Submit. Such an ugly, oppressive word to so many women. So controversial. Do we really know what this word means? We default to assuming that it means someone dominates another, but such is not necessarily the case. Merriam-Webster says submit means, “to commit to the discretion or decision of another or others.” If you commit to something, it is a decision you make. You can’t be forced to make a commitment. So when a Christian woman chooses to submit herself to a godly husband, why does that ruffle so many feathers? Haven’t we submitted ourselves all of our lives to one authority or another be it a boss, a parent, a law…?
We need to understand the context in which a wife Biblically submits to her husband. When we look at verses such as Colossians 3:18-19, it is vitally important that we keep it in context. “Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting for those who belong to the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and never treat them harshly.” When we see the call to submit to a godly husband, it is not a call to be ruled over with an iron fist. Instead, it tells women to treat their husband like the leader they are meant to be and that the leader of the home is to be kind to his wife. This is not a call to be an obedient slave to a chauvinistic bone-head.
So, what gives? Why are so many women put off by the idea of being submitted to their husband? I tend to wonder if it has something to do with them having little to no experience with a godly man that uses Scripture to cultivate his character. In the places where the Apostle Paul calls for women to submit to their husbands, he is in the middle of explaining how to establish a Christian home. He isn’t saying that a woman has no say, no voice, no opinion, no rights. He is saying that when it comes right down to it, a woman should support, encourage, and allow her husband to make the final decisions about what is best for his family.
But what about Christian women who are married to an unbeliever? Does the call to submit apply to them? I think Sarah Flashing’s Honoring God in an Unequally Yoked Marriage addresses this issue beautifully and I encourage those of you in this situation to check it out.
So, I am still in the early years of my marriage (3 1/2 to be precise) and we are still getting the hang of this Biblical model for spousal roles in our relationship. I have always been a woman that was very independent, stubborn, and determined that I didn’t need a man to lead me because I would lead myself, thank you. Learning how to apply this to my own marriage has been eye-opening to say the least. But I am learning that sometimes, I have to be the wife that speaks with softer words than she wants to use, the wife that doesn’t nag (incessantly), and the wife that overlooks small infractions that would have driven the old me over the edge, even when I don’t feel like it. Of course, I don’t get this right all of the time, but I am working on it. I want my marriage to honor God and to be healthy and strong. In what ways has following God’s model of marriage impacted your relationship? What do you say to those who don’t understand Biblical submission?
Abide in His Grace,