Okay, I’ll Submit. But Are You Ready To Love Me? (You Know, Like Christ Loved The Church)
It never ceases to amaze me how out of all the things that Christians ignore in the bible, and all of the ways the world disregards the commandments therein, one principle that has not died among believers and non-believers alike is the idea that wives must submit to their husbands.
As it relates to relationships, this is one of those topics that’s always readily available to be debated, sort of like questions over when you should first have sex (forget that whole your body is a temple, thou shalt not fornicate thing, right?) or move in together, or even simple things like paying for dates.
I’m sure one of the reasons this notion remains such a hot button issue is because of the new-world I.N.D.E.P.E.N.D.E.N.T woman who gasps at the idea of the man being the head of her household and having to submit to him. And though I wouldn’t say I used to be one of those women, I do take issue with the fact that too many men (read boys) walk around pronouncing their God-given right to be submitted to simply because their reproductive organ dangles between their legs. It’s a given that no woman should even consider marrying a man who is not worth submitting to, but the thing that’s missing from this discussion – and many others when it comes to relationship advice — is how women are supposed (and biblically commanded) to be loved. This might be shocking to you since most people don’t bother to look past Ephesians 5:22-24, so let’s have a look, shall we? The bible clearly states:
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
I don’t know about you, but when I think about a man personifying these qualities, I actually look forward to the day when I can completely place my trust in his vision for us and our family. Unfortunately, too many men get caught up in submission being unquestioned authority over a woman, rather than a position of responsibility and accountability to the person they want to spend the rest of their lives with.
Imagine how different the submission conversation would go if a man were to tell you that he will love you as much as he loves himself? In our individualistic society we’ve come to believe no one is going to take care of us like we take care of ourselves, even our spouses, but biblically men are commanded to do just that. I won’t pretend to be a bible scholar here, but I do know a little somethin’ somethin.’ Notice that verse 25 talks about Christ giving himself up for the church. For those who may not know about the crucifixion, Jesus Christ literally died for those who believe in and obey God. A man may not have to sacrifice his life for his wife in the literal sense, but it’s clear there’s an expectation of giving of one’s self for the sake of her betterment and their overall union. On one hand, this is why women shouldn’t fear that being willing to submit, i.e. respect their husband’s place of accountability in their relationship, means they are agreeing to be led blindly into oblivion. The man you chose to be united with in holy matrimony is instructed to make choices that edify you as a (Christian) woman. For men, this ought to be a wakeup call that being called to be the head of one’s household engenders a great deal of responsibility that most haven’t even thought about in their power-hungry quest for submission. Not to mention that being submitted to isn’t simply a birthright relegated because of your sexual orientation. There are things men must do, not only to earn their wife’s respect but also the favor of God.
In all honesty, I’m not surprised these details get left out in these discussions. After all, when was the last time you saw a woman writing a book to men on how women want to be loved – or better yet, a man teaching his boys how to find “the (right) one.” Instead, men continue to dish out advice about all of the things we need to understand about them and change for them and sacrifice for them, while maneuvering under the guise that they have absolutely no work to do in this great relationship divide we’re living through.
Men, feel free to relish in the fact that your wife must submit to you, but realize with that submission she is symbolically placing her entire well-being in your hands with the expectation that you will love her unconditionally and do all that you can to make sure that her mental, spiritual, and physical needs are met. In my mind, that’s an even taller order than submitting. We’ll do our part if you do yours.
How do you feel about the lopsided way in which we discussion submission in marriage?
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