In April, Dave wrote a blog on Colossians 3:19: Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. The verse before that says, “Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord”. Since I am the wife portion in our marriage, we talked about me sharing the practical side of submission from a wife’s perspective.
Let me preface by saying, I don’t get this right all of the time. The end of that verse speaks of this: “as is fitting in the Lord”. I don’t get this right when I am first not fully submitted to the Lordship of Jesus in my life. Meaning, when I am trying to drive my own life and asking the Lord for helpful suggestions or to bless the path I have chosen for myself, it doesn’t end well, I will tell you. So first things first…submitting to your husband cannot and will not be possible without first surrendering your life, control, plans, dreams, schedule, etc. to Jesus. Likewise, husbands will not have the capacity to love their wives like Christ loved the church if they are not first surrendered to Christ. Everything in those two verses is built on that foundation.
Also, God asks us to submit to our OWN husbands. Not someone else’s. The idea behind the word submit is to voluntarily put oneself under the authority or direction of someone or something else. The wife voluntarily puts herself under her husband’s leadership in recognizing and living out how God has designed a marriage relationship. He is to take the lead. In verse 20, children are called to obey. In verse 18, wives are called to submit. That is not the same root meaning in the Greek. The husband and wife relationship is not clothed in an authoritarian one like a parent to a child. Obedience is when orders are issued, and the party that is called to obey has little choice or say in the matter. Practically speaking, if your husband is asking you to do something that is contrary to God’s Word, you do not need to obey him; you need to speak up and say that you cannot or will not follow him in that instance, and tell him why. If he loves you like Christ loved the church, which was the ultimate example of love and sacrifice, he will not ask you to do something contrary to what God is asking.
What submission is not? Abuse whether that be physical, emotional, verbal, or sexual. You only land on abuse when you completely ignore verse 19 and pull 18 out of its context.
A wife is not called to submit to her husband so that society keeps its order. But rather because it is the kind of action and attitude that is fitting for those whose identity is in Jesus. Ultimately, it is for His glory.
It is also not somehow making the wife a less than. Men and women are made absolutely equal, amazingly loved, and significant in the eyes of our Creator. Husbands are called to treasure and care for their wives as a result of that truth. Wives, we are called to treasure our husbands in that same way. He is not an ogre or another hairy individual that needs to be trained. He has been created with dignity, value and worth, and made in the image and likeness of almighty God. We are not his Mom—he already had a Mom, he left her side and decided to spend the rest of his days with you, so you have a choice on how those days are spent. You can do your part to create a home filled with encouragement instead of nagging or a sharp tongue.
Submission is also not implying that every single decision is now the husband’s. In a healthy marriage, both parties express their opinions, intuitions, dreams, plans, etc., and are heard by the other. But sometimes someone in the car just needs to pick a restaurant or you will starve already, right? 🙂
So what does this practically look like? Here are some ideas:
Wives, allow your husband to lead you. No man can lead a woman who refuses to follow. If you know me, you could characterize me as a strong-willed woman. In fact, Dave says that this is one of the things that attracted him to me; however, I’m positive there are times that this is not attractive as well. I would say the vast majority of decisions we make are in complete unison because we have a lot of conversation. We both seek God for His direction and I am able to share my thoughts/feelings/opinions about the matter. Ultimately, when someone has to make the final call, I am willing to follow/trust Dave, knowing he cares deeply for me and has sought the Lord. It’s pretty freeing!
When Dave left his corporate job years ago to come on staff at Crosspoint full-time, ultimately that decision was his. We had hours of conversation, lots of prayer together, and lots of discussion. He continually asked me what I thought, and I gladly told him, and yet I said out loud to him, “here is what I’m discerning, and yet I trust what you decide. I trust that you want what is best for us. I trust your decision. I will pray that you will hear from God, and I trust you are.” Dave said to feel that weight, was a good thing, because it drove him to prayer. It drove me to pray for him as well that God would reveal His plans to him for our family.
Wives, submission is also not being passive-aggressive: “Well, it is your decision as the husband, so I guess it is on you.” And then if that decision or choice goes bad, you throw it his face and say, “I told you so.” The root of that is pride, not the humility that we are to clothe ourselves in. Dave has made some bad calls before, and though my flesh is tempted to say something ugly or hurtful in the moment, I choose to put a holster on that mouth gun of mine. In those times, I choose to affirm my love for him, and I can tell you that moments like those are relationship and intimacy builders.
Wives, this means watching your mouth. Your words can wound or they can bless. Listen to a few Proverbs that speak to your words ladies:
Proverbs 27:15: A continual dripping on a rainy day and a quarrelsome wife are alike.
Proverbs 25:24: Better to live on the corner of a roof than to share a house with a nagging wife.
Proverbs 21:19: Better to live in a wilderness than with a nagging and hot-tempered wife.
Take that last one in. It is better for a man to go live in the desert, and die slowly, painfully and isolated than to live with a wife whose words are continually nagging, toxic, and critical. Words are important. So use words that build up, speak life, and belief into your man. When speaking about your husband in a group of ladies honor him and find the good. Don’t dwell on what he did wrong. Don’t go there. I’ve been in those circles before and cringe. If the purpose of your marriage is to glorify God, then critical words spoken do the opposite of that. Think before you speak.
Wives, this is confronting your husband respectfully and lovingly. I’ve heard this quote before regarding leadership, and you could apply it to marriage for sure. Honor publically, confront privately. So in front of the kids, honor publically. You’re one team. Don’t let them divide you. If you need to confront him on something, which you will, it is life, two imperfect people under the same roof, you do it privately.
For example, I have noticed in the past a need in the kids’ life that Dave needs to address. I don’t come with guns blazing, like, “Do you hate our children? Why aren’t you doing something? Could you ever actually follow through?” I don’t confront him in front of the kids, but instead in a time of non-conflict, I would lovingly come alongside, and say, “I see this gap. I see this need in our kids’ heart. You need some quality time with Eli. I think you and Maddy should go on a date. Here are some things that need to be said, and I think it comes best from you.” I am not mothering him in this moment; I am coming alongside him as a helpmate and partner to support, pray for him, and love him.
I will tell you that the word submission gets a bad rap, but it is a truly beautiful concept when played out in a God-glorifying marriage. It shines bright for His honor. May we be wives that are first surrendered to Jesus with all that we are…and from the overflow may we shine bright in our marriages by voluntarily coming under the leadership of the husbands that God has placed in our life for His honor and Glory.