After being asked to share some of what we’d learned our first year of marriage with an engaged couple during one of their pre-marital counseling sessions, I wrote a post called "Being a Godly Wife." Nearly a year later, the post went viral & received a lot of feedback- both positive and negative.
I almost got my feelings hurt a few times (there were some pretty ridiculous reactions….suggesting I think women remain in a marriage where they are being abused? REALLY?!? and some bashing me as a person). I wanted to write a post explaining, justifying, clarifying, every point. But when I prayed about it, God told me to let it go. The post wasn’t about “me” and I can’t take the reactions personally. I shared the Biblical truths I’ve been taught, and it’s up to each person to choose the context in which they receive that word. Ultimately, it’s between them and God.
I have to be honest though. It’s not really my “advice” I was giving…it was Scripturally-based truths about being a GODLY wife. Truths I learned from other women who are Godly mentors to me, & who have long-lasting, Christ- centered marriages. Not perfect marriages, but the kind we are striving to have.
It wasn’t a post focused on the man’s role in marriage. The husband has many, many responsibilities that I certainly wouldn’t want to have to take on! Honestly, I just forgot to ask Jonathan to write his post so it’s not on the blog anywhere right now, but I’ve had many ask for it, so he will make his blogging debut again soon. There aren’t many better men in this world than my hubby (in my opinion), and I can’t wait for him to share. He definitely has a lot of wisdom in that area & is an INCREDIBLE husband.
It wasn’t a post directed to all marriages. That’s why it’s called “Being a GODLY wife.” Obviously if you’re not a believer, many of the Biblical perspectives aren’t going to “apply,” although I will say, Christian or not, the Bible has good morals/principles. Imagine if we all followed the 10 Commandments how much better our world would be? In fact, a few non-believers did comment and said they agreed with a few of the principles.
It’s not a checklist that is going to mean you have a perfect marriage, your husband won’t screw up, etc. We are real people, and we mess up. And marriage is HARD and takes a lot of work.
And ya know what else? Being totally transparent, I really struggle with many of those topics. That’s why I wrote it in the first place, so I can refer back because I know that is what God desires from me as a wife. Thankfully He is continually working in me to help me be who I am called to be as a wife and mother. And thankfully I married a man who is equally as concerned with his own role and being the husband he is called to be. Like I said, marriage is not 50/50….it’s 100/100!!
There is one topic I feel needed further clarification though…and that is SUBMISSION. I know that before becoming involved with some in depth Bible studies, I didn’t understand submission either & thought it was slavery, abuse, demoralizing, chauvinistic, etc. After learning the true meaning of submission, I understand the freedom in it and how rewarding it can be. And there is no one better to share on this topic than my beautiful, sweet, friend Kim.
I was blessed to work with Kim the last few years and am so thankful the Lord allowed our paths to cross. She is a phenomenal role model and influence in my life, & I was thrilled when she agreed to write a guest post elaborating on the topic of submission. She truly understands it and puts it into practice way better than I do, so I wanted her to share her thoughts…
The Submissive Wife
Submission. Yes, I said it . . . that “s word” . . . a word many people frown upon, sneer at, and simply ignore. It’s a dirty word in modern society—including today’s modern, Christian society—but it is a word we really need to stop ignoring and try to understand.
On October 18, 2003 I chose Bradley—above all other men—to be my husband. I vowed to love, honor, cherish . . . and submit . . . to him, my husband. I said those words—those vows—with a heart filled with love, excitement, and the knowledge I was embarking on one of the most wonderful and challenging adventures this world can offer.
Marriage is not easy. It requires constant work, 24-7. Danielle wrote a fantastic blog on being a godly wife and there’s no need for me to repeat what she so wisely wrote. But what I will do today is write about what it means to be a submissive wife, how it is God’s design for marriage, and how it is not a concept any woman should avoid.
Prior to my wedding, I had the amazing opportunity to participate in the Bible study, “Five Aspects of Woman” by Barbara Mouser. It was a life-changing study that laid a strong foundation for my understanding of Biblical femininity, marriage, motherhood, and womanhood in general. I also had the opportunity to co-facilitate the study a few years after I married. Much of what I write below is what I learned from that study. I gotta give Mrs. Mouser the credit!
One of the “five aspects” Mrs. Mouser teaches is Helper-Completer. From dust, God created Adam (Genesis 2:7). The first human, the first leader, God tasked Adam with naming the animals (Genesis 2: 19-20). Yet Adam was the only one of his kind—the only human—and God knew that Adam was not complete. He needed a helper, human fellowship. So God created woman (Eve)—from man (Adam)—and brought her to the man (Adam) (Genesis 2: 20-23). Women, we were created from the man and for the man. Isn’t that awesome? From the very beginning, God created us to be in special relationship to man. The Bible says that there was not a helper fit for Adam . . . so God took care of that! God has given us a special capacity to focus on our husband. Yes, we (men and women) are equally human, created in the image of God, but God created us incredibly different. Wives, we are our husband’s helper-completer. And although, yes, it is sometimes hard and frustrating (I’m not gonna lie), I truly love helping and completing my husband. I hope you do, too.
Husbands and wives are partners in marriage. But we must recognize that man was created to be the leader—the head—of the marriage relationship. The man is the head, the woman is the body. Ephesians 5:28 says that husbands should love their wives as their own bodies; they should work to nourish them and protect them. The marriage relationship was created as a reflection of Christ’s relationship with the Church. Christ is the head and the Church is His body. Genesis 2: 21-22 shows us how this concept was established in the very beginning as woman was literally made from her husband’s body.
Please understand that being submissive does not mean the husband walks all over his wife like a doormat, nor is he a military dictator over his wife. The Bible does not use military references to describe marriage. So please do not have that type of picture about a submissive marriage. The right picture—the Biblical picture—of marriage is the unified body and head.
Thanks to “the fall,” (Genesis 3: 1-24) though, women do struggle with the concept of submission. Many women want to dominate their husbands and most women struggle with their attitude toward men. They want men, they are attracted to men, but they want to be the head—to reverse our created gender roles. This is all thanks to the fall. We can see it in women who try to rebel against their husbands and also those who limp along behind their husbands . . . and in every other marriage in between.
Here in 2013, we see this often. I’ve seen it; you’ve seen it. Secular feminism is alive in well in today’s culture, including the church. Many women think that submitting to men means female inferiority. This is not the Biblical viewpoint. Think about the fall . . . yes, sin entered the world and we are sinners . . . but we have hope and are saved by God. Man’s rule is not the curse . . . it is the continuation of God’s original, created order. Your homes will be happier if you allow your husband to be the head of your family. Husbands should embrace this role and be strong leaders . . . not passive. Wives, we need to allow our husbands the opportunity to fulfill their God-given role!
Think about Christ. Christ is the ultimate example of submission. He willingly took on the creature’s role, willingly suffered for us all. Mrs. Mouser says the backbone of her Five Aspects study is this: “At the core of the incarnation is Christ’s willingness to take the creature’s role. At the core of true femininity is the woman’s willingness to take the creature’s role.” Philippians 2:7 tells us that Christ (once again, willingly) took on the role of a servant. He was obedient even to the point of death (Philippians 2:8) and God the Father exalted him for submitting to role and authority. Christ became the creature in a way that God the Father and the Holy Spirit did not; likewise, women picture the creature in a way that men do not. Ladies, we are able to uniquely experience Christ in a way that men can’t! Christ uniquely relates to us because he gave up his rights to save us and serve us. Isn’t that amazing?
Next, let’s think about Sarah, one of the Bible’s most memorable women. Sarah was not a perfect woman (none of us are!), but you know what? She followed and obeyed her husband, Abraham. When they were a pretty old couple, Abraham told Sarah that God told him they needed to leave their home (Genesis 12:1-5 . . . if you’re checking my references, please know at this point in the Bible, their names are Abram and Sarai). Sarah agreed to go with her husband and follow God’s call, even though it meant leaving behind they life they knew. Hebrews 11:8-11 tells us both and Abraham and Sarah had faith. In fact, Abraham fulfilled his created role by leading Sarah, but yes, she had her own faith. Wives, we are to follow our husbands as God leads us both. We follow God as we follow God’s leadership through our husbands.
One of my favorite pastors/writers/speakers is a guy named John Piper. Perhaps you’ve heard of him. In one of his sermons, he shares some pretty straightforward, easy-to-understand explanations of what submission is not:
1. Submission does not mean agreeing with everything your husband says.
2. Submission does not mean leaving your brain or your will at the wedding altar.
3. Submission does not mean avoiding every effort to change a husband.
4. Submission does not mean putting the will of the husband before the will of Christ.
5. Submission does not mean that a wife gets her personal, spiritual strength primarily through her husband.
6. Submission does not mean that a wife is to act out of fear.
I really like what Dr. Piper says submission is: “Submission is the divine calling of a wife to honor and affirm her husband’s leadership and help carry it through according to her gifts.”
When we honor and submit to our husbands, it is good, it is Biblical, and it is uniquely glorious. The final aspect Mrs. Mouser teaches is “glory of man.” Woman is the glory of man. That’s what the Bible Says: Check out 1 Corinthians 11:7 . . . and then read verses 8 and 9 to find out why. Man is the glory of our Creator; woman is the glory of the creature. Yes, men and women are different, but you know what? We are also interdependent. 1 Corinthians 11:11-12 tells us that “in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman.” Women give birth to men . . . we are interdependent!
As I told you earlier, I am married. To say that I love and adore my husband is an understatement. Our marriage is not perfect—because we are not—but I work hard to be the godly wife God created me to be. I maintain our home, care for our two children, cook meals, etc. And you know what? I enjoy taking care of my husband, our family, our home. I do not think that I am his slave or inferior to him. God created me in a wonderfully specific way to help and complete him. Together, we walk alongside each other through this crazy journey called life. My Bradley is my most precious helpmate; he is truly my spiritual and physical leader. I can ask him for help . . . yes, there are times I ask to help me with some things around the house or with dinner and he does so willingly. But for the most part, I try to take care of him. I have my failures as a Christian wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend, but my amazing Lord and Savior is there when I fall and forgives when I ask. I am thankful that He created me to be a woman . . . from the man and for the man . . . and that the amazing institute of marriage was created as a reflection of Christ’s relationship with the Church.
Thanks for listening to my heart and thanks especially to Danielle for allowing me to share on her blog. It’s important for us to understand the Biblical concepts of headship and submission. Read the verses I’ve listed throughout this post; also consider Ephesians 5: 22-33, 1 Peter 2: 13-25, and 1 Peter 3: 1-12. God created man, woman, and the marriage relationship in the most wonderful, masterful way. In conclusion,
“We spiral down together and we spiral up together. When men and women graciously do for one another what they are gifted to do, it is not an insult or condescension—it is a glory to both”
Thanks for reading!