The work day was almost through and I was counting down the minutes to five o’clock. It was the weekend and I was heading to my hometown to visit with my parents. Just before leaving, I shared my travel plans with a professor friend of mine. In the process, I said something horribly offensive… something like, “Yeah, Eric has always been good about letting me go visit my parents.” Perhaps, I should have used a different word beside ‘let.’ I could have said, “Eric does not make a fuss when I want to visit my parents.” Or, “Eric thinks it is important that I visit my parents.” But, I chose the filthy L word. Her response oozed disgust.
“That is why I could never be married. If a man ever ‘let’ me do something, I would…” She clearly desired to never be under the authority of a man – other than her boss, of course… and the President… and other local authorities…. And, you know, all kinds of men who have authority over her but do not love or care for her on a personal level.
Her response made me a bit sad. Despite her big talk, all I saw was a wounded woman with a negative view of submission – something her Heavenly Father designed for her good.
Recently, some friends and I began a book study called Lies Women Believe: And The Truth that Sets Them Free by Nancy Leigh DeMoss… and it is kicking my butt. Nancy is such a sweet lady, but she does not hold back in speaking the truth!
The most recent chapter we covered was on marriage; and, as I prepared for the study, I completely expected conviction to hit me square in the face. To my delight, the first point she made did not apply to me – at least, not any more – so, I moved on to the next point. Her second point did not speak to me either, or the third! For a split second, I let an ounce of pride slip into my heart. “Well, I am doing better than I thought!”
And, then I reached the fourth lie women believe about marriage:
“If I submit to my husband, I’ll be miserable.”
Well, that took care of the pride! When my eyes grazed over that sentence, it no longer mattered if the other points applied to my life. I can write an entire book on this one lie alone!
Before I realized how much marriage would change my life, I looked forward to being the submissive wife. But, living out God’s Word is not nearly as easy as reading it. It did not take long to conclude that submission was going to be difficult for me. I am not someone who enjoys leading, so it stands to reason that I would be a natural follower, right? Wrong! Apparently, I do not like to lead or follow. I like to go where the wind blows me, but married folks rarely have the ability to float quite so freely.
After the newness of marriage wore off (it only took a handful of days), my excitement about submitting began to wane. This was real life. This was not a Hallmark movie over in a couple hours, a school play, or any of the fantasies I had concocted in my head over the years. It turns out, sharing a checkbook with someone is not all it is cracked up to be (yes, I was actually psyched about sharing checks with my new husband).
As much as I wish I could claim victory over this lie in my life, I still struggle with it; and, the struggle is multi-faceted. Here are just a few sub-lies that fall under the main lie, If I submit to my husband, I’ll be miserable:
- If I submit to my husband, he will control me and I hate to be suffocated!
- If I submit to my husband, my single friends will roll their eyes and think I am a doormat.
- If I submit to my husband, I will become weak, dependent, and unable to take care of myself.
- If I submit to my husband, I will have no voice.
- If I submit to my husband, I will feel like a perpetual child.
Let’s tackle these one at a time…
If I submit to my husband, he will control me and I hate to be suffocated!
But, I am a free spirit!
I am constantly tempted to blame this lie on my personality. I truly am a free spirit at heart. I want to get up when I please. Work when I please. Play when I please. And, do pretty much anything I want when I please. Rules – at least, the ones I deem as unnecessary – drive me crazy. All the organized, productive people of the world just need to leave me alone and let me be. ~smile~ (I love you guys! I really do!) Some people give me a pass and say that my ISFP (introverted, sensing, feeling, perceiving) personality type naturally lends me toward this behavior; but, as much as I want to blame my lack of productivity on my temperament, that is honestly just an excuse. I may be more prone to laziness than other personality types, but I am still expected to diligently work (II Thessalonians 3:6-12), and I have the Holy Spirit’s power within me to give me victory over my sin.
So, while someone like me is not fond of being under another’s authority, it does not give me a pass to meander through life disregarding my husband. Regardless of my feelings, God’s word is clear.
“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.” (Ephesians 5:22-24, ESV)
If I say I love God, but scoff and ignore His commands, do I really love Him? (John 14:15) Many women gloss over or argue Scripture passages which mention submission because they see it as a demotion, as shackles, or as a relinquishing of their identity. However, God did not design marriage to be a one-sided, man-centered free for all. He did not give husbands a free pass to treat their wives like property or to make selfish demands. Quite the opposite, in fact:
“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. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body.” (Ephesians 5:25-30, ESV)
God does not desire his daughters to be harshly controlled. Thankfully, Eric seeks to lead me as Christ leads him, but he has no desire to control me. Control is not a godly attribute, but a characteristic of Satan. He wants to control us. He wants us to be slaves to sin, but those who are in Christ have freedom.
“For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.” (Romans 6:14, ESV)
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (2 Corinthians 3:17)
But, if you are dating a man who seems interested in controlling you… flee, my dear… flee!
When husbands and wives seek God with their whole hearts, control is not a concern. There is freedom in obeying God. There is blessing and unexplainable contentment. If I submit myself to God, and follow His command to submit to my husband, I will not live in a cage. Now, I will not always like every decision Eric makes when we disagree (and we agree much more often than we disagree); but, I can trust in my Heavenly Father to protect me and lead Eric.
If I submit to my husband, my single friends will roll their eyes and think I am a doormat.
More than once, I have faced the decision, “Do I follow Eric’s lead in this area, or do I refuse?” As I ponder my decision, my friends’ faces and voices pop into my mind.
- “Seriously, you are going to obey What are you, five?”
- “Dude, if a man ever told me what to do, I would tell him where he could…”
- “That is not really what the Bible means when it tells us to submit. He should also be submitting to you.”
Though, the voices in my head may sound like my friends, the message is clearly from the enemy who seeks to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). Even if my friends did respond poorly to my decision to submit to my husband (whom I chose to marry), the “war” would not be against them, but against the forces of darkness (Ephesians 6:12).
Sometimes I would rather not follow Eric’s lead simply because I do not want to feel the (imagined) disgust of my friends or hear the scoffing of a rebellious culture. May God heap grace upon us and teach us to care more about His favor than the world’s applause (Galatians 1:10).
As I was pondering my fear of man (or in this case, wo-man), it occurred to me that the strong, prayed-up, God-fearing women who lovingly submitted to their husbands were the ladies I most admired as a child. (So, why do I want to be different than the women whom I have always esteemed? Good question… it is sounding like foolishness to me.)
If I submit to my husband, I will become weak, dependent, and unable to take care of myself.
If you do not want to become weak, dependent, and unable to take care of yourself, you do not have to. In marriage (as God intended it), the husband needs the wife and the wife needs the husband. To be a helpmeet in your marriage, ladies, you must have strength; you will have to carry the weight of your husband’s needs at times; and, in many cases, you will have to take care of yourself. Biblical submission does not weaken a woman. When women are loved, cherished, and graciously led, they become stronger. I can honestly say I am much stronger today than when I got married and that is due in no small part to my husband. Biblical submission strengthens, but subservience weakens.
These two terms are often confused, so I did a quick Google search on the meanings of submission and subservience. According to Google, submission is: “The action or fact of accepting or yielding to a superior force or to the will or authority of another person.” Submission is a choice. God does not tell husbands to force their wives to submit.
Google defines subservience as: “Willingness to obey others unquestioningly; the condition of being less important than something else.” Women are not less important than men in any way, shape, or form; but we are different. We were designed differently. Personally, I am glad of this fact! We were created by a loving Father with a tremendous mission. Nothing about us is second rate, ladies!
If I submit to my husband, I will have no voice.
When Eric and I were first married, I believed this lie much more than I do today. I believed it to the point that I frequently withheld my opinion when Eric asked for it. Submitting meant sitting back and not getting in the way of his decision-making. (My newlywed view of submission I had was incorrect on so many fronts.) Honestly, I was not secure in my opinions and did not want to lead us astray, so I relied on him to make good decisions 100% of the time. What pressure I placed on him! Just because someone is strong does not mean they want to oversee everything all the time.
I did not have a voice in those early days simply because I did not give myself one. As Eric is told to love, serve, and lead me, I am called to respect, help, and submit to him. How can I help him if I am willingly mute? In a moment of desperation, Eric finally blurted out, “I need your opinion!!!” Slowly, I began to open up, share my thoughts, and give him counsel. The world did not end and Eric has come to truly value my input. In a Christ-centered marriage, wives are not without worth, significance, or a voice.
“He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD.” (Proverbs 18:22, ESV)
“In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body.” (Ephesians 5:28-30, ESV, emphasis mine)
“An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.” (Proverbs 31:10-12, ESV)
If I submit to my husband, I will feel like a perpetual child.
This sub-lie is only believable when we have a mistaken view of submission. Eric’s call as a husband is to love, serve, and lead me; and, I am thankful God gave Eric (and my dad, and my friends’ husbands, etc.) those responsibilities. Eric leads our family, but we have different positions on the same team. He is not a major league player and me a minor league player. He is not creating harsh rules and demanding my unquestioning obedience. He is not sitting on a throne barking out orders to me, or sending me to my room when I cross the line.
Still, we live in a fallen world and none of us is perfect. Occasionally, Eric slips up and treats me like a daughter (rather than a wife). He is a natural leader and sometimes his leadership comes across in a strong manner. But, but, but… he desires to be a godly husband who wants to live out God’s design for husbands and forgives me when I slip up and play the role of mother rather than wife. We are both works in progress. ~smile~
One Year and One Day
On May 7, 2016, my dear mentor, “Miss” Betty, drew her last breath and went home to be with the Savior she so deeply loved. As I was preparing for this post, I thought about her and the tremendous blessing she was to my life; and, I found it interesting that as much as I worry about what the world thinks of my decision to submit to my husband, one of the traits I admired most about Miss Betty was how joyfully she submitted to her husband. And let me tell you… she was a go-getter and firecracker! She was always on the move, ready for the next prayer meeting, luncheon, or road trip. Her husband, Mr. Dave (whom I also adored), was more of a homebody. He enjoyed working, resting in his recliner, and was not nearly as social as his Bun. But, they fit together beautifully. He loved her. She respected him. They made married life look easy; but, they had to work at it, submit to God, humble themselves, and grow into the amazing couple I knew.
When I think of the kind of wife I want to be, I think of her. I praise God that He gave me such a tremendous example who only lived across the street (so I saw her very often!). She let me witness her successes, she was up front about her failures, and she did not like to be placed on a pedestal. She gave all glory to God for everything she did right, and clung to the cross when she failed. I love and miss her dearly.
Keep Studying, My Friends!
Maybe you are about to get married and have some apprehension about “this submission thing.” If so, you are among thousands of women who frequently stumble and rely on God’s grace. You will fail – probably often – but there is grace. You can ask God to give you the wisdom and strength to carry out the tasks to which He has called you. Keep studying Scripture. See what God is actually saying to husbands and wives in His Word. The closer you draw to Him, and the more you submit to Him as your Lord, the easier it will be to submit to your future husband. And, never underestimate the power your prayers will have on your husband’s life and on your marriage.
Are you nervous about God’s call to submit to your own husband, as to the Lord?