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!