SUBMISSION? Use this S word among girlfriends in church or on a night out and toes curl.
Many people misunderstand what the Bible means when it says that wives are to “be submissive” to their husbands. This includes many married women I’ve counseled.
Forever I’ll remember the panicked call from a friend whose former college roommate fled her West Coast home, very pregnant and with two little ones in tow. The former roommate and I soon talked by phone. Through sobs the story came out:
Fearing for her children’s safety and her own sanity, she packed bags and drove east toward her childhood home.
Do you have a handle on the real meaning of submisison? Has someone use care about used this word against you in order to manipulate you or shame you?
For this article, I turned to Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood by John Piper and Wayne Grudem for answers and discovered 7 lies about submision I share with your. Read 1 Peter 3:1-7 here and the 7 below. My prayer is for you to understand God’s plan for marriage and to learn common abuses over submission, like the one my pregnant counselee had encountered.
Lie 1: Put Your Huband in the Place of Christ
Christ is always first. 1 Peter 2:21 says,
Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men (1 Peter 2:13).
Rather, look to Christ and follow him.
Lie 2: Never Try to Influence Your Husband
You should influence your husband, wisely and winsomely. For instance, a wife whose husband is an unbeliever ought to win him over (to Christian faith) “without words by their behavior”–pure and reverent.
Lie 3: Stop Thinking for Yourself
Peter speaks directly to wives in 1 Peter 3:1-6, not to the husbands. He wants them to think about God’s Word and apply it to their lives. My former counselee who had put a safe distance between her and her husband reported that he told her what she should think. She wasn’t allowed to think for herself. Have you received a similar edict from your husband?
Lie 4: Give in to Your Husband’s Demands
When a husband demands that a wife sin, she must say “no” to her huband. Her refusal to sin lines up with Peter’s command to have proper conduct among unbelievers:
Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.
Lie 5: You Are Less Competent Than Your Husband
This is another lie. In fact, some wives have far greater spiritual insight than husbands. This is certainly true when a Christian wife is married to an unbelieving spouse. She has the Holy Spirit dwelling within her. He does not.
Lie 6: Submission Means Wives Should Fear
On the contrary, Peter says wives should not “give way to fear” (verse 6). The instruction for husbands to respect their wives as “the weaker partner” has nothing to do with a woman’s lack of courage when endangered.
Lie 7: Submission Means Wives Are ‘Less Than’
Jesus submitted to God the Father, and he has dignitity and honor. A wife’s submission to her husband is similiar to Christ’s submission to the Father; they have equal importance.
What Submission Means
“Be submissive to your husbands” (verse 1) basically means that a wife willingly affirms the leadership of the husband.
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It doesn’t mean she’s a doormat or has no say or lacks value. Rather,
In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives, as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. (Ephesians 5:28)
Both the husband and wife are called to self-sacrifice. Look at the word the apostle Paul selected for love. It is agape in the Greek. This self-sacrificing kind of love isn’t about sex or affection or brotherly kindness. It is the kind that lays down one’s life for the other.
As a Bible study author astutely pointed out, an argument in a home where a husband loves his wife and she submits to his leadership might sound like,
“I insist that you have your way.”
“No, no, really, I insist you have your way.”
Just imagine that was the tone of your arguments, with the husband trying to out-sacrifice his wife and the wife trying to out-submit her husband. Just imagine the number of marriages that would thrive. The kids too.
I encourage you to read Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood for yourself. It sheds light on many Scripture passages that have confused men and women, leading to clarity in the roles of husband and wife in the home, church, and personal life.
Let us live in harmony with one another, as God intends.
Sharing Hope with Your Heart,
Is there life after divorce? Yes! There definitely is.
No one need to tell you divorce is a type of death. Sure, you have a pulse but your dreams cracked open, and you feel broken. Shattered.
“Will I ever be happy?” a recently divorced woman and mother of several adult children asked me.
“Yes, as God fits together the pieces, and as you apply God’s Word to your life, you’ll experience a joy that’s deeper than circumstantial happiness,” I replied. “Do you want to get better?”
She twisted the tissue in her hands. “Yes.”
In this article, I’ll share hope and help in three significant ways:
- Identifying the ultimate cause of divorce
- Giving encouragement from divorced Christian women.
- Three tips toward wholeness after divorce.
Ultimate Cause of Divorce
The ultimate cause of divorce is sin. Sin is selfish, prideful, and misaligned with God’s written Word, that is, the Bible. In the Bible, God gives two legitimate grounds for divorce
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- Unrepentant, sexual adultery. (Matthew 5:31, 19:9)
- Desertion by an unbeliever. (1 Corinthians 7:15-16)
Even though these are legitimate grounds for divorce, God always meant for marriage to be for life. In Malachi 2:16, God says he hates divorce because it’s borne from sin and brings destruction.
In what ways have you experienced the effects of destruction? Have you received care or condemnation from your Christian friends?
Remember, for Christians:
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1, ESV)
God doesn’t condemn you, dear friend, even though you and your ex sinned against each other. When God brings together two sinners in a marriage, guess what? They sin. God uses marriage to chip away at your character flaws–and his. Sometimes marital conflict seems unbearable, doesn’t it?
“I used to feel rejected,” Lana said. “That first year was unbearable. My sleep was awful and I couldn’t stop eating junk food.
A neighbor asked me over for coffee. This was a turning point.
“We talked and I began to see that it wasn’t just his fault. I was selfish too. My friend listened. I thank God for her.”
“I went back to bed after I got the kids off to school,” Annie shared. “Life seemed black after the divorce. What kept me going were my kids and going to church on Sundays.
“I thought I went to church for them so they could be in Sunday School, but
the worship songs melted by hardened heart.
“I began to look up again. It still hurts and money is still tight, but I have hope now.”
“My husband was into porn,” Jess said. “I didn’t know about his addiction when we married. We talked to the pastor. Justin would stop for a while then I’d catch him at it again. I felt so numb, I didn’t know what to do. He said he didn’t want to hurt me so he divorced me.”
“I guess the good that came out of it was getting counseling and growing closer to the Lord.”
Three Tips Toward Wholeness
- Learn conflict resolution. A main reason for bitterness in marriage is failing to work through problems. Commit to speaking the truth in love to family members, coworkers, and people at church and in your neighborhood. When you speak the truth in love, you communicate your feelings lovingly and work toward a solution.
- Figure out what kindles your anger and fear. As your identify the thoughts that prompt your emotions you can change them. “Take every thought captive to obey Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:5).
- Cling to your identity in Christ. You are God’s beloved child. Get my 64-page eBook to savor the “5 Amazing Names God Calls You!”
Join the Conversation
How has divorced touched your life? Where did you find hope and healing?
AN OFFER: Get a free consultation! Great for any woman going through hurt or who has questions. Contact me now.
Sharing Hope with Your Heart,
If you have a dark secret, you probably are more like a turtle than a fancy show dog. Fancy show dogs lap up attention. Turtles hide. They are afraid. They like to blend in. Their hard shells protect them, or do they?
Through my childhood and into my 20s, I was all turtle. I tried to hide my dark secrets. The problem is, I acted out — quietly, for turtles are quiet — in ways that hinted at the pain I covered up, retracting my feet and head into my shell, my hiding place. Where is you favorite hiding place when you hurt? A book? TV? Wine? In the arms of a lover? Church?
In this blog post I’ll share:
- Some of my own dark secrets.
- How God healed my shame.
- Do this. Don’t do that.
My Shameful Secret
When you meet a turtle, you can bet they’ve been hurt. . .by parents or kids at school or a tragedy of some sort. Show dogs often have hurts too. They hide in other ways. One way is pointing you to their accomplishments. Another way is making jokes. Are you more like a turtle or a show dog?
Here are several of my secrets that turtle-ized me.
- Depression from childhood to my early 30s.
- A child of divorce. . .three times. My parents divorced twice, once when I was age 8, they remarried a year later, and divorced again in my mid 20s. My dad remarried and divorced.
- Sexual abuse survivor. I repressed the memories for nearly 20 years.
- Drug abuse. I drove drunk. I drove high. This happened in high school. I’m not proud of it. I was stupid.
- Self-harm. I went through a stage in high school where dug my fingernails into my wrists and drew blood.
- Binge eating followed by starving in college, yelled at myself — “pig, pig” — and ate more then punished myself by eating nothing for one or two days.
- Perfectionism. I thought I was lovable only when I did everything right. But I couldn’t, so I hated myself.
Yes, there’s more. I’ve learned to share only secrets where I now have healing and am open to talk about freely. What about you? Do you have secrets? Are you careful to share it with trustworthy people? Have you shared a secret with someone who betrayed your confidence? Didn’t their betrayal hurt worse than having a house drop on your head?
How God Healed My Shame
The turning point for this turtle was God-ordained. I wouldn’t have chosen it. In his wisdom, God picked the time and day. He knew I’d find safety in him and my husband.
A Saturday morning in the summer, I woke up, bawling. My poor husband thought I was in physical pain. I wasn’t. Memories from my childhood and teen years flooded me unexpectedly and I cried a Mississippi River. I had pushed down some of these memories for decades. I knew they were true. I had chosen to pretend.
Three important decisions I made that day:
- Share my deepest secret with a counselor.
- Start journaling my thoughts and feelings.
- Sing to Christian music every day.
Sharing my secret freed me from holding it in holding it in holding it in. To get it out, I first shared it in third person, but my counselor and I both knew I was talking about my secret–sexual molestation by a family member. After I shared with the counselor, I told my secret to my husband. He asked me why I had never told him. I said — and I meant it — that it had never crossed my mind. What a turtle I was!
Journaling provided a safe place to write where it hurt. Singing to solid Christian music filled with biblical truth helped renew my mind according to the Bible. I am thankful to God that he gave me the time to journal and sing, and people to confide in.
In you, Lord, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame (Psalm 71:1, NIV).
Do This, Don’t Do That
Keeping a dark secret hurts you and others. Sharing them with a safe Christian friend or gospel-centered counselor heals. Here are a few do’s and don’ts for healing if you or a friend has a dark secret.
DO pray and ask God for healing.
DON’T pretend the dark secret is no biggie.
DO read the Psalms. David and other psalmists pour out their heart as they wrestle with hurts and hard emotions.
DON’T distract yourself day after day with food, TV, computer games, porn, or alcohol.
DO journal your thoughts and feelings.
DON’T “vomit” your secret on anyone and everyone or all over the Internet.
DO get the help God wants you to have.
Friend, God loves you just as you are. You don’t have to have it all figured out. It’s okay to be messy. We’re all sinners, right? And in Christ, you and I are saints! Hold dear to your identity in Christ.
In Christ, you are set free from condemnation and shame.
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1)
In Christ, you are able to live victoriously.
But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:57)
OFFER: I encourage you to sign up for a complimentary 15-minute consult to find out if biblical counseling is for you. To sign up, send me a contact message. We can pick a time that works for you. Thank you.
Sharing hope with your heart,
I stepped into “Little House on the Prairie” reruns when I visited friends’ homes during childhood, it seemed. People in these homes blessed each other with words of affirmation:
“Beautiful picture, honey. I can barely wait to show grandma.”
“You remembered to put away your books. You are so responsible!”
“I appreciate that you called home to say you’d be late. That meant a lot to me, that you cared.”
Raspberry kisses, tummy tickles, and high fives interspersed these blessing words. I watched these dreamy interactions unfold and harbored more than a little jealousy.
Back at my home, dad yelled and mom withdrew into stony silence. I hated his yelling and her silence. Often I slipped into my bedroom and covered my ears with my hands to muffle the hate words. I tried make my parents happy. From age 8 or 9, I washed floors and tubs, dusted and vacuumed, finished my homework without reminding, and played with my older brother, Ted. My presence made little difference in making my parents happy. Ted’s presence seemed to irritate them. A bonafide IQ of 148 and report cards with Cs and Ds–he had trouble finding a place of belonging at home or school. It seemed, we were side tables in a white clapboard, one-and-a-half-story house in a Chicago suburb. Just furniture. We had no voice. When Ted turned 16 or so, the drug scene lured him. I tried to fit in with the “popular” girls and failed.
Perhaps the influence of an unhappy childhood is one reason I became a counselor. My work as a biblical counselor permits me the privilege of helping children and teens know God’s care, love, and purpose in their lives, whether happy or sad and painful. It’s encouraging that very often a child’s pain evaporates like a puddle on a hot summer day as the child (or teen) and the parents choose to love God above all. (Matthew 22:37)
As God transforms hurting hearts, the results sing an hallelujah chorus. Thoughts, actions, and emotions as well as beliefs come together and reflect the heart of Jesus. Did you know Jesus welcomes little children? Our wonderfully radical Lord invited them to come near.
Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to him, saying, ‘Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.’ Luke 18:15-17, ESV
The truth: Children do matter. Toddlers or teens, they deserve our love. Real love. Christ-like love.
Real Love in Good Times, Bad Times
What does real love look like during good times at home?
Conversation at dinner time, playing board games, and going for walks.
What does real love look like in bad times?
Apologies, forgiveness, consequences.
Reality is a phenomenal teacher. When a child does his homework, he gets the satisfaction of good grades. When a preschooler bites a 3 year old at the playground — yes, I am a mom of a former biter — she is escorted from park immediately. When a teen refuses to clean her room — I have one of those too — her cell phone goes in timeout.
Real Love in a Crisis
God offers real hope in crisis
What does real love look like in crisis?
I’m not sure. I know crisis: sad, angry, shame, confusion.
Maybe real love hunts for a four-leaf clover. Picture my hair in pigtails, my bottom plopped in the front yard, my fingers combing through the grass, checking every last clover.
You see, I had to find a four-leaf clover in my childhood. After all the yelling and silence, my mom and dad divorced. My mom spent the days in her bedroom. My dad slipped into shadows of my existence. Ted tried to do normal boy stuff. So it was up to me to fix it the problem and get my parents remarried. Right? [Shake head no.] In my childlike thinking, it was MY fault that they divorced. If only I could make my dad smile. If only I could stop mom’s worry.
The crazy thing is, I found a four-leaf clover that day. Cross my heart. I cupped my family’s future happiness in my small hands and wished: “Four-leaf clover, made mommy and daddy get married again so we could be a family and happy. Please.” Have you made a wish on a shooting star or tossed a penny in a wishing well?
Here’s the sad truth, sad for an 8 year old: Wishing on four-leaf clovers doesn’t work. They remarried a year later but were as unhappy as ever. I thank God that school provided the structure I craved, and the As and Bs proved I could do something right. In my twenties they divorced again.
Real Love: Messy!
Do you know what made the huge difference?
Finally recognizing that while I cannot change my family of origin, my husband and I can rewrite the script for our children. With God’s help, we can leave a legacy of real love. We mess up, of course. Real love isn’t perfection; it’s hugs and tears and laughter in the middle of mess.
Join the conversation. Please take a moment and share a childhood memory.
Do you want an awesome marriage? Of course you do. You married your guy for better or worse.
Now it’s “worse” and you want “better.”
The super news: God wants to awesome-ize your marriage too!
I’ve been there. From good to worse to better to awesome. Sometimes my marriage slinks back to blah, giving me more practice to awesome-ize my marriage. 🙂
Marriage Ain’t Easy
Let’s get real. No marriage is perfect. Guess what? The neighbor lady who says her marriage is perfect? She’s lying.
There’s no sense comparing yours to hers. You’d fume and sulk and eat gallons of ice cream. Don’t go there. Choose a better way.
The better way:
1. Picture the marriage God wants you to have. (Hint: Unity)
2. Consider the state of your marriage now. Write down 3 to 5 things you’d like to change.
3. Make a reasonable plan.
Picture the Marriage God Wants You to Have
Take a moment and picture the marriage God wants you to have. You and your guy won’t always agree but you can try to work out your differences, right? When you both reach an impasse you may agree to disagree.
In your picture, do you pray with your guy? Great.
Does he give up drinking? Or saying mean things to you or the kids? Wonderful.
Does he choose you over the ball game? Amazing.
Take a moment a describe the picture of the marriage God wants you to have.
Consider the Current State of Your Marriage
This is un-fun yet necessary.
Think of words or phrases describing your marriage now. Is your marriage lonely? Full of angst? Two ships passing in the night? Dangerous? (If you are in an abusive relationship, please contact your local authorities or a women’s shelter for help and safety.)
The top reason married women seek me for biblical counseling is loneliness in their marriage. They want a better husband and happiness. Some look for relief in wine or work or the wily world of the online media.
[tweetthis]When you’re unhappy in marriage, your response reveals a lot about your belief in God. [/tweetthis]
Make a Reasonable Plan
Why reasonable? He’s not perfect. You’re not perfect. God is letting your marriage show you things about yourself and about God’s faithfulness.
Before getting to the plan, listen to these two true stories. Names and some details have been changed. The spouses are Christians.
A Stinky Story
Jessica’s husband stinks. Though in his 50s, he has bad breath that could slay a monster. He not only stinks but also is a mess; a highly educated mess:
He leaves out dishes. He misses the toilet and fails to wipe the tinkle.
What’s worse, he flirts with pretty ladies right in front of her.
Jessica has had numerous sit-downs with her husband about other women, personal hygiene, and sloppiness. He deflects her comments, saying that she can clean his dishes and urine since it bothers her, not him, and that she can leave the conversation when he flirts.
A #1 Son Story
Susanna’s husband has a best friend and it’s not her. The best friend is their 30-something, college-educated son who lives at home. She thinks their son should move out. Her husband says he should stay and that she should: do the son’s laundry and make his lunches that he totes to work.
The son doesn’t pay rent, contribute to the bills, or help around the house or yard.
Susanna deeply loves her son and wants the best for him, and she knows his leeching is not only wrong, but also damaging to him and to her marriage.
What’s Your Recommendation?
If these women came to you for marital help, what would advise?
Speaking the truth in love?
Reaching out to trustworthy female Christian friends for encouragement?
Yes. Yes. Yes.
Now make your list. List specific things you can do.
“Talk to my husband about the mean things he said the other night and how I felt hurt.”
“Sit with my husband and watch football together.”
“Text him ‘I love you’ every day for a week.”
“Initiate lovemaking one time this week.”
What About His Role?
At the core of each women’s plight in the two stories is failure of the husband to heed biblical commands to love his wife.
For this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ This is a profound mystery–but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband (Eph. 5:31-33, NIV).
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up her, 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 himself loves his wife (Eph. 5:25-28).
Without a doubt Jessica’s and Susanna’s husbands are not demonstrating love as God commands. I’m certain both men, and the grown son, have many fine qualities; otherwise, the women would not have married them. However, sin now entangles them.
These wives have erred too; generally, women in problem marriages sin (or make an ugly choice contrary to God’s commands) when they fail to speak the truth in love. Some speak words that cut, nag, and belittle. Others remain silent; the growing resentment becomes deafening.
You cannot change your guy; this is the work of the Holy Spirit. You can want what God wants for your marriage and take steps from awful to awesome.
Never give up. God loves you and is with you. He values marriage!
Scripture says, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness'” (2 Cor. 12:9).
God can redeem your marriage. Go to him. He loves to talk with you.
AN OFFER: You can get a no-cost consultation from me. I am a certified biblical counselor who’s helped thousands of women find real hope for their real hurts. Click: Contact me. Let’s seek God together.
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Counseling Hope to Your Heart<