wives, submit to your husbands

last week we discussed the powerful act of submitting when it comes to our children.  
submitting our ways, our plans, our worries and our fears.

today we will change the pace a bit and look at another powerful act of submitting.
one that seems to drive traffic away from the Bible 
and one that often scares women more than it encourages them
one that many women do not even want to discuss, let alone follow

today we're talking about
submitting to our husbands

<<quick disclosure>>
i have read many articles, commentaries and posts on this subject.  i wholeheartedly believe that it has been tackled and tamed.  so this will not be any kind of attempt to "say it better."  this will be my thoughts on the subject, and how i view the interpretations in order to assist my deepest attempts to live in line with this difficult piece of Scripture.  

"wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord."

are you cringing yet? 

if this isn't one of the most controversial pieces of Scripture I don't know what is.  it is found in the book of Ephesians, within a section of scripture collected and labeled:  "instructions for Christian households"  though the message is clear, in this one verse, i find it fascinating how often people will only bring up this verse, and totally fail to consider its context

so with that said
let's read the entire passage before breaking down the wife's part (and freaking out)

Ephesians 5:21-33 NIV reads:

21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 
23 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.
24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her
26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 
27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 
28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 
29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 
30 for we are members of his body. 
31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”[c] 
32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 
33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

i've numbered my thoughts on the subject because my thoughts are nothing more than a mess of mental struggle, to be honest.  it's scattered and unfinished simply because my understanding of the subject is scattered and unfinished.  all i've experienced is this; when i fight against the rules of submission, the Truth pops up in God-given bursts instead of a logical line of rehearsed pep-talk.  

so i give you those bursts, the same way, here

1.  we are supposed to submit to one another
i'm no Bible expert, but i cannot help but first see that, before wives are commanded to submit to husbands, we are commanded to submit to one another, out of reverence for Christ (verse 21.)

God desires that we live in harmony, and the order of submission is laid out accordingly.  most people find the bold statement "wives submit to your husbands" to be degrading, old-fashioned and disrespectful.  just one breath before, however, we are told to submit to one another!  it is an equal partnership of submitting; it's working together.  God does not say one needs to act before the other in order for this to work, He just says it needs to be done.

2.  are women supposed to submit first?
ok, so there are some who will argue that God commands women before men in verse 22.  well, throughout the Bible God backtracks here and there.  my first thought rests on how He speaks about all of Noah's sons and ancestors in Genesis 10, but it isn't until Genesis 11 that He goes back and speaks details about those sons and ancestors, and seemingly out of order.  does this mean that we are reading the lineage incorrectly?  or does this mean it is written incorrectly?  neither.  it simply means that is the way the Lord told the story, and it doesn't change the fact that Noah had three sons.

whether women or men are to submit first is not the center of the lesson.  it is the first Scripture, "submit to one another," that is at the center.  it's left open to interpretation because we are left with the free will to decide whether we will shut down our pride and meet our partner halfway, sometimes far before they'll agree to meet us.

3.  there are and equal number of commands
suppose women just went ahead and decided to make the first move.  it's tough, but not unfair.  we are still carrying an equal load as our husbands. 

  • women are told three times to submit to their husbands (22, 24, 33), and reminded of why, twice. (22, 24)  we are to submit to our husbands as we do to the Lord. 
  • men are told three times to love their wives (25, 28, 33), and reminded of why, twice. (25, 28) they are to love their wives as Christ loved the church.  
  • verses 29-32 take us down the road of how marriage brings man and woman together into one flesh, and this flesh is to submit to Christ as one united body; the church.

women are to submit, and men are to love.  
we all are to submit, together.

4.  two different words but much of the same action.  
look closely at how men are commanded to love in verses 25-29:  "as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her." 

ladies...  we are told to submit and respect and i understand how difficult that is to swallow sometimes.  but do you forget exactly how Christ gave Himself up for the church?  

He assumed shame that wasn't His, 
remained perfect and unchanging, 
and then hung on a tree for it.

ladies, our men have it tough.

we all have it tough.  we were created to be perfect and we blew it, plain and simple.  in Christ alone we have the chance to be redeemed and live with Him.  all He asks for in return is the one sin that resides deep in our wicked hearts... pride.  

satan knows the pride that's in our hearts.  
he knows that home is where the heart is.  
and he knows that home is where he can have the most fun...

so when married life get's difficult, embrace it as a moment to be strong in the Lord.  

i am horrible at this.  HORRIBLE.  i do not want to be quiet.  i do not want to submit.  i do not want to put my opinion on silent, or even tone them down.  i am tired.  i am cranky.  i am selfish.  i am wicked.  and can you blame me?  i have quite a difficult task!  

well, my husband has a difficult task, too..

neither of us are given more or less than the other.  we are equally sinful and in desperate need of a Savior.  we are most desperately in need of love and compassion.  God is not picking on one or the other, but pushing us together and encouraging us to sacrifice, all in order to love one another as best as possible.

thank you so much for reading today.  now let's keep one another encouraged!

what are your thoughts on submission?  

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