I recently received a letter from a reader who strongly challenged and disagreed with the principles that I teach about a woman’s role in the home. The only problem is this: I did not originate the teachings. They are not mine. The teachings originated with God. I am but a mouthpiece for women who want to achieve the fulfillment God intended for their marriages. Think today about who commands your marriage relationship.
The two simple words, “I do,” changed almost everything about your world. They limited your possibilities in some ways and wildly enhanced them in others. In those two little words you likely exchanged dating for mating, shopping around for shopping for groceries, and being a child to hoping for one. It was a radical change and, assuming you had lived your life in purity, it was probably the fastest radical change you’ll experience in this lifetime. Your married love is sustained by your commitment. That’s right. Marriage is not sustained by love. It’s the other way around. Agape love is the force that makes Christian marriages happy and makes them last a lifetime. Throwing in the towel is not an option for those of us who view marriage as a triangle between ourselves, our husbands and our God. In fact, the commitment we made by candlelight before those witnesses was only solidified by the fact that we already had a prior commitment. Our marriages are infinitely richer because of the prior commitment we made to Jesus Christ. Before I married my husband I was spiritually married to Jesus Christ (Eph 5:32). I made vows of faithfulness to the Lord long before I made them to my husband. The prior commitment rules the present commitment and that’s what gives us security in matrimony. Let’s examine the influence of the prior commitment.
The prior commitment and obedience
Because my first commitment (my prior commitment) is to Christ, I am primarily responsible for obeying him. Thus, I immediately have the guidelines for marital submission: I must obey my husband in any event, except in the event that he asks me to disobey my Lord. Words like “submit to your husbands as to the Lord,” in Ephesians 5:22 “even as Sarah obeyed Abraham” in First Peter 3:6, “obedient to their own husbands” in Titus 2:5, “submit as it is fit” in Colossians 3:18, and “see that she reverence” in Ephesians 5:33, are strong vernacular in our culture of feminism. But, if we are first submissive to the Lord, our submission to our husbands “in everything” (Ephesians 5:24), is not contingent on culture or convenience. We do it because we are married to Jesus, first. True, it enhances the experience of marriage. God’s way is always the best way. But we submit to our spouses because our marriages are triangular relationships with our Savior at the top. The words in Ephesians 5:24, “in everything,” are powerful. They are all-inclusive. Some have argued that submission in marriage is only required in spiritual matters– that my husband has no authority about what kind of cookies I bake or whether or not I accompany him to the office party. That premise, though, is inconsistent with the teaching in the first few verses of First Peter 3. Those verses about the exhibition of meekness and obeying as Sarah obeyed Abraham are directed to women who are married to men who are yet heathen men. It’s clear that submission in First Peter 3 is not about spiritual matters, at all. While it is true that godly men, in the spirit of loving their wives as Christ loved the church, delegate authority to capable wives in many areas (My husband has never been specifically authoritative about my kitchen.), the wife’s obligation is still to obey ‘in everything.”
***Forms of this material by Cindy Colley first appeared in The Fort Worth lectureship book (2014–http://btcoc.com/cpt_events/fort-worth-lectures/) and the Power Lectureship book (2014–www.southavencoc.org)