My previous post, “The Other Side of the Coin” seems to deal mainly with the attitude that a husband should take in a marriage. So I thought that I should balance the scales by writing about what a wife’s attitude should be in a marriage. (I feel qualified to speak on this as I am a wife and I have attitude!)

God’s Word is quite straight clear regarding the attitude that a wife should have towards her husband:

Eph 5:22  Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands, as to the Lord.

Uncomfortable as it may make you ladies, there is no ambiguity (oo – another fancy word) in that command. And yes, I believe that it is a command from God, not a suggestion. There is no “it might be nice if…” or “perhaps you could try …”. No “if you feel like it”. It is plainly and simply a “do it” statement, no “ifs, ands, or buts”.

Ok, so I know that I must submit to my husband. What exactly does that mean and what does submission entail? Does submitting to my husband mean that I have to lose my own personality and become his doormat? These are exactly the kinds of questions that so confused me when I was struggling to be a Christian wife.

Firstly, we need to understand the concept of submission.

Webster’s Dictionary gives the following definitions for the word “submit”:

1) To yield, resign or surrender to the power, will or authority of another.

2) To refer; to leave or commit to the discretion of judgment of another.

In Eph.5:22, the word translated as “submit” comes from the Greek word  hupotasso which means “be under obedience”. It is interesting to note that the word hupotasso comes from two other Greek words, the first one meaning “under” and the second one meaning “to arrange in an orderly manner”. Could it be that God, in His wisdom, understood that a marriage would need to be arranged in an orderly manner with one person, the husband in leadership and the other person, the wife, in submission in order for the marriage to operate properly? After all, too many cooks in the kitchen spoiled the soup.

Eph. 5:22 also tells us how wives should submit, or at least what their heart and attitude should be: “submit … as unto the Lord”. I guess what we have to first ask ourselves is: Have I truly submitted myself unto God? How can we submit to our husbands if we have not first submitted ourselves in obedience to God? I believe that if we give God His proper place and let God be God in our lives, (guys and gals) then it would be much easier for husbands and wives to assume their proper places in the marriage.

And just what are those proper places? Let’s go back to the beginning where once upon a time, God made a man (yes ladies, the guy came first) and God noticed that the man was singing “I’m just a lonely boy, lonely and blue. I’m all a lone, with nothing to do”. (I know – lame) So God decided to do something about that:

Gen 2:18   And Jehovah God said, It is not good that the man should be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.

Ladies, we were created to be a helpful companion to our husbands. Not a slave, not property, not a maid, not a doormat, but a helpful companion. Webster’s defines a companion as “one who keeps company with another; a partner or associate”.

So God intended wives to be a helpful companion and partner to their husbands. To me, that sounds like a fairly equitable arrangement. Unfortunately, a snake and a piece of fruit got into the mix and things were not as they should be and because of that:

Gen 3:16  To the woman He (God) said, … your desire shall be toward your husband, and he shall rule over you.

Sin entered and changed the structure of the relationship between a husband and wife, from a partnership to a “ruling over”.

God reiterates this structure in the New Testament:

Eph 5:23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body.

Eph 5:24  Therefore as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be (subject) to their own husbands in everything.

Eph 5:33 But also let everyone of you in particular so love his wife even as himself, and the wife that she defers (reverences, respects) to her husband.

Does God have a purpose for a wife submitting unto her husband?

1Pe 3:1,2  Likewise, wives, be in subjection to your own husbands, so that if any do not obey the Word, they may also be won without the Word by the conduct of the wives, having witnessed your chaste behavior in the fear of God.

Wow – that’s pretty powerful stuff! Ladies, we have a VERY important part to play in our husbands’ lives. Our submission can lead them to salvation! Surely that is worth any discomfort we might feel about the idea of submission!?

I want to be completely honest with you about my own struggles with this issue. It was VERY,VERY DIFFICULT! It is extremely difficult to submit yourself to someone who is often selfish and irresponsible; a husband who is not able and/or willing to be a husband as God designed husbands to be:

Eph 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it,

1Pe 3:7 Likewise, husbands, live together according to knowledge, giving honor to the wife as to the weaker vessel, the female, as truly being co-heirs together of the grace of life, not cutting off your prayers.

If you are a wife, and you find yourself in that difficult place, I pray that God will grant you wisdom, knowledge, strength, comfort and peace as you continue to walk in obedience to His word.

To summarize, I think that submitting to my husband means that I give him respect, that I seek his advice and opinions, and that I obey his decisions. It doesn’t mean that I allow him to abuse me physically, verbally, financially or mentally. It doesn’t mean that I am helpless and brainless. It doesn’t mean that I can’t have my own personality and interests.

I believe that when wives submit to their husbands, and husbands love their wives as God has commanded, then we will truly see “the two become one flesh” as God originally designed.

So how am I doing in my own marriage? Well, my new hubby read my post “Two Sides of the Coin” and he actually giggled out loud when he read the part about my submitting to him! I guess I am still a work in progress!

Blessings

 

 

 

 

 

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The Other Side of the Coin

(I dedicate this post to my husband who inspires my love)

Since it is still the month of Valentine’s Day, I am going to continue writing about the subject of love. Maybe some of my readers are thinking “enough already” but I don’t think that we can ever over – do the topic of love. In fact, I think that it is one topic that is seriously “under-done”. Oh – there’s an abundance of stuff out there about physical love and even emotional love, but we’re not taught a lot about what it means to share “true love” as God means it.

I have already written about my “Cinderella syndrome” which led to unwise choices and a difficult and unfulfilling marriage. I found that my difficulties were compounded by the fact that I was a Christian. As I am a “Type A” personality (psycho speak for uptight perfectionist people pleaser) I wanted to make sure that I was the best Christian wife that I could be. To that end, I tried VERY hard to live by that particular scripture, which I am sure has been quoted to every wife (Christian or not) since time began – you know, the one that says:

Eph 5:22   Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands, as to the Lord.

I confess that I had almost as much difficulty with this command as I did with all the other ones combined! You must understand that I came from a home where my father seemed to want my mother to look after everything while he pursued his own interests. And when I was a young teen, my father left us, which left my mother as sole provider as well as sole parent and homemaker. My mother, not wanting her daughters to be helplessly dependent upon often undependable husbands, wanted instead, that we become strong, independent people in our own right. (Oh how I wished I had followed her advice)

So there I was, a young woman in a new age being told, by the church, to “submit” to my husband. This was not made any easier by the fact that many of the articles that I was reading on the subject, often showed women in dresses, wearing heels and pearls while vacuuming and cooking!! A June Cleaver I am not! In fact, I was more comfortable in jeans and work boots clomping through the bush than I was being a Susie Homemaker. But like all good Type A’s, I took the proverbial “bull by the horns” and worked hard at “submitting” to my husband. (By the way, I have learned that submitting with your teeth and fists clenched, stomach in knots and head pounding is not really submitting – it is being passive- aggressive which is more psycho speak for frustrated, angry wimp)

After 26 years of trying my best to be a “good” and “submissive” Christian wife (and I did have my failings) all I ended up with was a failed marriage, heart break, frustration, serious health problems and an almost complete loss of who I was as the unique person that God created me to be.

Unfortunately, the church has greatly missed the mark as far as teaching married couples what it truly means to be husband and wife. Oh yes, the church is very good at preaching “wives submit to your husband”. In fact, that is all I knew about the subject of marriage (other than don’t commit adultery) in regards to being a Christian wife. Historically, the church has handed husbands and wives a one-sided coin when it comes to marriage. It is a coin that has been tossed into wives’ faces for so long that we don’t realize that there is another side to that coin!

Allow me to show you the “two sides of the same coin” of marriage as God would have us see it, know it, believe it and live it.

The first side is the one we are most familiar with (or at least aspects of it):

Eph 5:22   Wives, be under the authority of your husbands, as of the Lord.

Eph 5:23   For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ is the head of the church, being himself the saviour of the body.

Eph 5:24   And as the church is under Christ’s authority, so let wives be under the rule of their husbands in all things.(BBE)

That side of the coin is obviously meant just for wives. Or is it? Here is a coin within a coin: Notice how vs. 23 states that the husband is supposed to be the head of the wife (and the family and household).  Guys – God is telling you that you are NOT to shirk your responsibility – you are to be the head of the house! Big BUT – that does not mean you are supposed to be an autocratic, tyrannical, macho dictator! The other side of that “coin within a coin” is that husbands are supposed to be “head honchos” of their earthly family in the same way that Christ is the “head honcho” of the church family. Husbands are to conduct themselves as Christ does, and to govern their families with the same love that Christ has for us.

How convenient it has been for men in the church to keep the women ignorant of the fact that there is another side to that coin! But I am now going to flip that coin over and show you the other side:

Eph 5:25  Husbands, have love for your wives, even as Christ had love for the church, and gave himself for it;

I can just hear husbands saying, “but I do have love for my wife”. Ah – but here’s the catch – husbands are not told to simply love their wives, husbands are commanded (not suggested) to love their wives in a very special way -” even as Christ had love for the church, and gave himself for it;”

How much did Christ love the church (church being all who have accepted him as their personal saviour)? Jesus Christ loved the church (us) so much, that he, who was sinless, was willing to pay the horrible price for our sins. He loved us so much that he was willing to take the shame, the humiliation, the scorn, the beatings, the torture and the death that was to be our punishment. Christ held nothing back for himself, but rather, he gave his all for those he loved.

WOW! What kind of freaky love is that?? It is the kind of love that is completely selfless ( not selfish). It is the kind of love that is more concerned about the other person’s wants and needs than of it’s own. It is the kind of love that is willing to do whatever is necessary to guarantee another person’s well-being. It is the kind of love that is willing to sacrifice itself for another. It is the kind of love that does not change, regardless of circumstances. It is a love that never fails.

That is the kind of love that a husband is supposed to have towards his wife. In fact, I would dare to say that it is, or should be, the first side of the coin rather than the flip side. A husband who walks in the love described above makes it very easy for a wife to be willingly submissive to him because she knows that he truly loves her and she can trust him to take care of her, do what is best for her, and make the best decisions for her, their marriage and their family.

A coin with only one side is not a coin at all. Just as a marriage with only one side and/or one partner doing their part is not a marriage. When two separate sides come together equally, you get one solid unit bonded together to make a whole. That is what a loving marriage is:

Eph_5:31   “For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two of them shall be one flesh.”

BTW: I have now been blessed with a wonderful husband who does his very best to love me in the same incredibly selfless way that Christ loved (loves) the church. I know and trust that my hubby is willing to do whatever it takes to make sure that I am happy, healthy and feeling loved. And this has given me the freedom and peace that I need in order to be willingly submissive to him. (although he may argue that last point! lol)

Mat_19:6   Therefore they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.

 Blessings

 

 

 

 

 

The Face of Love

Today is just a short post. I want to continue talking about the subject of love by combining subjects I have already written about in my previous posts “Advent Love” and “Love Me Tender”. In those posts, I discussed the character of God and the qualities of true love.

I want to start off by asking you to close your eyes and try to picture God. What image of Him arises in your mind? Do you see God as a frowning, stern faced old man with white hair and a long beard? Do you see God sporting a non-committal expression as if He really doesn’t care about what’s going on? Or do you think that He is so far above us, so removed from us that you can’t picture Him at all?

There is a saying that a picture is worth a thousand words. Well allow me to use a few words to paint you a picture, a picture of my Heavenly Father. It is in fact, a self-portrait painted by The Creator Himself. God painted the outline of His portrait with the words in 1Joh.4:8 – … God is love. Then He added colour, texture and depth to His portrait with His defining words of love found in 1Cor. 13:4-8.

When you look at these verses,  replace the word “love” with the word “God” (for God is love). By doing so, I hope that your picture of God will become the image that He wants you to know and understand.

1Co 13:4   Love (God) is never tired of waiting; love (God) is kind; love (God)has no envy; love (God) has no high opinion of itself, love (God) has no pride;

1Co 13:5   Love’s (God’s) ways are ever fair, it (God) takes no thought for itself; it (God) is not quickly made angry, it (God)takes no account of evil;

1Co 13:6   It (God)takes no pleasure in wrongdoing, but has joy in what is true;

1Co 13:7   Love (God) has the power of undergoing all things, having faith in all things, hoping all things. (BBE)

1Co 13:8   … Love (God) never fails. (MKJV) 

In today’s post, I wanted to paint you an overall “picture” of God. In future posts, I will look closer at some of the individual aspects of that portrait.

Blessings

 

 

Love Me Tender

I had hoped to publish this post before Valentine’s Day but such is life’s many distractions, not the least of which was my computer going down for the count. But my sweet Valentine of a husband bought me a new computer (and the obligatory box of chocolates). So here I am once again – better late than never (I hope).

I must confess to being one of those textbook “hopeless romantics”. Yup, I swallowed the Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White stories hook, line and sinker. Unfortunately, I was also one of those people who were “looking for love in all the wrong places”. Difficult teenage years left me searching desperately for a knight in shining armour and when I thought I had found one, I grabbed hold of him with both of my little Cinderella hands.

I was only 18 and my idea of being in love was that your heart should race and pound, palms should sweat, head should spin, stomach should do flip-flops and knees should go weak. (Actually, that doesn’t really sound like much fun, does it?) In short, I thought that true love was based on touch-feely F-E-E-L-I-N-G-S (whoa-whoa-whoa feelings). But what happens when the knight in shining armour falls off his horse and Prince Charming turns into a frog? (Note to my male readers – I am writing from my female perspective, but I am very aware that men can marry Sleeping Beauty only to wake up to a Cruella DeVille – so bear with me guys.)

I didn’t take me long to learn that fairy-tale marriages are just that – a fairy tale. The often harsh reality of relationships and marriages bears little resemblance to the “happily ever after”. Oh I still had feelings, but they weren’t the warm and fuzzy kind! So what do you do when the heart racing and pounding, head spinning, stomach flopping feelings come, not from sweet feelings of love, but rather from bitter feelings of anger, frustration and disappointment? As a Christian woman and wife, feeling this way left me really struggling with feelings of self-condemnation, guilt and uncertainty.

I believe that our culture, being greatly influenced by movies, TV, art and literature, has played a huge part in having a negative affect in the way we view relationships, love and marriage. When we look at popular culture, we are encouraged to do whatever makes us feel good at the time. Unfortunately, “feelings” are more changeable than the weather; they’re up one minute and down the next.

So what happens to love when we base our love on our “feelings”? That kind of love changes when our feelings change. Maybe you have said or heard the following: “I don’t feel in love with you anymore” or “You don’t make me feel the way you used to”. When we base our love on feelings alone, it can be here today and gone tomorrow. That kind of love is also a selfish love based on what your partner can give you. So what happens when that partner is no longer able to give you what you want? Is it Adios Amigo?

I have learned the hard way, that love, true love, love the way that God wants us to love, should not, and in fact , can not be based on feelings alone. True love is a choice. True love is a mind-set. True love chooses and determines to love despite circumstances and feelings.

Rather than obtain our ideas of love from popular culture, we should be looking unto The One whose very being is Love – God.

1Jn_4:8  The one who does not love has not known God. For God is love.

The word “love” in that scripture is translated from the Greek word agape which comes from the root word agapao which means “to love in a moral sense”. God loves us because He is righteous. He loves us because it is the right thing to do, not because He “feels” like it. And the miracle of that kind of love is that God loves us even when we don’t deserve to be loved!

Eph 2:4,5   But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love with which He loved us  (even when we were dead in sins) has made us alive together with Christ (by grace you are saved), …

WOW!

In His Word, God gives us a very clear description of exactly what is true love:

1Co 13:4-7   Love is never tired of waiting; love is kind; love has no envy; love has no high opinion of itself, love has no pride; Love’s ways are ever fair, it takes no thought for itself; it is not quickly made angry, it takes no account of evil; It takes no pleasure in wrongdoing, but has joy in what is true; Love has the power of undergoing all things, having faith in all things, hoping all things. (BBE)

1Co 13:8… LOVE NEVER FAILS. (MKJV)

William Shakespeare echoed God’s words when he wrote Sonnet 116:

SONNET 116 PARAPHRASE
Let me not to the marriage of true minds Let me not declare any reasons why two
Admit impediments. Love is not love True-minded people should not be married. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds, Which changes when it finds a change in circumstances,
Or bends with the remover to remove: Or bends from its firm stand even when a lover is unfaithful:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark Oh no! it is a lighthouse
That looks on tempests and is never shaken; That sees storms but it never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark, Love is the guiding north star to every lost ship,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken. Whose value cannot be calculated, although its altitude can be measured.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks Love is not at the mercy of Time, though physical beauty
Within his bending sickle’s compass come: Comes within the compass of his sickle.
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks, Love does not alter with hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom. But, rather, it endures until the last day of life.
If this be error and upon me proved, If I am proved wrong about these thoughts on love
I never writ, nor no man ever loved. Then I recant all that I have written, and no man has ever [truly] loved.

(Notice how I included a modern translation found at http://www.shakespeare-online.com/sonnets/116detail.html for all those readers whose eyeballs cross when they read Shakespeare! lol)

So stop reading Harlequin Romance novels and watching daytime soap operas to get your idea of love and romance. Look instead to the source of all love – God.

1Jn_4:7   Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God, and everyone who loves has been born of God, and knows God.

Love in Christ

PS: God has blessed me with a wonderful husband. I have finally found my Prince Charming, my knight in shining armour and I am living “Happily Ever After”! 🙂