As I mentioned on Sunday morning here at Capitol City, I reached out to several female leaders in our congregation with the question, “For you, what is the key to practicing Ephesians 5:22 (Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord)“?
I couldn’t mention all of the responses that I received in the sermon, so I thought I would share some snippets here.
To me, the key to submission in marriage is knowing where my worth and value come from – from Jesus dying on the cross for me. Therefore I do not anxiously expect my husband to meet my every need. This takes a tremendous weight off of our marriage and allows God’s grace and love to flow more freely, without condition.
My paraphrase of this one: The fullness of Christ’s submission to the Father’s will fuels a wife’s submission to her husband’s will.
Here’s another response:
I have thought about this and I think the one key thing for me is that one of my daily prayers is: “Lord, please change me so that I can be the person that [my husband] needs me to be as we…serve You.” I will admit that I don’t always let Jesus change me because I am as self-centered as the next person but when I do, the miraculous happens and we are one, just as God said that the two shall become one flesh. So I guess what I am trying to say is that I go to Jesus and submit to Him first and then when I need to submit to [my husband] it is much easier because I have gone to our source and surrendered to him.
In other words: Fully trusting in (submitting to) Jesus also fuels a wife’s submission to her husband, because she submits to her husband due to Christ’s worthiness, not her husband’s worthiness.
Here’s a third response:
When I look over the 30 years that [my husband] and I have been married, I can’t honestly say that I am submitting to him on a daily basis…That may sound bad, but…I believe that it is because…he just provides “easy to follow” leadership in our home, and so it makes it easier to submit in the BIG decisions. Because he shows consistent, loving, peacemaking leadership on a daily basis, it is much easier to say, “Okay, I will shut up and trust you as the spiritual leader in our family.” When the spiritual leader of the house shows consist loving leadership, submissiveness on my part is much easier…It’s a two way street!!!
To sum up: When a husband loves his wife as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her (Eph 5:25), a wife will have an easier time submitting to her husband.
A fourth response:
For me, the key to submitting to my husband is knowing that he is responsible before God for leading our family in a way that honors God, and I am responsible before God for submitting to him and helping him, even when it’s something I don’t want to do (much like Christ submitted to the father even when he did not want to “drink the cup” of crucifixion). So if after discussion and prayer, we still disagree on something, the responsibility is not on me for making the right decision. Instead, I’m called to respond to my husband’s decision in a loving and respectful way… Which is a lot less pressure, in my opinion! (Although, not by any means is it ever easy!)
This is like the first response: Seeing the beauty of Christ’s submission to the Father fuels a wife’s submission to her husband.
But how does a wife submit to her husband when they disagree? This fifth response hints at this:
For me, the key to submitting to my husband is remembering that God is pleased when I am willing to adjust and fit into [my husband’s] plans, goals, and desires. [I can remember a time when…] I did not trust my husband’s judgment, but I did trust God to take care of the decision, even if it turned out to be the wrong one – which it didn’t. Some lessons are painful, aren’t they?
That was the beginning of a new way for me to think about submission to my husband – and all authority figures, really. It was very freeing, and believe me, God has reminded me of that lesson many times since – and asked me to trust and obey Him when I haven’t wanted to trust or obey someone else. Trusting and obeying God always brings victory and personal peace.
In other words: A wife can joyfully submit to her husband even when she disagrees with her husband, because God calls us to submission and thus submission is an act of worship and devotion to God.
One final response:
The key to submitting to my husband is leaning into my reverence for Christ. If all of my hope, salvation, and fullness rests in Christ’s life, work, and sacrifice for me, then there is nothing He has withheld from me (Romans 8:32). Not only that, His love for me is lavish and abundant as I receive the riches of being in Christ. The authority of God’s word is proved true in Him (2 Corinthians 1:20) and His word calls me to respond to Christ worshipfully through submission to my husband as we live out this “mystery”. Again, the beauty of God’s grace to me in Jesus leads me to rightful reverence and worshipful obedience to this command.
I’ll sum up this one in this way: If Jesus really is everything that we need, then a wife will lack nothing even as she submits to her husband – because she still has all of Jesus. And when you have all of Jesus, you want to worship and obey him in radical ways.
May Jesus work his way down into the very foundations of our heart to such a degree that we all desire obey and worship him radically.