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About Submission

You might be thinking, "Now you're talking, pastor. I was hoping you'd get to this. But shouldn't this be in a For Wives Only section? This is the stuff my wife should be reading."

I understand completely.

The man is the head of the home. A man's home is his castle, so that makes him the king. What is it with women anyway? Why can't they just do what the Bible tells them to do? Submit.

If God had told us men to submit to our wives, we would have done it without complaint. We would have been so totally dedicated to God's will that we would not have given it a second thought. Why is it such an issue for them?

Well, I've got a couple of ideas that might help you out here. And probably the best place to begin is with that infamous verse that started all the trouble in the first place.

Ephesians 5:22 says it all. Everything a man needs to know to govern his own household: "Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord."

What a comfort that has been to men throughout history.

Interesting though, if you take a look at the verse carefully, it doesn't say anything to husbands. It tells the wife that it's her responsibility to submit to her husband. So it makes you wonder why so many men think it's their responsibility to make their wives submit.

Another thing we need to look at is the surrounding context. Don't you just hate that word? As soon as someone yells, "Context!", you know you need to duck for cover. They are going to hit you with something unexpected, and you're about to discover that something you thought was true was just a myth after all.

But we can't escape context. It's very often a great revealer of God's will. In this case, the context begins at verse 21 (if not earlier, in verse 18), and finishes in verse 33. Here are some interesting things we learn in this section of Scripture.

There are thirteen verses in this passage, only three-and-a-half of which are directed at wives. Most of the rest is directed at husbands, their responsibility, and the similarities between Christ's love of the church and the husband's love for his wife. Kind of makes you think, doesn't it. Where is the emphasis? Who has the primary responsibility?

Judging by the difference between the number of verses dealing with the responsibilities of husbands and wives, it seems to me that God is far more interested in the behaviour of husbands than wives.

One of the similarities of Christ's love for the church and the husband's love for his wife is that Christ took the initiative. "We love Him because He first loved us." (1 John 4:19) It is entirely unscriptural for a husband to make his love conditional upon his wife's submission.

Which brings us to another important point. Verse 21 - let's call him 21 for short. If you're like a lot of guys, you might just skip that one and go straight on to verse 22. The reason for 21's unpopularity with the male population is that it tells us to "submit to one another in the fear of God."

Hardly the kind of thing most red-blooded males want to hear. After all, "one another" actually includes our wives. Imagine that, God actually wants us men to submit to our wives too.

Doesn't that undermine leadership? Of course not! There's a big difference between leadership and demanding your own way. Real leadership starts with being the kind of man God wants you to be.

So let me give you a common scenario. A man and his wife are planning for their upcoming week's vacation. He wants them to go on a fishing trip. She wants to book a hotel on the coast and hang out together. Naturally, being the man - the head of the home, the king of the castle, God's mouthpiece, blah, blah, blah - he decides that he has the God-given authority to make a decision. So he decides on the fishing trip.

Guess who gets to submit? The wife. Guess who has to sacrifice for the sake of the other? The wife. Guess who has to make a choice to change and be more Christlike in the face of disappointment? The wife.

Guess who that makes the real leader?

Yup, you got it. The wife.

The real leader gets to make the same kind of choices that Jesus made in His leadership role. The real leader gets to sacrifice, makes choices to accommodate and grow, and submits his will to another for the benefit of the other.

Just like Jesus did. Even Jesus submitted. It's one of the very manly things that He did. He submitted to the Father's will. He submitted to the chief priests when they arrested Him. He submitted to Pilate as he sentenced Him. He submitted to the Roman soldiers as they crucified Him.

That's what a real man does.

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