All quotations and credit, besides the Bible, are from a sermon from my college Elder at my church Jarod Gilcher.
I understand this is dangerous grounds to be on, talking about submission, but, please hear me out. Society, as always, has tainted the very concept that God uses to glorify Him, as a term to suppress and oppress women.
“There are some––even those who profess to love Christ and to treasure His Word, who say that wives being called to submit to their husbands is part of a system of male dominance built around ancient paradigms that taught that women were inferior to men and thus should be controlled.”
This mindset when it comes to the term “submission,” has diluted the biblical meaning of what God is trying to convey in His Word. The Bible, in Ephesians 5:22-24, draws a clear picture of what biblical submission looks like:
“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.”
“Submission has never been about abusing and oppressing women, rather, the beauty of what submission is, is that it is a parable that displays the very drama of salvation between Christ and His church.”
What an honor that is, to have a perfect model for marriage! Not only have that perfect model, but to use that display of Jesus and His church in your marriage to glorify God. Once again, God’s intentions for this model is NOT to oppress women, but “to understand that one of the most practical ways men and women can put Christ on display in their lives is by fulfilling the roles in marriage that God has designed for them.”
I’m going to get to the practical way of what it means for wives to submit to their husbands, but I’m going to use Jerod’s list of 8 things that submission is NOT:
1. Submission does NOT mean putting the husband in the place of Christ. Yes, a husband’s role is to display Christ in marriage, but he does NOT replace Him.
2. Submission does NOT mean leaving your brain or your will at the wedding altar.
This is a good one. A lot of women have the idea, that once you are married, the husband thinks for you. He makes all the decisions and he has the last word. But that is not at all what God is meaning by submission. Psalm 128:3 says “Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house;” A vine does not grow when it is being suppressed or oppressed. A husband’s role is to lovingly lead in such a way that his wife can grow in her calling and her relationship with God.
3. Submission does NOT mean agreeing with everything your husband says.
In Genesis 2:18, it says that the role of a wife to her husband is to be his helper. And sometimes, humbly and lovingly you as a wife or future wife, and a helper will disagree with him.
4. Submission does NOT mean avoiding every effort to change or influence your husband.
As a “helper” to your husband, ladies, sometimes you will be helping him, humbly and graciously being transformed into the image of Christ. This means, as a helper, you may at times hold him accountable with his actions if they are affecting the household. Complaining, manipulating, lecturing or guilting him is not the way to do it. However, praying for him to be godly and sometimes pleading with him is the way to go.
5. Submission does NOT mean that a wife gets her personal, spiritual strength primarily through her husband.
Like I’ve said before, yes, the husband has the role of being the head of the marriage like Christ is the head of the church, but he does not replace Christ. This does not mean that husbands shouldn’t provide a source of strength and stability for his wife. In fact, he should and must do that. But he is not your Savior ladies. Only Christ can provide that unending fountain of life that permanently satisfies your souls.
6. Submission does NOT mean that a wife acts out of fear.
This comes back to society’s definition of what submission is. However this is not biblical at all. If the spirit behind your submission is fear and intimidation then ladies, that is not of God. “Biblical submission is a place of profound safety, stability, security, and love.”
7. Submission does NOT mean that a wife is inferior to her husband.
No where in the Bible does it say that women are inferior to man. “Both man and woman have equal dignity being equally created by God in His own image and likeness.” God made both man and woman in His own image and likeness, yet He created different unique roles for them which one isn’t inferior from the other. “Husband and wife are both EQUAL, undeserving recipients of the treasure of salvation. But what makes them different from one another are their roles, functions and responsibilities in marriage.” Like I’ve said before, this does not mean one role is more important or better than the other.
Last but not least…
8. Submission was NOT invented after the Fall as a result of sin.
“Submission was NOT imposed upon women as part of the curse––no! The role of submission existed EVEN in paradise, in the first marriage, on the planet BEFORE the virus of sin was unleashed! Submission was not a result of sin, sin is why submission is so difficult.” Read that again. Society has planted this seed in a lot of people’s minds in the church that submission was invented after the fall as a result of sin. But that is not the case.
Now that we have got that out of the way, let’s see what biblical submission is.
“Submission is the divine calling of a wife to honor and affirm her husband’s leadership and help him carry it through according to her own unique giftedness. That means, her role is to support and strengthen his leadership and help him achieve what he is called by God to do! He can’t do it without her.”
Biblical submission has nothing to do with oppression, abuse, or male-dominance. Biblical submission is a free-willing, God-honoring thing to do that gives God glory in your marriage.
Now I’m not saying submission is an easy thing to do, however, it is honoring and rewarding to do so.
I’m single, but I’ve seen plenty of marriages that display this model so well. And I’ve also talked with married couples about this topic. When done right, submission is NOT what society has defined and diluted.
So sisters, although submission is a touchy subject especially coming from a man’s perspective, I felt like this needed to be addressed. After hearing the sermon from my college elder, I was inspired to write about it.
If you are single and wondering how you can benefit from this, my suggestion is use the true meaning of submission to determine who you want to lead you. A lot of women, and men also, let their emotions drive their decisions. But let the Word of God drive your decision.
A husband should lead in such a way that it makes submission a delight. Let the Word of God be your litmus test to your decision of who to marry.
If you are married and you are struggling with submitting because you battle with societies definition of submission, I encourage you to revisit this Scripture and seek counsel from a godly woman who is displaying what it looks like to biblically submit in marriage.