The term itself conjures up all kinds of ideas and opinions with no need to say anything else. When I was younger, I was taught that submission was oppressive. Men being the head of the home meant they dominated their wife and told them what to do. Me, being someone who had her own issues with authority, saw problems with that right away. I didn't truly understand submission, but what I knew at the time of it was enough for me.
I was never going to be a submissive wife.
I remember when Joshua and I were engaged, his mother told me something that made me ramble for weeks. It was the evening church service and I wanted to just go home and take a nap. Josh told me he wanted us to be in church. Now, he wasn't telling me what to do, but he was telling me his wishes. I went along with it, but I thought he was just ridiculous. After I told his mother the story she said, "Awww he's being a good spiritual leader." She also said something that same night about how if I had a spiritual question, I should ask Joshua who would seek answers. I thought that was insane. Was she saying I couldn't lead myself? Was she telling me women were too stupid to find things out on their own? Was she telling me I needed to be a silent little "yes dear" wife that had no brain or intellectual ability at all?
Oh yes, I had a field day with that one for probably our first few months of being married.
I have mentioned in the past that I was lost when Joshua and I got married, so I didn't understand a lot of things about the Bible. I had what I like to call head knowledge, where I could recite Bible verses at the drop of a hat and give you a full explanation of what it meant (based on what I had heard/read from others). However, there were a lot of things I just didn't understand until I got saved. Submission was one of them.
I imagined a woman who had no voice of her own, none of her own opinions. She would take care of the little kiddies, have dinner on the table by the time her man was home, wait on everyone hand and foot, and do it silently. She'd be told what to think and what to believe. If she didn't do any of those things, she was punished in some way or another. I imagined a situation just downright abusive.
I've been sitting here trying to find a way to adequately explain submission, but nothing is really working. Maybe it's because I am not a preacher and I can't speak to an entire congregation in authority on how to do things. However, I can tell you what my marriage is like. Hopefully that can give a little illustration on what submission is ... in my own words.
God and His Word are the sole authority of our home. There was a time where we allowed our hearts and emotions to lead us, but we found ourselves in one too many ruts when we did that. We are both saved and we both believe that His Word is 100% accurate, infallible, and true. We stand on His wisdom and promises, because we believe that any other source will fail us. When Joshua makes a decision for our home, he does his best (he's not perfect ofcourse!) to use God's Word in order to discern what he should and shouldn't do. I have a choice as to whether or not to go along with decisions made, but the consequences are far too great. (Not meaning I get a punishment from my husband, but we lose a united front in our home and find ourselves disorganized. Our children will also see my unwillingness to listen and trust.)
My husband is my motivator. He is the reason I get up in the morning and make the house beautiful. I love it when he's proud of something I have done or when I can surprise him with a favorite meal. I like to look good when he comes home from work, because he's been looking at ugly old men all day in a factory. I like to let him know he is a wonderful man who works hard to provide for us. I trust that he will make the right decisions for our home. I trust him. Just the way that I trust God will make the right decisions for my life in His will, I trust Joshua as well.
As for me, I'm certainly not the woman I had imagined. In fact, I feel sorry for her. She is living in an oppressive environment where her husband has misused the idea of submission in order to control. (Maybe he's a legalist and his faith is by works.)
Submission is voluntary, not forced; thus it is not oppressive.
Joshua allows me to make decisions for myself and to think for myself, because he knows I have to learn things myself. He prays for me and gives me his point of view, but ultimately he knows he cannot run the race for me. Just like it is our decision to accept or deny Christ, we also have a free will to do things the way we feel is appropriate (even if it's wrong). He has great expectations for me, but that's because he knows I can fulfill them. He expects that when a decision is made for our home, that neither one of us will back down on it and that we will stand on it. He pushes me to do my best, because Lord knows I need it on days where I am exhausted and have an angry baby. He also makes sure that I always know that I am loved and cherished. He works hard to take care of me and our baby; he also pushes himself to be the best that he can be for us.
We've still got a long way to go, believe me. However, we've also come a long way. We started out arguing and having no structure or organization in our home. We were such a mess and thankfully, we didn't have kids then. It all takes work, but I wouldn't have it any other way.
The idea of submission and God's role for the woman is very controversial today. It has been for quite a few decades, really. Some people misunderstand what it means and some people just loathe it. However, as a daughter from a divorced home, I've seen firsthand that the world's ideas on how a home/marriage is supposed to be are faulty. I'm not saying that a marriage without the way God ordained it to be wont last, because I know that isn't true. I'm just saying in my own experience, we've run into trouble without it.
Oh and my crazy mother in law ... the one who made the baffling statement? (Ready for some bragging, mominlaw?) She's been married for over 20 years. She is married to a strong man who loves the Lord, who loves her, and would do anything for his family. She made a few other statements while we were engaged/newlyweds and maybe she was just doing it to see what I'd think or to prepare me for what was coming. She knew what she was saying. She had already lived it and could probably write the book.
It's obvious that two years ago this would've been a very different post. If you were to have told me that I would end up believing in submission, I would have laughed in your face. However, this girl got saved and grew up a little. To end this post, I will say the one thing that once made me cringe when women said it:
I am a submissive wife.
And I wouldn't have it any other way.