Yikes! Saying the words, “Submission to Your Husband”, can evoke defiance, confusion, anger and even a bonafide panic attack. So many of us ladies were never given a positive view of submission and today, I’d like to change that!
I’d like to say that submission is always easy and blessed beyond measure, but the reality is that it is oftentimes scary and frustrating. Because we are Christians, we don’t get to just decide how we will live in this life, we read our bibles and see how God wants us to live and consider His Ways. So, before I go any further, let’s take a look at some definitions and then we will dig into what submission is, and what it is not.
Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines “submit” as: “To yield, resign or surrender to the power, will or authority of another.”
With a definition like that, it’s no wonder that the women of today struggle with the concept of submission! Most of us, if we weren’t raised in a God-fearing home, were not taught to submit to anyone except, maybe, our parents and teachers at school. I know my generation was bombarded with the message of feminism, personal empowerment and to ‘do what feels good’. When dreams of marriage came to mind, it was usually all about what I wanted rather than building a partnership and biblical couplehood. No one ever taught me that I would need to yield or surrender to anyone’s wishes but my own! The closest I ever came to thinking that way was from the message of ‘compromise’. And yet, God’s Word says it plain as day:
“Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.”
Interestingly, the greek word for “submit” in Ephesians 5:22 is: 5293 hypotássō – properly, “under God’s arrangement,” i.e. submitting to the Lord (His plan).
In the original Greek language definition, we can now see that to “submit” is merely to come under God’s arrangement, his ORDER for marriage. In other words, when we submit to our husbands, God considers it as if we are submitting to Him. As we understand that submission to our husbands is really submission to God, we can take on a different perspective, can’t we?
“Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own 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. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.” (1 Peter 3: 1-6)
The same Greek word for ‘submit’ in Ephesians 5:22 is the same Greek word used in the above passage found in 1 Peter 3. What I want you to get a sense of in it’s meaning is that submission is not designed to make you less than your spouse. Submission was designed to give order to marriage, because let’s face it, you can’t have two heads. Having a power struggle in your marriage for leadership will lead to all kinds of problems, as current divorce rates prove. God’s Way is a better way.
God says in verse 6 that “you are her daughters if you do what is right and DO NOT GIVE WAY TO FEAR.” Why would the Word of God need to say that??? If you think on the times that you do not want to submit to your husband, you may be surprised that fear is behind it. True submission takes faith and trust in God and our husbands that everything is going to work out for our good. I truly believe that is women could bring themselves to submit in faith, they would see amazing things from God.
And submission was also designed to do something much greater- let’s take a look at the whole passage in Ephesians 5:
“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” (Ephesians 5:22-32)
What I wish Christian couples could lay a hold of most in their marriages is that their marriages have the potential to reveal Christ with His Church! When a husband leads like Jesus, when a wife responds to that leadership like the Church, we present a beautiful and powerful picture of the relationship of Jesus with His Bride. Even Paul couldn’t understand this mystery fully, but can you imagine if we agreed to do marriage God’s Way and the result was increase in His Kingdom?! Can you imagine others wanting to be a part of this beautiful picture that they see through your marriage, that they would receive salvation as a result of it???
As wives, how we respond, and how we submit to our husbands says a lot more than just how our marriage measures up- it also shows how Christlike we are and is a witness to all those around us that observe our marriage.
Let’s Get Real- What Submission is NOT:
Submission is NOT a manipulative tactic that condones abuse. If your husband is abusive toward you- then it is very important for you to get professional help. God does not, in any way, give husbands permission to abuse their wives.
Submission is not leverage for you to use AGAINST your husband and guilt him into doing as you wish. Enough said.
Submission does NOT say that you are LESS THAN anyone. You are a perfect match for your husband- mentally, emotionally, physically. intellectually. Submitting to your husband does not decrease your value, in fact, in God’s eyes, it INCREASES your value!
And finally, submission isn’t mere compliance. When your heart is not aligned in faith in God and to honor your husband and God’s order in marriage… that is not submission. God can still bless compliance on some levels, but He is really looking for true submission to your husband as an act of faith in your heart.
What Submission IS:
Submission is alignment to God’s order within marriage. God’s order really is best. He designed marriage in His Wisdom, not the world’s reason. We can trust that if He made it this way, then it really is the right way!
Submission is an act of faith, fully trusting that God will honor your obedience. Submission is an act of obedience BEFORE God within your marriage. When you submit to the Godly order of marriage, you are showing your faith and trust in His Word and He is pleased with you.
Submission honors your husband and his position in your marriage– that is given to him by God. And it’s a heavy position to hold. I encourage you to study the scriptures concerning your husband’s role in marriage and all that he will one day stand before God for. Do the same for your own position.
I personally have reaped so many benefits from properly submitting to my husband over the years. (That’s all for another post!) God has always honored and covered our family as a result. Today, if you are struggling with the concept of submission, know that you can confide in the Lord and He will help you. If you find yourself prone to fear concerning submission to your husband, confess it before the Lord and ask Him to give you courage to do what His Word says. You will never regret doing the Word of God!