Archaic. Misogynistic. Sexist.
These are the adjectives that have shaped our view on submission for the last few decades. Our culture’s warped view of femininity and the role of a wife in the home have left modern married women between and rock and a hard place, especially those who claim to be Christians. The temptation to follow the culture is ever present in our lives. But as followers of Christ we are called to go against the grain, and set an example for the next generation by upholding God’s standards for marriage. One of those core standards is the submission of the wife to her husband’s leadership. Unfortunately, most women reject this standard either because of fear or because they don’t deem it necessary. They see themselves as equal with their husbands instead of unique.
When you get married, you enter into a covenant with three parties: yourself, your husband, and God. When you stand at the altar you basically say, “I bet everything I am and everything I own before everyone here that I will trust you and God to hold us together until I die.” When you aren’t submissive to your husband, you are directly working against that covenant.
So how do we make submission become second nature? First, you need to understand what it is.
The Webster Dictionary defines the word ‘submit’ like this: “To yield to a governance or authority, to subject to a condition, treatment, or operation.”
Think of it this way…
When you are driving and you approach a red light, you stop. Why? You are in a two ton car! That little stop light shouldn’t control you!
You stop because you understand the authority the light represents, and you know that if you don’t stop, you will endanger your life and the lives of your passengers. The stop light is on a timer and has a sensor that tells it when to change. Therefore, the stop light knows the best time to turn different colors based on the input it receives.
How does this translate to marriage?
You are the car, your husband is the traffic light, and God is the input and sensors that control the traffic light. The traffic itself represents everything that can dismantle your marriage.
But why should I follow his lead?
Since God is his input, our goal as wives is to follow our husbands as they follow Christ. As long as our husbands stay connected to God and follow His input, we have nothing to worry about. So when your husband tells you that he doesn’t want you to do (fill in the blank), you can CHOOSE to disregard him and do your own thing. However, you have a higher chance of tarnishing what your marriage is supposed to be. You could also increase the time it will take for you and your husband to get where God wants you to be or completely end the journey. Your husband, solely through God’s input, helps navigate the marriage through traffic.
But…what if my husband isn’t following God?
Then you have A LOT of praying to do. October of 2016, Hurricane Matthew ravaged many islands and caused significant damage to the southeastern United States. Millions of people were without power for days. Officials warned us to stay off the roads because the traffic lights were not working.
Sometimes life will throw a hurricane at your husband and he might spend days or weeks without power (disconnected from God). So when your husband is disconnected from God due to a power outage, you have to do the same thing we did during Hurricane Matthew: pray, wait, and proceed with extreme caution.
Now that we all understand what submission is, here are some practical tips to make it a part of your life:
Be respectful: In your words and your actions. Talking over him, treating him like he is a child, yelling at him etc. is counterproductive and it damages his ego. Your job is to build him up not tear him down. It’s okay to stroke his ego sometimes. That’s a part of the reason why you are his wife.
Pray for AND with him DAILY: Pray that he stays sensitive to God’s voice, for his protection, and that he flees temptation as he goes throughout his day. Add specifics when necessary and trust that God will handle it. Prayer is not a magic spell that will keep him from harm, but God loves my husband more than I ever could and simply lifting him up in prayer will make a world of difference.
Go out of your way: Do little things such as making his plate first even when you’re starving, rub his feet even though you have had a long day, wake up early and fix his breakfast even though you’re tired, etc. Serve him without expecting anything because God is your provider before your husband. As wives we honor his position and go out of our way to make his life easier.
Now, we all have made mistakes when it comes to submitting to our husbands. But thankfully there is grace, and now we know that Godly submission is not archaic. It is timeless. It transcends cultures and at its heart it is about love. It does not objectify women, it elevates them, because your husband is called to love and care for you as God loves and cares for the church, to the point that he gave himself as a sacrifice for her. Godly submission means your opinions and thoughts are just as valid as that of your husbands and he respects them. Marriage is a partnership and you mirror God’s love for his church best when you work together.
Here are some verses I studied to help me understand submission:
Ephesians 5:21-33 1 Samuel 25:1-44 1 Peter 3:1-7
If you read these verses in context you will begin to discover the beauty of Godly submission. It’s not easy but it is necessary and it is worth it.