“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.”
Ephesians 5:22-28 ESV
If you ever wanted to stir the pot, present the above verses to someone- just about anyone. The first reaction I hear from people is something negative about submission. In our culture, we want to be leaders, and strong ones too. Submission is for the weak, and the ones who are spineless. We are all about women's rights and being equal to men. We are so set on proving that we can be more than merely submissive, that we have lost what these verses are talking about. We tend to shut down and start thinking of arguments as soon as we hear the word 'submit'.
We are losing our identity as women, and the unique creatures God made us. In a world where the difference between genders is becoming more and more blurred, we need to define ourselves as God would define us. Don't misunderstand me. I don't mean that to be a woman you must wear flowers, and sip tea from delicate cups while being the picture of gracefulness. We have our own unique personalities, and I understand that. I personally, enjoy power tools, working in the dirt, and strong coffee. This, however, doesn't mean I'm less of a woman, and any less accountable to submit to my husband.
Now before you get fired up and start writing angry things in the comments, hear me out. First, let's look at these verses. Husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church. Wow! The depth of love that they are commanded to love us with! The guys are being given a pretty high standard here. Christ loves His bride so much, that he gave his life for it! Husbands may not always show the love they are called to, but we aren't perfect on our end either. They are not being given permission to belittle, harm or look down upon their wives. I think we often picture a husband degrading, commanding, and belittling when we think of submission. Yet, this is not the way God intended it to be. Submission also doesn't mean sitting quietly in a corner with your head hung down, and having no voice of your own. However, one must have humility, self-control, and kindness to submit. It involves listening, praying, and being servant-minded. Submission is a choice, a privilege, an honor. I truly believe that. It is meant to be an act of love.
Believe it or not we are all submitting to something already. What?!? But you're so not the submissive type, right? We might be submitting to sin or selfish wants without realizing it. We submit to Christ or the world. We are to submit to our husbands, but we are both to submit to Christ. Men and women alike, are to submit (there's that pesky word!) to God. Should we not submit to the Lord? Should we not yield to His will? We don't like the idea of yielding to anyone or anything. We want freedom, and we want it now. We are patriotic, and believe that all people have the right to be free, and they do. Yet, none of us are truly free unless we submit to Christ. If we don't we are slaves to sin. We are all submitting to something, and a servant of a cause, even if we don't acknowledge it. Consider these verses:
"What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves,[a] you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.
For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Romans 6:15-23 ESV
I think the majority of us can safely say that we indeed want to submit to Christ. So, when it comes to submission to husbands, why do we get hung up on it? I firmly believe that it is our culture. It is viewed in such a negative light that the positives are drown out. Yielding to the will of our husbands, does not make us lesser Christians. We are equal in our Christianity.
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Galatians 3:28 ESV
“Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God.”
1 Corinthians 11:11-12 ESV
We are all equal in the fact that all are equally able to receive God's mercy and Grace. Women don't receive less grace, or a smaller reward for faithfulness. God's love covers us all equally.
There is great beauty to be found in submission. God made me a very strong (can you say STUBBORN??) woman, and learning to yield to my husband (or anyone for that matter) and allowing him to truly be the head of our household, has been a hard-learned lesson. I want to control things, and assert my opinion over his. Oh, I still give my opinion, and as a wonderful leader of the house (and amazingly patient man), my husband takes into careful consideration the things I've said. Usually we reach a decision together, but occasionally, I have to yield my will to his and trust that God is leading him to make the right choices for our family. Ultimately, submitting to our husbands is equipping us to submit to God. Very rarely, I strongly disagree with his decision, I go over his head and bring my petition before God. If my husband doesn't move, I have to have faith that God has His reasons, and things will work out.
I've come to learn that submission isn't for the weak. Rather, it is quite the opposite. It takes a strong woman to yield. To go against the norm in our society, and be viewed as taken advantage of, unintelligent, and ignorant, is tough. It takes a lot of faith, and humility. God has given us a wonderful opportunity to shine in this. We can take this task and use it to learn how to better serve our Lord and submit to His will. We can still serve in unnumbered ways, without being a man (A topic to be covered in a later post?). We can encourage, love and be a helper to our husbands, so that they can fulfill their role in God's kingdom. What a responsibility we have! I want to be like my Lord and be a helper to all I meet, but especially my husband. I was made for this.(Gen. 2:18) What a privilege to be his helper. God designed things the way he did for a reason. Perhaps it's time we put our faith in His design.