Lately, however, I’ve been thinking about marriage. A lot, in fact! Over the next month and a half I am responsible for performing 2 wedding ceremonies. Both couples are great. Both have very bright futures ahead together, I believe. I have had the opportunity to meet with both of them on a few occasions and they both have asked a question that, frankly, is the triillion-dollar question when it comes to marriage:
“How do we have a successful marriage?”
That’s a fair question in this day and age. With the divorce rate exceeding the marriage rate, it’s in the hearts and minds of every couple that sets out on this journey together. Lets be honest- no one walks down the isle on their wedding day and thinks to themselves, “I only want to be married for 5 or 8 years and then get divorced.” Or, “We’re getting married now, but I don’t see this lasting forever.” That would be crazy!
So, I answered their question with an answer that I’ve come to understand (and am still learning) after 14 years of marriage. I said, “Submission!”
Ouch! That’s kind of a four-letter word these days! Submission. Kind of leaves a bad taste in your mouth when you say it. The reason why is that we, as a culture, have used that word as ammunition to get what we want, or worse, some husbands have used this as justification to make their wives do want ever they want them to do. Truthfully, in the past, when I’ve talked about this, it never fails- I either have husbands nodding at me smugly or wives shaking their heads as if to say, “Oh no, here we go. I’m going to get beat up!”
Fact is- both of those reactions mean one thing: there is a grave misunderstanding of what submission really means.
In Ephesians 5:22-24 the Apostle Paul says, “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, His body, of which He is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.”
Again, could be taken as an ouch! Seems 1-sided and cold. Many times I’ve heard preachers and counselors reference this in marriage sermons or marriage counseling bluntly, using this verse as a weapon, placing cross-hairs on the woman, as if their lack of submission is the problem in the marriage. It’s unfair and inaccurate. Don’t get me wrong, this verse is truthful. But it’s not the only verse concerning submission that you find here.
If you read on in Verses 25-27 this is what you also find- “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.”
Wives- submit. Yep! But husbands, die. Absolutely! That’s what Paul is getting at in this verse. Submission is a 2-way street. The other verse that is often overlooked is Verse 21- “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” In other words, serve one another!
Now I realize that many of my readers might not subscribe to the Bible and that’s okay. Even if you took the “Jesus” or “church” out of this passage you would find this- “Submit to one another. Wives submit to your husbands. Husbands, love your wives, and be willing to give yourself up for her.”
Back to my life lessons for a moment. In 14 years being married, I’ve screwed this up royally as a husband. I’ve been selfish, arrogant, belligerent, un-loving and self-serving many many times over the years. I admit it, I’m far from perfect. I am forever growing and learning. But there’s one thing I’ve discovered as a husband, in particular: when I choose to serve my wife and put her needs above mine, I experience marital peace and fulfillment. When I don’t, we are at odds, and there’s restlessness. Same applies to her. Again, it’s a 2-way street.
So my answer to both couple’s trillion-dollar question was this- “Submit to one another. It’s not 1-sided. It’s a 2-way street. Put each other’s needs above your own. Choose to serve each other every single day and you will have marital success. It’s that simple!”
Be a spouse that serves.
As a spouse are you putting this principle into practice? Are you actively submitting yourself to your husband or wife?=