Friday, July 1, 2011

Love and Submission

Our marriage is in crisis, image courtesy of Long Island Marriage and Family Therapists,

“I’ll love you if you submit!”

“I’ll submit if you love me!”

How does either position honor God?

True authority proceeds from the throne of God: Moses was a man who himself acknowledged his flaws, and yet, God chose an imperfect man to lead Israel from Egypt to Canaan. God delegated His authority to Moses. There were also instances when this authority was challenged. When Miriam and Aaron took issue with Moses by using his Cushite wife as justification for their actions:

While they were at Hazeroth, Miriam and Aaron criticized Moses because he had married a Cushite woman. They said, ‘Has the Lord spoken only through Moses? Hasn’t he spoken through us, too?’ But the Lord heard them.1

No man should ever think that being the head in the marriage relationship is about hierarchal authority or privilege. No wife should ever think that being subject to her husband is about lower rank and limited rights. In both instances, it has to do with the willingness of each (husband and wife) to submit and obey God. Just as I question God about my wife being subject to me, I too am questioned whether I’m obeying the command to love her. Just as I question my husband’s love for me, I too am questioned whether I’m obeying the command to be subject to him.

Korah son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, and certain Reubenites—Dathan and Abiram, sons of Eliab, and On son of Peleth—became insolent and rose up against Moses. With them were 250 Israelite men, well-known community leaders who had been appointed members of the council. They came as a group to oppose Moses and Aaron and said to them,You have gone too far! The whole community is holy, every one of them, and the LORD is with them. Why then do you set yourselves above the LORD’s assembly?’”2

It may seem so easy for a wife to believe, "I can do this better than Him", or "I can do this without him". But what you’re actually saying is that, “I can do this better than God.Is God unaware of the flaws in your husband’s life? Perhaps God has succumbed to Alzheimer’s; forgetting how prone your husband is to being wrong.

The authority a husband has is not one that can be siezed by any man, it is given by God. No man of God who loves his wife imposes authority over her; he recognizes the authority he has is delegated from God. No woman of God who subjects herself to her husband does so under the duress of human authority; she recognizes the authority of her husband is delegated from God.

Until Death: A question I’ve pondered goes back to the garden; it was there where sin came into the world and consequently death to all from one man’s sin (Romans 5:12). The moment Eve ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, she died. Some might even argue that Eve died the moment she decided to eat (James 1:15). What we must understand is that Eve believed a lie and disobeyed God’s command because she was deceived. Adam however, was not deceived (1 Timothy 2:14), he understood the consequences of disobedience, but he chose death rather than obey God.

The question I've asked myself is:
Did Adam choose to die with Eve because he loved her to the extent that he freely chose to give up his life?

In Adam, I see a type of Christ that represents fallen man. Adam chose death through disobedience with the resulting consequence being all have sinned, and therefore all die (Romans 5:12). Christ chose death through obedience with the result producing salvation to all, and therefore all who believe are alive in Christ (Galatians 2:20).
Let’s examine the wife as a type of church to her husband:
  1. Church equips the saints/wife prepares her husband (Ephesians 4:6, 11-12)
  2. Church performs the work of ministry/wife ministers to her husband (Ephesians 4:6, 11-12; Colossians 3:23)
  3. Church edifies the body of Christ/wife builds her husband (Romans 15:20-21; Matthew 16:18)
To what end?

That the true purpose of a husband and wife might be revealed to a world shaped and imprisoned by sin and deception. God wants those around you to see what true love is, how that love operates, and who that love accurately reflects.

What does Wives, be subject to your own husband mean?

The dictionary defines it as, one that is placed under authority. The Greek word Paul uses is, hypotassō (hü-po-tä's-sō), which means, to arrange under, to subordinate, to subject, put in subjection, to subject one's self, obey, to submit to one's control, to yield to one's admonition or advice, to obey, or be subject. This word was a Greek military term meaning “to arrange [troop divisions] in a military fashion under the command of a leader”. In non-military use, it was “a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden”.

A wife cannot be made to “be subject to her own husband”; that would violate the scripture. Her decision must be “voluntarily made”, as she seeks to please God. A husband cannot be made to “love his wife”; that too, would violate scripture. His decision must also be “voluntarily made”, as he seeks to please God.

Why must being subject to Christ be a good thing while being subject to my husband be a bad thing?

Living this command out in a woman’s life requires faith; the same faith necessary for a woman to be subject to Christ in her life. When a wife is obeying Christ, she is obeying her husband as well. I see that this is more of a partnership in marriage because it takes the faith of both husband and wife, representing Christ and the church to navigate the waters of marriage.

Heavenly Father,

You have given us the example of Christ and the church to ensure that both husbands and wives share a loving relationship with one another. Sin corrupts our view and understanding of Your truth; it is only through the power of the gospel that we are transformed into the image of Your Son. We seek to be willing participants in the heavenly calling; to be a living testament of the covenant established by Jesus Christ on the cross when He died for the sins of the world. We have been made alive by Your Holy Spirit and the life we now live is a life of love and submission.

I ask You Lord to bring about healing in the lives of husbands and wives who find themselves struggling in a marriage that is lifeless, and without purpose; a marriage lacking direction. Give them a vision of Christ and the church; a relationship born of love. May they see with clarity of mind, and a willing heart that You empower them to obey the scriptures. May they experience the grace that You freely shower upon them; enabling them to love one another as Christ loves the church. Give them a renewed passion for one another, fulfilling and enriching one another.

Thank You for those husbands and wives who walk before us as living testimonies of what it means to be one. Unified in spirit, mind and body. Thank You for singles who live a life of celibacy and commitment to Christ; choosing friendship with Christ over friendship with this world. All of us, whether married or single are commaned to submit ourselves to one another. May we discover true love through submission. Amen.

Spiritual Sunday'sNote: This post is linked to Spiritual Sundays (hosted by Charlotte and Ginger).

  1. Numbers 12:1-3, NLTB
  2. Numbers 16:1-3, NIV
  1. Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, By James B. Strong, S.T.D, LL.D., Riverside Book and Bible House, Iowa Falls, Iowa 50126
  2. Unger's Bible Dictionary, By Merrill F. Unger, Moody Press, Chicago
  3. The Ryrie Study Bible (New American Standard Version), Edited by Charles C. Ryrie, Moody Publishers, Chicago, Illinois, ISBN 0-8024-8920-6
  4. The Amplified Bible, by The Lockman Foundation, Zondervan Bible Publishers, Grand Rapids, Michigan, ISBN-13: 978-0310951414
  5. King James Version, The Crusade Analytical Study Edition, Crusade Bible Publishers, Inc., PO Box 90011, Nashville, Tennessee 37209
  6. The Message Bible, by Eugene H. Peterson, NavPress Publishing Group, Colorado Springs, CO, ISBN-13: 978-1600060250
  7. New King James Version, by Nelson Bibles, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Inc., PO Box 141000, Nashville, Tennessee, ISBN-13: 978-0840713704
  8. The NIV Study Bible, Edited by Kenneth Barker, Donald Burdick, John Stek, Walter Wessel and Ronald Youngblood, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530, USA
  9. The New Living Translation Bible, by Tyndale Charitable Trust, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois, ISBN-13: 978-0842384896
  10. Matthew Henry's Commentary, McDonald Publishing Company, McLean, Virginia 22101, ISBN 0-917006-21-6


LivingSoAbundantly said...

I have enjoyed weekly reading your posts. Nothing is too hard for Him, and He will fight for you! I found it interesting that part of the definition is cooperating. It is definitely a choice to flow with your spouse; it's not always easy. I have seen as a wife that I create the environment most of the time by my attitude and responses. What a needed reminder to have a cooperative spirit!

Living So Abundantly: New meme starting this coming Thursday, July 7, 2011, Give Back Thursday--join in the fun!

Shanda said...

Thank you so much for this prayer. I believe that since I ready it, then it was meant for me, right? Submission is hard, especially when you feel your husband is not making the best decision. But I am trying to just submit and pray.

Joan said...


You have put much study and thought into this series of posts and I have learned from them. Thank you for this Biblical view of marriage and the roles of husbands and wives.


Charlotte said...

This is a very good lesson on submission. I thought the question about Adam was interesting. I had never heard that thought before. Submission is not easy for anyone. We all think we know best and want to be in control. This is a thought provoking post. Thank you for sharing it.

Pamela said...

I love my submissive part in my marriage. But I never think about being submissive. My RB makes me want to follow him -- as he follows Christ. What a great series you have blessed us with. Thank you.


Sharon said...

I am enjoying this series on marriage. You obviously have thought about and researched this subject a great deal - and the Lord is bringing you such good insights to share with us.

I have heard you mention before your thought that perhaps Adam chose to die with Eve out of sacrificial love. It's an interesting thought - but I'm not sure that I totally agree with you on that one. Here's why. (And trust me, I'm not trying to throw men under the bus on this one!!) It's just my perspective...

The reason I think it was all about sin lurking in the heart of Adam, too, is because of his reaction when God confronts him. God says to him (Genesis 3:11, NLT): "Who told you that you were naked?...Have you eaten from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat?" Adam's reply (Genesis 3:12): "It was the woman YOU GAVE ME who gave me the fruit, and I ate it." Adam blamed God and he blamed Eve - and of course, Eve blamed the serpent. Adam didn't tell the Lord that he was choosing death with Eve out of his love for her (though I have no doubt that he loved her deeply). It just seems to me that we all tend to play the "Blame Game" when we know our motives are not pure or honorable.

Eve did not submit to her husband's God-given authority, or she would not have disobeyed. Did Adam fail to exert his God-given authority, and step in and stop his wife? Hmmm...maybe so. I am sure that the Biblical account of the Fall is just a tickling of the true story. I think it was really full of complicated feelings and thoughts. But I believe both Adam and Eve chose disobedience.

Anyway, just my two cents for what it's worth.

The truth is this - it's really about ALL of us, men and women, husbands and wives, turning to the ultimate Authority in our lives - God. And then praying that He aligns our hearts and our actions to His will.


Ginger~~Enchanting Cottage said...

This is a hard one for me. I try and try, I'm getting better and better with God's help.
Thank-you for this post and prayer,

Sharon said...

Thank you for your comment on my blog today - it really helped me understand what you were trying to convey about Adam - "trying to depict Adam as a type of Christ who failed in the area of obedience." Yes, I can see that.

I love your perspective, too - I don't get too many comments from men, and so I appreciate hearing from you. It opens my mind to other ways of thinking about things - I like that.

God bless you for this series - and for all the work you do in writing. You are always thorough, and I appreciate the pondering you consistently cause in my life!


sarah said...

thanks for this MTJ....hope you have a great long weekend. Happy 4th of July

Patti Hanan said...

Thank you for all the thought in prayer you have poured into these posts about marriage. There is a lot of wisdom here!