The Dreaded “S” Word

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. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
(Ephesians 5:23-24)

Like many aspects of the Christian journey, submission does not come naturally for most of us. In fact, according to our modern values, the idea of a wife submitting to a husband is not only unpopular, it is almost shameful.

Yet there it is, plainly spelled out in not one but two ancient letters now accepted as part of the canon of Scripture:

Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.
(Colossians 3:18)

But of course we could object and say that Paul was a chauvinist pig and simply had a grudge against women… except for the fact that Peter used the same Greek word (here translated with a different nuance) in one of his letters as well:

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,
(1 Peter 3:1)

As a woman growing up in a cultural climate proclaiming, “What’s good for the gander is good for the goose,” and other girl-power statements, this was not a teaching that I easily adopted when I became a disciple of the Messiah. However, I did adopt it, and I would love to share my experience with the concept of submission.

You see, I became a Christian as a youngish adult whose life had just been turned upside down by some pretty poor choices. At the age of 25, I found myself pregnant and living with the man who would later become my husband. Clearly, neither of us knew or obeyed the Lord at this time.

But God had plans to use this mess, and the new life that was growing inside me fostered a desperation to find out if there was a God. For the sake of space, the nickel version is that I began to read the Bible while challenging God to prove Himself to me if He was real.

He did.

So it was that my eyes were first opened to my sin and rebellion as well as the astonishing love of God and the breathtaking humility of Yeshua (also called Jesus). I was floored. What’s more, as I talked with God through what was to be the first of many readings through His Word, I was guided by His Spirit to take what I read literally where it was rendered literally and symbolically when it was clearly stated as a symbol.

For me, that included submission to my new husband. This did not come easily, particularly before my husband also became a Christian. Yet Peter’s words from chapter 3 of his letter dogged me.

I admit that I implemented submission with a touch of resentment at first, sorry little rebel that I am, even after my husband devoted his own life to Christ.  And I had many, many heartfelt and teary discussions with the Lord about how difficult it was to be submissive.

Until one day, God finally opened my eyes to three truths. First and foremost, He knows. When I say that, I mean He has actual, experiential knowledge of how difficult it is to go from a place of authority to a place of deference. He has done it on a grander scale than I ever could.

Secondly, He showed me that not submitting to my husband had less to do with failure to trust my man than it did my failure to trust God Himself.  If I submit to my husband, even when I disagree, I am trusting in God to lead my man effectively – even if it means difficulty or learning from poor choices. After all, the most enduring lessons I have learned have been through my mistakes… and often the very place where I disagree was the place my husband turned out to be right, after all.

Besides, by not submitting to my husband, I was refusing to submit to my God. This one gave me pause.

As a Christian, I am commanded to act in humility; a necessary ingredient for submission. Now I am not saying I have never spoken a contrary word to my man. I have, and often. I am not afraid to express dissent, yet I present my disagreement respectfully, just as I would to any other authority. While my man always considers my feedback, my man does not always decide in favor of my way.

This takes especial humility on my part when I am convinced that my way is right, and through it I have certainly been humbled to discover that I am wrong much more frequently than I once believed!

Finally, God gave me a sense of the cost of responsibility the husband’s authority carries. After all, right or wrong, it is he who will answer to the Almighty for the decisions made for our family and for the direction of his leadership.

Let that sink in a minute.

Ladies, our husbands are accountable before God for their leadership – right or wrong.

When the Lord put it to me that way, I began to feel both genuine relief not to shoulder this grave responsibility and sincere respect (even awe) for my husband who bears it all.

When I think of it in those terms, submission is not such a bad position to be in, after all!




20 thoughts on “The Dreaded “S” Word

  1. Firm words Dear Heather. I have learnt from your experience and even though I am not married, I can be sure that God’s Way is always the best through it all.

    This stuck out to me:

    “He showed me that not submitting to my husband had less to do with failure to trust my man than it did my failure to trust God Himself.”

    After reading the above statement, I just took a break from the write up and went pondering the deep implication. I believe this statement relates with the essence of all that God has instructed us to do, especially when it relates with some form of authority.

    More of Lord Jesus to you Dear Heather.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, my friend. I know in my country, this is not a popular subject but this is a snapshot of the way God has dealt with my underlying heart issue by using my marriage. I do think that I will probably do a follow-up post about the blessings that have come from obedience soon, because those have been tremendous!

      And yes, definitely the statement about trusting God relates to literally everything He calls us to. I absolutely agree!

      Have a grace-filled day!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Please pardon my delayed response Dear Heather. I have been caught up with some job business.

        God has a way of dealing with us to expose our inadequacies and bring us on our knees in desperate need of help before Him. The most lovely part is when He peels the weakness away and fills the space with more of Himself.

        If a follow up post is okay with you, of course, we are here waiting to suck up all the nutritious lessons.

        The day was grace-filled indeed. Thanks for your care.

        More of Lord Jesus to you.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Wonderful, Luminous, and no worries! I understand. I am behind in some of my work and need to catch up as well. You are so right about God peeling away the weakness and filling the space with Himself. Some friends and I were recently thanking Him that He has never allowed us to be comfortable enough to grow complacent. It really is a good thing to know our need of the Lord!

        Blessings to you!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. You’ve expressed this from the wife’s perspective very well. Thanks for that. We husbands, however, are to love our wives as Christ loves the Church and gave Himself up for her. This is not a one-way street, and this is hard for us as men and husbands to remember in our daily interactions with our loving wives. These are passages of Scripture that aren’t often discussed these days, but the Truth of God’s word continues. Thanks for your post. I take it as a helpful reminder of my responsibilities in this equation and of my ultimate accountability before God. Great stuff, Heather!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you so much! I do feel a much deeper compassion for my husband since God opened my eyes to what it means for him to love me “as Christ loved the church.” Such sacrificial love is no small thing, and I admire my man for how he has allowed God to guide him in this. We have both learned so much from our Lord!

      Liked by 2 people

    1. My man is an awesome husband and father! We’ve been through a lot together and our story is one of unlikely success and a testimony of God’s power and grace in so many ways… All the wisdom comes from Him. 😉


  3. “But God had plans to use this mess,…” Can’t tell you how important that is to me, a mom of adult children. Thank you. Also, submission to authority, the way God plans it, is also to be a protective thing, even a barrier to evil. Something we easily overlook.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. You are so right there, Dawn, and I confess I’ve learned about protective authority the hard way! I need the reminder about God’s using our messes, too. I just have teens, but sometimes the direction they choose to walk is scary… The good thing is it keeps me on my knees! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I can so relate to this Heather. One of those verses came up this week in my morning devotional and I was once again like “really!?” I love the point you make about submission showing our trust in God rather than reliance on my husband’s opinion. I have often found when I am quiet on a matter, God will change my husband’s mind or we ultimately come to an agreeable resolution or compromise. But it took me some years to learn this. After twenty-five years, I no longer strive to have my husband hear my voice. He readily asks for my opinion. God does take our mistakes and missteps to teach us lessons that we won’t forget. Sometimes it takes falling to find Him. I enjoyed the post and love the photo! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks so much, Lilka! Good to see you again. I agree completely. When I was younger, I was a bit of a clamoror, but God really has shown me that quietness is best. It’s been a huge growth experience for me, partly because of great disfunction in my childhood family, but I’ve definitely learned that being still and letting God do the work is much more effective than me trying to assert my will. As it turns out, my husband makes mostly very good decisions (many better than mine would have been!) and he learns from the less good ones, so nothing is wasted. Of course, I think our Father knew that all along… 😉

      Liked by 2 people

  5. First time to your blog, love the name as well!. Really enjoyed your post as I have been married for just over a year and the wife and I have been having interesting chats about this stuff, so I have found your post helpful.

    Look forward to reading more

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Congratulations! May the Lord give you both many wonderful times to come. We have been married for almost 16 years and have been through a lot together. I’m happy to say we are best of friends and look forward to many more years of marriage. 🙂

      Glad you stopped by!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. 16 years, that’s awesome! Yep I reckon its pretty important to be friends and have that foundation. Brandie and I were in a long distance relationship before marriage (she is from America) and its like we had no other choice but be really good friends build a strong relationship. We see the fruit of that in our marriage

        Liked by 1 person

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