For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything. ~Ephesians 5:22
Submit. That single word packs a whole lot of meaning in the bible in regards to wives. It also packs a whole lot of feeling for some women, with the spoken word instantly rising up feelings of anger, resentment, and rebellion. For some generations, “submitting” was very normal, and simply the way a wife was to “be” in a marriage. With the feminist movement, more women moving from working in the home to working in the work force, wars forcing women to manage their households on their own, and an increase in divorce rates and remarriages, the word took on a negative connotation. Or, let’s face it, “submit” became a bad word. As a strong, intelligent, and capable young woman, I have to admit, that dirty little word rubbed me the wrong way too. It filled my head with images of myself with tape over my mouth, handcuffs on my wrists, and shackles at my feet. I thought that if I were to submit to my husband, it must mean losing my identity, my thoughts, my feelings, and my rights as a person/partner in my marriage. As a product of a broken world, full of broken people with broken or failed marriages in my own family, and all around me, I desired more for my marriage. A lasting, loving, fulfilling, and happy commitment to span my lifetime is truly my heart’s longing. Since more than half of society isn’t getting it right, I decided that I should seek counsel from the One who created the covenant of marriage. After-all, if the God that I serve, the God of love, the God that is love, the God from whom comes all things good, created marriage, how then could anything He says about it, any commandment He gives, be inherently bad? Satan has done a very good job twisting God’s word into something that hurts the heart of God. That’s his whole existence though, right? To hurt the heart of God? To get us to question God’s intentions? I think it is safe to say, God knows what He is talking about! He unmistakably has our best intentions in mind, now, and when He laid the framework for a thriving marriage all those years ago. As I have grown closer to the Lord and learned more about what He desires for us in marriage, my heart has softened to the idea of submitting to my husband. I have found that as I have “died to self” in my marriage (as God commands us not just in marriage, but as Christians), it is much easier to submit. If I am not always thinking about my wishes, my desires, my wants, my opinions, my thoughts, and my ways and focusing more on the “bigger picture” or “greater good” of what is best for our family, finances, etc, then it is easier for my husband and I to align ourselves together. It is not “me vs. him”. My submitting has made my husband more able to fulfill his calling as the leader of our household. If I am submitting then I am not interfering with what God is asking of him. The natural order that God has created occurs much more naturally. Imagine that!! It is a beautiful design, really. When I allow my flesh to take over, and submissiveness takes a back seat, my husband and I butt-heads more, and things certainly don’t run as smoothly. This happens much more than I’d like it to, but much less than it did when we were very newly married. On those days when I am not exactly getting an A-plus in this area, or quite frankly, when I don’t think my husband “deserves” my submitting to him (good thing God doesn’t give us what we deserve!), I remember the first part of the verse that says “as to the Lord”. If I can’t make myself submit to my man, well then I can certainly submit to the Lord, if not for the desire to have a wonderful marriage, then for the desire to please an amazing God. I encourage you to laugh in Satan’s face and let the Holy Spirit, who is our helper, ever interceding on our behalf, turn that naughty word, “submit”, into a beautiful, vulnerable, freeing word.
Jennifer Zabel is part of the Awesome Marriage Global Management team. She resides in Edmond, Oklahoma with her beloved husband, Mason, their three daughters Ella, Claire, and Hays, and their lab Goodie. Besides her most coveted title of wife and mother, Jennifer has previously held the titles of Registered Nurse, Miss Oklahoma 2005, and Lash Stylist for her company The Lash Lounge, LLC. Jennifer and her family attend Life Church.