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Building up believers and the New Testament church

Submission - A Place of Grace

Wives, Submit To Your Husbands

Perhaps one of the most important and far-reaching areas of submission that touches our lives is that of wives to husbands. "Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord" (Ephesians 5:22). "But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God" (1 Corinthians 11:3). For the working out of God's purpose in this hour, He has ordained an order for mankind. As mentioned above, God's purpose in view is that He may be all in all. When we submit to God, we also submit to His order. This is God's order, not man's idea, so we do not question His wisdom. We may understand some of the "why's," but whether we do or not, we still submit to His order because He is God and He has ordained this order. We need no other reason. As we submit, the understanding will come as we are able to comprehend it. Obedience comes before understanding.

Note very carefully that this order does not mean that some are more important than others. Is God more important than Christ? God does not think in these terms. Neither is man more important than woman. It is not a question of importance, but of the place God has designed for us to function. We are only of value to God if we are willing to function in the place He has chosen for us. If we have submitted to God, then we will find a place of rest in His order. It is not bondage but freedom. Bondage is trying to be somebody else or function in a place that God has not called us to.

Secondly, note that the submission is "as unto the Lord." To put it in other words, the Lord has commanded this place of submission, so He is the one who will uphold. The submission is not because the husband is worthy of submission, or because the wife agrees with the way he thinks. It is because God has ordained that wives submit to husbands. If the wife is responding in faith to God in this matter (in other words, she has heard the Lord who told her to submit to her husband), then she is responding to God and His order, If she is only submitting because her husband told her to submit, then God is not in view and fear will be present. But God does not give His word without the grace and provision to carry out that word. God is the one who commanded, and He is the one who will protect.

With God in view, all fear is gone. Perfect love casts out all fear. What love is this? God's love in my heart. What does God's love in my heart cause me to do? Obey God in submission. "He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me" (John 14:21). Note the example given to us in 1 Peter 3:1-6. If we consider some of the circumstances in the lives of Sarah and Abraham, we would say that Abraham made some mistakes. Yet in those mistakes, God protected Sarah. As a wife, if you are submitting in active faith, there is no fear, and God will uphold you even if your husband makes mistakes. Bondage comes when we try to correct those mistakes ourselves instead of waiting on God. God is after something much higher than we see at times, and we need to allow God to obtain His purpose. Sometimes everything has to fall apart in our eyes before we see God put things back together again. When God puts it back together, it is beautiful.

His aims are so much higher than ours. He is working in our hearts for eternity. When we try to take things into our own hands to protect or alter the course of events, many times we find ourselves directly against God without meaning to be. The safety is to stay in our place, and wait on God's time. This is not passive indifference, but active faith, and there is a big difference between the two.

Note that the area of wives' submission to husbands is given a special place of showing forth the submission of the church to Christ. This is extremely important in the example that is set before the children. A quiet, peaceful wife who has found her place in God and shows forth the spirit of submission to her family is priceless. It is powerful in its effect. Not only does it reveal God to her children, it brings a special sense of responsibility onto the shoulders of her husband. A wife who is not in submission, who is running her own way, causes her husband to sit back and let her run. But when she actively submits herself, her husband immediately begins to feel the weight. His eyes are turned toward his Head, Christ. He must turn, in order to gain the direction needed to have the ability to nourish and cherish. The end result is that the wife is fed and built up by the flow that comes through her husband. For the most part, wives do not realize the power of active submission. Thus they are not nourished, because of their lack of submission.

Another essential point is to see that submission results in an expression of oneness, which brings forth fulfillment in the relationship. Christ submitted to God (the Father). But they are one, and the oneness was not lost in the submission but strengthened, or revealed. So it is between wives and husbands. They are one in God's eyes, but that oneness is brought into expression and strengthened as the wife submits to the husband. It brings them closer together, and makes them able to function as one.

For a husband and wife to move as one in the way God has designed, the wife must submit willingly. If a husband tries to force the submission through lording it over the wife, the relationship is strained and the glory lost. Christ willingly submitted to the will of the Father. The wife willingly submits to the will of her head, her husband. The tension is gone, and now the husband can exercise his responsibility and give direction. They can now move as one in the responsibilities of the family.

It is good to remember that each of us who is married entered into the marriage relationship willingly as responsible adults. We were not forced. When we entered the relationship, which was designed by God, we also entered on God's terms in the relationship. If we expect the relationship to be harmonious and glorify God, then we must conduct the relationship as God designed it, not as man has altered it. If we respond to God in this, there will be one mind, since there will be one head. Where there is not one mind, confusion exists. The children become confused, and the testimony of God is hindered. But as the husband and wife move as one, there is fulfillment, and the joy of both will know no bounds.