I promised another post on submission within marriage, but the Peaceful Wife has many lovely articles that address these issues even more thoroughly. Here is a link to one I enjoyed in which she dispels some misconceptions “Biblical Submission is Not Passivity.” Here is a key phrase I really liked, “from this position of great strength in Christ, we submit to our husbands.”
My own words often reflect that idea too, submission is actually strength in Christ, it is not weakness before men. It is actually an empowering tool for women that allows you to have a more peaceful marriage, enables communication, and helps to facilitate more love and empathy between husbands and wives.
There are many misconceptions about wives being doormats or Stepford wives and marriages being dictatorships, prone to abuse. It’s kind of sad, biblical concepts of submission are so maligned and misunderstood, some people reject them out of hand, and some women reject faith entirely based simply on those misunderstandings.
Another way to look at the word “submit” is that it simply means “to yield.” The opposite of submit is actually “to engage in battle.” There’s nothing wrong with a bit of friendly competition between the genders, a good water fight or wrestling match, but to be “engaged in battle” as a way of life within marriage is exhausting and tends to make everyone miserable.
Submission plays well with natural biology, even outside of the context of faith, and it tends to bring out the best in men and women. There are two forces at work there, the male and female. All in good humor here, but those two forces play very well with each other when they are in harmony and working in a complimentary manner.
When a wife says something like “I will never, ever submit to his authority!” it kind of makes me laugh, because you already have, or at least you are halfway there if you have married someone! “Authority” however, is another word that tends to conjur up all kinds of resistance and negativity. Like it or not however, there is authority granted in marriage. Just from a legal perspective you have now granted a husband authority over your debts and finances, authority over your health care decisions, authority over many aspects of your health and well being. They are now responsible for those things simply from a legal perspective. From a Christian perspective, their responsibility extends even farther.
To grant somebody all of the responsibility and yet to deny them any authority, is actually somewhat cruel. I’ve been in that situation myself, where I have been expected to take on all of the responsibility for everything that can go wrong, but was granted none of the authority that might have enabled me to actually have some influence and say in the matter. It’s kind of an exploitative, unpleasant situation to find oneself in. I referred to my job title as scapegoat, because that is really what I become, someone designated to take all of the blame with no power or influence.
It can be really beneficial for wives who resist the idea of submission within marriage to really explore what that means and what is going on within you. There can be great healing that comes from taking that journey, from facing our fears, from exploring our perceptions about authority, and from contemplating our trust issues. It not only can help us to get to know the nature of our own selves better and lead to happier marriages, it can strengthen our relationship with Christ Himself.