“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord” (Eph 5:22)
More on the difficult matter of submission… As a pastor, I counsel many wives who have problems with submitting to their husbands. Some become foolish and ‘over-submit’. Others become rebellious and they ‘under-submit’. Remember this: Christianity is the best wisdom of life! Christianity is the most balanced holy life! Christianity is the most joyful life! Christianity is the most successful life there is! Never forget that!
The scripture above is not a suggestion. It is God’s command! All God’s commands are meant to be obeyed; for His glory and for our own good. The command looks simple but it is not simplistic. It is true that there are not many practical details given on how a wife should submit to her husband. But don’t forget! Verse 22 in chapter 5 is part of the whole letter to the Ephesians. Read it, from beginning to the end. You include this verse in the rest of the letter. The wife must be born again and Spirit filled to be able to submit to her husband ‘as unto the Lord’. This is the most important thing!
Let me be more practical… For example, the letter says that bitterness grieves the Holy Spirit (Eph 4:30, 31). It means that a bitter wife grieves (makes sad) the Holy Spirit, who is her only true Helper. Therefore, she becomes a spiritually helpless wife. She becomes weak, depressed, lonely and confused. Even if she wants to do it, she will not be able to properly submit to her husband. Because she is bitter and angry she will be provoked by his words and actions, even if they are nice and loving. The grief of the Holy Spirit will manifest as a blanket of suffocating sadness over a once happy home… Jesus!!! This is a very serious matter. This is a dying marriage. It is an emergency!!!
Dear wife, you need to repent of bitterness and re-dedicate your life to Christ. Ask the Holy Spirit to forgive you for grieving Him. He is a Person. He is not ‘a church thing’, an influence or some religious chemistry. Think of Him as a Person who sees you, who loves you and wants to help you. He is your best Friend! Most of all, He is God! He is the God who witnessed your marriage vows! He is the God who hates divorce! He is the God that loves you more than any man (including your husband) will ever love you. Don’t waste time! Repent! ‘Settle’ with the Holy Spirit before you are able settle with your husband! Like my husband preaches: ‘First things must come first!” Oya! Do it! Pray!
As you know, my husband and I are married for 44 years. We made many mistakes but learn from them. Let me be more practical to explain submission… This is the Word of God: Wives submit to your own husbands and children obey your own parents! These commands look similar but are not the same! For example: my husband tells me that for this week we have ten thousand Naira to spend on food (for us and for unexpected visitors). He does not tell me the type of food to cook. He gives me the freedom to use that money the way I think is best. He gives me the liberty to buy what I want knowing the food we both like to eat (he generally prefers Nigerian and I still prefer ‘oyibo’ food). I do not have to write my menu on the wall every day. I do not have to tell him that the pepper is now 50 Naira and not 20. Once we agree on a budget, I use my discretion to spend the money as I think is best for the two of us. In the kitchen, I am in charge! It is my ministry! What is important is that we eat good food every day and we are happy with each other. If there is any ‘change’ left from ‘the chop money’ I can spend it how I like. I do not have to tell him that I used 100 naira from the change to buy ‘powder’ for myself. I am not his daughter. I am not his cook or a house servant. I am not a hireling! I am his wife!!! For me, submission is this freedom to be myself within my husband’s boundaries and principles of a happy home. But the child’s obedience is not so. He does not have the same freedom. For example: If I give my daughter 50 naira to buy biscuits she is to tell me how much she has spent and she should give me back all the change. That is how we’ve trained our children. They need to be accountable to us, the parents! Once they became adults it was easy for them to function as married people and parents to their own children. You can ask them… They will testify!
(By the way, this is my testimony: my husband trusts me in all areas, including finances. This trust was not easy to gain. It was not automatic. It is the result of many years of studying each another, of passing many tests. My husband’s trust in the matter of my behavior as his wife, my words, my preaching the right doctrine, in ministry and financial decisions is one of my greatest achievements in life! To God be all the glory!)
Finally, as most of you know, we come from very different backgrounds. We see things differently. We have different strategies of solving problems. That is ok. We are not twins. We do not have to foolishly imitate one another. Each one of us must be who God called us to be. But as a wife I need to know both my husband’s weaknesses and his strengths; his pains and his joys. It is my responsibility! I need to understand what type of wife he wants me to be. I need to pay the price and change to become his ‘dream wife’. I need to yield and accept his idea of ‘a perfect marriage’. This is not easy… I made many mistakes… But I continue to press on… I may not become all that he dreams of me in this life time, but I can try… I am willing to try… In fact, I am trying… He sees that I am trying… For it is my responsibility to contribute to our mutual happiness. I am not a liability to him! I am a blessing to him! It is my honor to help him fulfill his destiny as a man of God, as a husband, father and grandfather. What a privilege! As a wife, I need to know his mind and my boundaries of submission. I need to accept them and submit to them. Then I am free. Sorry, I wanted to say that we both are free!!! Freedom means the power to be happy! We are indeed happy together… Glory to God! May these words help, challenge and encourage you today for with God, all things are possible!
(In the picture, my husband and I, happy together, in front of the golden statue of King David, during a trip to Jerusalem, some years ago. We both love King David!)