Andrew and I have been married for twenty-two years now; myself being the year older. (So that makes me the boss, right? *wink*) In this day in age twenty-two years under the belt is no small feat. However, before it sounds as if I’m just tooting my own horn, let me say that we’ve made our mistakes, had our blow outs, and learned some things the hard way. That’s just what marriage is made of. Maybe it shouldn’t be, but when you learn, you really learn, and if you don’t, here’s where things go a little sideways.
In our modern world, It’s almost a given that these words to ‘honor and obey’, more specifically, ‘obey’, will be unappealing, and possibly even appalling to a great deal of modern women. That is, when understood incorrectly. This word once made me cringe as well, and to be honest, I don’t remember ‘obey’ in our wedding vows, (Convenient right?) though Andrew guarantees me it was. (Ha ha!) However, when all is said and done obeying works out to be a wonderful thing.
The word obey in this sense, and even in the way that we obey God, means to submit, but it’s a willing submission, rooted in the understanding of the freedom in it, rather than some threat of authority. (Trust me, Andrew will back me up on this one, I can be a feisty women. Though quite, I am no door mat. If to submit, truly meant to be pushed around, uh, yeah, we’d have a problem.) What I mean to say here is that submission is not the other end of a brow beating. This is not what the true picture of a marriage should look like. Submission though, is a willingness on our part, that requires humility.
To be fair, humility doesn’t sound very appealing to me either, for the reason that I tend to associate it with the word humiliation. My first experience with humiliation was at a very young age. (You can find that story here if interested.) Not to mention, the word humility it self suggests a lowliness, or down grading of one’s self. Again, it sounds like it puts you in an objectionable position, but as Christians were called to humble ourselves, and Himself said that it’s the meek who shall inherit the earth (Mattew 5:5).
In all fairness, all of these words: Obey, submission, and humility, do tend to take on a negative connotation to the ear when not correctly appreciated. However, humility is far different than humiliation: humiliation being an act– for the most part–forced on an individual, that evokes a feeling of mortification. Though sometimes our own missteps can be a cause for humiliation, as well. Humility on the other hand is again a willing humbleness.
Why would anyone willingly submit? (By the way, this sounds–on the surface–subservient to my ears too) but submission in this sense is more than doable with the understanding that it’s to your own personal benefit, and the benefit of your marriage to submit yourself to your husband. More than that you are submitting to God when you’re not constantly fighting your husband tooth and nail. What you gain from what you give of yourself should result in a happy union.
By the way, I’m not saying that you’re outright motivated to give of yourself to get something in return. For truly you’d miss the mark, and find yourself disappointed and disillusioned when your spouse failed to live up to all your hopes and dreams. Rather that the trade off, creates a union that is complete, much like the unbroken circle, that symbolizes marriage—the wedding ring. Atleast it should, but too often it’s a difficult concept for couples to grasp, and husbands and wives instead veer off in two different directions.
Now that we’ve got the basics down, and we understand what submission is what it isn’t. What does submission really look like? Well, it can look like a whole slough of different things from the simpler acts of kindness, attentiveness, and respect, to things that may take greater effort like patience and long suffering. Submission sets a marriage up for better communication and connectivity, which in the long run creates a happier home environment.
“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.” Ephesians 5:22 NIV