Uh oh. I said the S word. This can’t be good.
In a culture that celebrates pride and the rejection of all types of authority, submission is defined as weakness. It’s seen as equivalent to being a door mat or a punching bag.
I used to think this way. But as I grew in my faith I began to recognize how completely wrong I was. It’s easy, even natural, to rebel against authority. Authority threatens our sense of control over our lives.
What takes great strength though, is submission.
Hear me out.
What is True Submission?
Biblical submission is much different from how our culture defines it. The world says a woman who submits to her husband is weak-willed and has no opinions or thoughts for herself. She is useless. A waste of potential.
Biblical submission, however, is truly a beautiful picture of Christ and his Bride.
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. (Ephesians 5:22-24 ESV)
This passage continues on, explaining how husbands should love their wives as Christ loves the Church and how marriage is a picture of the gospel (Ephesians 5:32).
As women, we get to display two beautiful pictures to the world. We are not only a picture of the Church’s submission to Christ, but we also have the privilege of showing Christ’s submission to God the Father.
Submission Takes True Strength
Jesus is fully God. He is equal in value and in every way with the Father. But he has a different role. Does this diminish his worth or make him any less God? By no means! Yet, he chose to place himself under the loving authority of God the Father. (Mark 14:36; John 5:19; John 6:38; 1 Corinthians 11:3). Would we call him weak?
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:5-8 ESV)
Likewise, wives are fellow heirs with their husbands. We are equal in worth and standing before God. (Galatians 3:28). But we have different God-given roles. (Ephesians 5:22-24; 1 Timothy 2:12). When a wife chooses to place herself under the authority of her husband, she is a picture of Christ. This is true strength.
Ease is found in a woman who gives into her natural bent to elevate herself over men as the curse has taught us. (Genesis 3:16). But it takes great strength to humbly step behind and allow our husband to lead.
Submission is God’s Design
Submitting to my Husband is submitting to God’s design for my womanhood. (Ephesians 5:22).
The main reason I submit to my husband is, well, because my Creator told me to. It is for my good and his glory that I obey him in all areas of life and this is no exception.
Like it or not, there are ways in which we are the “weaker vessel”. (1 Peter 3:7). This does not mean we’re stupid or not valuable. Because of our fragile bodies and our intense emotions, women are generally easier to abuse and manipulate. In spite of the sin brought into the world by Eve (who was manipulated by the serpent), God lovingly designed men to be stronger and with a general desire to protect. You can see it in the older brother who won’t let anyone near his sister. Or the dad who knowingly intimidates his daughter’s new boyfriend.
Just because some men take their strength and use it for evil doesn’t mean we should label God’s design as no good. Abuse isn’t God’s design. Husbands are called to love and honor their wife. (1 Peter 3:7; Ephesians 5:25, 28, 33)
Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. (Colossians 3:19 ESV)
What Submission Isn’t
Biblical submission isn’t abuse. When it becomes truly abusive (as in physical or mental abuse) it is no longer reflecting God’s design.
It’s not giving up my ability to voice my opinion. As my husband’s sister in Christ, I have been commanded by God to share my thoughts about decisions for our family and what I see in God’s Word. God has also called me to lovingly and prayerfully confront habitual sin in my husband’s life. A submissive wife is not always a quiet wife. She’s a wife who voices concerns and wisdom in every day life. This is one way we can be a “helper suitable” for our men (Genesis 2:18). After speaking up, we trust the Lord to work in the heart of our husband whether he agrees or not. (Note: women are never called to submit to anything God deems sinful. If your husband is trying to cause you to sin, you must refuse.)
Likewise, submission isn’t giving up my full potential as a person. There is no true potential outside of the bounds of obedience to Christ. There is only confusion and heart ache.
Submission is Submitting to Christ
Last week a sweet gal said to me in disagreement, “The only person I submit to is Jesus Christ. My husband is not an idol. I don’t submit to/ worship him.”
Firstly, submission is not giving your husband the throne of your heart. Men are fallible and are not saviors.
Furthermore, if we say we submit to Christ, we must submit to his Word. After all, he is the Word made flesh (John 1:1-3). And his Word says to respect and submit to our husbands. (Colossians 3:18; Titus 2:5; 1 Peter 3:1).
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. (Ephesians 5:22 ESV)
Jesus died to restore all things, including the roles of men and women. Genesis maps out submission as the original plan, though the curse since Genesis 3 has marred our view. At the end of the day, Christian women have to choose whether or not they will take God’s Word seriously. Will you truly submit to God’s design or will you allow the curse to have it’s way in your life?