Thursday, October 20, 2011

Biblical Submission in Marriage

I remember as a child the word submission being a not very highly thought of word. That never really hindered my life all that much until after I got married. Sure there were some experiences, but once I left home to start my own life I did not think about submission much. Then when I was getting married I realized that I really did not know what it means for a wife to submit to her husband. I have received various answers ranging from "Wives submitting to their husbands was a cultural concept that applied back in biblical times, but does not apply now." to "It means he has the final say." to "It means he decides everything in your life and you do not get to decide anything and you need to be happy that way." Various extremes to say the least. None of these answers were helpful to answer my question. I still am not sure I can totally define "wives submit to your husbands" with a definite definition.
I have seen various extremes like I mentioned earlier. There are many out there who take the attitude of "I am woman hear me roar" and say "there is no man--not even my husband who is going to tell me what to do". Many of these women who complain about their husbands being without backbone or push overs. Not something I wanted to emulate.
Then there were those who didn't plan the grocery list until their husband approved the menu. In this family the husband is the dictator making all family decisions and his wife's input was disregarded if she ever dared to give it. She had no rights and it seems no voice. That was not what I want to emulate either and thankfully I am not married to a man who would want that.
Somewhere in the middle needs to lie the answer. However, those two extremes leave a lot of possibilities. So it does not show what the husband/wife relationship is supposed to look like. The reason for this is that I think it is something that must be worked out between the husband and wife. The Bible is quite clear that the husband is head of the household, the leader. The wife is to submit to his authority. However, that set up is not going to look the same at my house as it will in your house. I believe the Lord gave us the guideline, but not the blueprint. The Lord knew that each of us is different-- after all he created us. So He knew that each of us has different strengths and weaknesses. Therefore the rolls in this regard were not defined in detail so as to let the couple work them out in their own marriages.
One of the reasons that submission has such a negative connotation is the way it has been overly defined in some cases. I know of a case where a man moved the girlfriends he was cheating on his wife with, but she better never say anything because she is to submit to her husband. I also know of another family that expected their adult daughter to live at home until she got married, but then they would not approve of any man for her. She was eventually considered a rebel because she snuck all of her things out of the house to go get married. She is happily married today. Then there are other families who are set up as the husband is the king while the rest of the family are surfs there to serve the king. It is this extreme that I believe has pushed many women to the extreme of "I will not submit to any man."
It is this extreme husband as king while the rest of us are surfs here to serve the king that I want to talk about today. There are several problems with this and it is not a correct interpretation of the passage that tells wives to submit to their husbands. If you look further in this passage it says that husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church and to lay down their lives for their wives. Often in the family with "the king" this part of the passage is overlooked. If he were laying down his life for his wife then the rest of the family would not be surfs to serve him. He would serve them. Still the service to each other is not the answer to Biblical family life. The problem with "the king" concept is that it puts the husband as the center of the family. No where in the Bible does it say the husband is to be the center of the family. This is a form of idolatry. It puts him in place of where the Lord Jesus should be. So she worships her husband instead of the Lord.
Please follow me for a minute. The Bible is clear that he is the head and she is to submit, but that does not make him the center of the family. The center of the Biblically healthy family is Christ. Wives don't live to please their husbands and husbands don't live to please their wives. They each live to please Christ. If she lives to please Christ then she will submit to her husband and if he lives to please Christ then he will love her as Christ loved the church and lay down his life for her. This is the example I want my children to see is a mom and dad who love Christ first and then love each other. Then they will see more truly how love works and my prayer is will pass this on to their wives when they are husbands one day. So the answer to my question in what it means to submit to my husband was simple-- live to please Christ and I will naturally submit to my husband.

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