There’s always something missing from the contemporary submission debate and that is the part where the husband loves the woman the way Christ loves the Church.
A blog post on submission has played on my mind for some time now, however my fear was that the content would read like a rant as opposed to an article and so I decided against giving my perspective on the very hot topic. However, after reading an article (I will provide the link below) where a married women divulged on her relationship with her husband and how it thrived on mutual submission, I felt moved to write a post. I am not claiming to be a novice, I’m simply a woman who was also troubled by what I felt was an unfair injustice on the female gender.
The word used to make me grimace, I couldn’t fathom yielding my power over to some man. I automatically likened the act of submitting to slavery and felt that in doing so I was essentially consenting to male dominance. There was this sense of vulnerability attached to submission that I felt was beneath me because how could a self-professed independent woman now lean on or yield to any man. Submission was something weak women were familiar with; strong women could not stoop so low as to become someone’s maid. Moreover, I despised the way submission was forced on women and not on men and so I felt justified in my hatred for the term. However, my mind has been renewed (Roman 12:12) and I want to demystify some myths.
As my title reads, submission is viewed as a curse word and I believe the reason for this is the way in which submission has been translated as something only women do. I would never try and bypass the verse that reads, “Wives, submit to yourselves to your own husband as you would the Lord, “(Ephesians 5:22) how could I possibly evade a scripture that has become the staple in marriage counselling 101? However, I have to question whether we can be reading from the same Bible if we fail to cast our eyes back to Ephesians 5:21 which reads, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Before, wives are instructed on submitting to their husbands as to the Lord, both the wife and the husband are charged with submitting to each other meaning submission is not exactly synonymous to “womanliness” as once thought. I believe that everything after verse 21 flows from the command to submit to one another and should be read in the context of that verse. Submission therefore takes a different form from the burden I once likened it to and becomes a beautiful exchange between beautiful souls and the Bible expounds on this exchange. Let’s delve deeper into Ephesians 5.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing[a] her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body.
I am always stunned as to how we fail to recognise the male submission woven into verses 25 – 30. A man loving his wife the way Christ loved the church is in itself an act of submission. Observe how the man is charged with the washing of her spiritual person through the word, making her clean, ironing out her creases, doting on his wife, making sure she is cared for, beautifying her and all these things are synonymous to submission. There is no submission without service and look how the man in verses 26 – 30 serves his wife, very different to the gender targeted submission that is constantly being recycled. There is a sacrificial element to the service the man provides to his wife and I think this has been lost in the haste to mould women into submissive wives and the consequence of this is a generation of Christian men who lack the type of love that gives itself up for his bride. Nobody has to die (lol) but we must endorse a message that goes beyond female submission, especially in light of the fact that the husband and wife have become one flesh (Mark 10:8 , Genesis 2 :24, Ephesians 5:31), thus if the wife submits, the man submits also. My Bible paints a picture of submission that transcends the female gender so why we are still so insistent on only addressing female submission is beyond me and completely misses the point. The point is that we are called to submit to one another and love one another in line with the biblical concept of love outlined in 1st Corinthians 13:4-13,
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12 Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 13And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
“Submission is a response to love. “
I have a problem with women submitting to men who are unworthy of submission. The relationship between husband and wife is comparable to the relationship between Christ and the Church and we know that Christ gave his life up for the church even whist the Church was so consumed in itself and blind to the atonement that was taking place but Christ gave himself up anyway. Jesus was the ultimate ride and die. He did it for the love (cue 2 Pac’s do for love track here) and Christ’s ACTIONS make him more than worthy of our submission. We love him because he first loved us (1 John 4:19). My love for him, your love for him is merely a response to his love for me, his love for you. In the same vein, submission is a response to love. There’s an interplay between submission and love that has to be honed in on, I will dote on a man that doesn’t just love me in words but loves me in deed. Christ did not have to tell me that he loved me, he showed me by taking the wrath that was meant for me and nailing it to the cross and I responded by giving him my life and my love. I don’t need a man to die because that would obviously defeat the purpose but I need him to show me. Submitting to men who can’t even give up their player ways to be with you, messes with the interchange between submission and love. Neither do I condone women submitting to all men. The Church submits to one Christ, meaning you also pledge your allegiance to one man.
“Let me love you”
Before my change I definitely reasoned like a woman scorned but in hindsight my feelings were unfounded. I was rejecting submission, which is a function as opposed to an insult, forgetting that Christianity is in itself an act of submission to God. My submission to God is called into question if I harbour such hatred towards submission. We submit our wills voluntarily to Jesus daily without feeling like slaves. We trust that in every situation he will have our backs, we lean on his providence and I want to believe submission within marriage is the same. I want to believe I can lean on my husband because I can lean on Christ. I want to believe that I can trust my husband to have my back because Christ has my back. Christ is the ingredient that makes the marriage sweeter. Besides, if I cannot submit to a man that I see, how I can submit to a man that I do not see is questionable.
I want to hone in on submission being voluntary because the Church could have chosen not to submit to Christ but once they saw the depths of his love submission became the default position. The question that should play on the minds of women, old and young alike isn’t how submission should look like but whether the man is worthy because ultimately submission will look like the love being bestowed unto the women by her husband.
Love and submission is a beautiful exchange but we fail to hone in on the man loving his wife the way Christ loved the church and as a consequence women are submitting to men who have no business being submitted to, submitting to multiple partners and more importantly men are being fed wrong doctrines that submission is a thing that is to be expected as opposed to a response to their love. If we keep teaching women how to be submissive but fail to teach men how to love women we are ruining the beautiful exchange.
Submission isn’t a curse word. It just doesn’t do well on its own. It needs love to prop it up.
Love Cris x
p.s I will submit to any man who gives me massages every week ( joking, or am I ? lol. I recognise my jokes are bland but whatever lol)
p.s.s sorry for the long post, here are some other articles I found…