Marriage and Submission (Part 2/2)
John 17:3 says, “This is eternal life: that they may know you, the one true God, and Jesus Christ whom you sent.” Notice that the verse doesn’t say, “This is eternal life – that one day you will get to heaven.” No, the verse explicitly states that eternal life is knowing Jesus. That means that we have access to eternal life right now, as we are living here on earth. Now follow me here – if eternal life is accessible to us now, as we are living and breathing here on earth, then don’t you think that this is absolutely amazing news? The Kingdom of God, what we are designed and created for is available for us to experience right now!!
Certainly we submit to the Lord because He is just that, the Lord, but we also submit to Him because we know that when we do we are going to live the most fulfilling life that is possible. Now I am not talking about the American dream where we get every materialistic thing we want and become the CEO of our company and garner worldly success. I am talking about following Jesus in a way that satisfies the deepest desires of your soul and spirit. We submit to Jesus because we know that He wants us to experience the absolute best life possible… eternal life here on earth. I know that when I follow Jesus, He has the best in mind for me and will never lead me astray or in the wrong direction. When I submit to Jesus, eternal life and utter fulfillment naturally flow from that relationship.
For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.
So what is Biblical submission then? What does it look like? When does it start naturally taking place? The second important truth that we can glean from this set of verses (Ephesians 5:21-24) is that submission begins when a husband loves his wife like Jesus loves the church; passionately, protectively, with her best interest in mind, and expecting nothing in return. When this becomes the husband’s default setting, then a wife will feel comfortable and confident in submitting to her husband. When a wife can feel completely at peace, protected, and utterly confident that her husband would never do anything without thinking of her first and filtering his decisions through how this would affect her, their relationship, and their family, then she will be ready to gladly and joyfully submit. If she thinks she has to compete with football, fishing, or your job, then she is going to be more willing to take action on her own apart from what you say is best.
This type of trust and confidence in a husband, however, comes over time. This does not happen overnight, in a week, or even a month. This happens when a husband commits to loving his wife like Jesus loved the church for the rest of his life regardless of how she is going to respond to him (for more on this, check out the 100/0 post). Usually, submission comes after a long string of events and many decisions where you the husband prove to your wife that you truly do love her and have her best interest in mind. This kind of trust is garnered when you, for example, have the opportunity to go watch football with the boys but instead choose spending time with your wife instead. Another seemingly obvious but often neglected way to reassure and reaffirm your love to your wife is by stopping what you are doing, looking her in the eyes, and telling her every single day that you love her, that she is the most important person in your life, and that you would do anything for her. Her trust in your leadership also accrues when you start finding ways to serve her in the little things, like stopping what you are doing when your wife is walking into the house loaded down with groceries and you tell her go to sit down and relax while you unload them for her. I don’t know all the nuances of your daily routine, but I can tell you this: the biggest victories in being a husband worth following are won by making the daily decisions to serve and love your wife in little ways that you know she appreciates and values.
The bottom line is this: give your wife a reason to want to submit to you. No one wants to be a friend to someone who is conceited and never thinks about other people, so how much less does a wife want to give herself and submit herself to a pompous, controlling, selfish jerk? Don’t be that guy who pulls the “I am the head of this household” card because if you have to pull that card and actually say it, then you may think of yourself as the leader of your home but the reality is that no one is following. Christ earned the right, so to speak, to His special relationship to the church by leading her with selfless love, care and always with her best interest in mind. He was absolutely in charge but never flaunted his control or had to prove Himself. He led the disciples and continues to lead the church perfectly. Could the same be said about the way you are leading and loving your wife?