August 25 - Ephesians 5:21-24

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. 

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. 

Y’all knew I was going to get here, didn't you!  This is one of those passages in scripture that many have seemed to adopt as Law and whether they are male or female, insist that everyone, no matter what, adhere to a very strict interpretation.

It would be pretty wonderful if every husband was trustworthy and strong enough to be the head of the wife and his family and for those marriages where this is true, God has blessed them. But there are plenty of situations where for whatever reason, it simply can not be right. Too many women are doing all they can to live through a life with a man who doesn't respect her or take care of her, who demands rather than encourages, who is abusive (verbally, emotionally, physically), who is only partially involved with the family … and to insist that these women ‘submit’ to their husbands is tantamount to criminal.

I've told the story before, but it’s worth telling again. My mother decided at some point that it was important she adhere to this bit of teaching from Paul. She didn't really talk to Dad about it – and before I go any further, they had a very equal and good marriage. They both treated each other with respect (most of the time) and loved each other and their children a great deal.

Anyway, back to submission. She chose to change everything about her life. She would make no decision without Dad’s input, she would ensure that the three of us children were well-behaved in his presence. His meals were on time, she didn't argue with him (even when he was flat-out wrong), whatever he said or asked for was immediately dealt with.

She submitted to his every whim and desire … for about two weeks. Dad was in heaven. He had the run of the household and no one ever challenged him on anything. I’m not sure what he thought had happened, but rather than ask about it, he planned to just enjoy it.

However, his enjoyment didn't last all that long, because little by little, my mother lost herself. She was no longer the brilliant spitfire he had married, but had turned herself into a grey, flat personality in order to be what she thought was his submissive wife. When he finally decided to get to the bottom of things, he discovered what had happened and realized that it was not heavenly, but tragic.

Mom had come to the end of her rope, Dad was in a panic. Their lives were no longer a partnership and neither of them knew who the other person was.  All within a short, two-week span.

Dad had never asked mom to be submissive … well, at least not when he was thinking straight. I’m sure that in some of their very heated (and loud) arguments, he prayed for a little more submission on her part.

This passage doesn't ask women to give themselves up and lose their personalities in a relationship. It asks us to treat our husbands with the same type of love that we offer to Jesus Christ. Our personalities are all individual and Paul does not ask for a homogenized set of Stepford Wives. We each love Jesus Christ differently and we are called to love our husbands in that manner.

Women do not need to set their personality aside for Jesus. He loves us as we are, no matter who we are.