22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
Submission… for so many women this word makes them cringe. It seems like a curse word, an outdated thought that doesn’t exist anymore. Even if they say they think submission is a good idea – they may think that the way it plays out is only by “mutually submitting” to one another, that there is no distinction between roles and especially not in marriage.
And yet, God calls wives to submit to their husbands. He’s not punishing us or saying we don’t have as much worth as the husband or we need someone smarter to guide us. By his sweet mercy and grace, he has designed our role as wives to follow our husbands as they follow Jesus. And if you look at the passage above, you’ll notice that wives only have 3 verses of direction while husbands have more than 10! Why is that? Submission is definitely challenging, but our husbands’ job is SO difficult. The husband’s role is to love his wife as Christ loved the church. How did he love the Church? He literally gave himself up – he was brutally murdered and died on the cross! He willingly laid down his life for us. THAT is the love our husbands are called to have. And THAT is why we can submit and follow our husbands as they are following Christ.
This won’t always look perfect. Marriage is the uniting of two sinners saved by grace, so unfortunately even as we’re trying to paint this picture of Christ and the Church, it will be flawed. Your husband will fail you in leading you. You will fail in submitting. And hopefully in those failures you can repent to the Lord and to each other and grow in fulfilling those roles.
But dear wife, I challenge you to seek to follow your husband! Pray that God will allow him to lead you and your family. Trust him. Submit out of love and reverence for Christ. (Eph 5:21) Submission is not a passive sitting back and letting your husband do everything. Submission is active!! Submission is gospel filled and can draw both us and our husbands closer to the cross of our Savior Jesus Christ.
It’s easy to think “well if there’s ever a big decision then I will be able to submit” and that this calling is only for those times. Those times are few and far between. They will happen, I’m sure. But rarely. In our marriage – there have only been 2 times where I didn’t necessarily agree with a decision Bryan was making (true, both of them were kind of big!) It was easy for me to be rebellious and want to fight for what I thought we should do. But then each time, God reminded me that Bryan really did have our best interest in mind and was following Christ wholly. The last time I actually had prayed God would grant Bryan wisdom and that he could lead me into where God was calling. Funny enough, once Bryan was telling me what he thought we should do (and I disagreed at the time!) I forgot that prayer:) But after remembering what God was doing and how he designed our marriage to paint the picture of Christ and the Church I sought to submit. And, I’m sure this isn’t a surefire thing, but each time I submit – to my husband, to Christ, he FILLS me with joy and peace. I’m so thankful for Jesus giving us more than we deserve – and granting us joy and peace when we obey His word.
We do need to prepare for those big times because they will happen. But submission happens every day. It’s an attitude, not just a few decisions in our lifetime. It’s trusting our husband in the little day-to-day things. It’s praying hard for him to know Jesus better and to draw us closer to Christ. When we grow in that attitude of submission, the act of it becomes much easier. Our God-given roles become closer to what we are called to, our marriages reveal the gospel better and God is glorified!