"Submission is the divine calling of a wife to honor and affirm her husband’s leadership and help carry it through according to her gifts. " John Piper
I want to address two comments from two anonymous readers. Here are the comments:
"I am so sad to say I am going to have to bow out from your blog until this one is over. :( I see my dear Christian friend verbally abused daily, harshly, meanly, by her "believing" husband day in and day out.
I don't believe God is so "boxy" that she should say "okay" no matter what. Being treated like nothing more than dust on the bottom of an arrogant, uncaring man's shoe is not God's plan for this dear sister.
I think we need to be careful with blanket challenges. Life is more real than that, and harsh. God has a purpose in all that He allows to touch our lives, but He does not expect our answer to always be "okay" to those hurting us."
First of all friend, please do not bow out! You have very valid points and I want you to continue in the discussion. What you have to say is just an echo of what many are feeling. With that said, I have to base my response on what God says, not what I think, feel, or want. While we are not to submit to our husbands into sin (never, never) we are to submit in everything else.
The issue really comes down to whether or not you believe and trust God. These are His commands, not mine. Perhaps your friend's husband will be won over by his wife's submission. Maybe her loving-kindness will break his cruel heart. We must think of the eternal, not just the here and now. She could potentially be instrumental in saving his soul if he isn't truly saved. Now, if physical abuse was going on, I would encourage her (especially if she has children) to go to a safe place and not continue living with him for the time being. I would say to stay married to him, pray for him, and try to submit to him in the ways that she can without placing herself and her children in harm's way. The goal would be for restoration on his part (no more physical abuse) and restoration of their marriage to be a true picture of love and servanthood towards one another. If we give up, we don't allow the opportunity (and blessing) for God to redeem, save, and restore.
I now defer to what John Piper has to say on this subject: The deepest root of Christian womanhood mentioned in this text is hope in God. “Holy women who hoped in God.” She looks away from the troubles and miseries and obstacles of life that seem to make the future bleak, and she focuses her attention on the sovereign power and love of God who rules in heaven and does on earth whatever he pleases. She knows her Bible, and she knows her theology of the sovereignty of God, and she knows his promise that he will be with her and help her strengthen her no matter what. This is the deep, unshakable root of Christian womanhood. Mature Christian women know that following Christ will mean suffering. But they believe the promises like 1 Peter 3:14, “But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled,” and 1 Peter 4:19, “Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.” But the truth of headship and submission is really here and really beautiful. When you see it lived out with the mark of Christ’s majesty on it—the mutuality of servanthood without cancelling the reality of headship and submission—it is a wonderful and deeply satisfying drama.
Okay, so I'm the second one to bow out until this is done. I'll argue until the cows come home that women and men ARE made differently, better suited to different roles. I'll agree with Isabel's point that "all things work together for good". However, I'd encourage her and anyone else open-minded enough to read over Pope John Paul's "On the Dignity and Vocation of Women." My Catholic belief is that marriage calls for mutual submission. Both parties must die to themselves to become one in marriage. Did Jesus not die to become savior of his Church? And so the Church (those people that make up the Church) must deny it's own selfish desires to follow Christ. This is what is meant by the comparison of marriage to the relationship of Christ and the Church. Anyway, until you're all done submitting, I'm out.
Let me echo my above sentiments - please consider sticking around! What you have to say is worthwhile, and what I have to say is worth at least "listening" to.
What struck me about your comment was this statement: "until you're done submitting, I'm out!" That sounds angry to me, and my question to you is, "why are you angry?" What is it about submitting to your husband's authority that pricks something in your heart? I think I can speak further to this if I have an inkling into the spirit in which you are speaking.
I truly appreciate your comments! It pushes me to study God's word more faithfully, and to continuing asking, "Lord, what do you say?"
Six Things Submission Is Not
(From the article, The Beautiful Faith of Fearless Submission, John Piper)
Based on 1 Peter 3:1-6
1. Submission does not mean agreeing with everything your husband says. You can see that in verse one: she is a Christian and he is not. He has one set of ideas about ultimate reality. She has another. Peter calls her to be submissive while assuming she will not submit to his view of the most important thing in the world—God. So submission can’t mean submitting to agree with all her husband thinks.
2. Submission does not mean leaving your brain or your will at the wedding altar. It is not the inability or the unwillingness to think for yourself. Here is a woman who heard the gospel of Jesus Christ. She thought about it. She assessed the truth claims of Jesus. She apprehended in her heart the beauty and worth of Christ and his work, and she chose him. Her husband heard it also. Otherwise, Peter probably wouldn’t say he “disobeyed the word.” He has heard the word, and he has thought about it. And he has not chosen Christ. She thought for herself and she acted. And Peter does not tell her to retreat from that commitment.
3. Submission does not mean avoiding every effort to change a husband. The whole point of this text is to tell a wife how to “win” her husband. Verse 1 says, “Be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives.” If you didn’t care about the Bible you might say, “Submission has to mean taking a husband the way he is and not trying to change him.” But if you believe what the Bible says, you conclude that submission, paradoxically, is sometimes a strategy for changing him.
4. Submission does not mean putting the will of the husband before the will of Christ. The text clearly teaches that the wife is a follower of Jesus before and above being a follower of her husband. Submission to Jesus relativizes submission to husbands—and governments and employers and parents. When Sarah called Abraham “lord” in verse 6, it was lord with a lowercase l. It’s like “sir” or “m’lord.” And the obedience she rendered is qualified obedience because her supreme allegiance is to the Lord with a capital L.
5. Submission does not mean that a wife gets her personal, spiritual strength primarily through her husband. A good husband should indeed strengthen and build up and sustain his wife. He should be a source of strength. But what this text shows is that when a husband’s spiritual leadership is lacking, a Christian wife is not bereft of strength. Submission does not mean she is dependent on him to supply her strength of faith and virtue and character. The text, in fact, assumes just the opposite. She is summoned to develop depth and strength and character not from her husband but for her husband. Verse five says that her hope is in God in the hope that her husband will join her there.
6. Finally submission does not mean that a wife is to act out of fear. Verse 6b says, “You are her [Sarah’s] children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.” In other words, submission is free, not coerced by fear. The Christian woman is a free woman. When she submits to her husband—whether he is a believer or unbeliever—she does it in freedom, not out of fear.If you are feeling angry over the submission issue, I urge you to check out my Core Lies Series. So often we have been deeply wounded by sin that the outpour of hearts is corrupted by pain.
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