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Tuesday, January 14, 2014
Submission and strength go hand in hand.
Good and Strong" and "That's Not Headship").
So I turn now to looking at your role in marriage as described in the New Testament scriptures. Hang onto your hats, ladies, because we're talking about...
Submission? Today? Really?
Most of you have probably at least heard that there is something about wives and submission in the Bible. Some of you may even know the verses by heart.
Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
Ephesians 5:22-24 (NIV)
Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.You can choose to ignore these verses or pass them off as out of date for our modern world. But my belief is that if it's in the Bible, especially if it's in the New Testament, it's probably something God cares about today and something we should try to understand.
1 Peter 3:1-2 (NIV)
Most of the women (and men) that have a problem with submission have a wrong understanding of what it actually is and what it isn't. That's what this post and my next post are about. understanding true biblical submission.
Unfortunately there isn't a lot of explanation in the scriptures about submission. So people seek out understanding from a lot of different sources. For example:
- Feminism - women don't need men in the first place and calling a wife to submission is like calling her to a life of slavery.
- Culture at large - 50/50 is the best way to run a marriage. Equality is the goal. Submission is unfair.
- Wrong paradigms - Captain/first mate, pilot/co-pilot, CEO/VP, etc.
Submission and Strength
As I pointed out in my earlier posts for husbands, we often wrongly assume that goodness (being loving) and strength are mutually exclusive.But the corresponding call for husbands to love and lead their wives as Christ does for the church means that they should be both strong and good, just like Jesus is.
In a similar fashion, you may mistakenly think that, as a wife, you cannot be both strong and submissive. So too for you, submission and strength are both important dimensions of your role as a wife. They are not mutually exclusive.
Here is how I frame it up:
The upper right quadrant, the one labeled "church-like," is what I think the Bible calls you to as a wife: to be both strong and submissive.
Forget the notion that submission means you are are to be a slave or a doormat or a Stepford automaton. No, the church-like imperative means you are to be empowered by your husband, secure and confident in his love, with a sure sense of God-given identity and purpose.
But your strength does not conflict at all with the call for you to honor your husband with your respect, to follow and support him in humility, or to be selfless in giving your husband your love and devotion.
The truth is that true biblical submission requires real strength. It requires you to have the mental strength to do battle with the lies you hear all around you about the 50/50 marriage paradigm, about needing to look out for yourself and to stand up for your rights. It requires the emotional strength to face your doubts and fears. And it requires strength of will to let go of your need to control, to follow God's design for your marriage and to follow your husband's lead.
Yes, you can and should be both strong and submissive in your marriage. Don't let anyone try to convince you otherwise. Your submission actually makes you powerful. True submission is a gift you give to your husband, because when submission is demanded or coerced it isn't submission at all. The choice is wholly yours.
Where do you tend to struggle the most in your marriage, with submission or with being strong? Share your story, leave a comment.
Next time we'll take a look at what happens if you falter in either the strength or submission dimension of your role as a wife. Until then, you might want to check out what some other wives have to say about what submission means to them.
More Reading from wives on this topic:
- What Submissive Wives are Not by Nina Roesner of The Respect Dare
- Why More Women are Using the "S" Word by Sara Horn, author of My So-Called Life as a Submissive Wife (book review coming soon!)
- The Submission Series - a thoughtful and thorough ten part series from Lori at The Generous Wife.
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