When I choose
submission, what am I choosing?
I can't hold myself up as a perfectly submissive wife and I don't have all the answers, but I can share some thoughts from my personal perspective. What are my goals? What are my dreams? What am I asking for, in my husband and in myself? Not perfection. I know that's not possible in this world. But I do want to keep trying to pursue the sort of life I think God wants me to live for him.
Submission in its many aspects is pleasing to God.
Everyone has various people at various times in their lives they must submit to, and ultimately we must all submit to God if we are to be pleasing to him. Further, in Ephesians 5:22-33,
We are told that the Christian marriage is a small shadowy picture of how the church should relate to Jesus. As I experience the difficulties and the pleasures of living in harmony with someone who is in authority over me and yet loves me sacrificially, I get a first-hand practical glimpse of the sort of relationship God wants with His body here on earth, the church. I am learning about heavenly things in a very earthly way, but it's a way I can relate to and understand. Submission is a very basic idea in a Christian life. Submission of a wife to her husband will be a very rewarding and growing experience, but it won't be easy, that's for sure. (The insight here of the writer as a common beleiver is remarkable)
Peace in the home and in the marriage relationship is the first attraction of living in submission. Many women are attracted to submission and/or DD (Domestic Discipline – The belief in not only corporal punishment for children, [as in spanking and paddling] but for the wife as well when she enters into sin and disobedience) because of a desire to live in a more peaceful home. (Wre must comment here that for two years we have observed and spoken to a number of people who walk in DD and we have found far deeper personal relationships between the husband and wife and the parents and the children with unsaved people than we have seen in all our years in churches and groups and even bible school, we have come to the conclussion that this type of relationship with disciple is not only scriptural but the fruits of this among even the unsaved puts the Church to shame) When any group of people has more than one leader struggling for control, there can be jealousy, confusion and chaos. When I as a wife give the gift of submission to my husband, I can begin to put away some of my struggles (For control over the household, over finances, and over personal rights) and relax. (She has entered into rest)
Another positive aspect for me as a wife is the
security that submission can bring.
When I know that my husband is going to think of me and our family first, then make the decision according to what is best for everyone, I can enjoy the feeling that I don't have to make all the calls or try to take control. The end result of a difference of opinion is not a winner and a loser because I am not trying to fight. I am trying to support, and everyone will win. That security can give me the freedom to grow and mature in my own spirit, knowing that my husband will support me as well, since he's not having to try to save face or keep his position. Each spouse is free to develop in his or her own way when we know our basic roles and duties.
The third benefit is encouragement.
In knowing that we as a couple are both working towards a common goal, I can find encouragement. I can draw strength from the idea that I am not just treading water in my marriages (Most Christian Marriages are in this state of treading water, they tollerate each other rather than truly being one in soul mind and spirit – they live in the day to day struggle of jockeying for control and as such the household is double minded and therefore in spiritual paralysis. And in this atmosphere many husbands grow cold in their relationship with God as with their wife – The fruit of this is truly evil as the church contunues to wither and die from this great blight) but really taking steps to thrive. In this effort the only failure would be to quit trying, so I can enjoy the new beginning each day brings.
As I support and submit to my husband, sometimes I find that my husband gives me more encouragement as well. If we share this goal as a couple, that will be a beautiful thing, to mutually tend and cherish this submission, through good times and bad. This goal could provide a source of joy for us through personal triumphs or tragedies. Despite job issues, child-rearing challenges or even natural disasters, we can feel we are still working for the benefit of our family.
The duties of the Christian wife begin with encouragement as well.
Proverbs 31: 10-12 Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.
Proverbs 31: 26-28 She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.
When I try to encourage my husband in his role as leader, my husband can feel free to return the sentiments and lift me up. Instead of the two of us tearing each other down with criticism and avoidance, we can build each other up as we so often do with other believers but so tragically forget to do at home. How many times do I faithfully pray for a friend with health problems, but forget to pray for my husband as he leads our home? What wonderful benefits I can gain with the simple habit of encouragement, especially through prayer! I gain the knowledge that I have prayed, I gain the benefits of God's answers to my prayers (whatever those may be) and I grow closer in love and commitment to my husband.
Another duty is to give my input honestly and
willingly before decisions are made.
It's not fair for me to expect my husband to take my feelings into account without telling him about those feelings at the right time and in a respectful manner. If I don't remind him how I feel, he may either forget or not even know how I feel. I don't care how many years we have been married, there are still times when he surprises me (By not knowing or not remembering important dates, and my feelings) and I imagine he would say the same about me surprising him. Why not take the opportunity to share with him my reactions and ideas? He may not go with them in his decision, but at least I'll know he has heard me. (This is maturity)
A third duty for me to remember is to support my
husband in his decisions once they are made.
I used to think that it was enough if I didn't put up a fuss, but went along with what he said. I still think that's a healthy attitude. Now, however, I think it is important not only to go along with his calls when I don't agree, but also to try to find something good about his choices in the first place. Even if I think my husband's decision is a cloud, it probably has a silver lining if I am willing to look for it. Submission is a gift, and if we are both to enjoy it to the fullest, it would be best for me to give it with a smile and a pat on the back, rather than grumbling all the way. I may not be able to change my opinion, but I can at least find good in his opinion, too.
Along with this idea of supporting my husband's
decisions comes the idea of no recriminations when things go wrong.
No one is perfect. Eventually even the most loving, wise husband will make a bad call and things will go sour. What should I do about it? Why not give him the benefit of the doubt, encourage him to keep trying, remind him that he did his best or whatever else he needs so that his mistake won't beat him down? He's probably already beating himself up over the mistake. He doesn't need me to make it worse. I might talk with him about how we can fix the problem or avoid it next time, but without blame or bitterness. I know it's hard, but I really am trying to encourage my husband even when things don't go well.
These duties are not easy and I won't claim they are. It's not as if we can just flip a switch and *poof* we can be submissive. It doesn't work that way. These efforts take practice, patience, prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives to truly pay off. The more effort we are willing to put in and the more we open ourselves up to God's direction and our husbands leadership, the richer and fuller our lives become. I guess the more we practice the duties, the more we'll see the beauties.