The word submission conjures up many connotations. The world has warped this word by associating it with words like weak, passive, and doormat.
I personally don’t think those words accurately represent what the bible has to say about submission.
I would argue that it is possible for a strong, independent, self-sufficient, woman can learn to submit willingly and happily to her husband.
Here is my story.
Growing up in the 80s, on the southwest side of Chicago, I pretty much lived on the streets, or more like the sidewalks.
The sidewalk is such an innovative idea. It’s something common and overlooked by adults, but for a child, it’s more than a means to an end.
Partly due to the fact that the sidewalk never really took us anywhere but to the end of our block. In which we would turn back around, most likely, on our bikes, big wheels, or roller-skates, and head back to the other side of the block.
Sidewalks were our stomping grounds. But, no one would dare step on the cracks of the sidewalk, so not to break their mother’s back (some of you will get that).
We would play hopscotch, Chinese jump rope, and double Dutch on them. As well as, recite chants using our hands, feet, a bit of hip action, and of course, a whole lot of silly sassiness.
However, even back then, the hood- with their stopping grounds weren’t all fun and games.
It exposed me to unfortunate experiences which instilled some wrong thinking within me. I am sure you can identify with some of the sentences below, and/or even question why I feel it’s wrong to think this way.
- I need to be independent and strong. Weakness is not something to admit or accept.
- I need to always be on guard, and not trust too easily.
- I need to have tough skin, and not let them see me hurt.
- I need to protect myself, or better yet, fight back whenever it’s necessary.
Yes, those sidewalks were also our proving grounds. If someone hits you, you better hit them back twice as hard.
Back then, teasing and bullying were done right to your face. There was no such thing as cyberbullying.
I can recall a number of times that I was a recipient of bullying. Shoot! I was even bullied when I was a cute, little Brownie for the Girls Scouts- by a girl twice my size.
One particular fight that comes to mind was when I confronted a bully.
My little sister and a couple of her friends were playing outside. From inside the house, I could hear her calling me. “Mimi, Get out here!”
As I got closer, I recognized the boy and I told him, “leave my sister alone.” He pushed me, and said something along the lines as “what are you going to do about it?”
I have no idea what got over me, but I started punching him. Before I knew it, my dad was pulling me off of him. My lip was busted, but the champion was clearly me.
That night my dad and my Tia’s were watching the Mike Tyson fight, and my dad declared to everyone that I was the real Mike Tyson.
Thinking back, it truly wasn’t anything to be proud of. But that is how it was growing up in my hood. Either you fought back, or you were a coward. And, being a coward attracted more bullies. It’s important to mention that kids back then used their fists, they didn’t have access to weapons like they do today.
As I got older, this type of wrong thinking crossed over into other areas of my life.
My dad would give me consejos, pieces of advice. And, majority of the time, they were right on point.
One consejo was to make sure you wear the pants in the house when you get married. This one wasn’t so much on point, but he had good reason to share this advice with me.
My dad came from an abusive home. My grandfather demanded respect and submission with his fist. My dad also witnessed plenty of husbands, cheating on their wives, and leaving them high and dry.
He didn’t want me to be dependent on anyone, including my husband. I was his daughter and he wanted me to be able to stand on my own. Just in case_______. You can fill in the blank.
Then, I grew up, went away to college, and I met the love of my life, and married him. Even back then, Juan was a kind and wonderful man.
But I brought this mindset to my marriage, and I didn’t know what damage I was causing until my marriage almost fell apart.
I sought godly counsel from the assistant pastor. A snapshot of the conversation is below…
Rosa, you seem like a strong, independent woman. I proudly nodded my head in agreement.
That can be a blessing for the right circumstances, but within a marriage relationship were “two become one” it can be detrimental. Then, he asked me the following questions: Do you think your husband feels needed by you? Do you lovingly submit to your husband?
I had to respond “no” to both questions.
After much peeling of the onion (getting to the root of my issues), It turned out, I was scared to need, and submit to my husband. My wrong thinking became the walls that guarded my heart and mind from truly giving myself to him.
During that season of restoring our marriage, I learned the importance of applying biblical principles to my marriage, like the one below.
“Wives submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Ephesians 5:22-23
How do I, an independent. strong, self-sustained woman start this process of submission?
One thing I knew I needed to do was, to surround myself with godly women. I did just that.
These ladies showed me what it was like to love unconditionally with plenty of grace and mercy.
But, unintentionally, some of these good-hearted women of God exposed me to some misconceptions about submission. Their traditions and customs leaked into their thinking, thus influencing their guidance, and tainting what the word of God had to say about submission.
Below are a few misconceptions:
- A wife is the husband’s helpmate. He is not supposed to help the wife, rather, the wife is supposed to help make his life easier.
- The wife’s role is minimized to doing chores- cooking and cleaning. And, the raising of the children is more of her responsibility, than the husband.
- A wife compromising what she thinks is the godly choice, so she can win her unsaved husband over to the Lord. Pretty much being a “yes” man, without expressing her opinion.
Webster’s Dictionary defines submission: the action or fact of accepting or yielding to a superior force or to the will or authority of another person.
What do you do when you see a yield sign while driving?
As a driver, you should stop or slow down to let another vehicle through. And, when you do this, you are yielding your right of way to that vehicle.
God is asking us, wives to yield to our husbands, not to get off the road, or allow them to run us over.
I am well aware of the fact that some of you are more qualified to lead, so you can easily take the wheel, and do it all yourself, and probably better than your husband.
But that is why you are his helpmate, or what I like to say copilot.
Your husband needs your input, and he should ask for it. As wives, we aren’t supposed to be passive, or bystanders in our homes.
We aren’t inferior, or of less worth, than our husbands. Christ submitted Himself to the will of the Father, without giving up an iota of His worth.
Helpmate is not about the house chores or picking up his socks from the bedroom floor. You aren’t his mama, or his slave. However, if you like doing those things as a token of your love for him, by all means keep doing it.
But, please don’t spiritualize it.
It’s always astonishes me how unsaved, or for that matter saved husbands don’t know many scriptures, but they love to wield the submission verse like a judge would a gavel.
But, if only they understood the type of leader God was calling them to be.
First and foremost, we are all called to submit to God, our Father, and to one another out of reverence to God. Romans 13:1 and Ephesians 5:21
As the spiritual leader of the home, the husband shouldn’t lead with an iron fist. A wife’s submission should be a natural response to his loving leadership.
Jesus is the epitome of servant leadership. He came to serve, and not be served.
Jesus didn’t need a wife to pick up his sandals, or belongings. On the contrary, Jesus even cleans the disciples’ feet to demonstrate humbleness. John 13
If your husband is not saved, or backslidden, he can be won over without words by your behavior, when he sees the purity and reverence of your life.” I Peter 3:1
If you are knowingly sinning right alongside of him, I am not sure how your actions will draw him to God.
It’s when you strive to put God first, not your husband, walk accordingly to God’s word, and embrace holiness, that is when your behavior will be most impactful.
Today, I willingly and lovingly submit/yield to my husband.
I am still very much a strong woman.
I would argue that it truly takes a strong woman to submit to their husband the way God has called them to.
However, I don’t feel the need to be independent, or self-sufficient.
As I become more dependent on God, I am experiencing more liberation. I am no longer afraid to need and give all of me to my husband.
I can jump off the cliff knowing that my God has me. He is the rope tied around my waist that will keep me from hitting the ground below me