Submitted by Janet.
When Dick and I got married, we wrote our own wedding vows. I promised to submit to his authority as my husband and the leader of our home. Less than an hour later, at our wedding reception, one of my cousins asked if we were going to open our wedding gifts there. I said no,I didn’t think so. Immediately, one of my aunts taunted me with, oh wait, Janet, you can’t make that decision! What does Dick want to do? You promised to obey him!
Submission is a loaded word in our culture, and it produces conflict and tension like that. So how do I reconcile these tensions as a believer?
First of all, I understand what the scriptures say, in context, not how the culture interprets it. How can I object to submitting to someone who loves me as Christ loves the church, has my best interests at heart, and is willing to die for me?
Secondly, I understand that biblical submission does not mean:
- Wife is inferior,
- Wife is a doormat,
- Wife never uses her brains,
- Husbands have better judgment, etc.
And thirdly, I believe God’s word is truth, and I trust God that He chose this position for my best good, and He will be my security and strength when Dick fails. It boils down to obedience to God.
There is one time I remember very clearly when DIck “made me” do something I didn’t want to do. I was chair of the CE committee in our church, and in the course of planning something, I made a negative comment–I don’t even remember now exactly what it was—except that it was insensitive and came across as judgmental of another mom.
Dick pointed this out to me, said that I had hurt her feelings, and told me I needed to confess it and ask her forgiveness.
I did not want to do that. But he kept on my case about it. Now, he couldn’t really have “made me” do it if I had rebelled and refused. It wouldn’t have been genuine in that case anyway. In my head I knew Dick was right. It was hard to submit, yes, but it was the right thing to do, and God used Dick’s spiritual leadership to help me do that.
We’ve been married 33 years, and we tried to come up with other times when Dick exercised his authority and I submitted, and we couldn’t think of any.
Because that’s not the way it usually works.
Because Dick loves me, and because I respect him, when we disagree on something, we process it through until we reach a consensus. Not that we’re perfect. We have stumbled over seemingly simple things such as choosing a place to go out to eat:
Dick would say “which restaurant do you want to go to?”
“I don’t care; wherever you want to go”
“No, you pick”
“No, no I’ll go where ever you want”
So then Dick picks a restaurant and I react with: “I don’t want to go there!”
Have any of you been through that scenario? That’s a minor thing but it does show us how easy it is for conflict to arise.
Despite the fact that each one of us is married to a sinner, generally, when two people are committed, the husband to loving his wife and the wife to respecting her husband, we can process disagreements and conflicts far more wisely. We can agree on a course of action that makes sense to both of us. Two good-willed people who feel loved and respected almost always discover a creative alternative that resolves the conflict and allows for agreement. So wives: be active in decision-making with your husband. Search out the best courses of action; present arguments for what you think is best; be persuasive and helpful.
However, If a decision must be made without consensus, the husband is responsible before God to call the shot, and God calls upon the wife to submit to her husband.
We must not forget the second part of God’s command to us: wives must respect their husbands (verse 33). This concept has been greatly overlooked in the church, as we’ve gotten hung up on the concept of submission.
Why does God’s word command us to respect our husbands? Dr. Eggerich believes it is because respect is a man’s primary need., and women don’t naturally express respect. It doesn’t seem as important as love to us. But it is vital to our husbands.
What if a wife doesn’t feel respect for husband? Or doesn’t think he has earned her respect. Scripture doesn’t say “respect him if he’s earned it”. We are called to show respect (act and speak respectfully), as an act of obedience to God. Disrespect can break a husband’s spirit, and can damage a marriage.
Ultimately, refusing to submit to or respect your husband is a refusal to trust and obey God.
You may say, if I weren’t married to a sinner, I’d do that, but I don’t trust my husband to love me the way Christ loved the church. The problem is not trusting your husband, its not trusting God.
Yes, your husband will make wrong decisions—unwise (poor judgment) and insensitive (selfish). Dick would be the first to admit he’s made mistakes.
Is Christ great enough to take care of me then? Of course he is! That is why we do not need to fear submitting to an imperfect husband. We do it “out of reverence for Christ.” I submit to and respect my imperfect husband as a step of faith in Christ.