Friday, 12. April 2013 by Renee Ellison
What if when we go to the New Jerusalem, we find out that the Almighty had additional packages of blessings waiting to give us, as wives, that we never received? Suppose that these blessings were reserved for us—to be given to us only on the threshold of submission to our husbands! Many puzzling verses in scripture have more mystery behind them than we know. They hint at something, perhaps, but could contain great voltage that we simply don’t understand until we enter into obedience to them. I am beginning to think this is so with reference to a wife’s submission. It could be TNT—it just might be that hot!
A biblical understanding of a wife’s submission never involves responding to ungodly edicts, and it never involves taking abuses. True biblical submission is characterized by a voluntary state of her heart that promotes peace in the home. There are thousands of little daily choices where a woman can resist her husband’s every suggestion, nipping at his heels, like foxes in a vineyard, or where she can voluntarily submit to him in little matters and in big in order to secure greater harmony in the home. We are talking about a wife who begins to have this as an appetite—an appetite that wants glory in her family’s relationships more than to always “be right” on issue after issue.
Here is what I’m learning personally about submission. I shared a piece of it with a woman’s group at a recent conference. Here it is: it is very possible that God works beyond the husband, even beyond his reason, to achieve some good for the woman, if she will submit to the process under His sovereign care. The Heavenly Father may work some additional good for the woman, often in a non-related area (the connection is only discerned/discovered spiritually, afterwards), if she lovingly submits to her husband. The more she cultivates submission as a habit, the greater becomes her own beauty. It seems to progressively create softness in her character, and adds luster to her countenance. This had to have been Sarah’s case because she was over 90 years old when Abimelech was attracted to her beauty (Genesis 20).
Learning a proper response to authority is a key to personal happiness, and a sure route to experiencing more peace in the home. Think about it: it is possible to learn to not be agitated over anything. We read in history that this is where all the great saints ended up, in their souls. The awareness of the beauties of putting themselves under is threaded throughout their writings. They found this to be the key to advanced spirituality. How I yearn for this in my own spirit. I’m getting there slowly, but still have a long ways to go.
For example, one time in an airport I was hostile to my husband because he was inordinately slow in getting into the security line and I though we might miss our flight. However, after I pitched my little fit the Heavenly Father told me, privately, in my spirit, that even if we did miss the flight, Todd would learn from that via someone else or some other experience (or from this one), and I might meet a delightful new friend on a different flight, or have a super yummy meal somewhere else, or be invited to see a beautiful piece of scenery that I would have missed otherwise.
It could be that there might be great consequences behind a wife’s submission that escape even the husband’s understanding. For example: a woman could be upset with her husband because he won’t let her board a ship to England, when she is standing there on the pier ready to do so, and he all of a sudden has decided to become unreasonable (in her mind), telling her she can’t board, after all. Only to hear later, that the ship went down—as in, it sank!
Or, a woman could be told by her husband which way she should drive home, after dropping him off somewhere. She could rationally think his suggestion unreasonable because it takes longer. But, suppose she obeys him anyway? She would no doubt be surprised to find that by going her husband’s route home she missed a severe car accident up ahead that would have involved her at that exact same minute! Her husband obviously knew nothing of what was behind his strong recommendation. Because God authorizes headship as a way to get His work done optimally in the earth, He may supernaturally infuse it with validations that escape the rational mind. He could possibly create urges in the husband to fulfill the Almighty’s own purposes, in His vastly larger story in the universe.
In other words, sometimes the person who is our headship doesn’t know why they lead as they do, but because everyone is in the proper biblical line of authority it later works to everyone’s good, even beyond what the husband, himself, understood at the time. When God gives a married man authority, the new husband initially has no idea the levels of validation of his authority that God may also give with it, in the celestial court.
I think if women were told this on their wedding day it would make a huge difference in her willingness to defer to her man. If a wife understood that she isn’t submitting only to her husband, she is submitting to the Heavenly Father behind her husband, it could give her great joy.
This isn’t the last word on this subject. All truths have paradoxes which we sandwich ourselves between. There is often spiritual tension from both ends of a concept, that we navigate by the Holy Spirit’s moment by moment promptings of how to apply the principle in each new and ever shifting scenario. Submitting like this doesn’t preclude a wife’s giving her man all the added perceptions and loving input she wants to give him, but there comes a point when she goes with what he ultimately decides. Submission is about outcomes, not input. Nevertheless, most of us miss the joy of experiencing extra benevolences that may be specifically given to us as women (or children) if we believe the text by faith and begin to function in it gladly, sure of these loving outcomes .
See our book Growing Marriage for a fuller discussion of all of the aspects of a godly submission. It’s a treasure trove of more such wifely mysteries.