My daughter in law texted this to me this morning: “You’re right . . ,. Submission is not silence!”
She went on, “I was reading an article written by a Christian woman; she made it seem as though husbands were the final authority over their wives; like we have no say in anything.”
When I read her text to my husband, his reaction was, “Then tell a woman, don’t do anything, and see what happens. Tell her she must ask her husband, ‘Are the eggs done yet?’ ‘Should I do the laundry now?’ ‘When do I go grocery shopping?’” I have a friend whose husband did not allow her to move furniture, go grocery shopping because he was better at it. He told her, “The laundry load is too small.”
Historically, marriage did consign women to powerlessness, to whatever her husband decided. But it can and should be much bigger than all of this meanness and control and disrespect. It might have been a step into losing your power and personhood in the past, but the Bible is the original book of equality: “male and female created He them in His own image.” Your marriage is a mystery of the deepest spiritual significance where mutual submission should happen; where nourishing and cherishing should go on. It is where you can have the hope of really belonging. “This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” Eph_5:32
A good marriage happens because the two who have become “one flesh” determine daily to listen hard and speak respectfully . . . thinking of the good of the marriage now, and the strength and stability for the future. A good marriage is commitment from the heart. Submission to your husband is stepping up and saying what you think, what you believe because he needs to hear it. This is respect for him, respect for your marriage! My husband used to tell me, “I will not know what you think unless you tell me.” He had to remind me because my “belief” about this controversial subject was skewed. I had heard too many “strong” messages about women obeying . . . and not one about “women thinking.” Suddenly, learning to listen hard was the discipline I had to begin practicing; learning to be “swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.” Jas 1:19
It is a good day when a married couple respects the amazing “personality” they created together when they married: they are male and female: counterpart, but one. If the personality type of a woman purposefully mixes with the individuality of her husband they grow in this mysterious “one flesh”. When their two life experiences and wisdom combine and they offer it to each other, “submitting one to another” their marriage and love grows.
Your marriage has masterfully integrated into it by God a male and female perspective. As individuals, you have unique personas: together they are like a new person. “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” Gen_2:24 Shutting one down, (in this case a woman because submission is misunderstood), the marriage can only hobble along; broken, disabled, growing visionless.
Since before you married you were two and now “one flesh” you have signed onto a mystery. A husband cannot do the only thinking if love and respect will grow. When a husband expects his wife to obey like a child, he will abort the whole hope of being in an exciting marriage. An exciting marriage listens from the head and heart; it is mutually respectful. When a husband determines he will “do the thinking”, soon he will disrespect his wife; to him she will seem less and less a person. He will demean her. If she submits to being controlled, she will diminish as a person in her own eyes.
God, head of the church, gives us respect! We work it out . . . life. “For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body.” Eph_5:23. What does the head do? “Nourish and cherish the body.”
We work it out. Submission of a wife to her husband is like the Church does to Christ: “. . . work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” Php_2:12. Then together, “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God . . . wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands . . . Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it . . .” Eph 5:21-33
Submission is total commitment to your marriage with loyalty and respect. It is gaining a clear picture in your mind of what is true, honest. It is agreeing, disagreeing. It is stepping up with vision and loyalty, making your marriage strong! It is saying what needs to be said, doing what needs to be done to make it loving and kind and good.
If a husband forces the final decision in his marriage without learning the wisdom of “submitting one to another in the fear of God”, what is left is a bitter woman who will lead her own covert life . . . because a human being will do that.