This insightful article is written by Gisela Dieter. She has bravely spoken on a word that many people have a difficult time digesting, let alone enacting. The word is submission, Godly submission, and Gisela sheds some light on how we are called as Christians to submit. If you are encouraged by this article, please let Gisela know by leaving your comments below! Also, if you are interested, here is a link back to Gisela’s personal blog http://gisela-myredeemerlives.blogspot.com
There is often a war of the wills in my house. I want to go on an over-night trip to a water park; my husband wants to save money for a family trip to Disney. I want to eat out, he wants to stay in. Even after years of marriage, I sometimes I think this conflict with my husband will continue for as long as we both shall live.
Needless to say, I struggle with the command to submit to my husband, as expressed in Ephesians 5: 22-24:
“Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.“
My struggle has to do with lack of surrender. I must make my own decisions because I am a natural-born controller. I do know, however, that I cannot continue living in disobedience. In order to figure out how to deal with my lack of surrender, I pray to the Holy Spirit for guidance and I dive into Scripture. In His Holy Word I see the command to submission as a two-step process. Step one, surrender to Christ. Step two, submit to one’s husband. They are intimately interrelated and occur almost simultaneously, but surrendering to Christ is the model for our submission to our husbands.
Step 1: Surrender to Christ:
Wives are to submit to their own husbands as they do to the Lord. This is our model consisting of two characteristics:
-Primacy: It must come first. By definition, a model is a standard or example for imitation. We cannot imitate anything that hasn’t taken form yet. It must be already in place. Surrender to Jesus must come first to serve as our example when submitting to our husbands. We no longer live for ourselves once we have been saved by Christ.
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” Galatians 2:20
This death to self implies total surrender. It means that, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we no longer view life self-centeredly. We recognize that it is all about Him. The crucified life becomes the standard to follow in our relationship with our husbands.
-Adequacy: This refers to the way we submit. The model must be good in order to bring success to those who follow it. In this case, our model is perfect. The way Christian wives are to submit to their husbands is the same way we surrender to Christ, totally and completely. Paul gives us another model. We are to submit to our husbands as the church submits to Jesus, totally and completely. There is no way around it. The church’s purpose of existence is Christ, and it surrenders all to Him who is its head. That’s how wives are to submit to their husbands, in everything.
Step 2: Submit to One’s Husband:
This is the hardest part for strong-willed and controlling women like me. As I’ve mentioned earlier, I struggle mightily surrendering to the Lord, but I know Christ is perfect. On the other hand, the portion of the command that poses a most complex challenge is God’s calling me to submit to a flawed human being.
I love my husband. He is the man that God created, designed and destined to be mine. He is the most Christ-like man I’ve ever met. However, he is still only human, and falls short of my expectations more often that I’d hope. Submitting to him is an enormously humbling task. Writing this piece I witnessed my own arrogance. I wanted to write that a wife’s requirement to submit to her husband depends on how well her husband fulfills his God-assigned role of spiritual leader.
That is not the command, however. God does not condition the call to submission of a wife to the manner in which her husband meets his leadership role. God commands wives to submit to their husbands regardless of whether they are deserving of our submission or not. I must highlight here that God does not want a woman to be in submission to an abuser. She must be confident of his goodwill. In abusive cases, there is need for professional, Godly counsel and intervention. But otherwise, wives are to trust the leadership of their husbands and to submit to it even when their husbands are not meeting their roles satisfactorily.
The key is the empowering of the Holy Spirit. His hand guides our lives, and we trust His plan regardless of our circumstances. Through surrendering to Christ, we extend a good measure of grace to our husbands and pray without ceasing for the Holy Spirit to transform us. Regardless of the undeserving reality of our flawed husbands, we remember that God demonstrates His perfect love for us in this:
“While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8b
Neither of the two sides of the command is easy to follow in today’s world. Our contemporary society abhors the concept of Godly submission in marriage. As we lead lives bombarded by images that mock our efforts to be obedient to the Word of God, we may find it helpful to remember our call to,
“Not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2
Perhaps, as I begin to shed the illusion of control that I so desire and begin to see my husband as a Christ-inspired leader who wants nothing but the best for the family that God has entrusted him, the battle of the wills in my house and in my soul will cease. And who knows, maybe we might even go to both, the Water Park and Disney World!
- Gisela Dieter
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