The "S" Word

The touchy topic of submission has been on my mind since we went to the FamilyLife Weekend to Remember marriage getaway. There was a session where the men and women split up to learn more about what God has called us to in our gender roles. And then a couple days after the conference I received this devotional from Proverbs 31 and a few more things clicked for me. This may not be a popular post. If I say something that offends you, please know that is not my intention and hear my heart.

I grew up during the girl power movement. I loved it. I have always loved being a girl, and also that I grew up in a time period in which I knew that being a girl did not mean I was less valuable than a man. I always wanted to meet and fall in love with a wonderful man, but I planned to wear the pants in the relationship (a recent study shows that most women do!).

For years I'd read in the Bible about the S word, but I had no idea what it meant to submit. Nor did I want to find out. It just rubbed me the wrong way.

But after five years of marriage, studying the Bible and consulting with other Christian women about what it means, I've changed my point of view on the matter. And I am choosing to embrace it.

I am not saying women and men shouldn't have equal legal rights in the workforce--or anywhere else, for that matter. I am not saying that women should not be strong, assertive or ambitious. All I'm saying is that growing up, I thought girl power meant women were smarter and more capable than our male counterparts and that we should probably just take over the world and never depend on a man again.

And now I know that was a scary mentality to have.

I really have a problem with the commercials and sitcoms that make men look like they are stupid, lazy and thoughtless. I think women have enabled men to become that way because of our desire to control (which is a consequence of original sin) and take over. If something needs to be done, most times we'd rather do it ourselves. Especially if it means it won't get done without us.

I used to make a lot of decisions in our marriage about how we spent our time and our money. I thought my way was the best way. Over time I concluded that Eric didn't have an opinion on such matters, but I've come to realize that he was retreating because I took over. I'm sure I confused him because I'd tell him that I wanted him to be more decisive and confident...and then I'd continue to express my opinions in an overpowering way that said this is how it's going to be because it's what I want.

Deep down, I desired for Eric to lead our family. And I didn't realize that I was the one who was in the way.

A couple thoughts about submission that have provided comfort for me, in case you're still not sure:

  • Being the man's helper and completer is a title of worth. God refers to Himself in Psalm 54:4 as our helper. (This is taken from page 89 of the FamilyLife Weekend to Remember binder.)
  • The Love and Respect book says that submission means the man gets 51% and the woman gets 49%. Even that 1% rubbed me the wrong way at first. And then I realized that it means the women and children get to load the life boats first, and the men die. So I guess it doesn't sound too bad. :)

> When I told Eric I was writing this post, he added that, at the same time, the man needs to be doing his job. I agree, but as I stated in my marriage getaway takeaways, I don't want to wait for anyone else...I need to prepare my heart to be who God has called me to be.

My reality is that Eric is a great man and he deserves my respect. He appreciates my opinions and we make a lot of decisions together. But when we disagree, and he feels strongly about something, I'm listening to him more and am open to his ideas. Because we're better together.

Putting It Into Practice

Recently Eric and I made a financial decision. We disagreed slightly on the issue. What I decided to do was to tell him my opinion, thoughts and fears, and then I let him make the decision. It took the stress and burden off myself and handed it to him. He is the leader of our family and, honestly, I don't want it any other way. I don't want that responsibility. He studies God's Word every morning and has great integrity. Submission to him does not make me less of a person. I really take comfort in knowing that he takes care of me and would die for me.

If this is something you want to work on, the next time you and your husband disagree, I encourage you to give him your opinion but ultimately let him make the decision. Make sure he knows that you will support him in the decision, and throughout the conversation meet his need to feel respected. It just might radically change your marriage!

I may not have worded this in a way that makes sense to you. Please also check out this blog post by Jess, a WoW reader and female business owner. It was written from a different angle, but I believe it has the same principles.