Two days ago I had a quarter life crisis kind of a morning. It was all in response to an article I read about the roles of men and women in marriage. I of course brought this up to my husband, Luke. “So what do you think?” In my head I believe that God designed marriage in a way that gives husbands the leading role, in real life though this doesn’t seem as clear cut. A thousand scenarios fly through my mind. What if I’m the only one that wants more kids? I don’t care what he wants to do he can’t just borrow $5K in credit card debt! What if my way is right?
In our culture the idea of submitting to your husband is often repulsive, and I struggled with it too. Certainly that is not necessary, this is the 21st. century after all, haven’t we as Christians decided that giving in to our husbands was some cultural Bible times idea? Not too far into this discussion, one I had somewhat confrontationally dubbed; “who gets the final say”, I was getting defensive!
In the heat of the moment, to even say the word submission is to feel weak, vulnerable, and less capable. “I am my own man! I am usually right!” I vehemently expound. Luke reiterates that it is from a place of love and protection that God has him lead. I want that love and cherishing and I want to be the boss of me! My eyes are dark and glaring, like a cornered cat, my hackles are up. “Why should I?” I scream in my heart. I want to do the right thing. I want to honor God. I want to avoid this issue like the plague.
So I did the only reasonable thing to do and went to my older sister’s for cocoa. She would vehemently state that God made both spouses equal in marriage, but with different roles. I left fortified with a solid argument and good hot chocolate, but the matter was still unsettled for me.
My next step was to ask my little sister, more input couldn’t hurt. “Oh we agree to make all our decisions together.” She confidently smiled. Nodding and smiling in return I thought, I like that sentiment, this is a good philosophy. Still a debate raged in my heart. After 8 years of marriage it’s obvious to me that we will not come to an agreement on all major decisions. We will not come to an agreement on if the kids can have more cake.
Mom joined what was now a family discussion. “Many times Dad and I agreed on decisions, but there was one time that Dad was excited about a business opportunity and all I could see was having to leave our children home many nights. I never voiced my opposition, and this endeavor had a major effect on our lives. I didn’t want to burst his enthusiasm or face his judgment that I was being negative.”
The question for me has never been whether or not I can voice my opinions, or be the deciding force in major decisions, that is an overwhelming yes. My question here is; after we’ve hashed it all out and a stalemate has been reached, is there a biblical truth that directs me to let my husband take the lead? Does the Bible give us a structure for our roles in marriage? After great debate and studying I believe so. Read Ephesians 5:22-30 “Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body.”
Here my husband is given the roles of savior and lover, he is to nourish and cherish me, to give himself up for me as Christ did for the church. I am given the direction to make myself subject to my husband. This isn’t a word we use a lot today. To be subject to Luke is to place myself under him, this is a voluntary choice on my part to let him lead. Submission is not something you can take, or force from someone. It is placing myself in his care.
Choosing to give preference to my husband and follow his leadership is peaceful. It brings us a new oneness, and it demands a level of trusting from me that I am unaccustomed to. I see in Luke a greater willingness to listen to my point of view and defer to me. I see him give himself up for me in a whole new way. This is not about winning or losing, it is about building a loving relationship, orchestrated by God in a way that reflects Christ’s love for us, His church.