What is Submission?

The Submissive Wife

by Amy Fewell, creator of A Godly Marriage in an Ungodly World

When my husband and I first got married, neither of us knew what our roles were as Godly spouses. We both extremely lacked in the wisdom of The Lord. As we began to grow in Christ, I suddenly found myself becoming outspoken in our marriage. I had an opinion about everything and no matter what he said, my opinion was better. When he didn't agree with me, I took offense and felt belittled.

I never had a firm foundation to lean on when it came to Biblical Marriage and the proper roles within it. I came from a strict Christian home, and while they taught me amazing things about the Bible, my parents weren't necessarily always the greatest example of what submitting to one another meant.

When I got married, I felt independent. I was finally out from under my parents thumb, and the world was at my fingertips. Whoops, I now had a husband to take care of, and one that didn't care to have me off frolicking on adventures. We became bitter, and eventually I found it easier to not talk at all, because I didn't want to fight. I thought that's what true submission was—keeping my mouth shut so that he was happy, I was happy, the whole world was happy.

Fast forwarding a few years, we welcomed our son into the world. I thought life would change—there would be more love and happiness and mutual benefit from both of us. But things didn't change. I started the A Godly Marriage in an Ungodly World blog because I yearned to know what my role was as a wife. I wanted to know what submission looked like. I wanted to know if I was allowed to have an opinion and speak my mind whenever I wanted or felt like I needed to, especially when it came to my husband. If I could help someone else on this journey, I longed to. But most of all, I needed to figure out who and what I was in Christ.

Unfortunately, the more I gained knowledge through studying the bible, the more opinionated I became. I was continuously acting as though I "knew it all", which led me down a dangerous path of thinking I could play my husbands role better than he could. I thought that I was more humble, more outspoken when it came to our beliefs and Christianity, I knew how to fight for what I believed in and I would go down swinging, but what I didn't realize is that what I "thought" I was, was completely a lie.

What I had become was righteous in my own eyes, not in the eyes of my King, and definitely not in the eyes of my husband. I was not the "more precious than rubies" in his eyes when it came to my role as a wife, because I thought he lacked in his role as a husband, and I wasn't scared to make it known. I did not encourage him to lead, I did not encourage him to study, and I certainly did not encourage him to react in love when I acted in selfishness.

I took my "knowledge" to my blog and social media outlets, where I knew people "really cared". When in reality, I was misleading an entire group of people with my bitterness against my husband and others that disagreed with me. Thank goodness this turned around quickly before the website grew. My "know it all" attitude came from a place of unworthiness, a wall that I put up because I didn't want people to know the real me. And the real me was a wife who had no clue how to be a Godly wife, but I was pretty good at putting on a show for a little while.

God really started dealing with my heart when I sat down and cried out to Him one evening in our little house that was broken, just like me. My encounter with His sweet Spirit followed a night of hurt after my husband asked me why I constantly felt the need to post on social media about my opinion—why did I feel the need to constantly prove my knowledge about the Bible when in reality, I was just making people angry? And he was right. It wasn't even about marriage, it was about being outspoken about everything. It was a heart issue that spilled over into my marriage.

What happened next was incredible. I learned that I had a false assumption of what being a submissive wife was. About what being an independent woman was. I thought being a submissive wife was doing everything my husband told me to do. I thought being a submissive wife was being quiet all of the time, and that just wasn't me. This caused me to act out in ways that just weren't me. How could I be a submissive wife if it wasn't in my nature? It made me angry to think I had to be something that I’m not, but that just wasn’t true. God made me in His image, and if being submissive was part of His plan, then it was already part of me...I simply had to nurture it and accept it.

And then this verse popped out at me, over and over again....the verse in 1 Peter that says a wife's beauty should come from an inner place, a gentle and quiet spirit, so that if her husband does not believe, he will be won over by her love and gentleness through Christ.

My husband and I were both believers in Christ, but honestly, we so totally lacked in our relationship with him.

I quickly learned that I don't have to be outspoken with my beliefs, because a gentle spirit of love and grace lures more people in, as sweet as the honeycomb, than does a boisterous woman in Christ. I learned that my outspoken boisterous spirit was due to bitterness and self righteousness, and it was so completely freeing to have that bitterness and self righteousness stripped away. I became filled with more humility, grace, and love. I could see peoples actions and reactions through Christ’s eyes, not my own. I had more cooth with my words and the way I ministered to other women. And most of all, I had so much grace for my husband. And eventually, he had a lot of grace for me as well. Guess what, I messed up in this journey just as much as he did.

I learned that my crazy personality was no excuse to not follow my role as a Godly and submissive wife. I learned that I could still be wild and crazy in Christ, but when it came to my role as a wife, if my personality was driving me more than what was commanded of me in scripture, then I was in the wrong. News flash: God will not give you a "revelation" that does not line up with His scripture—that is why it is there for us, to test the spirit.

But most of all, I learned that I love following my husband. Every.single.day. And eventually, with encouragement from me and through his own growth in Christ (without me nagging), he became the leader that our family needed. I love being his help mate, his encourager, the teacher to his child, the person he can come home to and wrap his arms around after a long day at work. I learned that my soul spoke to his soul more when our marriage was more important to me than my feminism and my outspoken beliefs on how I thought he should lead. When I allowed my husband to lead in the way that he was learning to lead, and I willingly followed, our marriage became impenetrable. He was growing just as much as I was. And the further along we went, the more wisdom came into our lives. The further along the journey we traveled, the more I invested into my husband's life and into our household, rather than trying to impress the rest of the world with carnal knowledge of a spiritual book that was divinely written by the almighty God. The more I submitted, while knowing who I was in Christ and being his "team mate", the more I understood what true Biblical Submission was.

Wives, I want you to know how amazingly precious you are in the eyes of our King. I want you to know that your husband wants to see you the same way. I want you to know that no, you shouldn't be pushed around or walked all over, absolutely not. You are a vessel of Christ and you have a calling just as much as your husband. But I also want you to know that there is blessing, honor, and redemption through the submissive wife, especially when she understands what true submission is. True submission isn't being a door mat and not speaking. True submission is being a team mate, but when it comes down to the hard stuff, you're also a follower of a Christ filled leader.

I truly believe that women in today's church have an issue with their submission because they do not fully understand what Godly submission is. I cannot stand to read post after post, dismissing submission and saying "let's all be rebels against this". Once you understand submission the way that God intended, it is so amazingly beautiful that you will never want to turn back. You will never want to "fight" about it. Because it just isn't worth it. I have found that those who make it their goal to fight and argue about submission are filled with pride, but those who are gentle and guiding with their blog posts truly are filled with the Spirit and with love.

Matthew Jacobson once said, "Biblical submission isn’t yielding to your husband’s will. It’s embracing the order Christ established and submitting to Him. That’s what the phrase, as unto the Lord, in Ephesians 5:22 means. Embracing biblical order in marriage is service to Christ, not subservience to your husband." And while yes, this was written by a man....wasn't the entire bible? Ephesians 5 tells us to submit to one another, first and foremost. Husband to wife, wife to husband. But then what about the tricky things? That was my biggest question, until I read this passage of scripture.

"Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, 2 when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. 3 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. 4 Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 5 For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, 6 like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear." 1 Peter 3:1-6 NKJV

Wives, I encourage you to evaluate yourselves, constantly. To try and understand what your role is as a wife and as a daughter of the King -- we ALL have room to grow. Seek out God's desire for submission in your marriage -- not the kind of submission that is dictating, but the kind that is serving and loving. 

Husbands, I encourage you to encourage your wife, daily. To understand that she has just as much say so in decisions as you do, and to show her that you honor and respect her opinion. Treat her as the princess that she is. Yes, even the ones who say they don't want to be served. Servanthood goes both ways, and deep down inside she longs for it.

And for all of us, husbands and wives, respect your spouse. Be kind to your spouse. So many people in this world never had the proper training or example of marriage when being raised. We cannot expect our spouses to be perfect in their role if they do not understand their role. Show them just as much grace as you wish to be shown.

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