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Submission With a Smile

Jun 18, 2008
I used to cringe at the word, "submission." Although I love my mother dearly, I will say that she did not do much to teach me what submission really means. She was an eighties woman (aka: a women's libber). A recent divorcee', men weren't exactly on her likeability list. Helen Reddy's "I am woman, hear me roar!" constantly blasted from our stereo. With so many women's rights messages invading my brain, it's no wonder that the word "submission" was not a word I used often; and when I did, it was usually followed by laughter.

Many years have since passed. And although I am now a born-again believer and understand God's purpose for submission, I'll admit it's still not easy for me to submit to my husband. I no longer have a Helen Reddy album, but her words, and my mother's, often play in my mind's CD player.

God's Purpose for Submission

Unfortunately, the term "submission" has been (and still is) largely abused. But God's purpose for submission is not to degrade women or make them less valuable than men. God never intended for husbands to rule over their wives or for women to be doormats. Genesis 1 tells us that God created us equally, in His image. Submission of woman to man was only introduced after the fall, for which both genders share blame.

God's ultimate purpose for submission is to maintain a sense of order. And although men and women were created with equal value, God has not assigned us equal roles.

Submission or Permission?

In my own marriage, it sometimes helps to think of submission as giving permission. I am choosing to give my husband permission to set certain rules, balance the checkbook, or whatever it might be. Personally, it's easier for me to think, "I am preferring my husband over myself," than, "I am submitting." There really is no difference - it simply sounds better!

But, you know? A funny thing happens when I prefer my husband's opinion to mine. More and more, my husband seems to take extra interest in my opinion. I find it interesting that Paul addresses the women first in Colossians 3:17-19. Is it possible that when women submit to their husbands, men find it easier to love them? It might not seem fair that we have to submit in order to get our husbands to love us the way we'd like them to, but, to me, the end result is all that counts.

A God Idea is always a Good Idea

In 1 Peter 3, Peter writes that a submissive woman is of great worth to God. When speaking of Sarah's submission to Abraham, he says something that strikes me. He says we are Sarah's daughters if we do what is right and do not fear. Is Peter telling us that we may actually fear submission? Isn't that precisely what has happened over the last few decades? Today we tend to steer clear of the word, "submission." Even the church seems to focus on equality in marriage, when really, what the church needs is more teaching and understanding. Submission is not a bad word, just a misunderstood one.

In my own marriage, I sometimes still struggle with submitting. I may even find myself scowling. But as I take control and ask God to provide me with the will to submit, somehow He gives me the grace to turn my scowl into a smile.
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