Submit…that is the word placed on my heart today. I love this word because it shows how Jesus has transformed my heart. Before becoming a follower of Christ, I hated this word. I felt that it oppressed me but now I see that it humbles me.
Ephesians 5:22-33, “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do 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. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”
This is a popular passage recited at many weddings. I was not a Christian when I married Shane but I so desperately wish I was. I didn’t want anything to do with this passage on my wedding day, but today I wouldn’t want any other verse used. This passage is one of the greatest examples of love in the Bible. If we obeyed this passage, we could avert ourselves from so much pain and heartache. If we truly took the time to understand what this passage means, I believe so many people would fall in love with their Saviour all over again.
First off, we need to remember that Jesus submitted Himself to die on the cross for us—sinners. Romans 5:7 says, “Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die.” How true is this! Jesus died for us knowing we would sin and rebel. He took our punishment and suffered the consequences for us. He came to earth as a man and put aside all His greatness and power to humbly serve us.
So, let’s break down this passage. I am to submit to my husband as Christ submitted to the Father. Jesus gave us the ultimate example to follow. Jesus died for His church. Our husbands are to love us like Christ loved the church. So, our husbands are to lay their lives down for us. They are to pursue Christ with all their hearts and obey Him. How easy it is to submit when you know you are loved like Christ loved the church.
So how about the women who are not feeling loved by their husbands. We are called to submit, even when we are not feeling loved. Jesus submitted even though He was unloved and hated by many. We are to be Christ-like in all our actions. We love and submit because, we know God. 1 John 4:8 “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” In Ephesians 4:2 Paul calls us to, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” In 1 Peter 4:8 “Above all, love each other deeply, because loves covers over a multitude of sins.” We need to place these passages in our hearts and minds. If we bear with one another in love, how much better would all situations be. If we love deeply, our hearts and attitudes would change our response to all situations. Love over powers darkness and sin.
In the book “Disciplines of a Godly Women” by Barbara Hughes, she says “We don’t live in an ideal world or with ideal men who perfectly follow the Ephesian instruction to love their wives as Christ loved the church and laid down His life for her. Like, Adam, many husbands fail to lead. And like Eve, many wives rationalize about submission, inwardly mouthing Satan’s condescending questions, ‘Surely God didn’t really say that!’” (p. 148) I absolutely love how she takes it back to the beginning. So many Bible studies I have viewed lately and books that I have read have taken everything back to the beginning. Just as Satan made Eve question God, he continues to do so in our lives each and every day. He wants to see us fall away from God. Satan wants to see us fail in our marriages and in our relationships. Don’t let him have that satisfaction.
Barbara Hughes goes on to say that “submission in marriage must be with the same loving wholeheartedness with which we submit to the Lord.” (p. 149) Just as with tithing or giving, it must be done cheerfully. 2 Corinthians 9:6-7 says, “The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” We must daily choose to love and love cheerfully. In 2 Corinthians 8:2, Paul writes about the Macedonian churches who even “In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.” So even when times are tough in our marriages, we must consciously choose to overflow with joy and rich generosity. If we approach every situation with this kind of attitude, how differently would our marriages look? How pleasing would our marriages be to the Lord?
Barbara Hughes states that God has created us to be helpers to our husbands. It is our role to encourage our husbands to obey God’s Word. When our husbands are not following the Lord or when their faith is weak, we must be strong in our faith. We need to have enough faith for the both of us to get us through the tough times that life presents. Just as the Holy Spirit encourages, comforts, comes alongside and helps us in our daily lives, we must be a helper to our husbands.
In the book “Girls Gone Wise” by Mary A. Kassian, she speaks on the topic of approach. How do we as women approach men? Are we wily or wise? She discusses ways in which women manipulate men to bend to their will. A godly and wise woman who submits to her husband will avoid manipulation because she gets her direction from him. I was convicted in the area of verbal manipulation. I have definitely found myself at different times in my marriage “using words to coax, reason, nag, explain, bombard, insinuate, lecture, harangue, cajole, accuse, wheedle, convince and otherwise proselytize [my husband] so that he gives in to [my] way of thinking.” (p. 51) I’m sure he often times has felt that I have “tap-danced on his head.” Kassian refers to the example of Delilah and Samson. Delilah “vexed to death” and “pressed him hard with words day after day” until he would tell her the secret to his strength. I need to remind myself next time I’m using verbal manipulation to stop being a Delilah.
Submission in marriage is not the only area of life. God has designed and structured our lives according to His will and His will is perfect and good. Men are to submit to God, women are to submit to their husbands and children are to submit to their parents. Many parents struggle to get their children to submit their wills. I know I struggle in this area, especially as of lately. I have found comfort in the Bible and the examples that God has given me throughout the Old Testament. I cannot expect my children to submit to my will, if I am not a living example of submission to my husband and ultimately submission to God. My ultimate prayer for my children is that they will grow up to be in awe and reverence of the Lord and that they may seek Him out always and grow mature in their faith. My children will not get there unless they learn to submit their will and obey. God knows that this is of great importance, for it is the fifth commandment, “Honour your father and mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord, your God is giving you.” Exodus 20:12 I need to be an example of submission to my children in all areas of my life. I need to submit to my husband, so that we will prosper in our marriage and be pleasing to the Lord. I need to submit my life to Him and bring Him glory and praise.