Submission, not a word easily rolled around the tongue, is an inevitable part of marriage. It is a practice that should not be overlooked or written off as a thing of the past. Every marriage should practice submission. God commands it. Submission is not a suggestion that we can choose whether or not to follow.
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Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 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. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. ~Ephesians 5:22-24
Submission is a most difficult topic because it is not valued in our culture. Submission has been coined to mean inferiority, lacking intelligence, or inability to make one’s own decisions. However, submission is a beautiful gift, and when practiced in a God ordained way, can bring great joy.
Submission is a disposition or an inclination to follow the leadership of another. In the case of marriage, it is the disposition of the wife to follow and submit to her husband as he follows and submits to Christ.
In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed:
My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will. ~Matthew 26:39
In a posture of extreme humility, Jesus submitted to God the Father. Jesus had the power to refuse the cup that was being presented to him. Instead, he respectfully requested for the cup to be removed. When it wasn’t, Jesus showed honor and respect to the headship of His Father by humbly submitting to do the will of the Father no matter the cost (or his own desires).
God the Father has authority over the Son, but not because Jesus was inferior. God the Father and God the Son are completely equal. Jesus is fully God! He cannot be inferior. The difference lies in the roles that each of them play.
Roles are not a means of degradation or devaluing, but a means by which God can accomplish His purposes. Submission is a functional role, and most certainly not a brainless role.
The truth is that we all submit to someone or something on a daily basis regardless of our gender. Yet, because we choose to obey the law, and stop at the traffic light, we do not say that we are an inferior people. It is an absurd thought just as thinking women who practice submission are inferior to their husbands.
It takes great strength and character to submit. We saw this perfectly in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Submission begins and ends with submission to God.
Bunny Wilson defines submission in her book, Liberated Through Submission, as God intervenes. To submit to our husbands exhibits a profound faith in God – a faith that cannot be replicated by those who choose to denounce submission.
God is a God of order, and our roles, and submission to these roles, as husband and wife put on display the beautiful picture of the Gospel – the Son submitting to the Father and sacrificing His body for all of our sins – which is the purpose of marriage.
No one wants to play second fiddle, but without the second fiddle there is no harmony. The purpose of leadership and submission is not to establish ranks, making one more important than the other, but to create a peaceful way to seek and carry out the will of God. There is joy in submission as we are liberated through our life of submission.
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What are your thoughts on submission in marriage? Do you see it as relevant to today or a thing of the past?
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