Submission = Responsibility

Brad says…

Kate’s last two posts dealt with the challenging and let’s face it, controversial issue of submission in marriage. I admit, reading Kate’s words in these two posts, “Submission= Freedom! Huh?” and “Handing over the Reins” was a powerful experience for me, why? Because she was openly speaking the guy’s language of love: respect! I don’t care what Aretha Franklin said, RESPECT sings in all men’s hearts! Hearing that my wife feels, I am capable to lead is a huge boost of respect.

And yet, as I read Kate’s words one sentence stopped me cold.

“I finally understood God’s heart for me as a wife was to be Brad’s helper and to submit to Brad as the head of our family…”

Kate continued from there talking to wives about how following God’s plan led her to feel freedom, but to be honest I froze right there, at that incredibly heavy statement.

Seeing those words in print, WOW! and GULP! were the two sounds that my brain seemed to make as I reread those words quite a few times. You know what emotion I felt right after the glow of love and respect?  FEAR! Guys, a wife following the Biblical model of Ephesians 5 is a huge responsibility!

When my wife said “I submit to you as head of our family” I was challenged by the huge, enormous, almost incapacitating duty of that statement. I said almost incapacitating; because I remember what totally incapacitated looked like.

Kate shared her perspective of why we didn’t follow these Biblical roles very well in the beginning of our marriage. She said that for her it was about control. I have to add that if it wasn’t for her control we might have never made it. Kate was in a position of needing to control because I had abandoned my role. I don’t just mean my role as head, I didn’t have that yet; I mean that I abandoned my role as a responsible adult, let alone my role as husband. I was engrossed in one thing, myself.

I wanted respect without responsibility!

I look back on those times now and see just how very selfish I was. I complained when I didn’t get time to watch every TV show. I moaned if Kate even mentioned the piles of MY clothes on our bedroom floor. I whine anytime she even dared discuss our finances, and I will admit it now, I overslept on purpose so I could sometimes avoid church, in my attempt to avoid God’s leading in my life.

All this time, I wasn’t leading; I was barely participating.

I wish that I had a formula that I could give couples to move from point A to point B. The only thing I can tell you is that as God started moving and changing Kate, I started to feel more convicted over my lack of stepping up. I knew it for years, she had told me and (very nicely) complained about it for years, but it continued. It really was only when Kate started to put into practice ways of lifting me up that I felt God’s lead to step up.

What Changed?

You know what’s funny, when most people think of a submissive wife; they have a picture of a guy demanding his wife to get in the kitchen and make her man a sandwich. Yet, when God started moving in our marriage the exact opposite happened. All the sudden I began to see the ways that I needed to help out around home. I began to understand what Ephesians 5: 25 really means, “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”

Being the head, is giving your wife the ultimate picture of Christ. She should be able to see Him in you every day! I have yet to have a day that I fully meet that goal, but I wake up trying every day!

How have you shown the love of Christ to your wife today? Let us know in the comments!

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5 Responses to Submission = Responsibility

  1. Well, my husband isn’t reading this right at the moment but I would like to answer for him if I could. One of the ways my husband has shown the love of Christ to me is by supporting me the last few weeks as I deal with some scary and sudden health issues. It has blessed me to see how patient and understanding he has been of my mood swings and my fear that maybe comes out a bit snippy sometimes. Submission blesses him by showing him respect but patience blesses me by showing my father’s love and grace.

  2. Brad, I’ve been married for 30 years and have NEVER subscribed to the “male head of household” marriage model, and my marriage is better off for it (yes, I’m a Christian). When those verses were written, women were property and mules were treated better. Men ruled the world so of course a male-dominant attitude predominated. Nowadays a woman is educated, can be our President, can sue me for alimony and make just as good a living as I can.

    My own marriage is a 50/50 partnership. I as the husband do not have the “tiebreaker” vote, I’m not President to my wife’s Vice Presidency or anything like that. My lovely wife is my educational, legal, financial and parental equal. We must be unanimous on the decisions that matter, but not unanimous on the things that don’t. If we can’t be unanimous when we need to, we don’t do that thing until we are.

    I never have wanted a slave, a subordinate or ANYTHING resembling the traditional view of marriage. Why, you ask, am I so counter-culture to most Christians in this regard? Because I know how silly it is to assign leadership to a person based upon the organs you have in your pants. I know males whose personalities make them a follower at best, a weak-willed jellyfish at worst. Conversely, I know many women who could command a corporation with ease (or a platoon of men). There is no way every male God created is a leader, and no way every female a follower. You will not turn a quiet clerk into a stand-up comic; nor will you likely succeed at pre-defining a leadership role based solely upon genitals. Many religions subordinate females to males, and early Christianity is no exception.

    Before you criticize my opinion, please give me the respect to run my marriage as I, and my lovely wife, see fit. It’s been a rip-roaring success for 30 years now and I have my wife’s buy-in on just about every decision because she’s got half the vote! There is no better way to prevent abuse and also garner respect and courtesy than to have to negotiate with an equal party.

    • Hi Happy Husband,

      This is Kate responding to you. Brad may choose to do so as well, but I wanted to share from the wife perspective.

      First I have to say that it is not our intent or purpose here to disrespect anyone, instead to share what God has placed on our hearts through His word and what he has taught us as a couple through our over 20 years together (14 married). We share and discuss on the subject of submission because it is one that has such a negative connotation and in our opinion is very misunderstood. You are respected here at OFM and we are thankful for the discussion on the subject. But for us to respect you and your opinion, you also have to do the same for us. You stepped up and commented, and that could be viewed as criticizing our opinion, though I don’t see it that way. So it is my hope you will not see my response as doing so either. It is not our job to judge anyone on how they do their marriage, only share what God has asked of us. Before I share more, the reality of the situation is that we are going to have to respectfully agree to disagree.
      Let me also start by saying that submission from me in our marriage, is freely given, never required or demanded by my hubby. If that is the case in a marriage, then it is not truly submission. When Jesus asks for our submission, he desires for us to give it to him, he cannot make us submit nor does he want to do so, because it would not be submission.

      We spend the first 10 years of our marriage just like you. We had a 50/50 partnership marriage and we sneered at the scriptures that we thought were archaic and ridiculous. We also spend the first 10 years of marriage in a very sad and poor marriage. Not because of solely submission by any means, but it certainly played a role.

      When Adam and Eve sinned, the struggle for control in life and marriage began. There will always be a battle for control in life in all that we do. We all submit to authority in our lives, whether it be at work, church, with parents and children, where ever we are submission happens. So we all know what it is like to be in control and to submit.

      Brad and I want to be very clear, that the wife submitting to the husband is the ONLY relationship that we are talking about. Women can and will be heads of companies, leaders in church (pastors, etc., working moms, and someday I hope and pray President of our country. Women were created by God and are incredibly powerful and have authority give to them by God. Here me when I say that in ALL relationships the male and the female are equal!! We are equal in our marriage.

      Yet we can also see that there are differences in the male and female. God created the male to be physically stronger then the female and and created our brains to work very differently. He created the way we view sex to be different so that we would have to communicate and work together to have a sexual intimacy as he intended. So we are different. And in that difference, God knew that for a marriage to work at its best, there would have to be one who was the head of the family and one who was not! Simply that, there cannot be two leaders. When there is you have a constant struggle for leader. We did this exact thing for 10 years, struggled for who would lead.

      I have to say also that we both have 50/50 vote and even though I consider myself to be a submissive wife, we have never had a time where my thoughts about something counted less. Brad desires to care for me and that includes listening to me and all that I have to say. The version of submission you are talking about is simply unbiblical. I am not a door mat, I have great value in our marriage. We have a 100/100 marriage now, meaning we strive to give 100% of ourselves.

      Comparing the marriage relationship to that of President and Vice President, honestly doesn’t work. It breaks down because the marriage relationship is unlike any other-God created it special and did not model it off of any earthly relationship, instead off of the relationship he has with his church.

      Jesus was the ultimate example of submission. When he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane he prayed that if there was any other way God could do what he needed to do, without him dying, then please do so. But Jesus willingly submitted to God and his will. I choose to submit to my hubby because I feel God is asking me to and is sharing with us through his word that it is the best way for a marriage to thrive. Again, Brad does not ask nor demand that of me.

      You are correct that the scriptures were written in a time when women we treated and though of differently. Yet there are some books in the new testament that don’t talk about women being quiet in church, such as Romans. Because Rome was considered one of the most forward thinking countries and women while they were not citizens were treated different in Rome. The scriptures that talk about a husband and a wife have little to do with culture and a great deal to do with, we are sinful and we will via for control and power, so how best can the marriage relationship work?

      All this to say that we too once did marriage as you did. I personally always felt a tug on my heart to lift Brad up and respect him as my hubby and head of our family-but didn’t want to give up control. And yet all the while our marriage was awful-truly! God has revealed to my heart, his desire for the roles in marriage. Roles don’t make anyone more valuable or less important. Roles allow the relationship to work well-together.

      One more thing I will share. I am an at home mom with my kiddos, they are currently homeschooled. I also run my own photography business. I do not run to Brad every time there is a decision to be made, I make it. If it is something bigger, I enjoy asking him his thoughts and listening to his answer. He does not make all of the decisions by any means, but I respect his thoughts and he is wise. I praise God for Brad’s wisdom and would not want to do marriage without it! When I shoot weddings, Brad is my second. He listens to me and my plan and submits to me as the lead photographer and the one who truly knows more about photography then he does. He freely gives that when we work together. I do not demand it, but man it would be hard to work together if he did! This is a great example that I am a wife who has authority and do things for God! It also shows times when my husband respects that I have knowledge greater then his in an area and he is wise to submit so we can work well together. In our marriage, I choose to submit to his authority and the wisdom God has given him as the man of our family!

      Goodness that was a long reply. Those are my thoughts. If you were looking in on our family, I you would not see the picture you are describing above. We have mutual love and respect for each other and a great desire to serve and love the other above our self. We also desire to live out the roles in marriage God has described. I hope that at least describes where we are and how we do submission in our marriage.

      We greatly appreciate your comment and opening up the conversation! Blessings to you and your lovely wife! Kate