Thank you for visiting, I hope you stick around! This is a blog dedicated to encouraging women to rest in God's grace and righteousness. I pray that nothing you read or see here leaves you feeling discouraged or inadequate. The last thing I want is to contribute to the "I don't measure up to this blog" epidemic that is plaguing so many moms today! My prayer is that this blog helps any readers (and myself) be comfortable with the eternal and secure identity in Christ that is there for the taking. Here's to walking in His liberty!


Thursday, September 19, 2013

{letting your husband lead you, part 2} submission: antiquated and oppressing, or timeless and freeing?

Believe it or not, I am not always a submissive and respectful wife. I'll pause for a second to let that sink in, because I know how shocking it is.

It's been a minute since I've posted anything, and it's because it has taken weeks of thought and prayer for me to be comfortable posting on this topic. I want to portray Biblical submission correctly, and that is a tall order. I'd like to start by talking about the more contemporary view of submission, because until a couple years ago, it was where I camped.

Chances are, if you ask someone who isn't a Christian or someone who goes to a more emergent (emergent: adj a church that focuses on being less institutionalized) Christian church, they will see this concept as a bit outdated or irrelevant. In fact, most people who attend a more traditional Christian church might even be leaning in that direction. I'm not sure, but I would guess that it stems from the fact that nobody wants to be bossed around. Husbands don't want to be told to sacrificially love their wives and give themselves up, or be commanded to cleanse their wives with the Word. In turn, wives don't want to be subject to their husbands. Therefore, "submission" begins to look like domineering husbands controlling their silently reverent wives. I get how that picture of marriage isn't widely accepted in today's society. I get it. Submission just doesn't come naturally to any of us, right?

The problem with living by that logic is that what does come natural to us is sin. When Jesus spoke about dying to self and taking up our cross, well...to me that speaks volumes about not doing what comes naturally to us! Submission doesn't come naturally to me (fo sheezy), but I trust that as I am sanctified by the Holy Spirit and made more like Jesus, that my will (what I naturally desire) will line up more and more with God's will. This command is defined by the Lord, and confined to what is honoring to Him alone. I think somewhere along the way, this slipped through the cracks of the world's view of a wife's role in the marriage relationship.

So what does submission look like, anyway? It seems to me that a lot of people (myself included) don't bother to find that out before just shrugging this concept off as antiquated. To my knowledge, and in my experience, submission looks like what the world might call "mutual respect." If my husband snaps his fingers at me and I bow my head, cower, and there is a childlike obedience there...that wouldn't be healthy for either of us. I would never feel close to my husband if our relationship worked like this, and what reason would he have to respect me? This model for marriage--Jesus and the church--was given to us for our benefit and to create a safe, intimate, mutually encouraging environment within our marriages. 

It seems that the term "submission" has gotten a bad rap, because it is said by many to be oppressive and dishonoring to women. I can definitely see where this idea came from, but I have found it to be completely contrary to my own experience. The Bible tells women to be subject to their own husbands, whether or not their husbands fulfill the counterpart of this command; which if you think about it, is probably why so many people have a problem with it. In my opinion, that is the beautiful thing about it! It's not saying that we should let our husbands treat us like we're nothing, and never say a word about it. I believe it's just saying what should be the most obvious part of marriage--love your spouse even when they don't deserve it. You can love your spouse the best when they are at their worst. This is how Jesus loves the church. I heard a very wise pastor say this once, and I was flabbergasted that it hadn't occurred to me before! 

Additionally, if we look at the part addressed to husbands, it is the most beautiful picture of love there is. Wives, shouldn't we be eternally thankful that God didn't place a condition on that part of it? "Love your wife like Jesus loves the church....if she deserves it." It sends shivers down my spine. Nobody deserves to be loved like that, therein lies the gospel of Jesus Christ! 

Godly, Biblical submission (in my experience) looks something like this. If there is an area that I'm not seeing eye to eye with my husband, and what he is asking of me isn't dishonoring to God, I humbly lay my own desires aside (which in and of itself is honoring to God, and commanded by God) and show my husband love and respect with my actions...even if the honorable judge ME has decided he doesn't deserve it. 

What submission might look like:

My husband points me to the Lord when my focus or worship has shifted.
My husband holds me accountable in my relationship with Jesus. 
My husband holds me accountable in my stewardship.
I strive not to undermine his Godly authority over our household.
I don't argue with him in front of our children, and try not to be argumentative in general.
I approach disagreements with him from a place of respect and humility. 
I try not to use my emotions to manipulate him.

What submission is not:

I never give my opinion.
I only speak when spoken to.
My husband makes every decision for our family on his own.
My husband never has to lift a finger to help.
I blindly agree with everything he says and does.
I do not speak up for myself when my husband dishonors me, or asks something of me that is dishonoring to God.
I don't express my feelings to him.

(Please hear me that when I say "I, Me, My husband" in these examples...I'm not actually pointing to my own life...except that my husband is an amazing, Godly man who almost always does his part right! )

To close, I'd like to share a few insights from people much wiser than myself.

"A wife flourishes with a loving husband, and a husband becomes courageous with a respectful wife."
-Mark Driscoll, "Real Marriage"

"Submission is not the husband's to command, but for the wife to willingly and lovingly offer."
-John MacArthur, Commentary on Ephesians 5

"For husbands to love their wives as Christ does His church, demands a purifying love. Since divine love seeks to completely cleanse those who are loved from every form of sin and evil, a Christian husband should not be able to bear the thought of anything sinful in the life of his wife that displeases God. His greatest desire for her should be that she become perfectly conformed to Christ, so he leads her to purity."
-John MacArthur, Commentary on Ephesians 5

Here's to lovingly offering our submission, in hopes of allowing our husbands to be courageous and love us with a purifying, cleansing love! 


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