By Shari Armstrong
"Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God." (Ephesians 5:21 KJV)
Submission. That's a word none of us enjoy hearing, especially when we're the ones expected to submit. Submission is more than just saying, "Yes, sir" or "Yes, ma'am" and stomping off to do what we're told, like a child being sent to his room. It's about controlling our selfishness, not the other person.
When our pastor recently taught a series of lessons on submission, he of course talked about the wives submitting to their husbands (I Peter 3:1). My husband was elbowing me; "See?" with a wink and a grin. But, the pastor didn't let the men off the hook. He went on to teach how men also need to submit to their wives (I Peter 3:7).
How, may you ask, can we submit to each other, and the husband still be the head of the home? It's a balancing act. First, if you love your spouse, you'll want what's best for them. We want to take care of their needs, we want to know that what we do matters to them. We want to be appreciated, and in turn show them appreciation.
A wife can submit without becoming a doormat. She can still be a strong individual, and needs to be, in order to be a functioning helpmate for her husband. We can submit by fixing meals, taking care of our family, making sure they have clean clothes to wear. We can submit by listening to our husband's advice about a decision that needs to be made. If we consider what we do as acts of love, instead of chores, submission becomes less of a bad word.
It is probably harder for men to submit to their wives, because men are natural protectors and leaders. They don't want to appear weak, not in control. A husband needs to submit by showing respect for his wife. This can be done by knowing his wife's needs and fulfilling them, sometimes before she asks. Instead of going out with the boys, come home and surprise her with dinner at her favorite restaurant.
During the lesson, our pastor asked various husbands random questions about their wives. He asked Mr. S., "What's your wife's favorite color?" He guessed blue. Her favorite color was red. She, of course, teased him about it, asking if he'd ever seen her wear blue.
The pastor then asked how he honored her. In their case, it was by surprising her with flowers. He gives up the control of using that money for something he might want, by buying something for his wife, because he loves her.
He asked another husband what his wife's favorite flavor of ice cream was. He said, "I know it's not vanilla." She laughed and confirmed that was right, and went on to say that her favorite was Rocky Road.
Then he came to my husband. "What's her favorite car?" I laughed. My husband hates my favorite car: a classic Mustang (he's a Chevy man). But he knew it, as he rattled off the make, model, year, color, trim and transmission of choice (a 4-speed, in case you're wondering). The pastor then asked my husband how he honored me. His answer: buy her chocolate.
By controlling our natural desire to put ourselves first, we honor both our spouse and God. Submission is a necessary part of every day life. We have to submit to traffic laws, or there is chaos in the streets. By the same respect, we have to submit to our spouses, or we have chaos in our home.
"Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;" (I Peter 3:1 KJV)
"Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered." (I Peter 3:7 KJV)
Shari Armstrong is a wife and mother of two. She is a published author, both in traditional print magazines and on-line and in an upcoming FaithWriters' Anthology. She is also the Managing Editor and writer for "Extreme Woman", the e-magazine for Sister 2 Sister 4 Christ Ministries. She is also active with Faithwriters as a judge and book reviewer. If you would like to write to Shari you can do so through the Letters page of this magazine.