“Everyone knows the Apostle Paul was a male chauvinist PIG!”
Major conservative evangelical Christian publisher
Editorial Dept. discussion of marriage manuscript from international speaker/author
A moment of (stunned) silence followed.
It’s the dirty little word that packs a powerful punch in 21st Century Christian religion.
The very idea of yielding one’s will to the oversight, direction, or decisions of another is antithetical to everything taught by the current religious spirit of the age . . . actually, to the spirit of any age.
Unless Jesus is involved . . .
Then the adoration and praise songs about his sovereignty, authority, might, power, lordship are endless.
Submit to Him? No problem (we say). He’s good, righteous, just, merciful, and possesses all power and authority. There’s no qualification to be placed on the authority of Jesus and the Bride’s, the Church’s, responsibility to submit to Him.
But then there’s the ‘S’ word directed to wives about their own husbands.
Submit to him? Not so fast.
Some wives have legitimate reasons not to submit to the men they are married to but, biblically speaking, these are exceptions, not the norm . . . and that’s the critical issue.
What is normal for biblical order in Christian marriage? When it comes to reading your own mail – the parts of the Bible directed to you – do you have a normal Christian marriage?
Ephesians 5:22 could hardly be clearer. In Christian marriage, a wife submitted to her husband is normal.
Never has a simple, straightforward passage of Scripture engendered so much anger and acrimony in so many.
Which makes sense.
Nobody’s flesh is going down without a fight.
Lisa and I went to hear Elisabeth Elliot speak a few years back. To the horror of many present, she put it like this:
“I don’t submit to my husband because I want to. I don’t want to.
I don’t submit to my husband because I like to. I don’t like to.
I don’t submit to my husband because it makes me feel good. It doesn’t make me feel good.
I submit to my husband because the Scriptures command me to. I do it out of obedience to Christ.” ~ Elisabeth Elliot
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.
If we Christian men walked more consistently in holiness, it would be easier for wives to embrace this Scripture but, it wouldn’t change everything.
Jesus is the perfect Head of the Church, His bride. Does His perfection make the Church’s response to Him consistently holy, right, and yielded? No, because despite His perfection, we still struggle against our flesh.
And so it is in marriage. Having the perfect husband will not make you the perfect wife. God gave Lisa an imperfect husband and yet still calls her to obedience in the matter of embracing biblical order.
She is not a weak woman. Submitting to us less than ideal husbands isn’t weakness. It’s an exercise of your power to choose obedience and service to Jesus Christ.
Normal biblical marriage is a radical departure from what our flesh naturally wants and what the world says is healthy. There are many stripes, brands, and flavors of Christian-like religion to identify with. For those who aspire to normal, biblical Christian marriage, it’s not complicated, and not particularly sophisticated.
Exercise your power. Submit to your own husband (not men, just your husband) as unto the Lord – as your service to Jesus Christ.
Matthew Jacobson has been in the book publishing industry for 22 years and is currently the president of Loyal Arts Literary Agency. For the last 10 years, he’s served as a teaching elder in his local Church. Matthew and his beautiful bride of 21 years, Lisa, raise their 8 children in the Pacific NW. You can join him at his blog by clicking here: MatthewLJacobson.com or find Matthew on facebook.
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