Mutual Submission and Marriage

Submit?!  Arrrgh.  The first book someone gave me on this topic was called “Me, Obey Him?” and I threw it across the room and resolved not to read it…  It sat there for a good six months, mocking me.  Sometimes we women become overly dramatic about the idea of having to submit to our husbands!

It is my personal opinion that our angst is usually a result of misconceptions of submission, or having married a man who does not understand or embrace his part – the part about loving your wife as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for it.  (Eph. 6:25)

Another reason for our angst about submission is that the context of Eph. 6:22 “Wives submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord” is often forgotten.  The correct context is from the previous verse, Eph. 6:21, which reads “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ Jesus.”

So what does that mean?  We were talking in our small group a few nights ago about this very idea – the idea of “mutual submission“.  Here’s what it means according to Andy Stanley,

“I will leverage all of the power, energy, and resources at my disposal for the benefit of other members of the family.” 

Did you catch that?  It’s not all about me!  It’s about me working for what is best for my spouse and kids.  It’s about leaning IN toward the middle of the family circle to help others, rather than leaning OUT and away from engagement and responsibility.

Here is the question that we should be asking our spouse and kids daily, “What can I do to help?”

Now that can be a scary question!  However, it is a question we need to get in the habit of asking – every single day.  What do you need from me?  How can I help?  That is the question Jesus asked.   It was time-consuming, energy-consuming, unpredicatable, frightening. It was the ultimate question that cost Him his life.

It was an unselfish question.  Marriage and parenting are about learning to be unselfish.

On that note, let me recommend a book that changed my view of marriage – it’s not a practical, how-to book.  It’s a book that says – “Wait!  You are thinking about this all wrong. Marriage is not really about making you happy!”

SACRED MARRIAGE by Gary Thomas, (Zondervan, 2000).  sacredmarriage

Gary Thomas asks a shocking question:  “What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?”  Thomas’ argument is that marriage is one of God’s primary vehicles for character change.  “If you want to become more like Jesus, I can’t imagine any better thing to do than get married.  Being married forces you to face some character issues you’d never have to face otherwise.”  After all, marriage is a temporary institution (’til death do us part), designed to last while we are on this earth (no marriage in heaven), and destined to help us develop an eternal relationship with God.  Thomas has chapters on how marriage teaches us to love, to respect others, to persevere, to forgive, to serve, as well as how it exposes our sin, and teaches us more about God.   If we truly believe that we are called to holiness and not happiness, then maybe we ought to reshape our thoughts on marriage!

I’m going to work on being unselfish this week.  I am going to ask, “What can I do to help?” and not flinch when the answer comes back.  Will you join me?

One thought on “Mutual Submission and Marriage

  1. Love this post. That’s one of my all-time favorite marriage books, and you’ve really written beautifully about mutual submission. It’s nothing to be afraid of, and the benefits are enormous. Now–to actually do it!


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