Thursday, July 3, 2008

Marriage: Female Submission

I'm afraid I'm daring to venture where angels fear to tread in this next post, because it is so controversial, and so easily open to misinterpretation, both by myself, and by someone who might be reading this. But, because I believe there is a Biblical basis for the wife to submit to her husband, I'm going to go here, and just let the chips fall where they may.

Submission is difficult for everyone, but everyone is expected to do it in some way. As Christians, we're told to submit to our church leaders, to submit to our country's leaders, to submit to our bosses at work, and most importantly to submit to God himself. It's hard enough for men. I know at times I have struggled to submit to all of the above in the way that I'm supposed to. But it's even harder for women. They have one more directive: submit to your husband.

That's especially hard when you think about what many men are like. I fight the urge to be a slug about 80% of the time. There is nothing in me that makes me worthy of Crystal's submission. Even when I'm trying and doing my best, with God's strenghth, I'm prone to mess up. I have a hard enough time keeping my shoes tied, much less properly leading a family. So frankly, at least from a worldly perspective, Crystal should be well within her rights not to submit to me.

But we can't get away from that command. It's right there in black and white: "Wives, submit to your husbands as unto the Lord." (Ephesians 5:22 ESV) In other words, submit to your husband in the same kind of way that you do to God. That's just plain hard. I talked about the husbandly resonsiblity last post; how after thoughtful consideration and consultation from the wife, and after consensus has still not been reached, it's up to him to make a decision or take action. But once a decision is made or an action is taken, the wife's command is to support the husband and follow him, even if she's not sure it was the right decision or action, as long as it is not immoral. This involves a great deal of trust and a great deal of putting away pride. In that sense, the woman is taking her cues from the description God gives of the church, submitting to Jesus, taking up her cross and following Him, whatever the cost, and trusting that He wants what is best and will work to do what is best.

The female tendency would be to rebel against the very thing she is asked to do - submit to her husband. That could come in many different ways, and it's frankly quite natural. I think women can go either way with this rebellion: it can come in the form of aggressive attempts to usurp authority; it might also come in passive attempts to undermine him. Either way, just as man's attempts to rebel against headship are a sin against God, so are women's attempts to rebel against submission.

In an ideal mariage, the woman submits to her husband out of joy; because she knows he wants the best and plans the best for her, and will always put her thoughts and feelings and desires ahead of his own. Of course, I know that there are no ideal marriages, and every woman at one time or another will have to submit to her husband despite his own shortcoming, and maybe even despite the fact that he doesn't know what he's doing. Just as men are called to lead women who don't want to be led, women are called to submit to men who don't want to be the head of the family.

Just as male headship is a learned and ongoing thing for men, submission is a learned and ongoing thing for women. Neither of will ever get it perfectly right. But both of us must work toward that ideal at all times.

In my next post, and I don't know when that will be, I hope to lay out the reason that husbands should lead and wives should follow. Hint: It's probably not what you think.

1 comment:

Juliet said...

Well said, Wade. Now I'm off to buy all Gary Smalley's books so I can know everything too. You and Crystal have a great fourth of July!