These days, the word submission in the context of marriage is tolerated less than a foul-mouthed teenager dropping a few choice words in a classroom. To write on it means I likely will offend many women. But before you swipe to another app, give me 5 minutes to see if we can all take one step back off the “submission” ledge.
For the record, I absolutely love being a wife, but I wasn’t the girl who grew up dreaming of being married. I didn’t go to college to find a husband; I went to change the world. If you’ve ever heard me share my story, you’ve heard about my first date with my husband, Chris. Not 30 minutes into our first “get to know you” conversation on the way to dinner, I rattled off a list of my life goals and ended with: “and no man is going to get in my way of becoming a CEO.” I wasn’t exactly the compliant, mild-mannered type!
To this day, I’m not a wallflower in my marriage, but I have come to greatly value God’s instructions in marriage. In 600 words, no one can have a complete conversation about submission, but as I journey along in Colossians, I want to point out what one of the most obvious reasons is why most women need to re-evaluate their hesitancy toward submission.
Let’s start in a less than obvious place in Colossians 3:19-20…
Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.
Whether you’re married or single, a mother or not, I think a first read of these verses would get complete affirmation from all women. Aren’t we glad that God was looking out for us and reminding all married men that their calling is to love their wives? And, for crying out loud, if you’ve ever experienced harshness from your husband or been in the presence of a couple when the husband was rude or condescending to his wife, you know exactly the ugly chill that puts down your spine! Notice this instruction isn’t conditional. Paul doesn’t say, “Husbands, love your wives if she is meeting your needs,” or “Children, obey your parents unless they lost their temper with you.”
As the author of Colossians is led to address the parent-child relationship in verse 20, I don’t think I’d get any pushback from the God-inspired directions from Paul. How many times have moms of young children made sure their children could repeat verse 20? It’s not just because it makes our lives easier on the parenting side, but it’s actually in the child’s best interest. There’s so much protection a child receives from trusting their parent and following their instructions.
In the verse preceding the passage we just read (verse 18), we find:
Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.
On the most simplistic level, why would we think that God is wise and protective enough to provide instruction to men and children, but somehow we get to exempt ourselves from God’s instructions? Even the instruction to submit is given context that we should submit in ways that honor the Master. God even defined how we submit in order to provide protection from a man that might ever misuse his role as a leader in the home. The Lord is the One who defines what submission is fitting.
I can’t think of a time when we would give a husband a pass on loving. If God knows what’s best, we need to trust Him. Our trust is actually to God first. I don’t submit because Chris deserves it. I submit because the Lord tells me to submit.
Give it some thought and prayer over the weekend… and check back on Tuesday for part 2.