The first time I studied Ephesians 5:22-33, as an adult, married woman, I was incredibly surprised. This section of the Bible must have been repetitively left out of my mother’s Bibles throughout her entire life.
I can almost imagine her in the Bible section of the Christian bookstore, amongst the other strong willed, worldly women of our times, asking the sweet young man working in that department where the “Submission Free” Bibles are.
I blame the 70’s. She was an impressionable teen throughout that time. She accepted much of what was taught in the “Women’s Liberation” movement without the forethought, or personal knowledge, to realize that WL was pretty much opposite of how God said things should run.
And, as a result, she raised her only daughter to believe the same ideas and principals.
When planning our wedding, I was very open to ideas and suggestions. “Oh, you should think about this.” “Have you considered trying it this way instead?” “Now, if it were me, this is what I would do.” Almost all suggestions were accepted with a smile, a nod, and a promise to think and consider.
There were only two things that were not up for discussion. My wedding dress and the word SUBMIT.
The minister that married us was also one of our teachers in high school. He had me in three classes during our time there and had my husband in two. We knew him well, and he knew us. Well.
At our very first ceremony prep, I was very clear (and young) that the word “submit”, or any form of that word, would not be in our wedding vows. Mr. Porter just chuckled at me, looked at Marty, who shrugged but said nothing, and then said “OK”.
He tricked me! When standing in the church where I grew up, in front of 250 of our closest friends and family, I had to graciously, with a smile on my face, repeat that I would “honor and obey” my Marty. On the inside though I was not a happy little bride. Oh, he did what I asked/demanded and left any traces of the word submit out of the ceremony. But, he made me say obey!
Fast forward about five years. We are still married, we have moved back to our hometown, and we are actively involved in the church I grew up in. I’m really getting into the word and maturing in my walk with the Lord.
Well, it was only a matter of time that God puts my face in the book of Ephesians. And, I’m loving this book. Soaking up the words into my heart daily. Slowly studying these passages that are so exciting to me, because I’m finally at a place in my walk where they truly make sense and don’t just seem like another set of rules, that my free-spirited nature had a hard time following.
Then God and I come to the section on husbands and wives. Ouch! This was not fun times for me. It was eye opening, saddening, and life changing, but it was not fun. I needed it though. God knew I needed it and I quickly realized I did as well.
It was only God who could show me, through his word, guidance, and love that I didn’t have to be the thick skinned girl that I was raised to be. The girl that was taught to never depend on any man other than her daddy.
Ephesians 5:33 says “However, each one of you must also love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” In my various Bibles, must is underlined as many times as I can fit in that tiny space that’s provided.
“Must” means that these things are not options. I can’t choose to respect my husband, or not, depending on my mood or how mad he makes me. Likewise, he can’t choose to love me, or not, depending on my mood or how mad he makes me.
Love and respect are to be given, and should not have to be earned in the arena of marriage.
God says so.
SUBMIT and OBEY: two ugly, dirty words that were not a part of my vocabulary. The idea that the husband should be the head of the home and I should just follow along after was ludicrous to me. Or so I thought.
God taught me and showed me that I was already doing these things. He showed me that I married a man that I respected and one that I knew would protect me. AND, that I married a man that loved me.
He made me see that we had already, for the most part, fallen into the roles that God had designed for us. He opened my eyes to how miserable my parents still are at times because my mom is still fighting to be boss, all these years later.
With His help I realized that saying obey in my marriage vows was nothing to be mad and embarrassed about, and I’m now proud that it happened.
I do it daily, even if he doesn’t always see it that way.
I would follow that man anywhere.