Pardon the ridiculous title, but we gotcha readin’ didn’t we? Yes folks, I used the “S” word… today we are going to take a few moments to fruitfully explore the daunting topic of “marital submission”.
Let’s face it, in our modern, commercialized, quasi-Christianized America, below are some of the ridiculous thoughts that race through our heads:
We could obviously keep going, but hopefully we’ve established “the point”… those ideas on submission are simply inaccurate, period.
We could definitely use this nook and cranny of the web to quote every verse in the Bible about submission, but we will not. Instead, let’s look at the themes of what the Word communicates. The core message can be conveniently and neatly summed up with a few points, coincidentally, all taken from Ephesians 5.
23For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. (Ephesians 5: 23-24)
We know what you are thinking: “These guys really ARE feeding into a Neanderthal world-view”. Unequivocally, the husband is called to be the “head of the house” (as he submits to Christ). This, however, is a statement of position, NOT equality. Everyone follows someone or something. Two CEOs cannot effectively and efficiently manage an organization. Man and wife are equal in marriage, the man is only called to the humble role of Christ-focused leader.
This is actually one heck of an intimidating calling! The husband is accountable to the Creator of the Universe for how he leads your marriage and serves you. Men, Christ calls you to present your wife “without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but as holy and blameless” (Ephesians 5:27). This is a blessing, but a very real and heavy responsibility.
25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. (Ephesians 5: 25)
This verse makes us look at that pesky “life of Christ”, and is a fantastic “data point” for this discussion. Husbands are called to treat their wives as Christ served the church. He gave everything, including his life, to serve / uplift the church as he lived in congregation with, obedience to, and absolute dependence on the Father. Husbands should point their wives to and glorify Christ in all they do within their marriage. Christ led and loved through humility, sacrifice, and by actively serving others.
21Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. (Ephesians 5:21)
Shucks… here is another “doozy”. The Bible does NOT say “Woman, submit to your man!” Both man and wife are called to submit to each other within their marriage, as both submit to, focus on, serve, love, and delight in Christ and each other (in that order).
As you read scripture on submission, change the word SUBMIT to SERVE in order to maintain a better understanding of what Christ intends. Christ led and served the church. “Serve each another as Christ served the Church.” Hopefully light bulbs are clicking in your heart now. This does not absolve the man of the leadership position, it just appropriately orients is.
Imagine how your marriage would look if the husband joyfully and consistently did these things as an inevitable result of his deeply prioritized, all-encompassing relationship with and worship of God.
Of course this is not a complete list, but surely you get the idea. You should also derive that this man would never ask you to do anything that violated scripture.
Ladies, would it really be difficult to submit to that guy? Also, here are a few quick and important notes to help you:
Fellas, are you that guy? It’s fair to say I have plenty to work here as well. You will only become this guy as you make Christ the center of your life. Simply put, you lead your spouse as you actively initiate purpose-driven, Christ-centered, passionate love. You must lead in love. Lead in servanthood. Lead in prayer / Bible reading. Lead in romance. Lead in passion. Lead in humility. Lead in pursuing Christ. Lead in knowledge and grace of Jesus. Lead in prayer. Lead in serving and giving to the church. Lead in giving of yourself. Lead in joy and laughter. Lead in patience.
Do not focus on “getting” in your marriage, focus on endlessly giving. There is no end to how much you can give when the Holy Spirit dwells in and flows from your core.
In the comments below, many readers posted of their sadness and frustration related to living in a marriage that seems one sided. I definitely want to encourage you to continue praying, seek out relationship with strong people of your same gender at church, talk with your care pastor, pray constantly, and continue seeking to show the love of Christ to your spouse.
Also, below are some good books on this subject to read through: