I know I am only a year and 3 months into scratching the surface of marital submission, but I feel like everyday brings an opportunity to grow in this area. If you’re unfamiliar or unsure of what it means for a wife to submit to her husband, basically it means that as a husband follows Jesus and submits to His Word, we ought to respect and trust our husbands. This is a COMMAND in scripture for EVERY wife. (Ephesians 5:22-33) When a man is submitting to Christ, he will love his wife, stimulate a flourishing in her beauty, character, and holiness, and lay down his life for her. What women wouldn’t want to submit to a man like this!? This would not even be a battle. And sometimes a relationship between husband and wife looks like this.
And sometimes it doesn’t. I can’t speak into what it looks like for a man to patiently lead and love his wife when she is difficult and unwilling because I am not a man. I praise God for His grace toward Kevin when he responds in patience toward me, but sometimes I don’t know how he does it! I admit that I can be difficult, nagging, and disrespectful! And Kevin would admit that sometimes he is not being a man worthy of being of being submitted to. Sometimes he is not submitting to Christ and being lazy. I bet most husbands and wives can relate to these seasons in marriage. Sometimes, your spouse will not be the godly man or women you thought you were marrying.
So, women, what do we do in these times? When our husbands are not so easy to respect or submit to? In a pre-marital session on Relating from Soma Community Church, I was struck when the speaker’s wife said,
“I have already determined in my life that I am going to submit to Jesus. That’s all I need to do. And I can submit to my husband because I submit to Jesus. Not because my husband is worthy, but because Jesus is worthy.”
That has stuck with me for two years so far, and I am so thankful! I have heard so many women say things like, “Will he ever change?” “Am I the only one turning from sin and pursuing Christ?” “When will he stop spending his time this way?” “I am tired of his negative outlook,” or something similar–You are not alone! And if you have ever told yourself, “that’s it! I am tired of being a “good, godly” (eh hem…and prideful?) wife! I am tired of forgiving him! I am going to ___________ (fill in the blank with whatever would disrespect him or hurt him) to get back”— You are not alone!
Every woman has been in this place, and Peter knows it can be so common that he writes about it! 1 Peter 3 starts off by commanding, “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, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. (1 Peter 3:1-2)” This is hard to persevere in, but only if you fail to read into the word “likewise;” the way Jesus went before you in 1 Peter 2:18-35.
“Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly…For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness…”
Jesus is not just our example for submitting to sinful man, we were the sinful man! He bore our sins patiently and laid His life down for us! He did not condemn us or retaliate, but extended love to us, making us right with God! And because Jesus lived and died in such a way, we are humbly empowered to also live the same way in relation to others–especially when we are being sinned against! This is what it looks like to live out the gospel in our marriages! We GET to show a beautiful picture to the world what the gospel looks like!
So let us be encouraged women. Firstly, we are not enslaved to our sinful desires to “get back” to get our point across to our husbands. Jesus freed us from that and to something better! And God will use us, as we persevere in holiness and humility and follow Him, to work in our husbands.
And secondly, God never promised us that it will be easy to submit to our husbands. God never promised that our husbands will always lead us or our children the way we hope they will. He never promised that our husbands will change in this or change in that…What God does promise us is more and more of Himself forever as we seek him. God promises that Jesus will be enough for us when we are afraid or burdened. God promises that the Holy Spirit will change us and empower us to love and honor our husbands.
We can submit to and respect our husbands simply by submitting to and loving Jesus, who is worthy! We can trust that he will be faithful and sovereign over us, our husbands, and our marriages–and will glorify Himself in the process! Amen!