Angry with the Potter?…Embrace the Woman in YOU!!!

In several places in the Bible, we are reminded that God is the Potter and we are like clay in His hands. Romans 9 is one of those places– it speaks of God’s sovereignty as the Creator and how He crafts certain “pots” (that would be us) for honorable use and some for common use.

Growing up, I struggled so much with how I was made… competitive, outspoken, opinionated, and strong-willed. In my mind, I was built more for the debate team than for home-ec., more for basketball than tutus in ballet, sneakers than stilettos. Built more to be the leader than to follow. Built more for greatness & achievement (I thought) in advancing sports medicine than for quietly serving my family in the home. When I was in college, this all came to a head, and I found myself asking God, “WHY DID YOU MAKE ME THIS WAY?!?!?!?!? Why didn’t you make me a man? Why do you tell me to ‘keep a quiet heart’, and to ‘submit’?”

Essentially, I was asking precisely the same question that Paul wrote about in Romans 9:20:

…Who are you, O man, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’

Recently, I watched a documentary about the beginnings of feminism. I was struck by Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s strong hatred for the weakness of her own gender. She could never please her father, whose valued son had died in a tragic accident, because she was not a man. She had all the “strength” a man was supposed to have, and yet, she was rejected by him for possessing the same strength he had wished for in a son. This lack of acceptance by her own father drove her to extreme lengths to seek approval as a woman from the nation, because she had not received affirmation as a woman from her father.

So many of us find ourselves in this position… particularly after decades of feminist dogma being drilled into our heads. Whether we express it this way or not, there is an underlying feeling that feminism is strong, and femininity is weak. Essentially, we as a generation of young women, like Elizabeth Cady Stanton, have often wished ourselves to be men. And since we can’t do that, we’ll at least try to be seen as the SAME as men, to be treated as the SAME as man, and to do the SAME things that men do. We don’t know why we’re women… we don’t know how to BE women (no one taught us– it wasn’t politically correct, and half of our mothers hadn’t been taught by their mothers!!!)… we don’t know what a woman is supposed to be… and often, we mistake that lack of knowledge for a lack of need to be a woman.
But we forget: there is a Potter. He intentionally crafted each of us for HIS own purposes. And we don’t get to pick that purpose. He gives us a choice, to some degree, of whether or not to submit to His design and purpose. And I fear that many of us, as Christian women, are bucking His design and trying to decide that He was wrong in how He made us.

We try to “Christianize” the teachings of feminism, saying to the men around us, “anything you can do, I can do better”… we just try to cloak it in spiritual-sounding language. We try to do everything we see the women of the world doing: managing a business, managing our husbands, managing our wombs, all the while aiming to never being seen as subject to or weaker than anyone else.

But if we want to ever be content in our own “skin”, we need to know what we were built for. Why did the Potter make us? What are His basic purposes for women? We can look to the Bible, and we can look to biology for clear, though perhaps not politically correct, answers.

(1) TO BE A HELPER & COMPANION & WIFE TO MAN (this was the purpose of the very first woman… she was created because it was not good for man to be alone, see 1 Cor. 11:9)
(2) TO BE A MOTHER (he built it into our very bodies!)
(3) TO TEACH OTHER WOMEN HOW TO DO THESE THINGS (Titus 2:3-5)

It will do us no good to argue with the Creator. We are not the same as men. He didn’t create us to be so.

Whether or not it’s “p.c.”, we would all do well to remember why women were created– to be a helper and wife, to be a mother, and to ultimately glorify God in our femininity. Instead of bucking against the design of the Potter and raising our fists to the heavens, asking God for an accounting of why He made us as He did, I believe we need to instead look at our design, and develop a love and appreciation for the wisdom and sovereignty of the Potter. It is our privilege to be useful to such a wise and perfect Potter. It should be our delight to submit to His plans for our lives… even if at first they rage against the message we’ve received from the culture.

Let us cast off the worldly philosophies that fill our heads with all kinds of lies about who we are, and who we ought to be, as women. Instead, let’s look to the Potter, and embrace HIS purposes for our lives… laying down our lives to be used by Him as submissive and honorable wives, as faithful and biblical mothers, and as an encourager and teacher of the women who come behind us on the path of faith. Rather than striving to fulfill our own flawed perceptions of why we were made, let us glorify God THROUGH His design for our lives.

© 2011 The GOoD Life. Courtesy of Right The Vision. All Rights Reserved.

Flawed Past, Faulty Present…Fortuitous Future!!!

Did you come from a divorced family, an abusive home, or some other past that keeps you feeling trapped in the “not-good-enough” category? Maybe it’s the choices that you made that leave you feeling like you can never measure up with the “Joneses” around you. Perhaps you were raised in a fully-faked “perfect” (on Sundays) Christian family, and it leaves you feeling like authentic Christian faith in family life is (in reality) impossible.

Or maybe it’s your present that leaves you feeling discouraged. Perhaps you are currently not living out anything like the kind of life, marriage, or family life that you *know* you should be living, but you just don’t know how to do any different. Maybe you find yourself consistently doing things that you know you shouldn’t do, and not doing the things that you know you should do. (For what it’s worth, the Apostle Paul felt the same way.)

I just want to say, first of all, that I know at least some of what you’re feeling. The choices I made as a young teenager (and the pain and grief that came from them) kept me in bondage for nearly 10 years, feeling as though I would never deserve anything good (isn’t it sad how the devil twists the truth? NONE of us deserve anything good… it’s not as if I was alone in that!), and that because I didn’t *deserve* it, God wouldn’t give it. What a crock of lies!

Which leads me to the second thing I want to say:
God is not like “karma”!

  • He is MERCIFUL– (He doesn’t immediately give us what we deserve.) He doesn’t want to “stick it” to us and get us back for all the wrong we’ve done, tit for tat. In fact, He is slow to anger, and abounding in love and forgiveness.
  • And He is GRACIOUS– (He gives us what we don’t deserve.) He offers an abundant life, fully in line with His design of us and His purposes for our life. Even when life is difficult or when we face struggles, His plans for us are ultimately good.

He doesn’t put our lives into a spreadsheet, weighing out the good and the bad, and from that input, determine what to give us (a good/bad marriage, lovable/intolerable children, abundant/struggling finances, etc.). But He DOES look for those mustard seeds of faith. Faithful choices, faithful words, faithful prayers… He wants our FAITH. He desires for us to HOPE in Him. We don’t have to have our act together, or pull it together all by ourselves… He just wants our faith so that HE can do His work in us.

I have to tell you: He has been SO gracious to me… and He will do it for you too. His grace in your life undoubtedly will look different than what His grace in my life has looked like… He deals with us each in unique ways. But He WILL give it. He gives grace and mercy to those in need. He gives strength to those who wait upon (hope in) Him. He promises to give wisdom to those who ask Him. He gives favor to the humble.

So hope in Him! Admit your need, wait for Him, and humbly ask for wisdom. Don’t let the imperfections of your past (or even your present) keep you from hoping in Jesus for your future. If you do, it doesn’t mean everything will turn out like you’ve planned it, or like you want it to (from your perspective right now)… my life certainly hasn’t turned out exactly like I thought it would. But I will say this: HIS plan for your life is going to be far more full and rich than the carrying out of your plans ever would be.

Don’t be held back by what you’ve been, or even what you are today– HOPE IN THE LORD!

© 2011 The GOoD Life. Courtesy of Right The Vision. All Rights Reserved

We CAN be friends…

For starters, this entry is going to be a little different from the format of my normal posts. I was chatting with one of my brothers earlier this week and he presented to me after our dialogue that I should do an entry on the importance of being friends before a courtship. This principle was foundational in my route to marriage. My husband and I were friends for 2 years before we even entertained the idea of becoming involved in courtship. Matter of fact, neither one of us gave it much thought until approached by others about one another. And I guess the fact that I was only 16 when we first met had a little to do with it as well. Anyway, let me delve into this subject of “We Can Be Friends,” where we’ll discuss the importance and benefits of having a foundational friendship before entering a courtship.

“Dating” is as All-American as potato salad, cornbread, and apple pie to some but is it the Godly way to go? More times than not my answer is NO! Over the past hundred years and more recently in my generation the slow, deliberate process of “courtship” has evolved into our whirlwind “dating” relationships. Instead of the focus being on getting to know the other person, it is on romantic attraction and “what feels right”. Often a man and a woman are swept up in a fast, exciting relationship that leads to marriage – only to find, after the fact that they have very little in common. Just as often very young couples, still in their early teens, are caught too soon in a passionate relationship that can only end in distress.

But there is another way to go. It has been viewed as “old-fashioned” but it’s the method of courtship, with the goal to keep God first in the relationship. Everything about courtship is God-centered, not self-centered. Friendship is developed and strengthened between a man and a woman before they head into a romantic relationship, which helps build a strong, happy marriage later on, whether or not it is to that particular man or woman. In dating, marriages are often too soon and easily dissolved, leaving in their wake heartache, emotional scarring, and financial difficulties.

In today’s society, chastity is viewed as exasperating, pointless, and “un-cool”. But there are hundreds of resources that prove this theory wrong. Ephesians 5:3 plainly states that “there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or any kind of impurity.” This sort of warning is repeated frequently throughout the Bible. But biblical references, though the most important, are not the only promoters of chastity before marriage.

I’m a firm believer that people who live morally clean lives before marriage are less prone to infidelity afterwards. I believe that if we were to survey teens and married couples who had sex before marriage, they would tell us that it can be emotionally, physically and spiritually damaging; especially if they have not been freed from the soul ties created by having sex with previous partners. Aside from the possibilities of pregnancy, AIDs, and other harmful STDs, it builds false emotional ties that are made only to be broken, leaving in their wake ugly scars.

In courtship, you are held accountable not only to yourself and the person you’re involved with, but also to your family, friends, and special advisors. One of the main points in a courtship is to guard each other’s purity by avoiding questionable situations, attitudes, or thoughts.

Another pro to courtship is the low likelihood of a whirlwind, romantic relationship that focuses only on physical attraction and not the person themselves. Friendship is developed first, so that you’re sure that you are willing to spend your life with this person, and physical attraction comes later. During my courtship I read a series of books by Joshua Harris of which I would like to provide some pivotal points he expresses on the benefits of courtship. Joshua Harris says in his second book on courtship, Boy Meets Girl, courtship should be a time of being “more than friends, less than lovers.”

In courtship our goals should be to grow and guard. We want to grow closer so we can truly know each other’s characters, but we also want to guard each other’s hearts because the outcome of our relationship is still unknown.

(Joshua Harris, Boy Meets Girl, chapter 5)

Community is a driving force behind most courtships. Family, friends, church members, other married couples, and special advisors are encouraged to offer advice at any time they think necessary. If romantic attraction becomes too strong too soon, you are encouraged to make a conscious decision to back away a little bit and wait until the time is right to pursue such things.

But why is courtship better than dating? Dating has become a very self-centered pastime, driven by lust and greed. Courtship is centered not on any person, but on God. During a courtship, you are “dating for the glory of God”, as Joshua Harris says. Instead of dating the other person for their physical appearance or their suave charms, you are dating them to establish a solid relationship and decide whether or not marriage is God’s will for you. In Boy Meets Girl, Joshua Harris divides the process of courtship into three neat steps: friendship, fellowship, and romance. He encourages us first to “deepen your friendship” before going forward in the relationship, ensuring that this person is someone you’re willing to spend a lifetime with. “Don’t rush or try to force your way into each other’s lives,” he says. “The pace should be unhurried.” The next important step is that of fellowship, growing closer together spiritually.

As your relationship unfolds, you want to make sure it has a spiritual foundation. For your relationship to be strong, love for God must be the common passion of your hearts…you can read Christian books together, talk about sermons after a service, and discuss how you’re going to apply what you learn…biblical fellowship means increasing your love and passion for God, not your emotional dependence on each other.

(Joshua Harris, Boy Meets Girl, chapter 5)

Last of all in a courtship comes romance, after you are sure that the person you’re courting is someone you’d be happy with in marriage. But even then, the relationship is God-centered.

If God is confirming the wisdom and rightness of the relationship, romantic feelings should be seen as a good thing and a gift from God. Our goal is not to stifle our feelings of affection and love, but to submit them to God and to grow in and guard them.

(Joshua Harris, Boy Meets Girl, chapter 5)

Although it is not always the case, courtship is often a better way to go than dating. Dating can be and is often successful, but there are few boundaries and it can also be extremely dangerous. Even people in happy marriages admit to doing things in dating relationships that are a cause of deep regret. In a courtship, there are clear standards set by both people, and you are held accountable to not one but many for your actions. Because the pace is easy and not rushed, a strong friendship is developed before romance, a friendship which often endures even if an engagement is not reached. But most importantly, it is God-centered, not self-centered. There is less chance of a traumatic breakup, because God is still held first in your life.

If you’re beginning to look at each other as your main source of comfort, encouragement, and courage, something is wrong. Remind each other to find your soul’s satisfaction in God alone.

(Joshua Harris, Boy Meets Girl, chapter 5)

Why is courtship better than dating? Because it is the Godly way to go and you’re worth the wait.

© 2011 The GOoD Life. Courtesy of Right The Vision. All Rights Reserved.

Submission:The Final Discourse-Soooo Basically…

The guidance [husbands]… are given about how to love their wives doesn’t come from romantic movie heroes, it doesn’t come from being compared to the husband of their wife’s best friend, or from books on how to improve their marriage that their wife gives them for father’s day … They’re to be guided by the love of Christ for the church, who expressed His headship in loving the church, and in giving Himself up for her to death. … He’s to help her prepare for the future marriage of Christ and the church. … The blueprint for marriage, the reason God fashioned earthly marriage as He did, was to provide a beautiful, earthly reflection of the eschatological love and the union of His son with those He came to save.

What God is looking for is an attitude of trust, respect and honor for our husbands, building up and support of their leadership, deference to their care, letting them look after us, an attitude of service and helping instead of doing our own thing, and tearing down what they’re trying to do. The more you know your husband, the more conscious you will be that submission is an act of grace. It’s a moment by moment choice. … It’s conscious, active, willful.

We are to submit willingly and to happily recognize our husband’s authority in everything. As wives we are to willingly recognize our husband’s headship every day and in everything. I’m not making it up. The wife is to respect, or reverence her husband. Submission requires an attitude of trust, respect and honor, that graciously recognizes our husband’s authority, and willingly accepts his leadership and his responsibility.

None of what I’ve had to say is easy. The submission called for here is at odds with our culture, but more importantly it’s at odds with our sinful nature. Ever since the fall in Genesis 3 a woman’s desire has been to control her husband, and we all have our own particular ways of doing that. Perhaps we nag. Perhaps we manipulate. Perhaps we put him down in front of our friends. Or perhaps we never say a word, and we keep a long catalog of all his sins that we carry around and feel quietly angry and self-righteous about. Submission is hard, it’s counter-cultural, and it’s impossible to do without the Spirit of God, but with the Spirit, we can do it.

Now what submission will look like in each of our marriages will be different, but it will be evident. At its heart, submission is an attitude, but it’s an attitude that has to be expressed. It’s expressed in respect, in service, in trust, in humility. It means we’ll build him up rather than tear him down. It means we’ll calm the seas of home life rather than stir them up. It means we’ll support his authority with the kids, and we won’t whine about him behind his back, to our mothers, to our friends, to the kids, and we’ll accept his leadership and care gladly. We’ll rejoice in it when he gets it right, and when he fails, we’ll forgive him whether it be in spiritual matters, in the day to day, or right down to the domestication that we should embrace as Proverbs 31 women.

I pray that this series has better helped you to identify with what submission is and how it looks and why we should do it. It is a BLESSING with EXTREME benefits and my observation has been that it tremendously builds the home morale. So now that we know these things, let’s strive (or prepare) to submit to God as our Savior and our husbands as our earthly King. There is nothing to it but to do it. Be encouraged, it’s what we’ve been called to DO!!!

 

© 2011 The GOoD Life. Courtesy of Right The Vision. All Rights Reserved.

Submission: You’ve GOT to PRACTICE…

 

We all want to know what submission looks like but how will we if it seems that NO one is practicing. Prior to marriage when I asked for advice, I was told “I believe in headship and submission, but I can’t explain what it looks like.” Starting fresh, we can all use a couple of suggestions, and all the advice I was getting was from people who were “successful” but that was by the world’s standards—they are still together essentially, that’s it-in my opinion.

So what I’m doing today is sharing some examples of what the practice of submission might look like. The details will be different in every marriage, but one thing is certain: submission is an attitude which affects everything – thoughts, feelings, words, actions – every moment of every day.

Submission affects our thoughts and feelings. It means that when I think of my husband, I’ll reject critical, bitter, resentful, unforgiving thoughts. Instead, I’ll choose to think of him with respect and love. I don’t mean I’ll refuse to see his bad points! Often, because I’ve married a sinner, what will be demanded of me is not blind approval, but patience and forgiveness. But I’ll also choose to rejoice in the times he exercises his leadership wisely, and when he fails, I’ll trust in the God who has chosen this man to be my husband, remember my own sin, respect his role even when I’m struggling to respect him, and respond with forbearance and grace.

Submission affects our actions in small things. This was the first expression of submission which made sense to me. It means I  honor my husband’s preferences: keeping the kitchen bench, room & bathroom clean, learning how to garden & farm (kid you not!), or wearing my hair how he desires (NO matter how many times he changes his preference-smh). For you, it will mean other things: de-cluttering the loungeroom, welcoming your husband with a kiss, or keeping track of what you spend.

Submission affects our words. It changes the way we talk to our husbands, and to others (children, friends, our parents) about our husbands. I don’t mean we’ll speak with humble deference: there’s lots of teasing, laughter and robust discussion in my marriage, which won’t surprise anyone who knows us! But I’ve learned not to nag or boss my husband into doing things, not to complain about him to others, and not to always offer my opinion when we’re leading a group together – and I’m learning to be careful of how I speak to him in front of others.

Submission affects our response when our husbands ask something of us. I try my best when it is something that he strongly desires or preferences to respond first with a “yes”, and only then with a “but have you thought of …?, when my husband asks something of me. “Yes”, I’ll gladly come and help you with that. “Yes”, why don’t we do that together on the weekend. “Yes”, let’s consider those ministry plans. Without noticing it, most often we are automatically set to “no”, or at least to “sigh”.

Submission affects decisions about our own lives. It affects how we spend our money, use our time, and make our plans. Recently, God has convicted me about two areas which I think are key for many women: spending and scheduling. Ardarion’s an easy-going guy who doesn’t throw his weight around, and it can be easy for us with these type of husbands to take advantage of that as we manage our finances and plan our calendar. So if you may struggle with this, make it a point to begin seeking his guidance on your budget and plans.

Submission affects how we respond to our husband’s leadership. It’s hard to graciously acknowledge and receive someone’s authority. It’s far easier to openly rebel, or to resist in more subtle ways: patronizing our husbands, doing things behind their backs, or underhandedly trying to exert control. Instead, we’ll build up rather than tear down, obey when it doesn’t mean disobeying Christ, and support, encourage and pray for our husbands as they lead our family.

Submission affects how we influence our husbands. There’s definitely a place for wise counsel, good advice, and honest discussion (Prov 31:26). But there will also be times when words are ineffective or unwelcome. The primary way we influence our husbands, especially when words fail, is through our prayers, the godliness and reverence of our lives, and the way we honor and seek their leadership (1 Pet 3:1-7). Definitely not through sulking, nagging, manipulating, seeking revenge, or complaining!

Submission affects how we accept our husband’s care. I’ve often observed in marriages a tendency to be unwilling to receive compliments graciously, to welcome embraces, to hear encouragement, to enjoy sentimental expressions of affection, to accept protection, or even to allow a husband to open a door for us. Because of the birth of independent modern women – we don’t like to be looked after! However, for husband’s to operate in their God-given capacity in this arena, it is something we need to learn how to accept.

Submission affects how we use our time and energy. Instead of lavishing our time and energy on ourselves and our dreams, we’ll give ourselves first to helping our husbands, caring for their needs, and supporting their work and ministry. I don’t think we should put our husbands on a pedestal, or that our lives should revolve around them – this wouldn’t be good for either of us! Christ is our first husband, God’s glory our first goal, and the gospel our first priority. But our husband will come next on the list, we’ll be careful about how our ministry and relaxation affect him, and we’ll work as a team, when possible and necessary, to reach out to God’s world.

But what if my husband doesn’t want to lead? This is a question which often comes up when I talk to some married women. Since Genesis 3:16, many wives love to take over, and many husbands lazily abdicate responsibility. We may need to repent of our tendency to want to run things, ask for our husbands’ advice and input when it’s not offered, and gently encourage them to take greater responsibility in leadership. I think this is one piece of encouragement most husbands would welcome! If this continues to be a major problem in your marriage, it could be helpful to talk together to a Godly pastor.

But what if I’m in a difficult marriage? If God expects wives of unbelieving husbands to honor and obey their husbands (1 Peter 3:1-7) then he expects no less from those of us in difficult Christian marriages. There are no “if … then … ” clauses when it comes to love and submission (I’m not talking about situations where it’s appropriate for a wife to leave her husband, in cases like abuse and adultery-and even these to be handled w/ prayer and discernment). I know this is hard to say, and harder still to practice, and requires far more than a brief paragraph! Our comfort is that God knows our situation, that HE watches over us and loves us more deeply than any husband ever could, that we honor HIM by our faithfulness in a difficult situation, that HE promises never to test us beyond what we can bear, and that HE gives us grace and strength when we have none of our own.

I know the things I say are not easy for many of us to hear, and for any of us to practice. But don’t we love God’s word, and trust HIM to want only what is best for us? I pray that He will help you and me to come to the Bible ready to have our minds changed, to listen to His voice even when we find it hard to hear, and to ask Him for the will and grace to obey.

I’ve found, that submission can be changed from something I reluctantly practice through gritted teeth and with resentment, to something I’ve grown into and absolutely love, as its true beauty and freedom have become apparent to me, and as God’s grace has worked in the hearts of my husband and me. I hope and pray you find the same.

 

© 2011 The GOoD Life. Courtesy of Right The Vision. All Rights Reserved.

Submission: In Attitude and ACTION

What do headship and submission in marriage look like in practice? How do you define such a thing? For every marriage it is different: submission has “as many expressions as the relationships it finds itself in”.* It’s even harder to describe what submission looks like when we see it so infrequently.

What I can tell you, after only 1 year of learning how to be married, is that my TRUTH is that headship and submission can be beautiful, like a dance where the dancers know their places.

I can’t imagine a relationship more lovely than that of Christ and the church. What could be more beautiful than a lover who finds a woman lying in her filth, washes her, adorns her, and lays down his life to win her (Ezek 16:1-14)? Or a woman who, having been loved with such devotion, gives herself freely and willingly to the one who died to win her? The parallel is not exact, but if human marriage is anything, it is a faint and pale copy of this everlasting marriage.

From before eternity, God planned men and women to mirror forth this divine love affair. And so he made man to work, to plant, to build and to tend, and woman to help, to bear children, to nurture and to care (Gen 1-3). He made husbands to love their wives with a self-sacrificial devotion which honors, cherishes and protects, and women to support their husbands with a love which honors, helps, reverences and yes, submits, gladly and willingly, every day and in everything (Eph 5:1-7).

You might hear people saying “The husband’s job is harder”. Yes, it is hard – it is desperately hard! – to sacrifice your own preferences and goals and desires for your wife. But it’s equally hard to submit, for it goes against not only our culture, but also our sinful desire to run life our own way, and our familiarity with our husband’s sins and failings. Submission has been hard since the day the first man and woman fell into sin, and swapped peace for a relationship where each would seek to dominate the other (Gen 3:16).

So what do headship and submission look like in practice? I’m not going to say a lot about headship, except that it demands that husbands care for their wives’ needs before their own, treat them with respect and consideration, and enable them to become all they were meant to be. God never tells men, as you might expect, to rule, to command, or to demand submission from their wives. In a culture where this would have been normal, he instead turns to wives, as free and equal partners, and tells them to willingly and graciously submit.


It’s easier to say what submission doesn’t look like than what it does look like. It doesn’t mean “mutual submission”, as if sacrifice and submission are two sides of the one coin, for God demands quite different things from husbands and wives. Nor does it mean you’ll pack up your brain and put it away, obey your husband when he asks you to cheat or act immorally, or never advise or influence him. Or how could women married to unbelievers freely put their trust in Christ, serve God with reverence and purity, or win their husbands for Christ (1 Pet 3:22-33)?

When you ask people what submission looks like, they’ll often say “It means that if you have to make a big decision, and your husband and you disagree, he gets to make the decision.” Whatever submission means, it means more than that. Submission affects everything, every moment of every day (Eph 5:24). “Submission is an attitude, but it’s an attitude which has to be expressed.”

Submission affects the way we think, feel, speak and behave. It’s an inner quality of the heart – a state of trust, reverence, honor, gentleness, quietness, purity, and respect – which is beautiful to God (1 Pet 3:1-6). But it doesn’t stop with the heart. Like all true attitudes, submission is an attitude which leads to action.

Whatever else submission is, it’s not easy. Our husbands are imperfect, and so are we. Even in a loving marriage, submission will go against every fiber of independence in our being. Submission is only possible because God’s Spirit works in us moment by moment, making us more like Christ, filling us with his humility, gentleness, quietness, and trust.

I’m sorry to leave you hanging, just when I’m about to get to the nitty-gritty of the practice of submission, but this post is too long already. In the meantime, perhaps you’d like to share with us what you think submission looks like in practice. As usual, there will be far more wisdom if we all share what we think than if I just tell you what I think!

 

© 2011 The GOoD Life. Courtesy of Right The Vision. All Rights Reserved.

Submission: We’ve GOT to live it!!!

 

Submission is beautiful. Submission is strong. Submission is not a dirty word.

Not to long ago I was talking with my big sister about the subject and this is how she described it:

“I may be different but to me a woman’s job to submit does not suggest that she is oppressed in speaking her mind and offering suggestions during family decisions, etc….Submission literally means “to get up under,” “buttress,” “support”. Since we were pulled out of the man and God clearly deemed him and EQUIPPED him to lead, cover and be the head-WE as his help “meet” are to get “up under” whatever vision/mission that man has. When we disagree, we are still to support and respect and if he makes the wrong choice on how to lead us-he has to answer to his Head who is God.”
Submission is beautiful. It makes us like Jesus, who gladly submits to the will of His Father (Jn 8:29). It makes us like Christ’s glorious bride, the Church, who joyfully submits herself to the Husband who laid down his life to win her (Eph 5:22-33). Its beauty is seen in every Christian who obeys God willingly, in every child who honors their parents, in every safe and ordered society. It springs from the unchanging, inner beauty of a “gentle and quiet spirit”, one of God’s most precious treasures (1 Pet 3:4).

Submission is strong. Only those who are confident in themselves, or (better) in God, don’t need to throw their weight around. Sarah left her home and followed her husband Abraham on the journey of faith to an unknown country, because she trusted in God and didn’t give way to fear (1 Pet 3:5-6). Only women with a big picture of God – a God whose eternal purpose in making men and women was to display the love between Christ and the Church, and who works every circumstance for our good and His glory (Rom 8:28-29) – are able to submit with trust and joy.

Submission is not a dirty word. We honor submission in Jesus, in Christians, in children. But when it comes to marriage, we have a mental block. When the “s” word comes up in a talk or a Bible reading, it makes some squirm with embarrassment.

The word “submission” may bring to mind mental pictures of a (perfectly dressed) housewife taking (perfectly baked) biscuits out of her (perfectly polished) stove, or the “little wife” who brings a “masterly man” his slippers and pipe, or the human doormat who has denied her own intelligence and person-hood to say “yes” to everything her husband asks, however demeaning or stupid.

My own journey to seeing the beauty of submission wasn’t a very long one, when it was seen that God ordained the courtship and then the marriage of my husband and I; I felt at ease  simply taking God at His word. I don’t remember thinking much about submission in marriage as a child probably the affect of being the oldest of two girls in a single-parent home, where my father WAS there. Yeah, that’s different in and of itself. As a teenager, the idea of having a husband of which I could care for and submit to was at the forefront of my mind as I embraced the idea of marrying the guy I spent all my high school years with despite his fleshly and worldly behavior. So as a teen and also young adult, I embraced the role that I knew I had been created for; sometimes maybe too much. I was prepared to be a wife, fresh out of high school as I fed into the lies of a wedding after graduation and not having a mother figure in the home—I actively watched my elders in an preparatory manner to see what all I was going to be faced with as a “for worse” partner.


I only accepted submission as God’s will for marriage after much study, conversation and heart-searching and spent many hours studying the Bible passages on men and women (Gen 1-3, 1 Cor 11:2-16, 14:26-40, Gal 3:28, Eph 5:22-33, Col 3:18-19, Tit 2:3-5, 1 Tim 5:14, 2 Tim 1:5, 3:14-15, 1 Pet 3:1-7).

After my own study, I concluded that the Bible is actually very clear: “Now as the Church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything” (Eph 5:24). You have to jump backwards through many exegetical hoops to get it to say anything else. So as I was pursued and prepared for marriage the correct way, based on that scripture alone I knew the “s” word was something within myself I wanted to walk out daily. So at my wedding, I made the good old promises of love and submission.

With few models of submission in marriage to imitate, especially in my own home and few older, Godly women who practice submission to teach me the practicalities, I took God at HIS word on what headship and submission look like in a healthy marriage.

Sadly, these days, I find young Christian women and even some older, not very willing to accept the idea of submission. But they are clearly confused about the practice. One of the questions I’m asked most often by other young women is “What exactly does submission in marriage look like?” This is just the preface and over the span of the next couple entries I’d like to demonstrate with biblical truth what that looks like. Are you ready?

 

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