Isn’t it a bit scandalous in this day and culture to say that?
Submission is a joy.
It’s not a yoke, it’s not an act that makes me feel subservient, but submitting to my husband in marriage is an absolute joy.
I haven’t always felt that way. I think I held a negative view of submission because of what had been taught to me about it from movies, songs, professors, and older women who really had a warped view of submission.
Submission does not equate to drudgery, servitude, or slavery anymore than erotic love is the same as sibling love or friendship love. We can all recognize that these types of loves are classified in the same group – love – but there are huge nuisances between the love siblings have for each other and the love found in a passionate new marriage.
Sure, they have similarities. Erotic love and sibling love might both produce loyalty and feelings of affection, but they don’t have the same source nor do they have the same look in practice.
Submission has the same issue of nuisances yet is greatly misunderstood.
Those who have never been submissive in a healthy relationship really don’t understand how this could be joyful, honoring, or respectful of self. Honestly, I was surprised myself to find that I enjoy being submissive; I’m as shocked to write this as you are to read this if you’ve typically cringed about submission.
Submission is a quality that’s easier taught than just naturally learnt, and I would encourage women to continue to press into this topic. Not all teachings on submission highlight biblical submission, but Piper’s article on “Six Things Submission Is Not” paved the way for me to understand this mandate in a broader light. One main point is that submission as explained from Piper’s article looks very different than what culture claims.
If we’re going to draw comparisons to examples of submission outside of marriage, an athletic team is the closest situation where I’ve seen submission in action. A captain of a soccer team is chosen among all other teammates to lead the team. She is meant to help the whole team pursue the goal they’ve all agreed upon, whether that’s nailing a state championship or placing first in their league.
That’s the beauty of a husband too. When I married my husband, I was agreeing to him being my leader because I agreed with where he was going to lead me and the way he was planning on doing that. I didn’t have to marry him, I could have picked someone else to marry and be submissive to, or remain single. But by marring him, in a way, I joined his team.
The soccer captain has the authority to rule by force, but as my old school Southern grandmother always said, “You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.” (Best read in a Southern accent.)
The captain is going to get so much more done by leading the team with understanding, camaraderie, and fun than by laying down the law. My husband has to have the same view. Sure, he can technically force me to do something based on his function as leader in our marriage, but I will resent him and there won’t be any love in my following him.
When we’re pursuing the same goal we agreed upon from the start of our marriage, there isn’t a need for him to use force anyway, as I want to go where we’ve always been headed.
Does that mean the captain and the teammates always agree? No. Does that mean the captain always does a good job in leading? Nope. Does that mean that the goal always stays the same? Sometimes not.
That also doesn’t mean the teammates are mindless players who have no voice and have no opinions. Actually, a good captain will listen to the feedback of her teammates in order to lead better. See, in function, a leader needs followers just as much as followers need leaders. The job of the leader is to see the big picture and make a long term plan toward a larger goal. The job of the followers is to support the leader with their unique gifts.
The Foolishness of Authority and Submission Abused
And it’s the same for the husband and wife and their blessings in children. The husband who doesn’t listen to his wife, makes it hard for her to be the unique member of his team, and lords over her in selfishness – that man is an absolute fool. He is shooting himself in the foot and preventing himself from going forward. He will need to focus on healing his relationship with his wife before making any progress in the goal they decided on together before marriage.
And perhaps this force will appear to make progress for a short amount of time, but it will be joyless and eventually a marriage or wife under this type of stress will snap. This is not biblical authority by the way. Jesus is man’s perfect picture of leadership, and what we see in the Bible is Jesus laying down his life for those who follow him, not making demands. He is a lamb. He is gentle. He will be crowned with glory and honor and will roar like a lion at judgment, but he didn’t act that way on earth.
This type of authority and submission abuse is what those who don’t understand submission point to as an example as to why women shouldn’t be submissive. Makes sense right? So to understand submission, that’s why I want to change focus to good examples.
Practically, in my marriage, I greatly respect my husband’s spiritual strength and leading. I’ve seen God work in the lives of many people because of his service and teachings. I’ve been blessed by the way he lays down his life to love me and love our children. He loves me as his own body and I have no worry that he will continue to provide for me as long as it is up to him.
Since he has led in sacrificial love, I absolutely want to love him back and support him with my gifts to pursue our goals. Sometimes when I disagree with his approach, but he’s sure that it’s the right way, we’ll just try it. If it works out in the way he expected, that’s awesome! We can rejoice together. If it doesn’t work out as expected, we’ll try something else.
And that’s the way teamwork should be. Trying again until we succeed in our goal.
Our goal, if you’re curious, is pursuing Christ and making his name great in all we do. We have a special heart for internationals, which is why we worked with refugees and now live abroad. Sometimes we don’t know where the Spirit will lead us, but I’m so thankful to have my husband at the lead. He pursues Christ with all of his heart and mind, and he never tires in pointing me to Christ, too.
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