The Reformed Life

Equipping followers of Christ to live in a manner worthy of their calling

Submission: A Beautiful Representation of the Gospel

Submission. This word carries a negative connotation for most women, especially in today’s culture. This word is looked down upon in a world where women feel the need to fight for equal rights. It lurks around and makes women feel weak when we desire to feel strong. It removes us as the leader and places us as the helpmate. It reminds us that we do not live independent lives apart from our husbands. It makes us dependent on our husband and more importantly on God. However, submission is biblical, right, and true; no matter how difficult it may be.

Ephesians says, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.”- Ephesians 5:22-23.

These verses are extremely difficult for most, if not all women. This is a difficult truth to hear and even harder to live out daily in our lives. Yet, it is a beautiful truth when demonstrated. Consider what the writer of Ephesians is telling us women. Paul is telling women to submit to their husbands as the head of the family, as Christ is the head of the church. This draws us both (men and women) to a complete submission to Christ in our life.

Paul is pointing us to the gospel. He is reminding us that we should be constantly looking to Christ and submitting to him because he is our Savior and Lord. Jesus came and died and rose again for our sins to be removed for eternity. He came for us, He showed us grace, He showed us mercy, even when we did not deserve it. Submission is simply a result of our dependence on Christ and the submission to the Sovereign plan of God for the family. Our relationship with our husbands flows out of that dependence and submission to Christ.

Why though do we have such an internal battle dealing with submitting to our husbands? Well, we see the answer in Genesis when God tells Eve, “…Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you (Gen. 3:16b).” In the third chapter of the Bible we already see what our greatest struggle will be and is. Our desires with be contrary to our husbands, but he will rule over us. We will have this struggle internally and externally because of our sin. Knowing this does not give us a “free pass” to sin in this manner. If anything, it should make us women even more aware of the power struggle that we internally face and the beauty of the gospel. It should make us daily die to ourselves and should lead us follow Christ.

I think it is important to note as well that because God created us as the helpmate in the beginning does not make us any less than man. We are equal to man, yet different. God loves us just as much as man. In fact, after God created the woman, he said that it was “very good.” His creation was not complete until the woman existed. However, God created us equal, yet with different gifts and roles. We are to complement our husbands. We were created to be the helpmate of man.

Wow. What an incredible job we have been given. Wife, your husband needs you. He needs you to come alongside him and help him. He needs you to show him love, care, and encouragement. He needs you to be there to listen to his needs and frustrations and most importantly to point him to Christ. We have the privilege of pointing our husbands back to the cross through biblical submission. As we submit to the headship of our husbands, we are reflecting our submission to Christ. This should encourage and remind our husbands of the headship of Christ over us both.

However, if we are to be faithful in this area, we need to understand what biblical submission is not and what it is.

What Biblical Submission is Not

Ladies, submission does not mean that your voice and your thoughts are stripped away. It also does not mean to simply agree with all that your husband says and does. Submission does not mean putting the will of the husband above the will of Christ. In all things, we are to submit to Christ ahead of everything else. If our husbands are leading us in unrighteousness, we are not to remain quiet and obey. We follow Christ above all. We are followers of Christ before we are followers of our husbands. We must stand for righteousness.

What Biblical Submission Is

It simply means that you submit to the leadership of your husband. John Piper says, “Submission is the disposition to follow a husband’s authority, and an inclination to yield to his leadership (This Momentary Marriage, p.101). But again, submission does not follow a husband into sin. God has given our husbands the role of being the leader in the home. We must respect that and pray that God continually equips them for this great role. Again, this does not mean that we are simply to go along with all that he says and does.

If we feel like our husbands are leading us down a path that doesn’t seem right, it’s okay to speak out. Perhaps we can encourage them in our hesitation. We can say things like, “I appreciate you taking the initiative to lead us, but I’m not quite sure about the direction you’re wanting to go. It doesn’t mean that you’re wrong, but can we take time to discuss this further?” It’s in this response that we affirm our husband’s headship of the family and, at the end of the day, after all of our discussion, if he still feels like this way is the proper way forward, we submit, trusting that He is following Christ’s leadership of this family.

Like most women, this is extremely hard for me to do. I am a type-A person and when I get an idea, I want to roll with it. Submitting can be hard, however submitting to your husband is biblical. My husband is smart and wise, and I have to believe that God has given him the wisdom and direction for our family. I submitted to my husband when he told me he felt the Lord calling us to Worcester, MA. Was that a hard thing to do? Of course, but was it the right thing to do? Absolutely.

What Are We to Do?

If we struggle in this area, we must first confess this to the Lord. A failure to submit to the headship of the family is a failure to submit to Christ as Lord. We must come to Christ openly and honestly about our difficulties and ask Him to help us in this area. Second, let us be reminded of God’s sovereignty and goodness. In His sovereignty, God decreed this to be the order of the family. All of God’s decrees flow out of His righteous character. If God deems this to be the way of the family, then it must obviously be for our joy and His glory.

Ladies, I want to encourage you today to die to yourself. Let’s focus on the gospel and remind ourselves of the beautiful role Christ has given us as the helpmate to our husbands. Let’s biblically submit to his leadership and pray for him as God has called him to the role of leading the household. If marriage is ultimately a physical representation of the gospel, we cannot be complacent in our views of headship and submission. God created us for this role for our heavenly joy and His glory. Let us be joyful and live for His glory!

Soli Deo Gloria

Courtney Chambers

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