To Love & Honor

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.

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Learning to Wait

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On my wedding day, my husband and I chose Ephesians 5:22-33 as one of the verses we wanted to live by. I strongly believed what those verses have to say and — by God’s grace — I have kept by them.

I believe as a wife it is extremely important to be submissive to your husband. It is something to take very seriously. We are to be their help meet. What we say, things we do, and how we respond affects them as a person. They need to be built up, not torn down and nagged. Sometimes it isn’t easy, though.

My husband and I got married in 2008. He didn’t want to have children right away. Babies scared him. He was the youngest and really wasn’t around babies as he grew up. He knew that we were going to have some but “not that soon.”

So, I had to wait. A year passed and he still was not sure about having a baby. Year and a half? Nope — not yet. It was really hard to have to wait. There were times that I would talk to him about it and where I would push him away. I had to back off and had to respect his decision even though I didn’t understand.

Then, in the late spring early summer of 2010 (after a year of struggling with God on where I was at) God got hold of me. He really made me see a lot of things about life. Through every detail, He was involved and guided me through His word. Having this spiritual breakthrough really helped me become more submissive to my husband.

Here are some verses and tips that helped me to wait and submit to my husband by submitting to God first.

  1. His way is perfect. 2 Samuel 22:31

“As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is proven; He is shield to all who trust in Him.”

Every single thing you go through is His perfect plan for you. There are no mistakes. Every situation, every person you come in contact with is a part of His perfect will for you. His word is there to help you understand this and to give you peace. Even when you mess up, He is still a part of it. He is involved in every detail of our lives. It is also important that you and your husband discuss situations and significant issues. In those discussions you could bring it up on how God is intimately involved in every details of your lives. There might be those times he might not be ready to hear that. It is so easy to get upset too, but it is always imperative for you to talk these things through. That is why it is important for us as wives to constantly focus on God’s word and pray for our husbands. But the key is believing God’s way is perfect and what He says is true, so that whenever your husband says something that you disagree with, you can trust God and submit to your husband.

  1. He knows all my days and has a plan for them. Psalm 139:16-17

“Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them. How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them!”

Every single day that we live has been written down in His book. He knows when you were born and when you are going to die. He knows what days you and your husband had that argument about that same issue that keeps coming up. Our Lord is sovereign and in control. Even your husband’s days are all written down. God knows when your husband will change his mind or even if you will change your mind.  He has great things for the both of you, things to make you grow, things to make you understand your husband or other people. He wants and has the very best for your marriage.

  1. He instructs and guides me in the way He wants me to go. Psalm 32:8-9

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye. Do not be like the horse or like the mule, which have no understanding, which must be harnessed with bit and bridle, else they will not come near you.”

You might be thinking, “You don’t know my husband. He doesn’t understand what I am trying to do.” Yes, that might be true but God knows the way you and your husband need to go. Allow Him to instruct you in the way He wants you to go. It might be the entirely different way from what you want. But who are you to know what is truly good for you? He knows and He will guide. Don’t fight your husband! You are fighting God because He has called you to be submissive to him. Don’t be like a horse with a bit and bridle. When you let go and be submissive, God will tell you and guide you in the way you should go.

  1. A gentile and quiet spirit does work. 1 Peter 3:1-6

“Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives,  2 when they observeyour chaste conduct accompanied by fear. 3 Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel— 4 rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. 5 For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands, 6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror.”

In today’s society, wives don’t have many examples of what a gentle and quiet spirit looks like. It doesn’t mean that a wife has to sit quietly while her husband does all the talking. That’s not right. It means allowing your actions to speak louder than your words. It means that if your husband is doing something that is not correct, but it does not go against God’s word, your only choice is to fear and trust God and humbly pray that He can help you to be that woman who wins over her husband. In the long run, your husband will respect you because even if you didn’t agree with him, you didn’t put him down or nagged him.

  1. Be thankful in the moment you are in. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

“Rejoice always,  17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

The years I had to wait until my husband decided to have kids was the will of God for me. When I finally allowed God and His word to transform my heart, I am so thankful for the things we got to do. I honestly cannot imagine it any other way. God gave me such a thankful heart and enabled me to be content in every moment.

Very close to our fifth anniversary and only two months after getting off of the birth control I was on for five years, God allowed us to get pregnant. The following year we received a beautiful baby girl who, with all the joy in my heart, daddy loves and adores and treasures with his whole heart. God is faithful, so very faithful during those years.