I knew I would be my husband’s wife four minutes after I met him. People have tactfully informed me that I am crazy; others have gazed at my marriage longingly, calling it a romantic fairytale. Crazy or romantic, to me, it is just reality. He is and always has been my husband, born for it, and I was born to be his wife. It took ten months to meet, become engaged, and marry him, and we haven’t slowed down since. Much has happened in the two years we have been married: we bought a house, we got a dog, we switched careers, we lost a baby, and we had a baby. I guess you could say we like it fast paced.
The decision to become his wife was easy; however, submitting to his will has been nearly impossible. The Lord instructs this of wives in Ephesians 5:22-24,
“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.“
I heard this scripture countless times prior to becoming a wife, but never actually discerned it until my left third finger became a bit heavier. I have also heard this part of scripture be ripped apart by feminists and misused by controlling husbands. It is, no doubt, one of the most difficult divine instructions for a woman to accept. However, this is for everyone, including feminists and controlling husbands, the story does not stop at verse 24. Paul instructs husbands in verses 25-33,
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies, he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and His bones. ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”
Following my husband was fairly simple when our decisions centered around dining in or going out, visiting my parents or his, buying a new couch or used. The birth of our son, however, revealed a more imperative and urgent marital discussion. We found ourselves responsible for raising an incredible little boy, and it suddenly became pivotal that we discuss our contrasting Christian denominations. There is no reason to get into the nitty-gritty of our argument; all I will say is this: my husband is Baptist and I am Lutheran. Uh oh.
This disagreement led to argument after argument after argument. We sought answers in the Lord’s word, in our pastors’ words, in our parents’ words. However, the only thing we were able to completely agree on was the fact that we disagreed entirely. It was many weeks into these discussions when one night, climbing into bed and settling my head on my husband’s shoulder, I looked into his eyes and said, “You are my husband, the man of this house, and this decision is ultimately yours. I agreed to go where you go, and I will do just that.” My husband sighed deeply, as if the entire world was climbing off his shoulders, and said, “Thank you.”
It is here that I need to make myself clear. My husband knows exactly how I feel about this decision. He knows exactly where I stand, and respects my point of view. He understands me and we regularly discuss our stance on this issue. I did not become a doormat on the night I gave my husband power over this decision; I became his helpmate, and I followed God’s will for a woman (Genesis 2:18). By empowering him, I empowered myself, and allowed my marriage to take the form of the utmost and flawless marriage: Christ and the church.
Wives, submitting to our husbands is showing him the most elevated form of respect because it requires the deepest form of trust. I married my husband because I knew that he could and would be the spiritual leader of our home. I was inspired by his relationship with Christ, and I trusted him to maintain that relationship throughout our marriage. I envisioned him reading Bible stories to our children, teaching our sons to be God-fearing men and our daughters to be women of God. Then, I allowed a disagreement to cloud my view of my husband, and those dreams crumbled. I ripped my trust away from him and decided I was better suited to lead our family. Wordlessly, I told him I did not trust him to lead our family, and I did not think he had the ability to follow the Lord, which undermined him and crippled our marriage.
In Ephesians 5, God describes the church as being holy and without blemish. It is the love of christ that sanctifies and cleanses the church; He gave himself up for her. When women fail to submit to their husbands, they hinder God’s plan for a man and woman’s marriage to model the intended, perfect union of Christ and the church. We become the obstacle that prevents our husbands from loving us as Christ loves the church.
The Lord has an immovable and beautiful purpose for instructing us to submit to our husbands. It is not to take away a woman’s freedom, but to equip her. God provides a perfect model of a marriage in the relationship between Christ and the church. This model involves a hierarchy which requires submittance from each member of a family. Women have the freedom to submit to their husbands, because the men are, in turn, to submit to God. It is equally vital that husbands submit to the Lord, allowing their wives to comfortably submit to them. Women are to be their husband’s helpmate, so that he is provided the opportunity to surrender himself to God. If our men are performing their Biblical duties, then the women should have no qualms about performing theirs. Women and men are called equally to submit to another’s will. A family will operate smoothly if the children submit to their parents, the wives submit to their husbands, and the husbands submit to Christ. God knew this, which is why he instructs us to let our husbands lead.
Women, we must rise to God’s call, so our men can rise to theirs.