What does it mean to be subject to our husbands?
Before we can begin to train younger women, we need to have a clear understanding about what the Bible says about submission in marriage for ourselves.
The Greek word for subject used in the verse above is hypotassō, which means:
1) to arrange under, to subordinate
2) to subject, put in subjection
3) to subject one's self, obey
4) to submit to one's control
5) to yield to one's admonition or advice
6) to obey, be subject
When God instituted the union of marriage, His plan was that the husband and wife live as one and submit to His authority.
"The LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him." ~ Genesis 2:18 (NIV)
"For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh." ~ Genesis 2:24 (NIV)
After sin entered Adam and Eve's lives, God gave this edict to Eve.
"... Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you." Genesis 3:16 (NIV)
This brought a re-order to the union of marriage, an addendum, if you will. Although husbands and wives still become one flesh, since we are born of man, we now have to submit to his rule in our lives.
The Hebrew word for rule here is mashal, which means:
1) to rule, have dominion, reign
a) (Qal) to rule, have dominion
1) to cause to rule
2) to exercise dominion
Paul emphasized the importance of submission in marriage and goes into more detail as mentioned below.
"Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her." ~ Ephesians 5:22-25 (NIV)
The same word for subject in Titus 2 is used here - hypotassō. I found that to be very interesting.
Now that we know what some of the definitions are about submission and that it is a commandment given by God, let’s talk about what some of the parameters are in a submissive marriage.
The order of the marriage relationship should mirror the church, which is the Bride of Christ. Just as the Bride submits to Christ, the husband submits to Christ. The wife submits to her husband and to Christ in everything.
Both individual and collective decisions that our husbands make are supposed to be for our own good. When our husbands make decisions that we don’t like, are we to meekly say, “Yes, dear.” Does submission in marriage squelch our voices and forbid us to question our husbands? No.
Throughout the Psalms we read of David asking God questions. Moses did this, too. Neither bucked God's authority, but asked for clarification purposes. While we are not to argue and grumble and complain to our husbands, I believe it’s well within our rights to humbly and respectfully ask our husbands for clarification on matters we have issues with.
I learned this last year with my husband. He announced that we were spending Thanksgiving with his parents. Everything within me screamed, “Are you kidding? Why in the world would I subject myself to that?” Outside I grumbled and complained. I cried, begged and pleaded with him to change his mind. I wanted to spend Thanksgiving with my family. I had my reasons. Ahem. No amount of my trying to persuade him worked.
Then I prayed. I asked God why in the world I had to submit to a man who was doing this to me. God showed me that this was a little thing in the great scheme of things and I really should submit to Steve on this. He led me to Scripture on submission and I shut my mouth. Was I happy? No.
"Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.” ~ Proverbs 21:9 (NIV)
God impressed upon my heart that I really needed to find a time with Steve to discuss this issue and I learned that he felt he was making a decision that he felt was right for us as a family. I wanted harmony in our relationship and I wanted Steve to be happy with me. I also wanted to honor God in this. I found out later that his parents decided to never do Thanksgiving at their house again. They feel they are too old and infirm to handle the stress of the occasion. I'm glad I went and Steve was very kind in doing what I call the skeedaddle out of there about 4:30 that afternoon and heading down to spend the rest of the evening with my side of the family. It all worked out in the end and I learned a lesson about being submissive to my husband.
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." ~ Romans 8:28 (NIV)
I have since learned to trust Steve and submit to him in every area of our lives. I defer to him as often as I can. I support him 100% in every decision he makes. Regarding the area of finances, this is particularly important. Insecurities have plagued me most of my life. I have never wanted to give an account of my spending, but I have learned that in marriage this is a must. Steve doesn't nickel and dime me, but he does want to know where our money is going. When we get in a bind and he tells me that it's time to stop buying books for the rest of the month, I stop. No questions asked. I know that as keeper of the checkbook, he knows when we're getting tight. He would never tell me to stop for the sake of stopping. (I do have an addiction to fuel, you know!) When I am ready to make a major purchase, I run it by him for the okay. If I know he's going to nix it I don't bring it up and I don't buy it. We don't usually discuss purchases under $20.00. Anything over that is something I run by him. He's very good to keep the channels of communication open and runs most purchases by me, but when he doesn't I don't get angry. If a new telescope lens comes in, I don't question it. He is the head of the house so he doesn't have to run things by me. That's the way we are ordered here.
We should have faith in our spouses to trust them to guide and direct us as the Lord intended. We should respect and honor them. Our desire should be for our husbands and we should be subject to them.
That being said, there are times when we should not submit to our husbands. Anytime they give a directive or make a request that is sinful, we have the right to say no. We should lovingly try to explain to them why we are saying no, but if we know in our hearts that what they want us to do is in direct contradiction to the Word of God or can put us in harms way it is our duty as wives to try to persuade them to do otherwise. If we cannot persuade them, we need to remove ourselves from the situation for a period of time until the right order of things is restored.
Would others view you as being subject to your husband?
Paul set an example to the Christians at Corinth and urged them to follow the example Christ set before him.
"Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ." ~ 1 Corinthians 11:1 (NIV)
What example did Christ follow?
"Jesus gave them this answer: "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does." ~ John 5:19 (NIV)
Don't you love that there is an order to relationships in this world?
Man (or the Church)
Children (if you have them)
I see this so much more clearly now than I did before I really began to study the Word of God. I love it when the Holy Spirit brings fresh meaning to the Scriptures and really opens the eyes of my heart to absorb it!
What I'm learning is that we are meant to follow our husbands as they lead us, just as Christ, led by God, leads the church. We are truly women entrusted with a mission!
"Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value." ~ Proverbs 31:11 (NIV)
As we follow our husbands with submissive hearts, other women do take note of this. You'd be surprised at how many people do watch what you do and the way you live your life. You have the potential to touch lives that you aren't even aware of on a daily basis, my friends.
One way we can indicate that we are submissive to our husbands is that when we are invited to do something say, "I need to check with my husband first on this and see if he has other plans." Does this mean we don't do anything of our own accord and make no decisions on our own? No. It means that on the major things, we respectfully run things by our husbands. We defer to them and their leadership. We don't act independently *all* the time. There are times when I know what Steve is going to say. For example, when I'm asked out for lunch, I make the decision to go or not. Steve is at work. He doesn't care. If I need to run by Walmart on the way home from work to pick up a gallon of milk, I go.
Our discussions about our husbands should be honorable. We should never demean them in public. This shows a lack of respect and a lack of submission in marriage.
Does the phrase "being subject to your husband" bring to mind positive or negative thoughts?
If you had asked me this even 5 years ago I would have said that being submissive was akin to being a doormat and I would never let a man walk all over me. Since I have studied submission in the Bible and read wonderful pieces written by godly women, I have learned that it's a positive thing to be subject to your husband, because it honors God.
Do you find being subject to your husband an easy command to obey or a hard one to follow?
This question was asked in a recent poll on my blog. Out of 19 responses, 7% said Easy, and 57% said, "I struggle." There are many reasons some might struggle. A few I can think of include pride, a lack of respect, or personality type. Some women are very strong-willed and not willing to give into authority. Some just don't know how to submit.
I grew up in a home where authority waxed and waned. When my father was sober, authority waxed. When he was not, it waned. I had no constant in my life as to being under the authority of my father. I basically knew I was to be obedient and I was; however, a lot of respect was lost when directives were given or promises were made and broken when he was not sober. My mother had to make the executive decisions in our family. She had to be the head of the household in our case because my father couldn't be, due to his addiction to alchohol. I admire her greatly for the decisions she did make. She is a strong woman of courage and saw that we were well cared for.
The result of this was that when I married, I had no clue what submission in marriage looked like through God’s eyes. I really had some growing to do in this area because I wasn’t taught it at home. I thought if I submitted to my husband, it meant I was a weakling and gave him permission to trample all over me and what I wanted. This is not what submission is, as we dispelled above.
How can you teach other women to be subject to their husbands?
The word train in Titus 2:4 is the Greek word sōphronizō, which means:
1) restore one to his senses
2) to moderate, control, curb, disciple
3) to hold one to his duty
4) to admonish, to exhort earnestly
We must take an active role in training other women to be subject to their husbands. We can do this by setting a good example for them to follow. We might want to ask leading questions, like, "Would you like to run this by your husband before we firm up our plans?" If they balk, we can find a gentle way to let them know how wonderful submission and respect in marriage is. It's my belief that submission and respect do go hand-in-hand. If you do not respect your husband, you cannot submit to him. We might find Bible verses or articles written by godly women and men on the topic of biblical submission and email it to the women we teach. If we teach Sunday School, GAs, Acteens, or other classes at church we can get them while they're young.
Based on the definition above, we are to take an active role in training these women, holding them accountable and teaching them to truly love their husbands by being subject to them. As I was praying about this, I came to the feeling, the very strong feeling, that if we, as Titus 2 women, truly take this commandment to heart, we can lower the divorce rate.
I realize this was a long post and I'm sorry I've kept you so long At the Well this morning. I just had so much on my mind regarding this issue.
I can't wait to hear your thoughts! Link up using Mr. Linky at the bottom and let's get started on the discussion of The Submissive Heart of the Titus 2 Wife - Living the Life, Teaching the Life.
You can use the discussion questions I've listed above as a springboard or just free-write on this. I'd love to hear from you! Thanks for spending time with me here today.