Here's one prickly topic with today's modern woman, including me. When I first heard a message on women respecting and submitting to their husbands, I thought to myself, "What?! I hope I don't have to deal with this anytime soon" and I promptly pushed it out of my mind. Well you know what, I got into a relationship and got engaged. Sooner or later, the topic came up again one Sunday in church. This time it was the pastor's wife preaching. She used herself as an example, and told us a story. When she and her husband were engaged, they visited an older friend who was advising them. He then asked her some questions: Do you love this man? She said yes. Do you trust this man? She said yes. Will you obey this man? She frowned. Their friend said to her, "No matter how much you trust and love someone, you are not ready for marriage until you can learn to submit and obey your husband".
Now as she was preaching, she said it took her almost 10 years, but her marriage became much better once she learned to submit to her husband. Someone asked, why did it take you so long? She said it is because submission is not a natural thing to do. We all want to feel like we are in control of our decisions. As a child growing up, we learn to rebel against authority. Imagine now, as you are finally an adult capable of handling your affairs, you are now being told that you have to submit to your husband's authority over you. Of course, your natural instinct is to rebel and disobey. So it took a lot of time, hard work and prayers before she learnt to tame her rebellious nature.
This time, the message hit home for me. At the time Mr and I were now serious about the future of our relationship. We had also just had an argument and I hadn't been willing to back down. Now I realised that I couldn't ignore the matter of submission anymore if I wanted a happy, peaceful relationship. But I wasn't comfortable with the idea that I would have to submit to someone. I thought to myself and came up with some difficult questions. How do you submit to someone without becoming a doormat? How do you submit while still having a say in matters that come up? How are you sure that the guy won't use submission as an excuse to bully you? And how do I know when to submit and when to stick to my argument when I'm convinced that I'm correct?
I remember having a discussion with my christian friends over this topic. It seemed that they were even more resistant to the word than I was. One of them said that it is lazy women who don't want to take responsibility for their lives that hide under the umbrella of submission. Another one said that she doesn't believe that her man should have a say in her affairs at all, such as her finances. I was quite surprised actually. Yes before marriage your boyfriend has no business controlling your finances. But then won't it be important after marriage and he has become the husband? When do you start practicing submission?
There are no simple answers. So I went back to my bible. I saw that it was not really optional. The command was for husbands to LOVE their wives, and wives should RESPECT and SUBMIT to their husbands. I found some books and teachings on the subject and read them thoughtfully. Slowly I began to comprehend the subject. I understood that it did not mean 1) a violation of my rights as a human person; 2) it does not mean for me to submit to my husband’s desires blindly, totally, and completely because his desires may be unreasonable 3) it does not mean I'm to be treated like someone unable to make mature judgment. Actually the scripture talked about mutual submission. That meant both of us had to bestow equal amount of love and respect to each other. That meant that we both had to be completely unselfish when we want to get our point across. What it meant was that being a woman did not mean that I was incapable of making my own decisions, but I should recognise that I had someone who was capable of making selfless decisions for my welfare on my behalf. If I trust him to be a God-fearing, sensible, caring, and loving man, then I can safely submit to him, knowing that he will put my best interests before his own. I asked my happily married aunt for advice. She also told me that it was when she was most submissive to her husband that he was most loving to her. So those commandments of Paul in Ephesians must go together. You cannot submit to someone who doesn't show you love. Of course that meant that my choice of husband must be the right man. He must be the kind of man that I have confidence in. He must be the kind of man that I can trust completely. He must be a reasonable, selfless man. Who wants to submit to a loser or a creep? So if I can't imagine myself submitting to my boyfriend, perhaps it's best not to marry him. If my husband was being selfish and unreasonable, he cannot expect me to submit to him. I would be more willing to submit if I knew his motives were for our mutual benefit.
Still it is very hard. Knowing something in your head is very different from putting it into practice. My pride sometimes gets in the way. There are so many examples of times when my fiance has suggested something and I did not listen. Only for me to reaslise much later that he was right all along and I was wrong. Then I would feel bad for not listening right from the beginning. And I would ask God to help me again and again. It's not easy but I'm learning.
To read an article on submission, click HERE
To be continued....