Dear husband: I just can’t submit

In a nation where equality once meant freedom from oppression, many Americans now seem to strike out at any misplaced word or unfamiliar action. Freedom of speech has turned into social media attacks, and those who push acceptance of all beliefs and ways of living must have forgotten about including Christianity.

Feminism plays a part in all this too, pushing the image of men as helpless creatures, unable to do much without their wives. Girls are taught from a young age they can do anything boys can do. They are taught how to fight for their rights, how men will try and take advantage of them. They are told to push ahead in the workplace, no matter the cost.

Yes, women should have equal rights. But what started as the right to vote has turned into an excuse for women to do whatever it takes to get ahead and use any offhand statement to begin a protest. This attitude also seeps into the home, making it more and more difficult for Christian women to understand why God commands them to submit to their husbands.

Picking and choosing

It’s not uncommon to see a woman flinch or roll her eyes when the Ephesians 5:22 verse is mentioned, telling wives to submit to their husbands. If you look “submit” up in the dictionary, you’ll find words like yield, subject to, permit oneself, etc. Words that make the modern-day woman cringe.

The moment submission makes its way into a Biblical conversation, it’s difficult not to throw up defenses and talk about how that was just the culture at the time of Paul. Women needed their husbands more than they do now. And how this doesn’t really apply anymore.

The danger with this, though, is picking and choosing what scripture we will state as truth. Right along with deciding which words of God we want to follow and which we want to ignore. There’s a reason God commands wives to submit to their husbands. And it’s not because women are weak or incompetent or needy.

A healthy family

“Wives, 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.” (Ephesians 5:22-24)

This concept of submitting has become a stench in the nostrils of American women. Suddenly, the way God intended a family to work together now stifles a wife’s potential. Or so culture wants us to think.

But notice Paul does not tell women to submit to men, but wives to husbands. He paints a beautiful picture of how the family of Christ functions in a healthy way. Just as Christ leads the church, the husband leads his family.

Submission means honoring your husband and helping him become a man after God’s heart. It does not mean turning off your brain and allowing him to make every decision on his own. It does not mean living in fear that your voice will not be heard. And it does not mean your husband controls your spiritual growth.

A wife has a unique role in the family. God created man and woman differently, and when we try to equate the role of husband and wife, we take away from the responsibilities of each spouse. As a wife, submitting to your husband is a gift you give him. You alone can support him, love him and honor him in a way no one else can.

When you follow his leadership, seek his opinions and desire his spiritual direction for your family, you essentially are telling him you believe he is capable of guiding you successfully toward Christ. You are showing him you believe in him and trust him as your husband and as a godly man. This is truly submission as God intended for marriage.

You have different strengths than your husband, and attempting to have the same role in your marriage will create a dysfunctional relationship and family as you strive after Christ. Your husband’s role is to lead and guide your family. If you are continually working against that, fighting for headship, you will miss out on helping him grow in Christ, and it will prove much harder for him to become the godly leader he is meant to be.

It’s not all about you

When Paul stressed the importance of wives submitting to their husbands, he stressed right along with that for husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the church. Submitting is a gift a wife gives to her man, it’s not a rule that was slapped onto the title of wife just because she is a woman. Men need to obey the command to love selflessly just as wives need to submit. It’s not a one-sided relationship.

What can scare women when they hear this concept presented by Paul is the thought of losing their identity or their spouse controlling them. They imagine giving their opinion only to be shot down, feeling caught in the worry of giving in, because that’s submitting in their minds. But that’s the kind of submission the devil wants you to think of when you picture your marriage. Something unhealthy and abusive. Something you need to rebel against. 

But God’s plan in all this was to set an example of His relationship with us. He loves us perfectly, and He gave His life for us. God doesn’t want us to be robots, only obeying and loving Him because He forces us to. He desires us to willingly submit and honor Him in all we do.

For wives, this shows how submission is a beautiful gift. It shows how you can set an example of selfless love for your husband. You alone are in a position to love him in a way that uniquely examples the love of Christ. You alone can affirm your husband through the gifts God has given you. And you can only do this selflessly through submitting to him in the way the church submits to Christ.

It’s not about you. It’s not about getting ahead and holding your own. And it’s not about proving your strength as a woman. Marriage is about doing something together that the two of you could not do alone. It’s about standing by your husband’s side and helping him accomplish the things God sets before him. It’s about strengthening him as God transforms him into His glorious masterpiece.

At the end of the day, do you want to know you fought against your husband, trying to pull ahead just to prove you are strong and capable with or without him? Or do you want to know you have helped him grow that much closer to Christ as you obeyed and followed God’s plan for you as a wife? It all starts with admitting one thing: Submission to your husband glorifies God and points you back to Him.    

Let’s Talk About It: What thoughts do you have on submission? 

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