I read a really interesting article about submission recently. Kevin A. Miller, in “What’s So Scary About Submission?“, explains what I’ve tried to write about here for almost a month. If anyone is thinking about entering into a submissive relationship with Christian values, I think they should read this article. I’d like to discuss some of Kevin’s points here.
I get into power struggles with my husband a lot. Most of our arguments are because I have too much pride and want to win. This is not submission. My husband told me a few days ago that the only time I submit is when he tells me to bend over to take a spanking or when he tells me to go stand in bathroom time. That’s true. That’s what I want to change.
Anyway, Kevin talks about this in his article, saying that there is a way to stop these power struggles. It’s called submission, and for Christians that means that wives submit to their husbands (Colossians 3:18). I like how Kevin describes the two roles in a marriage–the husband is in power, but he does not lord it over his wife; the wife is submits to her husband, and she does not rebel against his will.
There’s a reason for this. As Kevin points out, submission is counter-cultural, but it is what the Lord expects of us. Kevin describes submission this way: “Submission means I voluntarily limit what I might do naturally in this relationship in order to benefit you. If I have more power, instead of doing what I might do naturally and use that power to make my life easier, out of reverence for Christ I’ll use my power instead to serve you. I’ll give up even my life in order to benefit you.”
Picture of Submission
Our household is not necessarily the picture of a typical household. I am the primary breadwinner in our household while my husband, because of health problems, stays home and takes care of the kids, the house, and generally makes our lives happen. One day soon we hope that he can go back to work full-time, but his health is much more important than that. I am grateful every day for what he does for our family, even though some people don’t understand our situation.
What does this have to do with submission? Well, Kevin mentions that some people believe that in submissive relationships, “the husband should go out to earn the family’s daily bread, and the woman should stay home to bake it.” That just won’t work in our relationship. Yes, I need to do more around the house when I am home, but just because I don’t stay home does not mean that I cannot be submissive. Kevin then says this expectation, as well as others, aren’t part of Paul’s instructions in Ephesians 5. Rather, “Paul seems to believe that if you’re filled with the Holy Spirit and you want to live out of reverence for Christ, then you’ll instinctively submit to each other. You’ll yield the right of way.”
The Secrets of Submission
Kevin gives six “secrets” of submission in his article. He says that it is personal, spiritual, mutual, beneficial, and practical. I agree with what he says about all six of these secrets, but a couple of them stand out for me.
- Submission is spiritual. Kevin writes, “Unless you’re filled with the Spirit of God, it makes zero sense to submit to another person.” I think this is where I struggle the most. I have always considered myself a Christian and was baptized by immersion in April, but I need to allow myself to be filled with the Spirit of God. My question is, how do I do that? I guess that means praying more, reading more, and talking more about God’s teachings and what He is doing in my life. Without welcoming the Holy Spirit into my heart, I cannot fully submit to my husband.
- Submission is beneficial. Is submission benefitting my marriage? Or are we going through the motions right now? Kevin explains that submission benefits husbands and wives. Marriages are transformed when submission is real: “You’ll know if you’re doing submission properly if you and your spouse are becoming better people. Are you growing in freedom, joy, and character? If you’re not, then there’s something wrong, because submission is beneficial.”
- Submission is practical. I think this point is very important when explaining submission to others. To many in the mainstream culture, submission sounds like the wife gives complete control over to her husband, even allowing him to think for her. That’s simply not true. Because submission is willed by God, and because it is personal, spiritual, mutual, and beneficial, it does not lead you to sin. Kevin explains, “Submission doesn’t mean you go along when you’re being asked to do something that violates Scripture, your conscience, or common sense.”
If you’re truly interested in learning more about Biblical submission and marriage, I hope you’ll read Kevin’s article. It put some things into perspective for me, made me think about other things, and gave me hope that I can really become submissive to my husband.