I think it is fair to say that the idea of wifely submission has been one of my biggest hang-ups about marriage thus far. I have already written quite a number of posts about it. Additionally, something that causes me to have deep resentment about it is the fact that many men seem to take it for granted that
a. Their opinion is higher than mine – for whatever reason – because they are male?
b. I see and acknowledge this natural order of things, like any sensible woman.
Consequently these men don’t seem to understand why the question of lifelong submission to them might cause me any kind of issue whatsoever, but I guess they rather expect that I would jump or run to submit to their supposedly higher opinion. All this this might sound like an exaggeration, heavily laced with my usual sarcasm. However you have to believe me – my goodness, it is all so true – especially in the Church. I am so tempted to give some examples. (I almost naughtily wish that a few of my male friends would provoke me sufficiently to the point where I feel justified in spelling it all out!) I honestly don’t know what thoughts young men learn to cultivate about women, which might leave so many of them thinking that we women are all going to be hanging eagerly and adorably on each of their words, or that we are waiting impatiently for their male (and therefore inherently superior) wisdom to direct our lives… Yeah, I might have expressed impatience myself once or twice on this blog, but it has been impatience for hugs and holding hands, not because I feel lacking in wisdom to live my own life!
Furthermore, even where I have been strongly attracted to someone, something which has happened at least twice, that has never caused my rational mind to disengage from critically evaluating whatever he might be saying.
So altogether, the issue of automatic, unqualified, submission in everything has been one of the biggest issues/mental stumbling blocks in my mind regarding marriage (thanks for that, Apostle Paul!)
Finally, I think I’ve been able to think of a solution. This is a solution that has certainly occurred to me before, that I have certainly written about before, but I think that now it has finally crystallised in my understanding so that I fully “get it”. This is it: To make submission straightforward for myself, I need to find someone whose opinion I would naturally seek out anyway.
I’m realising that the reason I have mentally resented submission thus far is because I have resented the idea of submitting to the kind of guys that would typically surround me in church. It is not that they are bad guys, it is just that I don’t necessarily regard their opinion as being higher than mine, or their approach to life as being more skillful. These are the kind of men who cause me to internally roll my eyes when they just jump straight in to volunteer their opinion about how I should make decisions. And yet there are men who exist whose opinion I do regard very highly. There are some men whose advice I actively seek out when I have a decision to make. Whenever they start talking, I just keep quiet and listen as intently as I can. To make submission in marriage easier for me, I need to seek out such a man to marry.
Once again, it all boils down to “the two-year thing” . Very often, when I first meet new Christians, I will give them the benefit of the doubt that they are full of wisdom, holiness, great character and prayer. However, it is only after knowing someone very well that I will be able to honestly answer these questions for myself: “Do I naturally seek out his opinion? Do I ask for his advice, or his prayers?” I can pretend as well as the next woman. I can nod in all the right places, look as if I’m listening carefully, ask intelligent questions to make it look as if I hold his opinion in such high regard. The real question though, is “what is happening within me? Am I really impressed from inside?” As I write this, I hope I would not attempt to deceive myself: that is, if I find myself immensely attracted to someone, I hope I would not try to lie to myself that I highly regard his opinion, if that is not actually true. Once again, I expect the two-year thing to work in my favour regarding this. At the end of two years, I expect that I would have seen enough of his character to conclusively put me off, even if there had been initial attraction, and I would not want to exert any further effort regarding him whatsoever.
On the other hand, more positively and optimistically, I may equally have seen enough to convince me that wow, this man is amazing!
As well as his being cute, funny, huggie-wuggie-inclined, and deep (and holy too of course – holy, prayerful, full of the Bible etc!) I also respect him so highly, so much so that I would literally run to carry out his advice!
That said, even if I were genuinely to seek out his opinion before marriage, even if he was as excellent as all this, I’m sure that there would still be some instances within marriage where I would struggle to submit to him, and I’m also sure that marriage has a way of bringing any spouse down a few notches at least from the high opinion that you had of them before the wedding. However, how much more would this be true if I did not particularly value his opinion before marrying him?!
To be honest, it all works both ways, because he equally has to regard my own opinion very highly, if we are to try to navigate life together as a team, and also for the sake of my own pride! 😉
22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.
Photo of ring on finger by Chrigriak on Pixabay