“Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.” (ESV Col. 3:18) This single, seemingly archaic, statement causes self-respecting women everywhere to dig in their heels, hold their shoulders back and boldly refuse. Strong, intelligent women wonder why how could any man expect me to pledge to him that I would obey? In an era of equality of the sexes, it might be just as likely that he should pledge to obey me. If anyone is going to dominate in a relationship, that role is going to be won by force; a victory that won’t come cheap. Surely logic and reason will prevail in this matter…or at least political correctness.
Oh ladies, our mother’s have taught us well. Ever since we could remember, we were told we could be anything we wanted to be. We were taught that we were every bit as good as a man in the work place. The mantra of equality of the sexes was non-stop during my formative years. Society was being told women could “bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan” on TV. We didn’t know it, but we were being groomed to become a generation of unsuspecting feminists. Merriam-Webster defines feminism as: “1: the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes, or 2: organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests.” (Merriam-Webster Online)
With that mindset, it’s not unreasonable that women would refuse to be so weak or foolish to allow a mere man to be in authority over us. After all, he’s not God. We women are smart. We’re capable. No man can push us around. We won’t stand for it! As a group, women tend to think of a woman who submits to her husband’s authority as weak, or stupid. We pity her. She should stand up and be strong like we were groomed to be. She should take back control of her life and establish equality in her marriage. We can teach her if she’d only listen and learn like we did. She can learn to be just like us. Feminists.
To make the concept of the husband’s Godly authority more difficult for modern women to accept, TV commercials have done their very best to portray men as weak and women as strong. One example shows a woman in the arms of a bare-chested Favio clone, complete with his hair blowing in the wind, holding a frozen dairy/coffee concoction in her hand. She is staring deeply into his eyes as her husband comes in. She tells him not to be such a baby when he’s not happy to see his wife’s fantasy man; who, by the way, is the total opposite of her husband. The end result of this commercial is that the woman gets what she wants with no regard to her husband, and the man has to just take it because he’s portrayed as weak. This ad does nothing good for men or marriage.
As girls, we dream of our knights in shining armor. We love the tales of the handsome, strong prince that comes to rescue us from our tormentors and slay the horrible dragon. Boys can become emasculated by society’s insistence that they behave more like girls. Boys should be rough, tough and ready to begin the next adventure. They are interested in being heroes. Instead of fear of the next Columbine, should he show an interest in conquering his realm, we should embrace their God-given nature to grow into princes then kings. The girls should be allowed to sigh dreamily at the thought of their betrothed prince ready to whisk her away and ride off on the adventure of a lifetime – marriage.
The feministic ideal of equality leaves no room in marriage for anything but democratic rule. Some of us have insisted that the “obey” part is left out the wedding ceremony. We also want it left out of our marriages as well. Men, because of political correctness, and being portrayed as oppressive and evil, have let the feminists have their way.
Before my husband and I got married, we talked about our hopes and dreams for the future. Even though I wasn’t saved yet, I knew a couple of things I didn’t want from a child’s view of their parent’s marriage. One thing I agreed to was that if we couldn’t agree, someone would have to make the decision. Having spent every Christmas Eve re-hashing the same old argument, whether to open presents Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, it seemed practical to make this decision at a moment when everyone was calm. I agreed to let my husband-to-be make the final decision if we couldn’t agree, but I insisted that we would leave the obey part out of our wedding vows.
Sadly, when women learned to take control of their own destinies, we also learned to rebel against God’s authority. Throughout the bible, kingdoms illustrate the kind hierarchical authority that Jesus has as the head of the church. Nowhere does it describe God’s government as a democracy. In Ephesians Chapter 5, women are told to submit. “22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” (ESV) So women cannot be obedient in God’s eyes and still leave out the obey part. If women are to obey God in marriage, they must follow Paul’s instructions in Ephesians 5, “24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.” (ESV Eph 5:22-24) The bible also tells women, “but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their husbands.” (ESV 1 Peter 3:4-5) Paul also tells women to “respect her husband.” (ESV Eph 5:33)
Men, at this point it would be good to wonder what responsibility goes with the mantle of God’s delegated authority. I promise you don’t get appointed cruel dictator once the I do’s are complete. Your wife doesn’t suddenly become the indentured servant for your amusement. A huge responsibility is placed on the husband’s shoulders. Ephesians 5:23 tells men, “For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.” (ESV) If you consider these words, a husband’s responsibility is to lay down his life for his wife as Jesus did for the church. God’s authority passes down from Jesus to the husband. So, men must submit themselves to God’s authority as the husband.
Husbands are instructed to “love your wives and do not be harsh with them.” (ESV Col. 3:19) In 1 Peter 3:7, husbands are told to “live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.” (ESV) If a man does not honor his wife, he separates himself from God. Paul continues his instruction in Ephesians 5:28, “In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.” (ESV) Let there be no doubt, both husband and wife are under God’s authority. Each must obey God’s instruction. To disobey will separate them from God.
Now, all of the loving Christian women in the room are waiting to tell us how, since their husband’s aren’t saved, none of this really applies to them. Or if their husband isn’t standing up to be the spiritual authority in their household, these same Christian women believe it is their duty to stand up and take charge. Instead, the bible says, “Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives.” (Emphasis mine, ESV 1 Peter 3:1-2) “Won without a word.” God is telling us to live in obedience to God in front of the one you are trying to win. You get no points for beating them up with scripture or badgering them with your preaching.
God’s blessings flow through the husband into the marriage. Both men and women have to live lives of submission to God. If we are faithful to God’s word, we will be blessed. In Proverbs, we are told, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.” (ESV 18:22) It takes a strong woman to submit willingly as an expression of love to both God and her husband. Submit does not equate to simpering stupidity. You don’t have to check your brain at the door to be able to live in the full blessings of a biblical marriage relationship.
As for me, I can state unequivocally that in the midst of our biblical marriage, I find greater joy in doing it God’s way. Little by little as we seek Him and let Him have is way in our lives, the blessings of our marriage relationship increase as the time goes by. When we renewed our wedding vows after 17 years of marriage I gave my promise to obey with a whole heart.