Last week, we dug into scripture and thoroughly covered what submission actually is and is not. Read more about that here.
In this post, I would like to propose a different than “normal” perspective on Christian marriage. We traditionally have placed a heavy weight on the singular roles of leader husbands and submissive wives. But I think we’ve put unnecessary emphasis on the wrong thing. The more I study marriage and family as God intends, I see a different picture than what has traditionally been painted as the overbearing husband and the subservient wife.
Husbands are to “love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” -Ephesians 5:24. That looks more like sacrificial love and less like lording over his wife. From the very beginning, God saw that man wouldn’t be able to carry out his assignment on his own. The wife was specifically designed to come alongside and be a helpmate to her husband.
“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
The word for “helper” above is from the same word used when referencing God’s divine intervention, support, and deliverance. Pause and ponder that. Women were designed to be supernatural support to our husbands! Adam was created to be responsible for God’s creation [Gen. 2:15]. Eve was specifically designed to support him in that role. The role of a helpmate is far more empowering than we have previously interpreted it.
Moreover, when we read about the ideal wife described in Proverbs 31, her role is far more multi-faceted than submission alone. She works diligently; she takes care of her home and family; she honors and respects her husband; she cares for the poor and the weak; she is trustworthy, wise, kind, and generous. In her role of caring for her family and supporting her husband, she improves his reputation and thrives as a wife and mother.
Men desire to be respected and honored. As women, it is our job to call out the king in our men. That is an empowering and honorable position. When I encourage and build up my man, he feels like he can take on the world! I see his demeanor physically change and he stands a little taller. It’s not difficult to see the good he does for the kingdom and our families… when I’m looking for it. But it is humbling, because it takes the focus off of me. Most importantly, it enables him to feel confident in the role God has given him in work and ministry. In turn, he shows his affection for me by sacrificing his time and resources. What a rewardingly vicious cycle!
Husbands are called to be the head of the family and spiritual leader, guide, sacrificial lover, and provider for their family. Yes, leadership is a big part of it. Also the risk, responsibility, and spiritual accountability are very important parts of their role. On judgement day, every husband will stand before God and be held responsible for the decisions he made which effected his family’s spiritual growth and direction. That’s a HUGE responsibility! I’ll take submission over that any day.
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.” -Ephesians 5:24-28
Conversely, wives are called to be a helpmate. That includes submission to her husband’s headship, as well as encouragement, support, child-rearing, honoring, and respecting her husband and caring for the family. Disclosure: the list for wives is longer because that’s what I’ve studied more thoroughly. Just trying to stay in my lane!
The big misunderstanding of Christian wifehood is we got hung up on the hierarchy before we ever got to the rest of the design. Being a helpmate means so much more to me than just submitting to my future husband’s authority. It’s about supporting and encouraging him toward all that God is calling him to. That’s an empowering role!
Someday, when I am a wife, even with all the hardships life and marriage may pose, I look forward to encouraging my future husband toward greatness! My greatest joy is calling out the king in my man and watching him flourish as he leads and guides our family toward missional living and furthering the kingdom. There will be no greater joy than to submit to his headship. Even when my flesh wants her own way.