Have you ever heard those words? Either meant seriously or in a joking manner? Probably every woman on the face of the planet has in the very least been acquainted with the idea of submission. In America especially, submission is VERY unpopular word. The concept makes many cringe at the thought. It seems outdated and male chauvinistic. BUT, please bear with me. I promise by the end of this post you’ll have a different perspective with which to think about submission. And you might just like it!
First, we have to ask: When did submission first come into play?
Some believe at creation, others believe it is a consequence of the Fall of Man, and others might believe that it came much later. But I’d challenge you to look at Scripture with me a little bit closer. Let’s collectively zoom into Genesis chapter 1 verse 1: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Stop. In the beginning, GOD. Now, lets move over to verse 26 of the same chapter: “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…” Do you see that? God said, ‘Let US, OUR.” Meaning none other than the Trinity. God the Father, God the Son (Jesus Christ) and the Holy Spirit. It is in THIS relationship that we FIRST see submission. Jesus submitted to the Father’s will when He willing gave up the treasures of heaven to come to earth to die on the cross for our sins. Before he faced the cross, He prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will” (Matthew 26:39). He didn’t want to face the cross, but Jesus recognized that the outcome of His death would make a way for mankind to be reconciled to God, bringing His Father glory.
Let this be clear: Submission is NOT a result of the Fall. Before the entrance of sin, God put Adam in the garden of Eden to ‘cultivate it and keep it.’ (Gen. 1:15) After this, the Lord said ‘it is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him’ (1:18). Did you catch that? Role responsibilities before Eve was even created! Before sin ever entered the picture! Man was to cultivate the land and keep it (work, provide, protect) and Eve was to be his helper (help-mate, come along-side to help accomplish his God-given tasks, submit to his leadership).
Okay, that was a long intro, but I promise it was necessary to have a proper understanding of the submission concept!
How do YOU view submission? Has this changed over the years or since you got married? Is it harder or easier? For me personally, I believe submission to be necessary, right, and true but even more HARD. Submission is hard! But we practice submission every day in all kinds of various relationships:
Yet which one do we fight the MOST? Husband and wife. We have to remember that husbands and wives are completely EQUAL in value and importance, we just have different role responsibilities. Genesis 1:27 says, “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” We are NOT in any way talking about a difference in value. God’s Word is exceptionally clear that men and women are created equally in His image. But just like a manager and an employee of a company are both vital to that company, they have to operate different roles and tasks in order for the company to run as smoothly as possible. Ephesians 5:22-23 reveals to us that God’s ultimate intention for headship and submission in marriage is to reflect the relationship of Christ and the church. “The husband is to mirror the sacrificial love of Christ by laying down his life for his wife, and the wife is to exemplify the church’s joyful submission to Christ by following her husband’s leadership” (138). God designed submission for His glory. When we recognize that, we experience far more blessings than if we are to continuously fight it.
So WHY do we fight submission? What in us makes submission so hard? Well, after the Fall, there were consequences. Right? Right. Genesis 3:16 lays out the woman’s specific consequences for her sin, “…Yet your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” Mahaney puts it this way,
“The form and context of the word desire actually has a negative connotation–an urge to manipulate, control, or have mastery over. Because of the curse, we now have a sinful tendency to want our own way and to resist our husband’s authority” (140).
So in reality, the submissive wife, who is portrayed as weak-willed in our culture, is actually a model of inner strength. By God’s grace, she has conquered this opposition within her own heart. “It is actually weakness on display when a wife is not submissive; she is only caving in to her natural inclination to usurp authority and demand her own way. That doesn’t take any effort at all” (140).
I think the reason we buck up against submission is not because we don’t agree with the command, but rather because it is HARD. We would rather be lazy.
We have to get out of our lazy-rutt and act in obedience to God no matter how much we might not initially want to. It is the only way our marriages will perform as God intended them to.
Do I make it difficult for my husband to lead? [Think about your attitude, countenance, sarcasm, leading yourself or trying to lead him, shooting down his ideas, brushing off his requests, etc.]
When I was a teenager, a friend of mine was telling me about how his mom was constantly complaining about how her husband didn’t step up and lead the family enough. His response was, “Well if you want him to step up, you have to step down and let him!” That has resonated with me ever since. Oftentimes as women (and women who have a more outgoing personality or tendency to lead especially) we like to take the reigns and run with them. But then we find ourselves wishing our husbands did more. But in reality, we have to check ourselves and see if we are actually the ones who need to step down in order for our husbands to step up. There’s not room for two in the pilot seat.
Also, we cannot blame our husbands for our lack of submission. Just like we wouldn’t want them to blame us for their lack of leadership. We each have responsibilities and we need to take care of the ones directed towards us. Remember, Titus 2:3-5 says, “…being submission to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.” [emphasis mine]. As married women, we are not to submit to ALL men, but rather to our OWN husbands. One man. ONE MAN, ladies! We can do this!
As a disclaimer, I must add: There are no excuses to this mandate (see 1 Peter 3:1-6) but there are exceptions. We should NEVER follow our husband’s leadership into sin. God’s authority trumps theirs, so if your husband ever tries to lead you down a path that would dishonor God and go against His Word, do not submit. Seek counsel and help from a trusted outside source.
The bottom line is this: Do you trust God enough to lead your husband to lead you?
Susan Hunt puts it rather beautifully in her book, The True Woman:
“The true woman is not afraid to place herself in a position of submission. She does not have to grasp; she does not have to control. Her fear dissolves in the light of God’s covenant promise to be her God and to live within her. Submission is simply a demonstration of her confidence in the sovereign power of the Lord God.”
Remember ladies, Jesus is the embodiment of pure submission. Let’s emulate Him in our marriages to our husbands so that we, too, may glorify God in our obedience to the Father. This is true feminine appeal that draws a watching world to the gospel of Christ.