“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” — Isaiah 55:8 – 9
I am opinionated. I am independent. I am strong willed. I am not afraid to make decisions. I am happy to take leadership. I am confident. I am also … submissive to my husband. To many women, this seems much like the confession of a person at Alcoholics Anonymous. You know, “Hi. I’m Cindy, and I’m submissive.”
Even writing those words rankles me. If I am all those things I say I am — opinionated, independent, confident — why did God choose me to be submissive? What was God thinking?
It All Started In The Garden
Let’s look at the beginning. That’s where it all started. Pick up a Bible and look at the very first book, the very first chapter, Genesis 1, where we read about God creating the heavens and the earth. Right from the start you can see that God created the world with order. God made light, and separated it from the darkness. He made water and dry land.
Then He moved on to vegetation and plants and fruit-bearing trees. On the fourth day God created the stars and sun and moon. Then He created all kinds of fish and birds and things that swarm. On the sixth day God made animals and everything that creeps on the ground. And on that day God also created His crowning achievement:
God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them (Gen. 1:27 KJV ).
Did you notice the progression? God brought order out of chaos. Our God is a God of order. But we can’t stop there. Genesis 2:7 explains the creation of man and woman in more detail: “The Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being.”
After God created man, God gave him his work orders. God planted a beautiful garden, and placed Adam in the middle. Adam’s job was to take care of the garden. And then God created the woman. God saw that it was not good for man to be alone, and fashioned a helper specifically designed to meet the man’s needs:
“Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me” (Ps. 54:4).
Biblical Lines of Authority
We all live under authority. Scripture does not single out wives for submission. God has placed everyone in subjection to the government (Rom. 13:1 – 2; Titus 3:1).We recognize this authority in our lives and choose to obey it or suffer the consequences. We obey the speed limit, pay our taxes, and even keep our grass cut so we don’t have conflicts with our federal, state, or local governments. We may complain, but we comply because we don’t want to suffer the penalty for not following the laws of the land.
God has also established a line of leadership in our homes. Ephesians 5:22 – 6:9, as well as Colossians 3:18 – 4:1, describe this authority: Children are subject to parents, wives to husbands, and husbands to God. Additionally, God reminded slaves to be obedient to their masters as to Christ, which we can apply to employees today and their bosses (Eph. 6:5). In both of these passages, the reason we are to follow these lines of authority is because, ultimately, we are doing it for Christ’s sake:
Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve (Col. 3:23 – 24 NASB ).
A Unique Relationship
God continued His thoughts on marriage through the apostle Paul, in his letter to the Ephesian church:
Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord (Eph. 5:22 NASB ).
The first thing that strikes me about this verse is the little word “own.” Wives, be subject to your own husbands. This is not a directive to every male/female relationship. This is not addressed to women in the workplace, nor does it even refer to how a woman treats her boyfriend or fiancé. The only man a woman should be subject to is her own husband. This is a relationship like none other. Although it might seem contrary to our expectations, a woman can function in a position of authority in the workplace while she still lives in a position of submission in her relationship to her husband.
Interestingly, the word “subject” comes from a Greek military term that means to arrange troops under the command of a leader. In nonmilitary terms, submission is an attitude of voluntary cooperation. I like that. It’s something I can comprehend as I ask myself, “Am I choosing to voluntarily cooperate with Michael?” When I do, I am giving him the respect he longs for.
But read on. This verse also says a wife should be subject to her own husband, as to the Lord. For whatever reason, God chose to place the husband as the head of the relationship. When we refuse to accept God’s design, we are, in essence, telling God we don’t trust Him. At times, being willing to follow our husbands is certainly difficult, yet that is what God asks of us.
God will use your willingness to cooperate with Him and your husband to work in both of your lives. I have been amazed as I look back over my own life to see how this principle has repeatedly come to fruition. When I submit to Michael’s leadership, God works in both of us. That leads me to wonder if I am hindering God’s work in our lives when I’m not willing to submit to Michael.
Adapted from What’s Submission Got To Do With It?
Copyright © 2008 Cindy Easley, published by Moody Publishers. Used with permission.