Women are to submit themselves unto their husbands “as unto the Lord.” (Eph. 5:22) But yet you know that we can be sneaky about having our own way in our homes. For some ladies this is not that big of an issue. Some are more introverted and actually prefer their husband to take the lead in most areas of life. But I fear that even quiet ladies have their ways of manipulating their husband to do what they want. We say to ourselves, “After all, the home is my domain. If I am to be the keeper at home, how can I do that if I’m not really in charge? He doesn’t understand everything that I do. I have a certain way of doing things for a reason! He’s not fulfilling his responsibility in the area of ___________ so why should I?” I find myself sinking into that way of thinking. When that happens to me, I must go back to the basics. I must remember these basic truths…
I am required to die to self.
“I beseech you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy acceptable unto God which is your reasonable service.” (Rom 12:1)
“What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” (1 Cor: 6:19)
The world is constantly telling us NOT to die to self, but rather to live for yourself. Sentiments abound about telling us to just be yourself, to express yourself, to allow time for yourself, to take care of yourself. Those things are a bit deceiving. It’s not wrong to be myself as long as I are not exalting ME above others. It’s not wrong to take care of myself, especially so that I can take care of my family, but it should fall into the right priority among so many more important things. For instance, I would love to have a full night’s sleep, because I’d feel better and because it is healthy to do so. That’s taking care of myself right? Well, I can’t remember the last time I had a straight 6 hours of sleep, much less 7 or 8. There are more important things to do than indulge my “need” for sleep. Especially when you have small children, this is true. But there have been many times when my husband wanted to talk something through when it was late at night. Or perhaps we’ve had an argument, and we need to resolve it before we go to bed. More often than I can remember, we’ve had an activity with teens or some project for the church that needed to be completed, and so my sweetheart and I find ourselves up until midnight or later getting that thing done. Taking care of my husband and putting his work ahead of my legitimate need for sleep is what was needed in those instances.
But you cannot read the Word without understanding that we must not worry for ourselves, even for our very lives! Why do we worry so much that we might not be happy or fulfilled if we don’t assert our own needs? I like this quote:
“The world looks for happiness through self-assertion. The Christian knows that joy is found in self-abandonment. ‘If a man will let himself be lost for My sake,’ Jesus said, ‘he will find his true self.’ A Christian woman’s true freedom lies on the other side of a very small gate—humble obedience—but that gate leads out into a largeness of life undreamed of by the liberators of the world, to a place where the God-given differentiation between the sexes is not obfuscated but celebrated, where our inequalities are seen as essential to the image of God, for it is in male and female, in male as male and female as female, not as two identical and interchangeable halves, that the image is manifested.” ~ Elisabeth Elliot
You do not need to be your own self. You do not need your own space. You do not need to be understood. You do not need to be happy even! Our joy, our identity, our peace, our future is found in Christ…not in our husbands. Only Christ can fulfill our true needs. We must FULLY put our trust and joy in Him…not in ourselves.
God is All-Wise in His New Testament commands.
“But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine….that the aged women be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.” (Titus 2:1-5)
We as fallen creatures, have very limited wisdom. God knows me even more than I know myself. I laugh at guys in our youth group who casually say, “I can’t understand girls!” I’ll joke back with them, “That’s ok. We don’t understand ourselves.” But that’s seriously true. Especially when my emotions are stirred up, I have a very hard time sorting out what I’m thinking in just one moment. But God knows all of our moments from the beginning to the end. He knows what circumstances we need in our lives. He not only knows what we will do, but He also knows what we would have done had we been given a different set of variables to react to.
Do you believe that God is sovereign over everything? I do. God’s will is being accomplished in this world. He is so powerful that He can do His will even taking into account man’s freewill choices. You and I can’t do that. We kinda try to work around our husbands’ bad decisions or poor choices, but in reality, God has already done that! All you need to do is trust and obey. God knows. God is in control.
There are no caveats to the command.
It doesn’t say to submit to my husband, “only if he makes wise decisions,” or “only if he is faithfully fulfilling his role to me as my husband,” or “only if we agree on an issue,” or “only if he actually leads in something.” No. It is God’s plan for me as a wife to submit under my husband’s authority no matter what his short-comings or personality traits. Hurt and betrayal do not excuse us from God’s commands. “Choices will continually be necessary and — let us not forget — possible. Obedience to God is always possible. It is a deadly error to fall into the notion that when feelings are extremely strong we can do nothing but act on them.” (Elisabeth Elliot, Discipline: The Glad Surrender) Let’s remember too, that our husbands are not the only ones to whom we are to submit. (Romans 13) If we have trouble submitting to such an obvious area of obedience, then in my observation, we will have trouble submitting to other authority figures the Lord has put into our lives. Ultimately, we are rebelling against God Himself who is our ultimate authority figure. I cannot stress to women enough to lay aside our urge to control! If we do not, we will only be fighting against the Lord. Ephesians 5 is very clear that if we are not submitting to our husbands (and other authority figures) then it is a sign that we have not been filled with the Spirit…
“Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.” (Eph. 5:17-24)
The language in these verses show us that if we are yielded to the Lord and doing His will, then the outcome will be that we are submitting to our husbands and to one another, singing to the Lord, giving thanks to the Lord, and not filling our lives with worldly pleasures (separation). So not submitting to our husbands is just like seeing someone in church who won’t sing with the congregation, or someone who is just not thankful for anything. We would be right to conclude that that person is not truly okay with the Lord, right? Isn’t that what it says?
For those ladies whose husbands are difficult (all people are difficult at some point, even you) or who may be unsaved, the command is not different. In fact, Scripture tells us that being a chaste and godly woman will “save” the unbelieving husband. “And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife…but God hath called us to peace. For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? ” (1 Cor. 6:13-16). In other words, by your chaste conduct and your biblically submissive actions, you may be the one key factor in bringing your husband to the Lord! God is wise in his command even in that situation.(And there are provisions in Scripture for the protection of a wife in a difficult or dangerous situation, because a husband is not the SOLE authority in a wife’s life. So please don’t misunderstand here.)
My choice was made on my wedding day.
I know this sounds harsh, but it helps me to shake me out of my own shortcomings to be blunt with myself. That is, we don’t get to choose now whether to submit. I made my choice when I picked my man. This is why it is so important to choose wisely, and I cannot emphasize that enough to single ladies. I had a choice then when my husband proposed to say yes or no. I am thankful that it is our custom in America that I do have quite a bit of say as to whom I will marry. I picked Aron Schrepfer. I chose him because he and I were a match. I knew then that we agreed on the important things in life (which are many), and we even agreed on many, many things that are not important. I knew then that he was not a perfect man. And I knew then that I was making a solemn vow before God and those many witnesses to “love, honor, and obey” him. (And we should not be leaving out that word “obey” as the custom is now. Not only is it traditional for me to obey my husband, but it is biblical. 1 Peter 3:5-6) This is my life now. There is no more choice about the matter in God’s view. We make the bed we lie in. Since God hates divorce (Mark 10:9), there is really no option for the Christian but to find a way to forgive hurts, and even give up being forgiven by our husbands if necessary. I must follow through with my vows now, no matter what. And there is great comfort in that! Aron and I know without a doubt that no matter what “we’re stuck with each other,” as we like to say. But it’s a great motivation to make our marriage all it can be using God’s Word to guide us.
There are young ladies and girls who are watching me.
After all of this, let us remember that our own children are at stake if we do not create the biblical, stable home that they need. Who are we to put our own “felt needs” ahead of our children’s most basic needs? When our children were born, we were so willing to go without sleep, clean unspeakable messes, be physically hurt, forego our dreams and hobbies, change our diet, learn to cook, etc. etc. etc. Why do we find it difficult to offer the same selflessness to our husbands as we do to our children? (In fact, I believe those concessions are MORE appropriate for a marriage relationship than they are for the parental relationship, except for the physical hurt.) If our daughters do not see us offering a self-less love to our husbands, then how will they know how to do the same for their husbands? Only with great difficulty would they learn it. My own 3 yr old daughter mimics my attitudes and words…even the ones spoken in frustration. Oh how I am reminded then that what “monkey sees, monkey does!” I want her to be a mature, Christian woman almost by second nature, and that can only happen through years of practice and habit. Let’s give our young ladies every advantage of knowing “how to do marriage” through watching our examples. Let’s encourage them to choose wisely to whom they will submit for the rest of their lives while they still have that choice.
So when I find myself pushing against my husband’s authority, when I am loathe to fulfill his wishes in a certain area, when he makes a decision that I would not have made…I tell myself to think on the Lord’s will in all things. It is God’s will that I submit to my husband in all things. That’s all I need to know.