Friday, May 20, 2011

On Submission

I am a lover of Gary Chapman. I just love his style and I love the way he relates Biblical teachings to those of us who feel a bit overwhelmed by interpreting scripture from time to time. He relates these things in words and ways that I understand and can apply to my daily life, and I love that. I am on his "Love Language Minute" mailing list, so I receive emails monthly that are always so full of great information and knowledge. The email I received this morning is too awesome to not share. 

You see, I find that so many of my (believing and non-believing) friends have misconstrued what is truly meant, Biblically, to be 'submissive' to ones husband, and for the husband to be the 'head of the household.' Too often, I hear stories of husbands who have taken these words and twisted them on their wives and families for selfish reasons. Too often, I hear stories of wives who refuse to give their husbands control in decision making and leading the household, out of fear of being trapped and powerless. I hope that by sharing this email with you, you will understand what is truly meant by submitting ourselves to our husbands. I'm not oppressed. I'm not treated like a door mat and walked all over. I'm also not powerless, or unable (or not allowed!) to make decisions. I'm also not inferior to my husband, but am instead, his equal. We are in this marriage together, as one equal unit. Read on for more:

Most counselors agree that one of the greatest problems in marriage is decision-making. Visions of democracy dance in the minds of many young couples, but when there are only two voting members, democracy often results in deadlock. How does a couple move beyond deadlock? The answer is found in one word - love.

Love always asks the question, "What is best for you?" Love does not demand it's own way. Love seeks to bring pleasure to the one loved. That is why Christians should have less trouble making decisions than non-Christians. We are called to be lovers. When I love my wife, I will not seek to force my will upon her for selfish purposes.

Help in Love
The biblical idea of the husband being the head of the wife has been one of the most exploited concepts of the Bible. Christian husbands, full of self-will, have made all kinds of foolish demands of their wives under the authority of "The Bible says...." Headship does not mean that the husband has the right to make all the decisions and inform the wife of what is going to be done.

She is called to be a "helpmate". The word means "helper". How can she be a helper if she has no opportunity to share her ideas? "Two are better than one," the Scriptures say. That is certainly true in decision-making. Why would a husband want to make a decision limited to his own wisdom when God has given him a helper?  

Together in Love
When Christians discuss husband/wife roles they often quote 1 Cor. 11:3 which says, "The head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man." They often stop quoting at that point, but the very next phrase says, "The head of Christ is God."  Obviously referring to God the Father. Are God the Father, and God the Son equally God? Yes. Yet, within the trinity there is order.

As the head, does the Father ever force the Son to do anything? No. Does the Son ever act independently of the Father? No. There is perfect unity. That is the design for Christian marriage: husbands and wives working together as a team, with the husband as the recognized leader.  

Submission in Love
I am fully aware that many contemporary Christians reject the idea of male leadership in the marriage. I think it is because they miss-understand the biblical concept of 'headship'. Male leadership in the home has nothing to do with superiority. It has to do with order among equals. God's design is that the husband will love his wife as Christ loves the church and make every sacrifice for her well-being.

Headship does not mean that the husband is more intelligent than the wife. It does not mean that the man is more valuable than the woman. And, it does not mean that the husband is to be a dictator. The great need of our day is for Christian leaders who will love, not dictators who demand.  

Unity in Love
Many wives shudder when they hear the pastor say, "Turn in your Bible to Ephesians 5:22." Because they know that's the verse that says, "Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord."  "But you don't know my husband," they think.  "But you don't understand submission," God must say. Submission is not a female word. Verse 21 says, "Submitting yourselves one to another." 

The word to husbands about loving, and to wives about submitting, both call for an attitude of service. Submission does not mean that the wife must do all the giving. The husband is to give his life for her. Nor does it mean that she cannot express her ideas. The goal is unity which requires both to have an attitude of service.

1 comment:

  1. This is one of my favorite descriptions of "submission." I don't remember the first time I ran across it, but I read and read about how a husband is supposed to love and honor his wife, and thought "If some guy did that for me, I'd have no problem doing everything in my power to make him happy!" That whole submitting word feels like it must've been mistranslated to me (I guess Candace would know) - the concept is really love each other so much you put their needs and your needs as a couple above your own.


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