On submission in Christian marriage

Submission means accepting or yielding to the authority of another person. Viewing it as plainly as it is defined has caused resistance and debate on it in the context of marriage. In the world’s perspective, men and women are both on the same level of authority in their marriages therefore submission has no place. Because it is practically impossible to be on the same level of authority in all things, workarounds have been devised in the name of ‘compromise in marriage’.

I write this from a Christian perspective, wherein we live by the word of God as a lamp to our feet and light unto our path (Psalm 119:105). The Bible says that marriage is a mystery that represents the relationship between Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:31-32). Therefore in order to understand submission in marriage, it is important to first understand Christ’s relationship with us. When we accept Christ into our lives as Lord and Savior, we surrender our will unto Him (Romans 10:9). We make the decision to live by the leading of the Holy Spirit and indeed the Spirit dwells in us and teaches and guides us in all things (Acts 2:38, John 14:26). The degree to which we are yielded to His Spirit, gives us freedom to not gratify the desires of the flesh and to exercise liberties in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-25). So from this perspective, we don’t ‘compromise’ daily with the Holy Spirit to sometimes get our way and then other times let Him have His way. We are fully submitted and yielded to His will.

In the same way in which we are subject to God, we are called to do the same in our marriages. Wives are called to be subject to their husbands as unto the Lord (Ephesians 5:22-33). The Amplified Bible version elaborates on this subjection; ‘The wife to her husband, not to men in general; not as inferior to him, nor in violation of her Christian ethics, but honoring her husband as protector and head of the home, respecting the responsibility of his position and his accountability to God.’ Proverbs 31:10-11 describes a virtuous and submitted wife and the Bible gives examples of matriarchs in the faith like Sarah who submitted to their husbands (1 Peter 3:5-6), so that we are not without guidance on the principles, patterns and benefits of our submission.

Hindrances to submission in marriage are rooted in comparison and pride. If we compare ourselves to our husbands and think our role in the marriage to be more important, we can’t submit. A husband and a wife’s role are different but equally important. Pride can show up in instances when wives believe they have the better idea and their husbands are wrong or when they need to be right and validated in their rightness about a matter. When we reflect on Christ and continue to submit to Him, we are able to overcome such hindrances for He works in us to fulfill His good purpose (Philippians 2:13). Then we are able to enjoy/fulfill the wonderful plan of God for our families.

Oh how beautiful marriage is when wives joyfully submit to their husbands as unto the Lord!

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