by Harriet Hairston
I made mention of Bruce Wilkinson’s book, “Experiencing Spiritual Breakthroughs” a couple of weeks ago, and after perusing my notes, I came across another “WOW” factor within his book. Keeping in mind that his book is Christian based, he outlined the specific instructions laid out in the Bible for different groups of people to follow:
Wives: Submit (Ephesians 5:22)
Husbands: Love (Ephesians 5:25)
Children: Obey and honor (Ephesians 6:1)
Fathers: Don’t exasperate (Ephesians 6:4)
Employees: Serve wholeheartedly (Ephesians 6:5)
Employers: Don’t threaten (Ephesians 6:9)
This is what I call getting back to the basics…the fundamentals of fulfilling our roles as husbands, wives, children, men and women in society. It sounds so simple, but we make it so complicated. Wives look upon the word “submission” like a curse word, and dare not offend the bra-burning movement of yesteryear to enact this fundamental choice. Husbands, on the other hand, seek to be respected so badly that they force their “headship” around like a golden scepter, daring a wife to come forth without being beckoned; thus they miss their fundamental duty to unconditionally and sacrificially love their wives.
How can we get back to the basics and beyond these self-seeking attitudes that erode the quality and intimacy from our married lives?
This particular article is for women only, and it outlines the fact that “submission” is NOT a curse word. Gentlemen, feel free to read it as well, but please, please, PLEASE, for the love of all that is good and holy, don’t take this one home and suggest your wife read it. No matter how innocent your intentions may be, it’s sure to start WWIII in your household. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Wilkinson outlined five myths/misconceptions about submission that make it such a difficult thing for us to do. When we know the truth about the freedom within submission, we are liberated to become the wives we were created to be.
Misconception #1: “A husband’s job is to make his wife submit.”
Wilkinson discussed the harm that this kind of control issue can do to a marriage. He talked about the original term of submission meaning “arranging all parts underneath,” and stated that submission is “focused on the deeper, more important issues of love and intention.”
The only thing I can say to add to his viewpoint is this: IT IS A CHOICE. It’s not a tit for tat where a wife removes her intention if her husband decides to act like a donkey. Either you choose to submit or you choose not to. It’s not an act that depends on your husband’s treatment of you.
Misconception #2: “If a wife is to submit to her husband ‘as to the Lord,’ then she must act like and treat her husband as if he is the Lord.”
Wilkinson stated that “submission is a loving expression of your pre-existing submission to Jesus.” He went on to say–and I have to add that this really helped me out a lot–that, “When the choice to submit gets difficult, look past your husband to Jesus and do it anyway as an expression of your trust in God.”
This takes me to the Merriam-Webster definition of “submit:” To yield to governance and/or authority. I’ve mentioned before that the order of marriage is God, Husband, Wife, Children…then everything else falls under that umbrella. But ladies, if you can’t handle that definition, let’s talk about driving. To YIELD does not mean to STOP…it means to give or render as fitting what rightfully belongs to your husband: RESPECT. We want love from him, and they want respect from us. Part of that is in yielding in respect to our husbands.
Misconception #3: “If a wife submits to a husband ‘in everything,’ that includes sin and/or danger.”
Ladies, we can decline to do the illegal, immoral or unethical acts because of a higher allegiance to the Lord. We should want to submit with everything in us, but we can also honor our husbands while still refusing to do terrible things out of reverence for the Lord.
Misconception #4: The wife is supposed to submit to the husband, but he is also supposed to submit to her.”
One verse prior to the one requiring women to submit to their husbands states, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” This discusses the corporate desire for God’s people to treat one another with respect and be unselfish in relationships with each other. This verse does not apply to marriage. See the above list for wives, husbands, children, employers and employees for more details.
Misconception #5: “If I submit to my husband, I won’t be able to voice my opinions or feel confident that my feelings or ideas matter.”
This is the misconception that I had to “unlearn” when I got married. Mr. Incredible and I are both very strong willed, and he would sometimes refer to this submission clause earlier in our marriage. After WWIII, WWIV and WWV ended and the reconstruction of our marriage commenced, he learned not to throw that in my face (it didn’t take him long). I learned, on the other hand, to express my opinions respectfully. Submission does NOT equate to passivity. Wilkinson stated, “Your uniqueness is vital to your marital success…HOW you disagree or make suggestions is what matters.”
So my question for the BMWK ladies is this: which flavor of the submission misconception kool aid did you drink to? Now that you have the actual meaning of what submission is, how can you apply that active choice to how you treat your husband?