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Radical Humility: Thoughts on Biblical Submission

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A few weeks ago, my husband came to the end of chapter 3 in his sermon series on Colossians. As he prepared to preach on the gospel in our relationships, he asked me to say a few words to the ladies of our church about verse 18.

Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.

My initial reaction was not one of a submissive heart. I refused, feeling intimidated by speaking in front of a full auditorium on such a gigantic subject.

Eventually, I agreed to speak to our ladies because I believe it’s important for the women in the Church (both married and unmarried) to understand that submission is not a scary or bad thing – instead it is  a beautiful part of God’s plan for relationships.

radical-humility-thoughts-on-biblical-submissionA simple definition of submission can be found at any online dictionary. Most use terms similar to rank under or to obey.

Out of the context of marriage submission happens all the time….corporate settings, government settings, even fast food settings. It’s how relationships work best. If everyone is a leader, no work gets done and there is continual strife.

When we take that definition into the marriage realm, we can see that our role as “submitters” is just that – a role. It does not define us as individuals. It does not make us inferior or “less than.” It doesn’t mean we can’t offer an opinion because we are remaining quiet at all times. Practically, however, our role means that we give in at some point.

When Adam and I just can’t see eye to eye on a decision. When he has given me the time to give my reasons and make my arguments, but still strongly feels that God is leading us in a different direction, what do we do? It is in those times, that I step into my “role.” I submit to his decision (even if it goes terribly wrong).

Side note: if it does go terribly wrong, I should take it humbly. There’s no need to point out that I was right and he was wrong!

As wives we were created as helpers. Genesis 2:20-22 describes it like this:

” So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals. But for Adam no suitable helper was found. 21 So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.”

The only reason Eve could be created to be a helper is because she was like Adam. This is a beautiful thing because she was created with her own personality and talents yet her role was to support Adam in his responsibilities.

In the same way, our role is to help our husband on his mission or calling using our own giftings. That’s why submission can look completely different in different homes. There are no traditional or “godly” submissive jobs. I can’t tell you what it should look like in your marriage. I can be submissive while working on the investments of our family’s money in the same way that I can be submissive while doing the dishes.

Finally, it’s so important to realize that submission is a requirement for all believers.

Scripture is packed with instructions to every Christ-follower, married and unmarried, men and women, adults and children, to live with a spirit of humility and submission to various authorities. In other words, submission is NOT a women’s issue.

That means that I can submit to my husband’s authority knowing that he has the calling to submit as well. In fact, my submission to him is only a tangible expression of my ultimate submission to Christ

That means that those women who are not married or have been widowed must still practice submission even if there is no human authority over them anymore in the form of a father or husband.

Because submission is a universal calling for all believers we are all on equal footing. When I realize this overarching truth, then I can more easily agree with and even thrive with this definition of submission in marriage from John Piper:

“Submission is the defined calling of a wife to honor and affirm her husband’s leadership, and so help to carry it through according to her gifts.”

I could sum up my thoughts on submission in one simple sentence:

My submission in the home is an act of worship and awe at the submission that Christ showed by obeying His Father to Rescue me. 

11 years of marriage {and why I need my husband less}

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This weekend, my husband and I celebrated 11 years of wedded bliss.

As usual, I became a bit reflective and sentimental on our special day. Eleven years is a long marriage by many current standards, and during that time we have both morphed into slightly different versions of ourselves.

My hair is at least 6-8 inches shorter and his is completely gone. Our faces show a few extra wrinkles and our waistlines have slightly expanded. I stay up a little later and he goes to bed a little earlier.

Marriage has changed us. The gospel has changed us.

Actually, the gospel has changed me.

Understanding that the death and resurrection of Christ affects every minute of my life has given me a different perspective on the qualities I strive for in our marriage.

11 years of marriage {and why I need my husband less}

For instance, I want to be a humble wife. I want to respectfully submit to my husband’s authority for our family. My default as a human being is the complete opposite though. My immediate reactions are usually tainted with pride. I see in the gospel an example of humility in Christ’s incarnation and crucifixion, but if I simply try to copy His meekness on my own, I will become hopelessly frustrated. It is not until I submit myself to the Father and ask for the Spirit’s empowerment that I can ever humbly defer to my husband.

I want to be a forgiving wife. I don’t want to hold grudges especially over silly things like piles of commentaries or empty coffee cups (just examples, of course). When my heart is overwhelmed with the depth of my own depravity and the abundance of God’s forgiveness toward me, I find my heart naturally overflowing with grace to my husband.

I want to be a loving wife. I want to offer both affection and sacrifice freely to my spouse. If I am going to effectively follow the command to love one another found in I John 4:7-8, I have to realize that love does not originate with me. My natural heart will always choose the complete opposite of love. God’s love was completely undeserved and unreciprocated. While we were broken and unlovely, God pursued us with His perfect love. I love my husband with the love that I have been given through Christ.

The point is, I can’t “wife” effectively without the gospel. Our marriage has no hope of survival without the hope of Christ at its center. The longer we’re married, I’m discovering I actually need my husband less and depend on Christ’s faithfulness more.

I pray that the next eleven years of our marriage will be saturated with the good news of Jesus. It is only in that framework that any relationship can hope to survive.

P.S. I love you Adam!

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**Scheduling note: As a homeschooling family, we’re enjoying our summer break right now. We will be doing some traveling, soaking in the sun, and catching up on some reading. Because of that, I will be taking a short hiatus from blogging/podcasting for the next month or so! I’ll be posting some of our summer fun over on Instagram though! Join me there?