So I got this question during the week-
“Good evening, can you please shed light on submission in marriage. Does being submissive as a wife make you a slave to him? Apparently my being submissive to my husband means that he is my husband and I am a slave? That’s what I am being told.”
Taking it from the very beginning, when God said, “It’s not good for man to be alone, I will make a helper.” Somehow we’ve domesticated this “helper” thing to indicate that a woman’s role is to take on supportive duties for her husband. But when God said that, the man was in the Garden of Eden, he didn’t have a house, clothes to wash or meals that needed to be prepared. God did not create Eve to be Adam’s slave or house help.
For you to be able to help someone, it means you’re in a position above that person. For instance if I need to carry a generator, I don’t have the power to do that; I will need to ask for someone who has more power than I do to help with it. So I believe that since God called the woman the ‘helper’ it’s obviously because He created her with more ‘power’ so she can help the man to become all God created him to be while also fulfilling her own purpose.
Submission is not about being weak, but about becoming aware of your power. We can certainly learn a lot about God’s design for women by studying how they impacted men in the Bible both positively and negatively. God created women with a subtle but undeniable power. The strongest man who ever lived (Samson), the wisest man who ever lived (Solomon), and one of the godliest men who ever lived (David) were all compromised by the power of women. In these situations, power was used for harm, but it was designed to be directed for great good.
1 Peter 3:1-6 says that wives can be powerful in winning their husbands through a quiet and gentle spirit. Having a quiet and gentle spirit is not the same thing as being weak and silent. Just look at who Peter cites as an example of such a woman: Sarah, Abraham’s wife. Have you ever really read about Sarah and Abraham? Sarah was not exactly a quiet woman. There are many times recorded in Genesis where Sarah spoke her mind. Sometimes she was right while other times… well, not exactly. But if she is our example of a submissive wife who was a blessing to her husband, then a quiet and gentle spirit certainly doesn’t mean being weak and silent.
So what does submission look like? Going through Ephesians 5: 21-25, we can draw some major truths about submission.
Truth 1: Submission is Spiritual
This is the sole truth about submission; other truths are rooted in this because unless you’re filled with the Spirit of God, it makes absolutely no sense to submit to another person. Unbelievers don’t and cannot understand submission; they think being submissive means you’re subservient and I think this is where the whole radical feminism started from.
In Ephesians 5:21 Paul says, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” If you’re a follower of Christ, filled with the Holy Spirit, then when you hit a power struggle in your marriage, you’ll be able to submit to your spouse because of your reverence for Christ; not because it will come naturally, but because it will come supernaturally through the Holy Spirit’s help. There’s no other way we can submit other than by God’s Spirit enabling us.
Truth 2: Submission is Personal
Notice that Paul did not say, “Husbands, tell your wife to submit” or, “Wives, tell your husband to step up and be spiritual head of the home.” Instead, he speaks to each person and asks each to work on his or her own attitude. So if you’re finding it hard submitting to your husband, maybe you should just take a few moments to look within and see if there’s something you need to work on in your attitude. If there’s nothing, then just do your own part as the Holy Spirit helps you.
Personally, I’m very strong willed (better way of saying stubborn LOL) and my husband can be strong willed too; earlier in our marriage, we were always having strong conversations (better way of saying fighting) about really unnecessary stuff but the root of it was we both wanting to have our own way. My attitude was the Bible says husbands should love their wives first then wives should submit; so anytime I felt my husband wasn’t loving me the way I wanted, I wasn’t going to submit. How very foolish of me. I had to get to that point where I decided that having peace in my home was more important than fighting over unnecessary stuff and I realized over time that the more I submit to my husband, the more he honours and respects me. Even at times when I feel like he is wrong, I’m learning to still submit(Sometimes I still want to have my way)and just pray about the situation.In the end, it always turns out for good.
Truth 3: Submission is Mutual
When Paul writes, “Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,” that’s really just a nice way of saying Jesus chose to submit himself to the whip, the thorns, and the nails for our benefit. That’s the example for husbands. What Paul asks husbands to do is actually harder than what he asks wives to do. He asks the wife to show respect and submit; he asks the husband to die. So it takes both husband and wife deciding DAILY to die to self, die to their ego, die to their pride, die to their own way of doing things. And it sure takes the help of the Holy Spirit to DIE.
Truth 4: Submission is Practical
Submission doesn’t mean you give up your brain. It doesn’t mean that if the person you’re submitting to wants you to do something wrong, you can do it and tell God, “I was just submitting to my authority o” Submission is not the same as unquestioned obedience. Just as there are times you say no to a boss at work (of course with wisdom), submission in marriage isn’t blind. It doesn’t mean that you just go aheadand do what you’re asked to do even if it violates scripture, your conscience, or common sense. For instance if someone is in an abusive relationship where the husband beats her, submission doesn’t mean that you stay and let him beat you till you die. My dear, you’d die and God will ask you why you didn’t use the common sense He gave you.
Submission is basically about surrendering our power as women to God so that through the help of the Holy Spirit, we can harness this power to helping (not hindering) our husbands fulfil the work God has called them to while we also fulfil ours. It’s about stooping to conquer. So NO! Submission doesn’t mean you’re a slave to your husband.