This morning’s post was written by Stacy McDonald. She is the wife of Pastor James McDonald of Providence Church and Family Reformation Ministries. She is the mother of ten precious blessings, and the grandma of one treasured cuddle bug, so far! Surely, she is and does other things, but these are the most significant to her.
Stacy is also the author of Raising Maidens of Virtue and co-author of the popular new book, Passionate Housewives Desperate for God
Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Ephesians 5:22-24
As men and women, we tend to loath submission to authority. From birth, we don’t want to be told what to do; everything is “mine” and anything that goes wrong is “somebody else’s fault.” It’s the nature of sinful man.
So it’s not surprising that the “chain of command” found in Scripture tends to be a hotly debated topic – even within Christian circles. And thanks to the feminist movement, the biblical concept of wives submitting to their husbands is many times misinterpreted or rejected all together.
Webster’s 1828 Dictionary gives us this definition of submission:
“Resignation; a yielding of one’s will to the will or appointment of a superior without murmuring. Entire and cheerful submission to the will of God is a Christian duty of prime excellence.”
Even those of us who agree with this biblical principle struggle with submitting from the heart. It’s so easy for me to believe that I am submitting to my husband when in truth I am already in agreement with him. During these times, I can fool myself into believing that I am a “truly submissive wife.”
“Honey, I believe that you should wear your hair long and down, the way that you wore it when we met.” Says Darling Husband.
You may think to yourself, “I really liked my hair longer too.” So you happily “submit” and commit to growing it out.
“Honey, will you please make sure that the grocery budget stays under ___ amount?”
You had been planning to make that cut and are in agreement with saving money on groceries. “No problem, Darling Husband!”
When husband and wife are in agreement in spiritual matters, matters of how the house should be run, or how the children should be raised it is a wonderful thing. Our lives run smoothly and the oneness we enjoy is evident by a peaceful home. However, we can be easily deceived. The true test of submission comes when we analyze our reaction to areas of disagreement with our husband’s choices.
For instance, what about when your husband informs you that he is going to allow your thirteen year-old-son to play a game that you feel is particularly dangerous? Or do you find yourself on the defensive when he speaks to one of the children in a way that you felt was too harsh? What happens when he wants to purchase something that you feel is a total waste of money! Does your sweet demeanor fall to the floor and shatter into a million pieces? I know I have to get a staple gun after mine at that point!
Don’t misunderstand, I’m not saying that wives should not give valuable input and wisdom in these matters, but there is a respectful way of giving input and that’s probably where I struggle the most. I tend to respond with emotion and passion and it can come across as demanding and critical. I know I’m “right” and I want him to know it too—and admit it!
My husband needs to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that his is the last word. Not only does he have the final say, but he has it with my total support and trust. Here’s the trial!
Many people picture an unsubmissive wife as one who angrily stomps her foot and says, “No, I won’t do it your way!” May I present a different picture; one I am much more familiar with myself because I have sadly fit the image too many times? Imagine the wife who says with her lips that she will do as her husband asks, but then pouts, is disapprovingly quiet, whines, or even resorts to tears of frustration. All of these tactics are called, quite simply, “manipulation.”
Many times, I deceived myself into thinking I was submissive. After all, I never said I wouldn’t agree to his decision. I never disobeyed or went against his wishes. However, my secret (or not so secret) unsubmissive attitude turned me into a contentious, rebellious, woman.
It can happen to you too. Beware of a manipulative and controlling nature. The Lord will work mightily through your obedience to Him.
You may ask, “What if my husband makes a foolish mistake?” Be in prayer for your husband’s decisions, but submit joyfully, trusting God for the outcome. Remember that God is right there in the midst of the situation, working things out for your ultimate good and His glory. It may not be the outcome you would have chosen, but again, remember that His ways are above our ways (Isaiah 58:8-9).
“Let the wives be to their own husbands in everything….” (Ephesians 5:24) Not just those things in which we agree.
That being said, we should never submit to any leader to the point of sin. We must obey God above all others and violating His statutes under the guise of submitting to a sinning husband is wrong. Yes, a husband will be held accountable for leading his wife into sin, but a wife is also accountable for her own sin.
There is a peaceful trust that is born from obeying God and remaining under the authority in which He has placed us. There is a distinct comfort that comes from recognizing the sovereignty of God and being content in our role. May God bless you as you glorify Him in all you do.
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28
Be on the lookout this week for manipulative reactions to your husband’s requests. If he asks you to do something (that is not sinful) and you get the urge to show your disapproval with a healthy dose of the “silent treatment,” repent right away and out loud. Confess to your husband right then and there that you were tempted to control him by ignoring him and ask him to hold you accountable.
Rather than manipulating or berating your husband, calmly and thoughtfully present your case. You may need to pray first, write out your appeal, or gather your thoughts before speaking. Sometimes arguments are born out of a failure to communicate properly and we become overwhelmed with frustration that the other person “just doesn’t understand.” So take the time to gather your thoughts and then present your case in love as a well-reasoned appeal.
Ask God to show you other ways that you attempt to manipulate authority and repent to God, confessing and asking forgiveness from your husband. Let him know that your desire is to be submissive in action and attitude. Show him that you want to joyfully follow him and that you trust his leadership because you trust God. After he picks himself up off the floor, I’m sure he’ll forgive you—and it just may make him a better leader.
One of the most helpful and balanced books on this subject I’ve ever used is The Excellent Wife by Martha Peace. I have taught this study in my home as well as online and have found it to be doctrinally solid, well written, and packed with biblical advice. Other resources on this subject are:
As Unto the Lord by Pam Foster
Biblical Womanhood in the Home by Nancy Leigh DeMoss
Building Her House by Nancy Wilson
Damsels in Distress by Martha Peace
Domestic Tranquility by F. Carolyn Graglia
Evangelical Feminism by Wayne Grudem
The Fruit of Her Hands by Nancy Wilson
God’s Priceless Woman by Wanda Sanseri
Let Me Be a Woman by Elisabeth Elliot
Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs
Passionate Housewives Desperate for God by Jennie Chancey and Stacy McDonald
Praise Her in the Gates by Nancy Wilson
Seven Lies Women Believe by Nancy Leigh Demoss
Join me on Thursdays when I share one of the At The Well – Pursuing Titus 2 devotionals that has made an impact on my daily walk with the Lord as a mother and wife.