In reading this article please make sure you also read part 1 on what Biblical submission does NOT mean.
The first question of the Westminster catechism asks, “What is the chief end of man?” The answer, “…to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever.” The greatest commandment is that we should love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and the second commandment is that we should love others as we naturally love ourselves. As a wife seeks to submit to her husband it should be in obedience to these two commandments. The ultimate goal of submission is to love and glorify God and secondly, it is to love others, specifically our husband. Submission is not self-centered. It cannot be forced, in fact, Biblical submission is love. It is a choice you make to love someone else more than yourself. As you come to view submission in this way rather than being drudgery it can become something beautiful. I pray you will see this and realize that the blessing it can be in your life!
So, what does submission mean?
- Biblical submission is “unto the Lord”.
As I’ve already mentioned, our submission is not just to our husbands, our submission is primarily to God, to His Word and His righteousness. It seeks to honor and love God and then love and honor others. It is a reflection of the character of Christ who laid down His life for His people. As you submit to your husband you have an opportunity to be like Jesus, don’t miss this! While we are called to not resist those who persecute us and forgive those who sin against us, that's different from willingly submitting to it. There are times under persecution that we must meekly bear suffering, but our goal in submission is righteousness and truth. It is not weakness, it stands strong on truth and does not compromise.
- Biblical submission is encouragement.
Did you know that by submitting to your husband you are encouraging him? This encouragement may not be verbal- you can encourage others in many ways besides using your words, although I would definitely recommend you are verbally encouraging as well! Your husband has a God-given responsibility to lead (whether you like it or not) and even if he’s slacking in this area that does not give you the right to put him down. 1 Thes 5:11 says we ought to “encourage one another and build each other up”. To criticize or put down your husband is sin, repent and seek to grow in love towards your husband. Your husband will make mistakes, but hopefully he is seeking to lead to the glory of God. If he is an unbeliever or not leading as he should this makes this much harder for you, but remember God will give you what you need to obey Him. This is not primarily about your husband, this is about you obeying and glorifying God. Simply deferring to his leadership is a way of encouraging him to lead and fulfill his God-given responsibility as a husband. You are saying to him, “I value your opinion, I think you are gifted by God with the ability to make decisions and lead and I respect that.” (Please refer to the first part of this series and remember that you should not be submitting to your husband while he is sinning against you in an abusive manner. That is encouraging him in his sin, not towards righteousness.)
For a book with helpful advice on how to better encourage your husband, I recommend this one: http://www.amazon.com/Ways-Communicate-Respect-Your-Husband/dp/1938945026/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8
- Biblical submission means having an agreeable (non-argumentative) spirit.
1 Cor. 13 says that love does not “seek its own” as Biblical submission is an expression of love we seek to serve them rather than our own desires. It is willing to yield and willing to trust even though you may not completely agree. There will be times when you will disagree with your husband but there’s a difference between respectfully disagreeing and being argumentative. By all means talk it out - even seek wise counsel from someone outside if needed (be careful with this that it’s not gossip!). But at the end of your discussion, advice-seeking and prayer, if you still disagree and it’s a situation where it would not be causing you to sin, wives, we are to submit to our husbands. We need to first of all trust God that He’s going to watch out for us and then choose to trust our husband and allow him to lead in the way he believes best. Remember that your trust is primarily in God as your husband will disappoint you. But if your trust is in God, He will not forsake you. For sure husbands will make mistakes, but sometimes you need to let them. It is not your responsibility, your responsibility is to submit to God and then to submit to your husband. Biblical submission is willing to yield and allow another person to take responsibility.
- Biblical submission seeks to win over the husband to Christ.
Peter writes, “Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear” (1 Peter 3:1-2). Basically this is saying that if your husband is an unbeliever, and he observes your love and service to him, he will see that there is something different about you and be won to Christ through your example. Biblical submission does not timidly follow, it actually leads! I will point out that the “fear” she has in this passage is not fear of her husband, rather it is a fear of God. As you love God and pursue Him you will also grow in your love towards him. And as you love him you point and lead him closer to Christ. Win your husband, with love and with one more weapon: Ladies, you should be praying for your husband! Not just that he will be who you want him to be, but pray that he will know Christ, that he will grow in Biblical wisdom and maturity in Christ.
In summary, Biblical submission is an expression of love that seeks to serve, encourage, yield and win to Christ. Remember that Christ is your all-sufficient portion and is all you truly need. I encourage you to pursue Christ and grow in love for Him and as you do you will grow in love towards others as well. May you be blessed and fruitful as you seek to walk in love!