Women of the world:
You can stop taking offense at the word submit.
Somewhere along the way, we started bristling at that word. It’s the dreaded S word, the word of which we do not speak, the word that implies that we have to turn into wallflowers, giving up any hope of expressing a thought that’s actually our own, so we should RUN AWAY SCREAMING ANYTIME ANYONE IMPLIES THAT WE MIGHT ACTUALLY BE DIFFERENT THAN A MAN.
This just in:
Let’s take a peek at our first mother, at Eve, at the one who, at least for a time, submitted as the perfect wife.
Adam gave to Eve: his rib, his affection, his completeness. He gave protection, a home, love, contentment. He shared his actual, tangible paradise with her, and together they walked with the God who created it. Adam provided her with food, with companionship, with no need to feel or be ashamed, even with a name, “Woman, because she was taken out of Man” (Gen. 2:23).
Eve received, and she rejoiced. Her femaleness reacted in kind to Adam’s maleness. She responded by collecting all that he had to offer, and all that he offered was exactly what she needed. He fulfilled her desires, met all her demands, left her wanting nothing. He truly did complete her. Her response was pure and chaste love, utter unselfishness, resplendent joy.
And Eve received.
It’s the same thing Christ does to His Bride, the Church: He gives His body, His blood, His Word, His forgiveness, His love, His _____, and we receive.
It’s what pastors do for congregations: They give us Christ’s gifts, and we receive them.
There’s a pattern here.
An order to things.
Structure in the middle of chaos.
And so you women, you wives, like Eve, receive, and you rejoice in what you have been given. You submit (Take a deep breath. It’s going to be okay. I promise.) in an anxious desire to embrace what your husbands have sacrificed to give you.
This is normal. Good, even, despite what the world will tell you.
But this submission “[is] not compelled through a demand or by force.” Instead, it is a reaction, a response, to your husband’s maleness, an “insight into God’s order of things.” (For more on this, read Bo Giertz’s “Twenty-Three Theses on the Holy Scriptures, The Women, and the Office of the Holy Ministry in the May 1970 The Springfielder.)
To submit to her husband means that a wife turns the other cheek.
That means that you as a wife respond in faith, trusting that what your husband has given to you is good and true, that he means what he says when he says it, and that his gifts are those which are best and right for you.
“As the husband cannot attain to the ideal of Christ’s love without self-denial, so the wife cannot conform to the ideal of the Church’s love to Christ without surrender of self to Christ’s precious will.” (G. H. Smukal, Love and Obedience)
So you submit. (See? It’s getting easier already, isn’t it?)
And you don’t submit as one who no longer has a voice or an opinion, but as one who is open to receiving all of the best of what your husband has to give. You “learn[s] quietly with all submissiveness” (1 Tim. 2:11). That is to say, your response is one of humble gratefulness, modesty, self-control.
Your husband will fail in his vocation as giver. He will screw up. And you will fail in your vocation as receiver. And you’ll flub things up just as badly.
But that doesn’t mean that you start doing his job as giver. And he doesn’t start taking on your role of receiver.
Nope. That’s when you ask for forgiveness, from God and from another.
Submitting means that you turn the other cheek.
You move forward.
You submit again to all that he has to give you, all the work he does on your behalf, all the decisions he makes and the ways in which he leads you through this life, protecting you and loving you.
Again and again and again. Always. Every day.
And eventually you begin to understand that to submit means that God created men and women for a specific order and that order is meant for the benefit and well-being of both of you.
And you start to rejoice in the fact that men, following Christ’s lead, are there to give only the best to women, and the women, in turn, are there to receive them with grateful and humble joy.
And suddenly, submitting isn’t such a dirty word after all.