When did submission become a dirty word? Sometimes I feel like I’m cursing when I use it! I tell you, for years the word made me cringe. I bristled at the thought that I was commanded –yes, commanded!– to submit to my husband. What? I’m a strong, independent woman! No man gonna tell me what to do!Whoa, let’s slow down. I’m getting ahead of myself here. Ephesians 5:22 says that we are to “submit to your own husbands,as to the Lord.” As to the Lord. As to the Lord… First, I submit myself to the Lord. Why doesn’t that make me bristle as much as “submit to your husband” does?
If I’m being honest with myself, it still kind of does. The whole idea of submitting takes away my control (or illusion of control) which is something I desperately want to cling to. However, I was listening to a sermon a long while back, and the pastor made the following illustration that helped me to understand submission a little better:
Pretend you’re a child on a grocery trip with your mother. Now, she has a definite end goal: get all the items on the shopping list. But she lets you push the cart. You turn left down this aisle here. You walk along the right side of the store there. Look at you go! However, Mom has a list she needs to complete. She is going to take control when she needs you turn right and you want to turn left.
I’m sure you can see the connection here. God has a plan. Sometimes He needs us to turn right when we so badly want to go left. We should rejoice when God lets us turn left, but trust (read: submit to his infinite authority, wisdom, and love) when God wants us to go right.
And let me encourage you further. We have the perfect example of submission in the Trinity itself. Jesus submitted to the Father in everything He did. Just look at Philippians:
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. (2:5-8)
If anyone had the right to entitlement, it is Jesus. He was equal to God. He is God. Yet, He submitted himself to the authority of the Father–even though He desperately prayed for an alternate path (Luke 22:42). Jesus’ ultimate submission allows us to redeem ourselves to Him, to know Him, to spend eternity with Him!
And then there’s the Holy Spirit. This member of the Trinity has submitted Himself so fully, that Francis Chan wrote an entire book about Him called The Forgotten God! And think about it: the Holy Spirit is how we, us, you and me, currently know the Lord! We didn’t have a pillar of fire like they did in the Old Testament (Exodus 13:21). And we weren’t alive when Jesus walked the earth. The Holy Spirit is the Lord that we know. He is the one who dwells in us. And He has submitted Himself so fully, He is often overlooked and misunderstood.
So, ladies, let’s not undervalue submission.
Ok, back to the beginning. “Wives, submit to your husbands…” What does this look like in our marriages? We are a member of a team that reflects Christ’s relationship with the Church. One of our roles on this team is to submit to our husband’s authority the way the Church submits to Christ (Ephesians 5:24).
Submission does not mean blind obedience. We are not doormats to be walked on. Team members work together for an ultimate goal. They listen to each other’s ideas, opinions, and preferences and come up with a solution together. In the event of a conflict however, the decision should be left to one authority. When Jesus was praying in Gethsemane, that authority was the Father. In our marriages, that’s our husbands.
And let’s be real, ladies. Our husbands have a lot of pressure. Did you read the rest of Ephesians? Our husbands must give an account for us; they are as responsible for us as they are for themselves (5:27). In light of this, I find submission quite freeing!
And remember the grocery illustration? Rejoice when you can come to a solution together. Trust your husband when he must make the final decision and you are in conflict. This is why it is so important to find a godly spouse. It is easy to submit to a man who submits to the Lord!
Submission is a dirty word in our culture–as it was for me and probably is for you. I know I can’t single-handedly change this with one blog post, but I hope I’ve made it a lot cleaner for you as God has been making it for me.