Submit? You Must Be Kidding! (Part 1)
I remember being accosted by two women years ago at a wedding because I said that the wife was to submit to her husband. In this day and age, the idea of submission has taken on very negative connotations. And for good reasons!
Too many with authority use it in an abusive manner to control others for their own selfish ends. But God never gives authority to anyone to empower that person to lord it over another human being and rule him or her selfishly. Authority is a tool for service, not a weapon of war. When God gives people authority, it is only to equip them with what they need to fulfill their responsibility to Him and to serve those they have been given authority over.
So it is in marriage. The husband is the head of the family, not because God wants him to have the right to lord it over his wife. No, headship means responsibility! The husband is the head of the family because it is his responsibility to protect and provide for his wife and children. And the authority God gave him is to provide him with the ability to respond to their needs promptly and fully.
Now, of course, a man’s authority is not absolute. Both he and his wife are subject to a higher authority–God’s! And no man has the authority to abuse his wife, physically or verbally. A woman who is in danger due to such abuse should wisely remove herself from that situation, and seek help for her family outside of the home.
God’s purpose for the husband is to make him a Christlike leader. As His teacher, God is training him to become a spiritual leader, not only in the home, but in the church and community as well. The home is his classroom and his wife is the Teacher’s Assistant. A godly wife will understand this and work with God by displaying appropriate submission to her husband’s authority. She will allow him to lead, with her help.
Now, the husband himself is to be under authority too. 1 Corinthians 11:3 places Christ as the head of every man, even as the husband is the head of his wife. This is the divine order. When God’s order for the family is respected, and the divine alignment is adhered to, marriages and families operate smoothly. But when this structure is out of alignment, then like a car that is not aligned, the ride becomes rather bumpy, unsteady, and uncomfortable. Spouses rub each other the wrong way continually and their relationship starts to suffer abnormal wear and tear until the marriage wears out altogether.
The solution is to respect God’s order for the family and to apply the principle of authority and submission properly. Husbands are to be clear that the authority they have is for service, not domination. And wives should stay committed to their God-given responsibility to help their husbands develop as leaders, which means allowing them to lead and to learn from their mistakes. If a wife usurps her husband’s authority, she undermines her own role and sabotages God’s purpose for her husband.
What does this mean in practical terms? We will address this next week, in Part 2, but for now, here is what Peter has to say about this:
“The same goes for you wives: Be good wives to your husbands, responsive to their needs. There are husbands who, indifferent as they are to any words about God, will be captivated by your life of holy beauty. What matters is not your outer appearance—the styling of your hair, the jewelry you wear, the cut of your clothes—but your inner disposition. Cultivate inner beauty, the gentle, gracious kind that God delights in. The holy women of old were beautiful before God that way, and were good, loyal wives to their husbands. Sarah, for instance, taking care of Abraham, would address him as “my dear husband.” You’ll be true daughters of Sarah if you do the same, unanxious and unintimidated.” (1 Peter 3:1-6 MSG)
What this means, wives, is that you do not get to rule or run your husband. No nagging, cussing, and screaming, please!
Submit? Yes, husbands to Christ and wives to husbands, and for real, God is not kidding! This is for your good.
To be continued.