“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord." Ephesians 5:22.
This is a famous verse, what God asks wives to do. Growing up, I would remember and reflect only on the submitting to the husbands part, most likely because I was spiritually young and took everything literally. It was only when I got married did I realise the full extent and beauty of this verse, how hard it was to continually do, and yet when properly and respectfully done, how peaceful one’s soul becomes with the knowledge that you have obeyed your Lord and as a consequence, you have shown your husband love as he was created to understand it.
Joey and I exchanged our “non-negotiables” early on when were still in the getting to know each other stage. I was surprised when we came to a seeming gridlock: he said that he would never change his Born Again religion for anyone and I was the same: I told him that I would never change my being a Catholic. I don’t remember if an awkward silence ensued after or if any misgivings were immediately overridden by our growing interest in each other. All I thought then was that I really really really liked this guy, and what a waste it would be if we didn’t pursue the promise of this relationship when we believed in the same God, albeit in different ways.
But deep inside my heart, I also knew that when God’s will for both of us is revealed, that is, if He puts the desire in Joey to ask me to be his wife and I said yes, I knew with the quietest yet strongest of convictions that I had no other recourse but to yield, to submit. For in all that is written in the Bible, it is the first and foremost thing that God explicitly asks a wife to do for her husband:
To submit to him in everything.
One very short verse yet so heavy with implications, so filled with acts of surrender. And again, so hard to do in a world that consistently screams “Girl Power!”, when women are encouraged to take the reins and there is a growing misconception that to be submissive means to regard one’s self in a lesser way.
Please do not get me wrong. I am all for men and women pushing themselves to be the best they can be. I am all for harnessing what strengths we are born with and making them stronger, and using whatever talents we were given for the betterment of the individual and society. I am for self-actualisation, as Maslow introduced to me back in school.
But most importantly, I am for God and His enduring words in the one book of life - the Bible.
As God’s handiwork, I am called to be all that I can be with the specific set of character traits that He has created me with, in full expression of worship to Him. As an older woman, I am called to be “reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine”. I am called to “teach what is good”, among other charges to the women of the church in Titus 2.
But as a wife, the one important thing that I am called to do which takes precedence over everything else, is to submit to my own husband as I submit to the Lord.
It is the second part of the verse that renders it perfect. First, it suggests that submission to one’s husband is heavily intertwined with one’s submission upon the Lord. One cannot exist without the other, even as the first is a fruit of the former. It is this submission and obedience unto the Lord that produces a gentle and humble spirit which makes submission to a fellow human being possible, even easy.
Second, the command to submit to our husbands is absolute and unconditional. It doesn’t say submit to your own husbands because he is worthy or because he is good. The Word says to submit, period, and to do so while being in the same attitude towards God. This means that even if there may be times when we feel we are better than our husbands, or that we have more experience in this or that area than him and therefore our opinion should matter more, we should just respectfully share our thoughts with him and acknowledge that he has the final say even if it doesn't go our way, out of respect and obedience to God, because we were commanded to.
I also can’t think of a better way to show my confidence in my man’s capabilities than in yielding to his authority. When I submit to Joey, I show my trust in his leadership and wisdom. When I submit to him, I allow him to be the man responsible for me and our future family, a task he has undertaken the second we were pronounced husband and wife. When I submit to him, I show him that I respect him, and in all truth, it is respect that men most need from their women. It is love as they were created to understand.
In the same way, there can be no greater show of confidence and faith unto our Good Lord than with our full trust and submission unto Him. When I submit to Him, I recognise His Sovereignty over my life, I acknowledge that His Will is infinitely better than mine, I rest in His Great Love. And we know how much the Lord values obedience - the Bible is filled with stories of characters who submitted and obeyed and were rewarded after, from Abraham to of course, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Still, I believe that obedience is a reward in itself. The act of looking beyond one’s self towards another person is a triumph on its own, to go against our very own self-centered nature, and to win against the voice inside that tells us we know better.
Submitting to Joey was easy for me because I had been responsible for so many people for most of my adult life. I saw this relinquishing of control as a rescue, a lifting of and sharing of burdens. It was easy also because of the kind of man that Joey is. I trust him. He has a very sound head on his shoulders, is a gifted visionary and a shrewd businessman. I know that before he sets off for anything, he would have already weighed all relevant pros and cons. He would have sought my opinion, respectfully listened to it, taken it into account. He would have asked God for wisdom and discernment before making any move.
And I know that my place is to be beside him, whatever he does and whatever he embarks on, wherever that may be.
And I also know with absolute faith that God will bring everything about according to His perfect plan.
“For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands.” 1 Peter 3:5
Have a blessed and restful Holy Week <3
Thank you for reading!