(When the Lord first laid this blog post on my heart, I didn’t want to write it. I’m certain it will garner some decent backlash because it’s so pointed and counter-cultural. But I truly long for each of our marriages to be the best that they can be, and because the desire to be obedient outweighs my concern over what people think of me, I’ve gone ahead and published it. Please note that God loves and highly values women, and the content of this post is not intended in any way to diminish the beautiful role that God has given us ladies. If you have any concerns in your own marriage, please, please seek out Godly counsel right away.)
How do you feel about submission in marriage? Is it something you think about a lot, or is it a topic you rarely devote any brain cells to?
Honestly, it usually makes me cringe. Not because I don’t think it’s good or Biblical - I definitely trust that if God commanded it, He had a very good reason for doing so. But I see it so misunderstood, so misquoted, and so misused that it makes my head spin.
Just last week, I read yet another blog post on this very topic. But instead of groaning my way through the author’s mis-application of Biblical submission, I had an “a-ha” moment. Because, for the first time, I was finally able to put my finger on something that had escaped me until I read that post.
I’ve long noticed an undercurrent in most of the stuff I read about wives submitting to their husbands, but it was so subtle that I hadn’t ever been able to pinpoint it before. After reading last week’s post, however, I now know exactly what it is that bothers me so deeply when many people try to explain Biblical submission.
And it led me to ask myself a question that every Christian wife must ask herself:
Why are we settling for bare minimum?
You see, the subliminal message that so often permeates texts on submission in marriage is that we “only need to submit so long as our husbands are upholding their command to love their wives as Christ loves the church” (see Ephesians 5:25). Or that as long as we are submitting x amount of times, we’ve met our Biblical quota. Or that if we submit too much, we’ll become doormats, opening up the opportunity for our husbands to walk all over us.
In short, much of what I read is trying to explain what the bare requirements are for biblically submitting so that we can be good little Christian wives (while still getting what we want, being free to do what we want to do, after we’ve done a little submitting first for good measure).
Of course, I don’t think that this is the message that other authors are trying to portray, but that’s often what comes across.
But in an age where marriages - even Christian ones - are falling apart left and right, why are we aiming for bare minimum? Why aren’t we as wives striving to submit to the BEST of our ability? After all, aren’t we commanded to do our best in everything, as unto the Lord? Of course we are (see 1 Corinthians 10:31, Colossians 3:23-24), and that commandment extends to how we submit to our husbands in our own marriages, too.
I can hear the outcry now:
But what if he takes advantage of me?
What if he doesn’t love me the way he’s commanded to?
What if he doesn’t notice my extra efforts?
What if…what if…what if…?
May I offer some advice here?
I don’t see anywhere in the Bible where it says we only have to submit as long as he is being perfectly biblical.
More than that, I’ve had long talks with Jon on this subject, and he had some very insightful thoughts to share as well.
“When a wife constantly calls the shots, turning down his requests whenever she’s tired or assuming that she has to be the one to tell him no to something, she doesn’t allow her husband the opportunity to exercise self control on his end. She’s not permitting him the opportunity to be a Godly leader, to put her needs above his, or to show her the love that God requires of him.”
Christian wives, we need to do better. We really do.
(Please note that I am NOT recommending that you submit when your husband asks you to sin. Nor am I encouraging any wife to be a doormat or to withhold her opinions if and when they differ from her husband’s. Prayer and biblically-based, common sense are excellent tools to use when considering how best to submit to your own husband. If you are concerned at all about your husband’s response to you, please seek out wise, Godly counseling.)
It’s not easy to biblically submit; it goes against our sin nature. We aren’t going to do it perfectly, and neither will our husbands uphold their commandments perfectly, either. This will be an ongoing learning process for both spouses.
Have you ever thought about to what extent you need to submit to your own husband? Does the thought of submitting to your best ability intrigue you, or does it scare you? I honestly feel both emotions over the thought. But I’m willing to try my best in following the Lord whole-heartedly, and that includes my marriage and how I respond to my husband.
I don’t want to do anything less than my best in how I serve and submit to Jon. I want to be his true helpmeet, and if I’m only giving him bare minimum, I won’t be able to live up to this goal. Contrary to current public opinion, serving our husbands well is the best thing we can do for our marriages. It will bless our husbands beyond measure, give them the opportunity to love us well, and help us both to grow in Godliness.
So, are you willing to ask yourself the one question every Christian wife must ask herself? If so, how will you answer? And what are you willing to do in order to do your best in your marriage?