When Submission is a Trial

When Submission is a Trial

Brad and I are still reading the book Marriage Matters*. I’m in chapter 5, at a pace of about a chapter a week. I told you reading non-fiction is like a marathon for me! Anywho, so far, the book has had a lot of theological truths about God that make easy translations to marriage.

I say “easy” – what I mean is – “easy” to understand. Putting them into practice? I’ll let you decide how that usually goes. 😉

Smith, the author, pointed me to an insight I never noticed before.

In 1 Peter 3, Peter writes

Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.  (1 Peter 3:1-2, NIV)

I have read these verses (the commands to wives continues through verse 6) many times before, but I never bothered to ask what Peter was talking about when he said, “in the same way”.

Well – this is an important question! If I’m supposed to submit myself to my husband, I want to know in what way that is! I surely don’t want to follow what submission means to the world or myself or even my church.

What does submission mean to God?

Peter is talking about submission in various relationships: to authorities, to masters, and then wives to husbands. Directly before he writes about submission, he calls us to live out our identity as “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation…” and this has the purpose of praising God and pointing non-believers to Him (1 Peter 2:9-12).

Conclusion 1: Submission to God’s appointed leaders (including our husbands) is an act of praise that reflects Him to the lost.

OK, that one really does wow me. But hang on for the next one!

When speaking to slaves, Peter tells them to submit themselves to their masters even “to those who are harsh” (v. 18). Why? He says suffering under leadership identifies us with the suffering of Jesus  – the very suffering that saves us.

But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. (1 Peter 3:20-21, NIV, emphasis mine)

This idea precedes the sentence “Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands…”

Conclusion 2:  Submission is sometimes a trial of suffering, but we are still called to it, and this calling is an example to non-believers.

In other words, yes – submission may be difficult to the point of suffering! But because we are designed to compliment each other as head and helper, if we do submit to our husbands (and in this way, we are submitting to God as well), then our example can lead people to faith (2:12)!!!

What if your husband is not a believer? It is no accident that Peter says

Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverance of your lives. (1 Peter 3:1-2, NIV)

Yes, learning to respect your husband in this way can lead to his very salvation!

Some of you may be thinking – well of course submitting is an act of suffering! But in the original design, it was not meant to be this way. Our husband’s headship and our helpership were designed as a perfect match – to work in harmony with each other to reproduce more people who love God. Our sin and the sin of our partners is what twists it into something that may bring a period of suffering.

When we are both submitting to God’s design, submission to our husbands is not an act of suffering at all! It’s a beautiful picture of how Christ loves His church.

In next week’s Wedded Wednesday, I hope to address some of the consequences that occur when we don’t submit. I’m praying for wisdom and insight beyond my years! And to actually apply these truths in my own marriage! I think my husband would appreciate that. 😉

This idea of suffering in submission is new to me! How about you? When did you first make this connection? How did that change your thoughts on submission?

6 thoughts on “When Submission is a Trial

  1. Annie

    granted, my marriage is young, but so far there hasn’t been any suffering in the submission. i ponder this topic a lot. i find myself wondering what submission “looks like,” how it plays out practically speaking (especially when you are married to someone who is godly, and with whom you are just plain compatible). most books, sermons, studies, etc., talk about “why” we have to submit, why it makes sense.. but i get it, in theory. i waited to marry a man i could easily serve, enjoy, submit to, be loyal to, etc., so now i often find myself at a loss on the submission thing. one night a while back, i asked some small group people for examples of submission. we had a good talk, and there were examples from different aspects of life, not just marriage (some of the attendees were single). for some reason it’s easier to understand why submission is supposed to be difficult if the other persons’ perspective/desires are out of line with your own. and we are all supposed to “submit to one another” so you see this throughout all of life. it’s definitely a good subject for discussion so i’m glad you’re blogging about it! let me know if the book is good.

    1. Stephanie Post author

      Annie – that’s awesome! Submission wasn’t intended to be an event of suffering, but we can certainly make it that way! I think when you see it as God designed it, you see how awesome respecting our husbands in this way is! And submission doesn’t mean that the man makes every decision. I don’t want women to be confused about that – this has been misconstrued so much that there’s a lot of false thoughts on it – which is why we think of it as a dirty word.

      As for the book, so far, I have gleaned 2 very strong principles from it – in 5 chapters. That is pretty good, I think. However, the writing is pretty dry. I’m not a non-fiction fan, so it’s hard for me to keep going. It’s easier since Brad and I committed to it together, though. But we might decide to switch to something else – I’m not sure! 🙂

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  4. Heather

    I just found your blog and am loving what you have to discuss. Submission is something I struggle with on a daily basis. I work hard at it, but find it hard when our culture pushes the feminists idea. I know that as the head my husband will have to answer to God for his decisions regarding our family and I will have to answer for my decisions in submission. My husband and I work together as partners, as God intended, when it comes to our family, but in the end my husband has the final say.
    I find that when it comes to submission, many walk a fine line between being a help mate and being a child. I agree that sometimes it is hard to see what submission is like even submission to Christ. Again I look at our culture and feel that we as Christians are not doing a very good job showing our young adults true submission to Christ. When they leave our houses what do they see: girl power, I am #1, me, me, me. It is so self focused that they easily lose site of Christ.

    1. Stephanie Post author

      Welcome Heather! Submission is a daily battle for most of us – b/c it IS very counter-cultural. But when we walk in we see why God designed it that way!
      Great point that our kiddos don’t even see us submit to Christ – no wonder they don’t know what it looks like to submit to authority of any kind!

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