Ahhh, such fun dialogue resulted from yesterday’s post! And I will admit that I’m somewhat intentionally pushing some buttons,in order to, hopefully, make you think, re-evaluate, and maybe prayerfully consider some things that, at least I, for one, have always read through my preconceived ideas and understandings.
So, along those lines, I think maybe today’s post will put some of your minds at ease, because you will see that I’m in NO WAY saying a wife shouldn’t submit to her husband. (“Whew!”, I can hear your collective sigh of relief all the way from here…)
Let me start off with a few questions, that to some may seem elementary, but to MANY (especially those who have suffered under the wrong application…and ‘enforcement’…of such verses as…
Ephesians 5:21 “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord,”
they are the difference of life and death.) All too often these verses have been used to control, manipulate and abuse, and that, in part, is why it is imperative (in my opinion) to have a right understanding of them. While it may not matter much to you, or maybe it’s just a fun ‘debate’, for some women, needing a healthy understanding is like needing air when one is drowning. It can be life saving.
Allow me to start off with a few questions, to get us thinking in the right direction.
What if submission was more about OFFERING something, rather than TAKING what another ‘dished out’.
What if submission is actually a beautiful, Kingdom concept that isn’t brought about by sin’s disruption of God’s plan, but actually a foundational part of it, when understood correctly and in a healthy way?
What if submission didn’t feel DE-valuing, but rather, about DEEPLY-valuing?
I’m going to share a personal experience that I think demonstrates well what I have learned about this concept of submission.
About nine months (or so) ago, my husband, Todd, decided, in a somewhat-snap, overnight decision that he was going to make some radical lifestyle changes, mainly (at that time) in his diet. He was very excited, and started learning a lot about the diet he was going to adopt, how to make it work long-term, and was completely gung-ho about getting started.
I, on the other hand, not-so-much.
The changes he came home proposing were pretty radical for our family and lifestyle. He was talking about things like cutting out sugars and sweets entirely. (Whoa, pump the brakes there, buddy!!!) He was using terms like “low-carb”. (To a woman who loves all things Italian, including pasta…total blasphemy!!) He was looking at me with excitement and hopefulness, and all I could muster was a low-growl.
I was, to say the least, not ‘on-board’. And I expressed as much. Not only to him, but to anyone who would listen (albeit in a ‘joking’, bantering way). I complained about how I would have to change entirely how I meal-planned and cooked…neither of which are strong points for me to begin with, and already were a thorn in my side. Now this being “heaped upon me”…it was just too much to bear… (Sense the sarcastic, over-dramatization…)
He graciously said that it was fine…not to worry…I should just go about cooking as normal, and he would make his own dietary adjustments as needed. He told me to make regular meals for the family, and he would eat what he could of them, and supplement (and prepare on his own) as needed. My thoughts? “Darn right! This is ridiculous!”
You have no idea. I’m a passionate, fiery person (something my
crazy dear husband regularly says he loves about me…God bless him)…and to say that I was fired up would be a bit of an understatement.
I expressed my frustration at his making such a decision ‘on a whim’, without even discussing it first. I expressed that he had no idea the impact this would make on me, and on our budget, on our family. I expressed that I had serious doubts about the healthiness of his diet plan I expressed that I felt hurt by his making the decision without me. (I’m *very* expressive, can ya tell? )
He listened, and graciously said that he understood what I was saying, and that he was sorry I felt steam-rolled. He also felt, however, this was something he had to do, felt like God was giving him the grace to do right then, and while I didn’t have to agree or adapt any of my cooking or the rest of the family to the plan, he was still going to do it for himself. And we would just have to agree-to-disagree on the rest.
That was my attitude, and remained my attitude for the next almost-two months. “Fine.” But in that time, I began feeling the ever-growing twinges of conviction. That nagging feeling of being in the wrong. Not on all points, mind you, but enough that I could no longer stand it.
And so, we revisited the issue, and the conviction I felt, and the conversation that we had, has forever cemented my understanding of submission.
Submission was definitely the issue that I felt convicted of. Not because I wasn’t ‘obeying’ Todd, because frankly, he hadn’t given me any directives, and in fact, quite the opposite, was very open-handed and freeing of me to NOT participate in what he wanted to do.
It was because my heart attitude was not one of supporting him, cheering him on, or being ‘for’ him, in any way, on this matter. And it wasn’t because I didn’t think it was best for him to make these changes…in fact, I knew his desires to make changes in his weight were good and healthy. (Even though I still questioned, and we looked into, together, if this was the best way to achieve ‘healthy’ from a physical standpoint.) It was completely out of selfishness, because I didn’t like the impact, or implications, his choice made on me. And for this reason, I was wrong, because I was not offering my best to support him, in a way that demonstrated Christ-like love, even when very little was being asked of me.
Do you see the difference I’m trying to convey? I feel like this is the perfect scenario to hold up as an illustration, because I wasn’t being told or asked by my husband to *do* anything. When I expressed this to someone, that I felt convicted of being ‘unsubmissive’, they responded, “How are you being unsubmissive? He’s not asking YOU to DO anything…” And that’s true. He wasn’t putting anything on me. It was all simply about a heart attitude of not wanting to work with him, in cooperation, with a personal goal of his. One I didn’t *have* to take part in at all. Submitting isn’t about giving in, doing what you’re told, or even letting someone have their own way. Submitting is about taking the very best of what you’ve got and offering it to another.
“Submitting” would have been encouraging him. Submitting would have meant being willing to make changes to our family’s diet, and the way I cook. Submitting would have been probing him, in earnest dialogue, about how he came to this decision, what HIS goals and dreams were, and how I could help him. Submitting would even INCLUDE questioning whether this was the healthiest route to take…and here’s why. Because on THAT point, it actually WAS in his best interest for me to question, and look into, what the healthiest ways to approach our food choices was. Submission does not mean check your brain at the door and close your mouth. Submission comes from the heart, and it means use all the best of your skills…including reasoning and investigation…to come alongside and support one another.
With this understanding, we can suddenly see how “submit one to another” can work…both in marriage, and really, relationships of any kind…as Paul was commanding the entire church to do so. Not just wives. Not just to their husbands. Everyone to everyone. Including wives to their husbands.
Ah, so much to say, so little time… Tomorrow I’ll delve into how husbands are really called to the same action and attitude that we are, but because of the difference in men and women, what looks/feels like ‘submission’ to us, in a husband and wife relationship looks/feels like sacrifice for a man. Interesting and exciting stuff!
God did pretty great when He designed this thing called ‘marriage’!!
(And by the way, I reaped several side-benefits from my adjustment and choice to submit. I ended up deciding to change my diet, and our whole family’s, really. We are all eating healthier. I had already started to incorporate exercise, and he took that and ran with it. (Literally, he did one 5K and hasn’t gone back. He’s been a running nut ever since! And is now biking too!) He’s spurred me on and encouraged me to keep at it. Since all this began, he has lost 50 pounds and I, 30. I’m planning on running (okay, running/walking), my first 5K this summer. Obeying God’s promptings always has good results!