“What right has the husband to require submission from his wife? None, unless God had appointed it.”
-Arthur W. Pink
If you missed Part 1 of this piece, I highly recommend going back and reading it here.
Picture this: Me, sitting on my bed, laptop in lap, and a glass of Jameson on the rocks sitting on the new night table stand my wife purchased today. The Jameson – it’s a double. Why is it a double? Well, let me start by saying that this second installment is a tough one to write about. There are a lot of reasons but, the biggest one of all is that I am not the best husband. I am not. I’ve done plenty of things to hurt my marriage and my wife. To sit here and act like I am the greatest person, it would be the lie of all lies. I do want to iterate that I strive to move forward in the words that I write. These are things I strive for in my own life and this is my way of sharing it with others.
…It’s been 20 minutes and I’m still sipping that double.
Okay, well now that I am done sulking. Let’s continue from the last post.
There is no doubt in my mind that church wives are “submitting” the wrong way. Why? I think it’s a combination of things: bad teaching from pastors, bad interpretation from husbands, and harmful application by the husband and wife. Notice how I point out that the man is responsible for all three. Why do I say this? Let’s move on to the rest of the passage from Ephesians:
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.
-Ephesians 5:25-33 (ESV)
I will break the husband’s responsibilities down as I see them: 1. Love your wives as Christ love the church and gave himself up for her. 2. Love your wives as your own bodies. 3. Love your wives as you love yourself. 4. Love your wife as yourself so that she can see her respect for her husband pays off.
If we look at the previous post when I defined submission, the above break down sure looks like submission to me. Think about it: Did Jesus or did Jesus not submit himself to the cross for the church? He did right? He loved His body but submitted it to be broken for us. He loved Himself (God loving the Son of man who is God – trinity stuff) but loved us more; so much so that He died for us. In turn, we give everything to Him because of what He did for us. We naturally submit to Him because of what He did for us.
Maybe this isn’t a mind blowing moment for you, but it sure was for me when I began dissecting this; because I realized that as a husband, a flawed being of a man, I may never reach the pinnacle of Ephesians 5 until after I die. Not so much husband to wife stuff but rather, being more and more like Christ. It’s not just a choice once you’re married – it’s a responsibility. It puts husbandry akin with something eternally important. I have to do it because that is my role in my marriage. My wife will never respect my role as a Christian if I lack the gumption to be more Christlike.
Growing up in the church, you see all kinds of relationships and marriages. You see failed ones. You see ones I spoke of in part one of this post series where women pride themselves on being the most submissive wife of all the ages – the Proverbs 31 woman of the century. You see ones that are the opposite, where the women are the spiritual leaders because their husbands are, well, not. But, what you rarely see is an Ephesians 5 man. A man that prides himself on loving his wife like Christ loves the church. You don’t see Ephesians 5 coffee mugs or “how to” books. You don’t see men going to cliché named seminars about the Ephesians 5 man called, “Handsome and Confident” or something similar. In fact, sadly, there are more seminars for men, encouraging them to stop adultery, porn, abuse, addiction, etc., etc.
Yet, Christian men are being reared in the church to think women are to submit by a textbook definition. To believe women are below them. To believe women can’t preach or teach. To believe women can’t lead. I know what the Bible says about women and what it says in Timothy and what Paul said and blah blah blah. But men, sometimes, just like in an unequally yoked marriage, the woman has no choice but to step up; and the same goes for in the church because there isn’t a man that is spiritually ready to take on the responsibilities of leadership. There, I said it. And yes, I get it, “the Bible says”; but it also doesn’t say to lower the humanity status on woman, EVER. To oppress women, EVER. By doing such things, we are depriving our marriage and our church body of the gifts God has given us through women! Our wives are the greatest gift…and they come with gifts! They are the like the gift that keeps on giving. We are to revere our wives like we revere Jesus, like Jesus reveres us.
I want to end this by concluding with this statement: Women/Wives have submission in their marriage perniciously wrong because men are loving their wives the wrong way. Men are doing what the church says to do, not what the Bible says to do. The idea is like a cancer. It spreads. We spend time with other couples in church and see this cancerous ideology and we compare our marriages. Then the changes get made and at some point, it falls apart. It falls apart because God wired us to love Him first in order to experience His love.
There is submission in marriage. First the husband submits to His wife like Christ did on the cross – which is true love. Then the wife will not be forced into submission or force herself; but naturally follow suit because who can resist the love of Christ?
For me, I don’t force my wife to submit or do any of this; but I need to be a better man, a better husband. To be an Ephesians 5 man is lost in worldly love. True Love, isn’t posting a “woman crush Wednesday” picture or proclaiming what a wonderful woman your wife is, for all the world to see. It’s not extravagant dates or “making love at midnight in the dunes of a cave” after a few piña coladas. True Love is the love of Christ that we should shroud ourselves in and share between each other, which in turn, will be shared with everyone else.
I will end with this Puritan quote on marriage:
“Let thy choice be in the Lord”¦1 Cor. Vii. 39. Let piety be the first mover of thine affection, the prime and principle consideration in this greatest affair”¦ Religion or the fear of God, as it is generally the foundation of all human felicity, so must it specially be accounted the ground of all comfort and bliss, which man and wife desire to find in the enjoying of each other.”
I sincerely apologize for taking so long to put this out. It was important to me to take the time to write what I felt was something that I could apply to my own life. Thank you for your patience. I will be back on schedule posting every Monday and Thursday of each week with a few little instagram/pintrest devotional items in between. You’ve seen them. I haven’t had too much feed back with what I have been writing, so comments and suggestions would be great! Also, if you didn’t notice, I took the time too, to upgrade the appearance of the blog and make my official residency at wordpress.com. Kind of exciting. Try to check it out on a PC. It looks really good. Mobile viewing, doesn’t do it justice.
I will be posting something tomorrow also, to catch up. We have a lot to talk about.
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