I will not say obey!
That is exactly what I looked at Alex and said as we were preparing our vows and planning our wedding. I went on to tell him that I was looking for a husband not a father so I did not see any reason to say obey because when would I ever need to “obey” anyway.
Now let me backtrack a little to tell you how we got to that conversation. I was raised by a fiercely independent woman and was taught very young that I should always be able to take care of myself. My daddy was an amazing man but he passed away when I was 12 so I didn’t have any memories of him “leading” our family. I remember my mama taking care of herself and me with very little outside help. I also saw some very unhealthy marriages around me where the man was very domineering and the woman was pretty much just along for the ride. So I made up my mind very early that I was not going to be treated like a doormat and that I would never let a man tell me what to do. I had heard sermons on the “s” word but it seemed really unfair and outdated. I had no desire or plans to be “submissive.”
So let’s go back to that day with Alex. Looking back I see how incredibly rude and “out of nowhere” this must have seemed to him. He had never given me any reason to come out and say this. I remember how chill he was about it. He just looked at me and told me I could say or not say whatever I wanted in the vows and we went on planning everything out. Our wedding day came and went and I did not say obey.
It wasn’t until several months after our wedding that he told me how much that statement had hurt him. He told me that he knew that I said it because of what I had seen in others but that he had never given me a reason to project that on him. That was eye-opening to me and I really started thinking about what it meant to be a submissive wife. I started really watching how Alex treated me and how he lead with such a gentle spirit. I saw how he gave me grace when I didn’t deserve it and how he did things with and for me just because he loved me. I wanted to be a godly wife because of how good Alex was to me. I really started studying what it meant to be submissive and started trying my very best to walk it out. I come to realize that when we do things the way the Lord intended them to be, life is so much better. I learned that submission doesn’t mean a life of servitude and mistreatment. I learned that being a submissive wife is a beautiful thing and a sacred privilege.
So on our one year anniversary I rewrote my wedding vows and gave them to Alex. I apologized for being harsh and promised him that I would do my very best every day to be the wife that God called me to be and that he deserved.
I laugh and tell people all the time that my husband had to teach me to be submissive and that is the honest truth. Now has every day been smooth submissive sailing?!? Of course not but the important thing is I am always striving to be that Ephesians 5 wife.
The world wants us to believe that being submissive is a bad thing and for way too long I believed the lie. You may be believing the lies that the world is telling as well. So let’s dig into some scripture together and let’s learn what it really means to be submissive to your own husband.
Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 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. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. “For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. Ephesians 5:22-33
So in these verses, we are told to submit and respect our own husbands. Let’s look at what those two words mean.
Submit means- accept or yield to the will of another person
Respect means- a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something
Submit and respect go hand in hand!
We submit when we do things the way our husbands would like them done and by having a deep admiration for him. It’s that simple.
Take a trip back in time with me ladies to when you and your spouse first met. How did you treat him? I bet you couldn’t wait to see him or talk to him on the phone. He was the smartest, strongest, and hottest man you had ever seen right?!?! You thought he was the best thing ever and I bet you told everyone about him! You did things just because you knew you would be together. You did things just because he wanted to do them!
Why did you do all that?!?!?! Why did you talk highly of them and do things with them? (ahem respect and submit)
Because you admired and accepted him simply for being him! You just wanted to be with him!
So that raises this question.
Why should we stop doing that after marriage?!?! Why does that have to go away?!?!
Yes, I realize that things change the longer you are together but why can’t it be changed for the better. Why can’t you be madly in love with your spouse for always?
I think we can be but it is only when we do things the way they were designed by our Creator. Men loving their wives and women submitting to their husbands by respecting them.
Let’s look at an example of a wife showing respect in the Bible.
You got to love Sarah. She had her moments of crazy (who can forget that whole Haggai scandal) but if you really look at Sarah you can see that she had a deep respect for Abraham. I mean Abraham got up one morning and told her that God was telling him to go to “a place I will show you” and she followed him. Now that is a “ride or die” kind of girl and I can dig that! She had to be a brave and adventurous woman.
But there was something that Sarah wanted desperately- a baby- and even though God had promised them it would happen the “going home outfit” was still hanging in the closet. By the time that the angels show up and told Abraham that he was about to be a dad both of them were very old and had all but given up on that dream. Let’s jump into the story right there.
And they said to him, Where is Sarah your wife? And he said, [She is here] in the tent. The Lord said, I will surely return to you when the season comes round, and behold, Sarah your wife will have a son. And Sarah was listening and heard it at the tent door which was behind Him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, well advanced in years; it had ceased to be with Sarah as with [young] women. [She was past the age of childbearing]. Therefore Sarah laughed to herself, saying, After I have become aged shall I have pleasure and delight, my lord (husband), being old also? Genesis 18:9-12
Did you catch that?!?! Sarah called Abraham “lord” a term of respect but she said it to herself.
You may be thinking, ok what’s your point?!?!
She respected Abraham so much that she showed him respect and honor even when no one would see or hear her. She did not treat him one way in public and another way in private. She gave him respect at all times!
So why did she do this?!?! She was talking to herself, she could have called him anything and no one (besides God) would have heard her.
She did it because he was her husband and for that one reason alone he deserved respect and honor.
LADIES- please grab a hold of this and run with it! Your husband deserves respect and honor simply because he is your husband. He should not have to do anything to earn it. He should simply receive it!
Alex and Andy talked last week about what the Lord said to men. He had a lot to say to them, my friends. They have a lot of responsibility that comes with the position they hold. Let’s show them our support and respect instead of just demanding more from them.
Are they perfect? No, but if you are using that as an excuse to disrespect your man can I just gently nudge you out of your holiness bubble long enough to say that you are not perfect either!
Will they make mistakes? Yes, but use those moments as opportunities to extend the grace that has so lavishly been extended to us.
They need us to be a soft place to land! And it is my experience that if you will give them that soft place they will dust themselves off from any mistake and come back stronger and better than ever. If you treat him like he is the best man ever he will act like the best man ever!
So how do we do this whole submit and respect thing?!?
Let’s look at some practical, daily things that we can do to be the wives we are called to be.
- Make up your mind that you are going to respect him by-
- Watching how you speak to and about him
- Any chance you get to lift him up-DO IT!
- NEVER speak negatively about him to others
- Honor his request
- Do something with or for him just because he would enjoy it- no strings attached
- If he asks you to do things a certain way (nothing legally or morally wrong of course) why not do it his way?
- Communicating with him often and gently
- This is key for any relationship but be sure it is a two-way conversation- no nagging.
- Communicate expectations and make sure both of you agree on them
- Do not be historical- give grace and forgiveness out freely and quickly
- NEVER bring old fights back up.
- Give forgiveness as quickly as you would like to receive it
- Don’t hold him to some unrealistic or uncommunicated expectations.
- Pick your battles
- There will be times that disagreements arise but most can be avoided if we would just ask ourselves if it is worth losing our peace over?
- Give him space
- Sometimes men just need some alone time- respect that request
- Ask him how you are respecting him well and in what areas you can improve
- Actually, listen to the areas that you can improve on without making excuses and then try to do better
Now you may be reading this thinking that this does not apply to you if your husband is not saved or if he is not leading the family well! Sorry, but the Lord had something to say about that as well.
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. For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear. 1 Peter 3:1-2,5-6
These verses are telling us that submission is so important that our husbands could be saved simply because of our respect and submission. Now that is some wild and beautiful stuff! And there is our girl Sarah again! The Lord is acknowledging her unspoken respect to Abraham and telling us to be like her!
That’s powerful ladies! We have not been given a burdensome obligation but a sacred privilege. The world has tried very successful to make submission a bad word. Let’s bring it to light! Let’s expose it as the amazing privilege that it is!
Isaiah 1:19-20 says this “If you are willing and obedient, You shall eat the best of the land; But if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword.”
Let’s claim that promise! The Lord has told us to submit and be respectful. Let’s do it with a willing and obedient heart. Let’s take it to far! Let’s be the godly wives that our husbands deserve! Let’s watch and see the Lord be faithful to His promise.
You can do this! We are praying for you!