(This article is about biblical marriage – and I believe it will help to prepare you for a godly marriage based on God’s design. It is EXTREMELY counter-cultural. This post does NOT line up with the feminist agenda and message that we are all very used to. I pray that it is completely based on the Word of God and that you will hear His voice alone as you read.)
THE SUBMISSION OF CHRIST TO GOD THE FATHER
“Not My will, but Yours be done” – this is the essence of biblical submission. These were the words of Christ, Himself, within hours of His betrayal and then His crucifixion. If ANYONE in the universe had a reason for wanting to find another way for people to be made right with God – it was Jesus Christ. He asked God sincerely, urgently, with anguish – if this “cup” could pass from Him.
There are MANY voices today saying that it’s narrow-minded to say that Jesus is the only way to God. We as people want many ways to Him. We say it is intolerant to say that Jesus is the only way. But our God is a holy and sinless God. He cannot tolerate a trace of sin in His holy presence. He IS love. But He is also just. He cannot ignore sin. The penalty for sin is death. Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sin. He must have justice. And He found a way to have His love and justice both completely satisfied. He poured out all of His righteous wrath on His only Son. The penalty was paid in full.
How ungrateful and unimaginably arrogant our words must sound to the ears of the One Who sacrificed Himself willingly out of His love for us – knowing THERE WAS NO OTHER WAY.
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6
We are all filthy, wretched, spiritually impoverished sinners. To God, we all are equally covered in squalor. We are precious and beloved, but we are all equally in need of “millions of dollars worth” of forgiveness from God’s holy perspective. Even our most sincere attempts at “goodness” on our own look like “filthy, bloody rags” to God. Because of our sin- we deserve hell, punishment and separation from God – according to God’s Word.
But God wants us to be with Him. He loves us deeply and intimately. It is His will that NONE should perish but all should repent and live! He offers us the free gift of His Life. We cannot earn it. We can’t deserve it. We can’t be good enough. Only God is good. It’s the Great Exchange. Jesus exchanges our spiritual poverty for His spiritual riches, our death and punishment for His life and victory. He gave up ALL for us – laying down His life to provide for us what we could not do for ourselves. And He desires us to be willing to give up ALL for Him – to submit to Him, to surrender to Him as Lord, to obey Him. He won’t force it on us. It has to be our free choice and gift to give our lives to Him. He died for us willingly, now it is up to us to live for Him willingly. Both sides of this holy relationship are gifts, freely given.
Then we can be part of the bride of Christ. Marriage is to be a living parable of the intimate, one-spirit relationship between Christ and His beloved church – His people, those who know Him, love Him and serve Him as Lord.
Jesus knows what it means to submit to the authority of God. He is our example. THAT IS LOVE. That is what the love of a husband is meant to be for his wife.
THE SUBMISSION OF HUSBANDS
(As a woman, I do not have authority over men to teach them according to the Bible. So I am writing about husbands, but I am not specifically writing to husbands/men here. I appeal for understanding from any men who may read this. You are welcome to check out my husband’s blog www.respectedhusband.wordpress.com. Or you may look at the CMBA list of marriage blogs at the top of my home page. There are many godly men who are blogging about marriage for men who offer incredible resources to husbands looking for godly counsel and guidance.)
But I do want women to understand the workings of marriage from God’s point of view. Usually, I only focus on the wife’s duties and responsibilities, but I think it is important for wives to understand that husbands are called to submit to God completely – just as wives are. Our primary relationship of submission/authority is between ourselves as believers and Christ – that is true for all believers.
The key here is – I cannot MAKE or FORCE my husband to submit to Christ – whether he already claims to be a believer or not. That is a free decision to be made by each individual. I cannot control him. That does NOT work.
I can influence my husband to want to obey God by my own willingness to obey God and my own humility. I can pray for him. But I cannot control him!
- A husband cannot force his wife to submit to him or respect him – then he would be a tyrant.
- A wife cannot force her husband to love her as Christ loves the church. A wife cannot force her husband to lead.
- God did not force Christ to submit to Him. He gave of Himself willingly.
- The church didn’t force Christ to lay down His life, He chose to willingly.
- The church didn’t force Christ to lead – He chose to be the ultimate loving, selfless leader on His own.
- Christ does not force me to follow Him. It is my free decision and choice to make. He offers the gift as a gentleman. He does not force His will on me.
We can each only affect change in our own selves. I can only address my own obedience to God’s Word, not my husband’s. Christ-like love, submission, godly leadership, respect – the ingredients of a healthy, godly marriage are GIFTS that we give to our spouses out of reverence and obedience to Christ.
Husbands are called first to submit themselves to Christ . It is only when a man is under the authority of Christ and submits himself, his desires, his plans and his dreams to God’s desires, plans and dreams – that he can truly lead his wife in a godly way that honors Christ, brings glory to the gospel and benefits his wife and family.
A godly husband is willing to say to God, “Not my will, but Yours be done in my marriage, in my family, in every aspect of my life, Lord!”
HUSBANDS LIVE IN DUAL DIRECTIONS
Godly leadership, headship and authority is only properly, lovingly, selflessly used by a man who knows Jesus Christ as Lord of his life. He must submit himself to Christ and then he can turn toward his wife and family and imitate Christ. He must learn to be the “bride” before he can be a groom – in essence. It’s his primary responsibility to protect, love, lead, guide and serve his family and to demonstrate the example of the love of Christ to them.
The miracle is that when a husband loves his wife with the love of Christ – even if she is disrespectful and controlling, or if she is passive,unresponsive and unplugged – she will begin to come to life as her husband’s love fills her heart. His love is POWERFUL. Husbands often have NO IDEA how powerful their selfless, Christlike love is for their wives. But if a husband wants to motivate his wife, his power is in his love, his servant’s heart, his kindness, tenderness, gentleness, words of love, acts of service and showing that he genuinely seeks the welfare of his wife above his own. THAT is how to motivate a wife to begin to follow God and her husband’s leadership and to desire to joyfully show respect and admiration.
THE SUBMISSION OF WIVES
Wives have parallel roles. I learn to submit to Christ, and I learn to submit to my husband. Ultimately, my submission is primarily to Christ, not my husband. The reason I follow the leadership of my husband (unless he asks me to condone or commit sin) is out of reverence, respect and submission of my life to my Lord, Jesus Christ.
Many people get upset about the concept of “submission.” And, sadly, this word has been used to describe so many derogatory situations, that it has almost completely lost its original implications on our culture.
In the Bible, submission is the concept of the Officer and the First Mate on a ship. It’s a military term that connotes ranking oneself under a superior. This doesn’t mean that one person is more valuable than the other, or that one doesn’t need to use his brain or do any work. No! They both have a long list of equally important roles and responsibilities. But one person has ultimate responsibility and accountability for the decisions and consequences for the family before God. God is a God of order and He has done this for our protection as wives, for our sanity and to give us peace and joy. I know it seems crazy that submitting myself to Christ and to my husband could bring joy and peace – but it sure has for me! God’s ways are higher than my ways! And the foolishness of God is higher than man’s wisdom.
A godly wife has the attitude toward Christ AND her husband, “Not my will, but yours be done.” She desires God’s will above her own. And she desires her husband’s will above her own. Her intimacy and relationship with Christ and her husband are MUCH more valuable to her than getting her way about a certain decision. She can and should express her feelings, desires, concerns and thoughts to God and her husband – these are both deeply intimate relationships of oneness. But once she has expressed herself, she trusts that her Lord Jesus is big and powerful enough to lead her through her sinful man. She doesn’t want to stand in the way of God’s leading in her husband’s life. She cooperates with God’s leading and is willing to say, “Yes!” to God and to her husband. Ultimately, her faith is in Christ. But because she has great faith in Jesus, she is able to show great faith in her husband.
The amazing thing is that as her husband witnesses her joy and peace in Christ, and her faith in Christ – which also begins to be faith in him as a husband – he is empowered to become a more godly husband! A wife’s respect, admiration and willing cooperation with her husband’s leadership POWERFULLY motivate her husband to love her with the love of Christ and to begin to lay down his life for her and lead her as Christ leads His church.
IT’S ALL ABOUT BRINGING GLORY TO GOD!
God is SO good! When even just one spouse in a marriage is willing to obey Him and submit to His Word – miracles begin to happen. Marriages bloom and thrive, spouses are transformed. God is greatly glorified!
Show us Your beautiful design for marriage! Rebuild our understanding of marriage on the foundation of Christ and Your Word alone! Help us to be willing to die to ourselves, to crucify our own sinful nature and take up our cross daily and follow You, Jesus!