Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. Titus 2:4-5
It’s much easier to figure out what love, self-control, and kindness looks like but quite another thing to figure out ‘subjection’. Biblical submission has been skewed through erroneous teaching.
Submission is to play out the roles God gave Adam and Eve. Created in His image, they were equal in dignity, worth, and creative power. Their mandate was to take care of the beautiful world they’d been given. Then, God more clearly defined their roles based on their uniqueness. Eve was called a helper, an ‘Ezer’ in Hebrew. Helper did not mean that Eve was diminished in significance or equality. ‘Ezer’ is what God calls Himself when He says that He is our ‘helper’. God helps us out of His strength, not His weakness. As a wife, I ‘help’ from a position of strength, from my God-given ability to complement my husband’s giftings. My husband is the one, however, is to lead – knowing that God ultimately holds him responsible for his marriage and family.
Jesus modeled what submission looks like when He did not cling to His equality with God, but voluntarily emptied Himself to become a suffering servant. Never do we read that God demanded this of Jesus; Jesus offered it up. If a husband demands submission, he is not like God! In my years of travel, I have experienced this distortion in many marriages. During my visit to one home in particular, the husband snapped his fingers at his wife whenever he wanted something. “I want iced tea.” “Get me another serving of dessert.” In fact, her nickname was wife-y. I never heard him call her by her name.
God made it clear that marriage is not an abuse of power. Men must act like Jesus in the marriage, loving as a servant, loving in such a sacrificial way that he gives his life for his bride. This was on full display when He washed the disciples’ feet. They called Him ‘Lord’, but He served them.
Husbands are not to use their authority to please themselves. As a bible teacher to women, I’ve heard horrendous stories of spousal abuse. Husbands have asked their wives to do perverse things – even to the point of taking other lovers, engaging in porn, etc. One woman told me that her husband suggested they become part of the ‘swinger’ lifestyle. This is not headship.
In a marriage where both people honor God with their lives, there is a beautiful partnership of respect, each loving the other more than themselves, each wanting to give, to please, and to serve. But in troubled marriages, one thing must be kept in mind. A believing wife serves God first. Everything that is asked of her must be prayed over. If it is God-honoring, she can voluntarily offer it as unto Jesus, just as Jesus voluntarily offered it unto His Father. If it is not God-honoring, she remembers that she fears no man. She fears God and His authority trumps all others.
Father, be a ‘helper’ to those who have lost all self-worth to rise up to see the great value You bestow. Be a ‘helper’ to those who are confused under unrighteous leadership, to be able to discern Your mind. Reform our marriages to conform to the mystery of Your will. Amen