Back in early July I posted the first in a collection of online articles on the subject of biblical submission in marriage. Undoubtedly marital submission has become a really controversial area. On the one hand the same word now brings connotations of Fifty Shades of Grey-type sexual violence, even though that’s describing something very different. And on the other hand, amongst many who see themselves as ‘Bible-believing’ Christians, marital submission is considered old-fashioned and out of place in twenty-first century Christianity. Time to ditch it?
Unfashionable though it may be, Zoe & I are convinced that God makes it plain in His word that marriage is to be a mini-picture of Jesus Christ’s relationship with his bride, the church. Check out Ephesians 5:21-32. Jesus sacrificially leads His people as their Head, going to the cross for them, and His people are to submit to him. If you’re a Christian then, get this, your relationship with Jesus is meant to be one of submission. This relationship is then mirrored in the mini-picture of marriage, with the husband having a specific identity as head that means he is to sacrificially lead his wife, whilst the wife has a specific identity which means she is to submit to him.
But my aim here isn’t to persuade you that the Bible plainly encourages headship and submission in marriage. Instead I want to try and flesh it out in practice. This is because it’s my experience that often people’s horror or nervousness at the idea of submission within marriage is because they have taken on board an ugly distortion of what it is intended to be, rather than the genuine article. Therefore whereas the Bible reveals it as beautiful, instead it’s often portrayed as backward, chauvinistic, and dangerous. Hopefully, by picturing headship and submission practically, these posts will also show it to be delightful. Similarly, I think those of us who are trying to live this out in our marriages can benefit from others talking us through how it fleshes out for them. You can read from Wayne Grudem in the first post from July here.
For post two, I came across a helpful piece over at Paul Tautges’ Counseling One Another blog. Paul edits the very practical Day One Biblical Counselling booklets (by the way, by biblical counselling he doesn’t mean the stuff of psychologists and white couches, he simply means applying the truths of Scripture to our hearts, prompting spiritual change). The range includes ‘Help! Someone I love has cancer’, and ‘Help! I’m drowning in debt’. In another of the booklets, entitled ‘Help! I can’t submit to my husband’, author Glenda Hotton attempts to flesh out what biblical submission looks like by targeting and correcting six common stereotypes of ‘biblical submission’.
Below I’ve quoted from Tautges’ post pretty much in full, and in turn he is quoting Hotton. Therefore its worth noting that in the first instance these have been written by a woman for women. There’s obviously much more that can be said, and I’m personally aware that each of the six wrong stereotypes will also impact in wrong thinking and wrong action on the husband’s behalf, but Hotton understandably majors on the women’s point of view.