Monday, March 14, 2005

As Unto the Lord

Yep, you guessed it...this post is about submission, headship, and mutual marital love. I thought it a timely subject after our talk about headcovering, where the discussion, by the way, is still going on. It is truly a pleasure to dialogue with such wonderful brothers and sisters. As always when I tackle a subject WAY too big for me to handle in a post, the disclaimer applies (see "Heads and Hair" post). Boy, I need to just tack it at the bottom of this blog!

I'll start by laying out my understanding of the Word of God as it applies to this subject. I am sure that it falls under normal, "conservative" Christian standards, but you can't take anything for granted nowadays. :)

Beginning with the last passage we examined, it's apparent that "man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man" (1 Cor 11:8). In the beginning, God saw that it wasn't good for man to be alone, and He made woman to be a helper suitable for the man (KJV "help meet for him"). In marriage, as we learn in the New Covenant scriptures, we have a glimpse into a beautiful mystery--the mega musterion.

Ephesians 5:22-33
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Notice something? Both the man and the woman are given a charge: she is to respect and submit to him, and he is to love her as Christ loved the church (wow--blows me away every time).

Some people emphasize one of these dicta to the exclusion of the other (and it happens on either "side"), which is mighty sad. Those who "kick against the goads" miss the beautiful picture God is painting in a Christian marriage. We are a reflection, a shadow, a picture, an image of the relationship between Jesus and the Church! For this reason, even though we are heirs together of God's grace and completely equal at the foot of the Cross, God has called women to submit to their husbands, to reflect the headship we already briefly examined in 1 Cor 11 and to be an example to all the world, and even to angels, of God's plan, His mercy, and the beautiful fruit that the Gardener's hands produce.

Look at the example of Christ, who submitted to the Father though He, Jesus, is God in the flesh!

Phil 2:5-8
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death--even death on a cross!

How awesome is that? What a mighty God, yet He was willing to humble Himself to the point where He would call Himself a worm (while on the cross--given prophetically in Psalm 22). My heart is so full when I read that; I feel I could burst. Truly our Lamb is worthy of all the worship we can give Him.

And what is our pride but a bunch of filth? It should be laid on the dungheap, right next to our righteousness (Isa 64:6). If God Himself could lower Himself a little lower than the angels, can we, women, submit to our husbands as unto the Lord, which God has called us to do? Can this be part of our "reasonable service" to One so worthy of devotion (Rom 12:1)?

Men are also called to love their wives as Christ loved the church (oh! Evan had a wonderful, related post here), and that should be just as emphasized as the wife's role of submission. However, I am going to let the brothers handle admonishing one another there. :) But without both the man and the woman submitting to GOD'S design for them in marriage, the picture is woefully incomplete. And remember, while the woman is to submit to her husband as unto the Lord, the husband is also called to engage in mutual submission with his wife (Eph 5:21).

I do want to address something about the Ephesians passage, though, that should not escape our notice: "as unto the Lord." When we consider what it means to obey or to submit, this cannot be left out of the discussion. I once read a book called Me? Obey Him? with which I disagreed at points. The author contended that if a husband asks a wife to sin, she is to obey. I believe this violates a higher law: that we must obey God rather than man if the two are in conflict. We have an example of this in Acts 5:27b-29:

...the high priest questioned them, saying, 'We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man's blood upon us.' But Peter and the apostles answered, 'We must obey God rather than men.'

I believe this applies to women who are asked, for example, to murder their babies, to commit adultery, and the like. We may not sin against God in the name of obeying Him; we obey as unto the Lord, or rather, as though He were asking. He would not ask me to sin against Him. He would not violate His own holy nature. It is not hard, I think, for a disciple who knows and loves Jesus to see His heart on this subject. When has He ever cared more about the jot and tittle than the principle and the fruit?

I can recommend Martha Peace's book The Excellent Wife, and I am currently reading Debi Pearl's Created to Be His Help Meet, which I love so far.

My primary encouragement to women is to embrace the example of Christ, whose glorious humility and loving obedience pleased the Father. Let's throw off the shackles of feminism with its serpentine claims and embrace the role our Father has lovingly carved out for us.


Evan said...

This should be the next contribution to Dave Black Online; you have written another excellent article, Kristen, but I have learned to expect excellence from you. I particularly enjoyed the wonderful related post, but only because I wrote it. (: Thanks for linking to it. I should really get around to writing "Sundry love-related thoughts, part 2" one of these days; the ideas are already written, just waiting to be introduced to the blogosphere. I'll continue to work on admonishing the brothers.

Kristen said...

Thanks, Evan. You're kind. I know that it's the tip-top of the iceberg on this topic; I don't presume to "cover" it, but just want to offer some thoughts.

Looking forward to your part 2! :)

Christy said...

Another really good, thought provoking post, Kristen...we have found here that there are immense blessings in arranging the marriage the way God intended you said, what more awesome love can a woman feel than the same love Christ has for His Bride?? Since we have changed, its been so amazing...lots fewer arguments...we are closer as a couple...I don't feel like I'm "losing out" at all (like feminists will tell you) but truly covered by my dh...and protected by him, and loved...he feels I'm letting him be free to make decisions as God leads him...if that makes sense...

The other day, a friend went to the Dr. and when her Dr. found out she was going to continue having children (she has 5 already), the Dr. acted like my friend had no "choice" in the matter, alluding to an overbearing husband. It's sad that many people today don't realize that there are conservative women out there who CHOOSE to follow God's plan for women, AND they are ACTUALLY very happy!!

Christ's blessings to ya!

Rachel said...

Amen Christy. Eleven years in a Biblically submissive relationship and my husband and I have the happiest marriage of anyone I know. I am not unfulfilled by ANY stretch of the imagination but I certainly get tired of hearing that I should be.

Kristen said...

Amen, sisters! :)

I admit to you guys, though, that I am not a perfect wife by any stretch of the imagination--nor am I trying to present myself as that. I will pray for all the ladies who visit here, and I welcome your prayers for me. We need the Lord to bear the fruit of His Spirit in us. Help, Lord!!

You know that song "I'm Desperate for You"? Yeah, that's like my theme song.

Jenna said...

Hey! I'm reading Debi Pearl's book too, thanks to our wonderful Moll the doll. :o ) Happy reading! I know that I'm sure enjoying the book. *big ole grin @ Molly*

I really enjoyed your post today. Of course, it is probably just because you agree with me. *stifles laughter* Ok, I had better go before I get smacked into next year. Heeheehee.....

Kristen said...

Hey now Jenna, I won't smack for comments like THOSE! :-p

Christy said...

Rachel and Kristen,
oh I hear ya! I have LOTS of days where I'm going...oops...shouldna said THAT...or ONE day we were really stressed and had this big IM argument that started like this:

"so, you didn't say hi first today..."
"well, why don't you ever say hi first?"
"I fig. you just had more important things to do"
"well, its only been like 10 min since I got on..."
"guess you don't have time to talk to me..."
"you sit there for hours some days and don't beep me...guess YOU dont either"

LOL that started from something so dumb and turned into a real doozy...
days like that, and I really feel like I'm back at square one!


Kristen said...

Christy, I for one can tell you that I have had SO MANY stupid times like that. I totally know what you mean about feeling like you're at square one. Your example is a perfect one, because looking back, you see how petty it is, but when you're in the moment, that "IM'ed HI" is a big deal.

Help us, Lord!!!

This is why I posted Freedom to Move On that time. Because I need Jesus to cleanse me all the times I act stupid, sin against God, and then realize what I've done. I am so thankful that He convicts us.


jodi said...


I agree with the others - another excellent post. I'm a fairly strong-willed, opinionated woman (I know you're just shocked to hear that! LOL) but I have always believed mutual submission to be biblical. I think I am still trying to really grab hold of what that means, i.e. how it plays out in everyday life. I have a tendency to have stronger opinions and Steve will often defer to me if he doesn't have an opinion. Basically, we're still working it out. Lately, he has been taking on more of a leadership role, and I have felt a sense of security as a result. Hopefully we are on our way to walking this out...

One teaching that I heard that isn't really in disagreement with this, but that really caught my attention was regarding husbands and wives hearing the voice of God, especially as it pertains to big decisions. The teacher said that if a married couple is seeking the Lord on a matter and they feel they are in disagreement about what God is saying, rather than going with what the husband feels is right, they should *both* seek the Lord again until they have unity. God will not send separate messages to one or the other. In many cases, I think what He does is speak gently to one to surrender their point-of-view or maybe He'll point out that one has a wrong motive for their position. But the teaching stuck with me. It really makes sense if you believe that God speaks directly to His children and is able to guide and direct our steps in this way.

Just some food for thought.

If you think about it, I'd be interested in what submitting to your husband means to you in everyday life. What are some examples of circumstances where you would submit but someone else might refuse to? As I said, I'm still learning...

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