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Submission... Again
by   pamela spurling

You know, I have been thinking about this a lot... and while spending several days with a paint brush in my hand, I wondered how I could encourage the different sisters in the LORD regarding the matter of submission to husbands.  It wasn't until I had gotten several hours into the painting that I decided to quit trying to look for the right words to say and to just wait on the LORD for His words... which is what I have done and why I wrote to you earlier in the week to tell you that I was still waiting for a message from the LORD and His Word.

I have given lots of thought to the different letters I have received in the last couple of weeks... letters from different ones who are struggling with obedience in this area of submission... struggling
with allowing the man the LORD has allowed to be their head and authority.  Some struggle because they are trying to do what only Jesus can do... some are struggling because they are fearful to let go and allow themselves to be lead by the man who may or may not take care of them... Some are struggling because they fear giving up control of their lives to another... some struggle because they cannot trust their husbands...and still others feel they cannot submit to a man who, himself, is not committed or living in submission to the LORD Jesus... You see, we're all alike, really.  We all have reservations and reasons as to why we cannot bring ourselves to allow ourselves to be completely under authority.  Like I shared with you last time, this  reservation to submit really reflects the level of trust in the LORD... and yet, for some, the desire to trust in the LORD is greater than the desire to trust in the husband... as if somehow the two are unrelated. But they aren't unrelated, are they!?  Our trust in the LORD will ultimately be demonstrated in our walk and conduct and for us who are married: our behavior toward our husband. For some, the struggle to submit is greater than for others... some women seem to be born compliant and desirous to be under the headship of a husband, while others seem to avoid it like the plague!

Like I have shared with you on other occasions, it is hard for us to give up what we think is ours: to take on what we think might just harm us.  I think one of the hardest things for Christian women
regarding this matter of submission is a lack of true respect for the husband.  Too much looking around, too much listening to the radio and reading good books and chatting with friends often reveals the naked truth, and that is, that our husbands do not measure up to the husbands in the books, or the men on the radio, or they don't do things that others husbands do, or they aren't like that husband in the movie or down the street or across the aisle in church.  So, my dear sister in the LORD, if this is the case with you, may I lovingly exhort you today: quit looking around. I would say this to a man who has trouble with his thought-life and his eyes... quit looking around!  And so, it's the same for us... our desire to have a husband who is just like that great guy, Mister So-n-so, or Mister Ne'er-do-wrong, and our dwelling on the fact that our husband is not Mister So-n-so or Mister Ne'er-do-wrong is a sin... it's a sin to lust after those things the LORD has not given to us in our home... it's a sin to lust after that "ideal" man.  The truly ideal man shares your bed, sits at your table and eats the food you've prepared...  you know him already.  Oh, he sometimes may not seem to you like the ideal man, in fact, he may seem so much UNlike the ideal man that you no longer care for him.  However, what does God say?  He says you are to do him good and not evil all the days of your life (Proverbs 31.12).  Additionally, you are to love him (Titus 2.4). Period. And what's more, you are to live in subjection to him (Ephesians 5.22). 

You and I have much to learn about our husbands... we have much to learn about obedience to God by the way we conduct ourselves toward our husbands.  And so, if the husband the LORD has provided for you doesn't seem ideal... and if you are wondering how on this earth you are ever going to submit to him, then I will simply say what I began to share with you last time: "Just do it."  If that man is ever going to become ideal in your eyes, you will need to first,  quit looking around and second, you need to behave yourself!  I need to behave myself!  We need to be busy about the business the LORD has prepared for us.  We have so much to consider in our own lives, that we really mustn't presume to "fix" that non-ideal husband. Everyday we look in the mirror at the one with whom we have to deal... the woman whose mind must be renewed daily, whose eyes must be fixed on the Author and Finisher of the Faith, and dedicated to becoming or being the help meet for her for the Master's use, moldable in the Hand of the Potter.

I know this matter of godly submission is sincerely interesting to us. Like I shared last week, why would we do Bible studies pertaining to marriage over and over again? Why do we search out the latest books and online studies?  I think we sincerely want to know about it...and we seem to love to talk about it,  but I am not so sure we want to do it.  I think we want to learn about it, but then I think we want to tinker with it... modify it, water it down, or pick and choose how and when we will submit to our husband's headship in our homes.  We list over and over again why this or that method won't work in our home.  I feel pretty sure that there is no hidden key out there in Women's Bible Studyland that will direct you or make you want to submit and have a happy marriage. One more study won't do it.  One more book won't have the answers... But we look, don't we?  We try, don't we? The messages tickle our ears and we want to hear more.  Often times, wives are so steeped in learning from this radio preacher and that radio commentator, that they really do surge ahead in knowledge of spiritual things. Wives hear such powerful messages that they increase in learning and fervor for the Word and for the LORD.  Sadly, the husband of such a wife is often not respected by her because he doesn't *do* those things the Bible says he ought, he doesn't know the things she knows, and isn't fervently interested in the things she is passionate about, and that lack of respect often turns into resentment.  Sadly this resentment seems to grow into bitterness and deadness in the marriage.  I am no psychologist... so these thoughts are just my own thoughts and observations from listening to, talking with and praying for women over the years.  All coins have two sides and smooth or rough edges and I liken women's thoughts and comments regarding their marriages to seeing one side of that coin...along with its rough or smooth edge...and I am just sharing with you one side of the coin... and that's the side that pertains to the wife.

One thing we can learn from in depth study of the Word, though we don't have lots of specific examples of submission,  are the examples of women who appeared to be in submission to their husbands but that sneaky little beguiler wormed its way into the marriages... and what was it?  Yes, it was deception/manipulation.  The appearance of being under authority and yet working the situation out to be done "their way."

To me, appearing to be submissive is far worse than not being submissive at all... deception is sin, it is knowing the right way and choosing to do things another way.  I think every married woman (if honesty prevailed) would agree and say that the best tool for manipulation of a husband happens behind the door of what should be the safest place for the husband and wife... the place of no secrets and no hidden motives, the place the Bible says to guard and keep pure and undefiled (Hebrews 13.4)... the marriage bed.  In addition, meeting the husband's needs in the bedroom may certainly be showing love, but that isn't what submission is.  Sex, when used as a manipulative tool, is cheapened and the wise woman will be very careful to guard ever using that very powerful force as a manipulative tool or anything other than God's design. Proverbs 5.18-19 "Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth. Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times; and be thou ravished always with her love."  The sexual relationship of the husband and wife must be nurtured, nourished and guarded... you see there's no room for manipulation in such an extraordinary display of love.

Submission is the decision to live your life under the authority of the husband the LORD has placed over you. Submission to your husband is key to a godly marriage and the key to submission is: just do it. That was simply said and it is simple... not easy, but simple.

More importantly, a woman living in submission to her husband and to the LORD,  will find that in allowing the Holy Spirit to work, her heart can be renewed, and will find created from nothing a new love for the man. The woman committed to submission to her husband out of obedience to the LORD will encounter the heart of stone transformed into a soft heart of flesh. The submissive wife can be key to that husband's walk with the LORD.   Whether he knows Him present or not, her behavior has a direct bearing on his relationship with the LORD (See 1 Peter 3).

Submission in marriage will revolutionize that marriage... and the man who has a contented wife is a man who will be free to be the man God created him to be.  Every minute you step forward in faith and love that man... submitting to him and respecting him, you pave the road  for him to care for, love and protect you. That's not manipulation, it's just a natural byproduct of submission.  If I didn't believe this, or more importantly, if the Word of God could not be trusted, then I wouldn't write this to you.

I know some of you have fiery trials in your marriage.  Some of you are married to men who really have crushed your spirit and broken your heart--------I want you to know that God never fails and His love is everlasting and He that has called you will perform all He has said...He requires that you obey and trust Him. He promises in the Word that He works everything for good..... (Romans 8.28), He will not lie and He cannot fail.  You would not be where you are today unless He allowed it.  Ahh... what a revolutionary thought!  He loves you so much that He would even allow you to undergo a trial so that He could demonstrate His power in your life.

I read a book some years back called Love is a Choice.  It was needful for me to read it at that time because of some things I was struggling with... things that had nothing to do with my marriage, but seemed to affect every part of it. When I was a pre-teen, I had suffered a couple of years of sexual abuse at the hands of my then step-father.   It was a difficult turning point in my life that I dismissed and tried to ignore for many years. The point of telling you this is to say that there comes a point in our lives where we must decide... we must make decisions based on God's Word, not on what we think or what we see, or decisions that seek to overcome the patterns set from our past.  If our decisions are based on either of these and not the Word, then we will surely be tossed to and fro because of the inevitable daily changes in life, in our cycles, in the lives of those around us.  Yes, "love is a choice,"  but we must also see that the Lord Jesus teaches something further about love: He commands it.  Not only that but He demonstrated the greatest love of all when He took on your sin and my sin and died on that Cross.  That was the greatest demonstration of love in action the world has ever known.

When we choose God's ways and seek His blessing, there is a cost... and I am going to say something that might be very controversial... and that is that there is this idea that we can love  unconditionally. I'm pretty sure we cannot do it....and I have never seen it.  I believe that unconditional love is elusive... and I am not so sure it's possible because of who we are and the sin nature we're born with.  But one thing I do know, and it is this:  The Lord Jesus commanded us to love... to love one another as He loves us... to love our neighbor as ourselves.  And so, because He first loved us, died that we might have life, and sent His Holy Spirit: we love others.  Love... I know we know how to do this... we do it every day.  We do  the things that seem to work best for us, we take care of ourselves, we meet the needs we have, we look out for our best interest----we sure love ourselves, don't we?  And yet, many times we say we cannot love our husbands, or we cannot serve them or submit ourselves to them.  But we are told to submit and we are told to love.  Therefore, having said all that, when we add that it's the LORD's command to that picture, we then see a way we can practice this in our marriages.  Because He is our example, we have a pattern to follow.

We choose reality based on what we think rather than what God thinks... we often choose submission (or our version of submission based on our experience) when we think we will gain something by it.   We choose manipulation when we think submission will not "work" or be appropriate to the situation at hand, or when submission hasn't yielded the results we expected.  But what is submission, really?  Is it doing what I think is right in marriage?  Is it blind obedience to every whim, request and desire my husband may have?  Is submission slavery?  Is it drudgery?

No... it's love.
Submission is love.

Submission is the loving desire to demonstrate the Love of God to the man He has chosen as the protector and provider.
Submission is the decision live out what the Word of God says.
Submission is obedience.
Submission is obedience to the Word of the LORD.

You might be saying, Pamela, you don't know my husband... you don't know my past... you don't know what I have to live with... you don't realize how he treats me.... and so on.... and you are right.  I don't know all the different private situations, and I don't know what it's like in your life and home.  But I do know this:  I know that God is bigger than all the struggles and all the trials... I know that He can create a beautiful marriage for you... I know that He can give you a love for that man and even a tolerance for his habits and his manners or whatever concerns you.

I pray as I write this, that you will be encouraged to seek the LORD and His ways, that you will give Him your heart afresh... that you will seek Him with all your heart in this matter of submission.  In
fact, sometimes the longer the marriage, the "sloppier" we get... the more neglectful we become, the more we take for granted the gift the LORD has given us in the husband of our youth.  If you've been married a long time, you might be tired... and if you're tired or weary of pressing on, then I would encourage you to renew your commitment to he man the LORD chose for you many years ago...maybe you feel you have been married too long to change old habits or to implement new
ones... new ways of living Godly in this present age.  Oh, I pray for you dear sister in the LORD, if you have become careless or demanding because of familiarity or length of marriage... I pray that you would  renew your devotion to that man today, and that you would reexamine your ways and the path you've been traveling.  If you feel a lack of joy in your marriage today, I will trust the LORD with you that you will once again desire to be the help meet for your husband and realize the joy of your heart. I pray that once again you will enjoy and revere your husband... that you will once again become one on in love.

You must quit looking around... you must rest in the palm of the LORD's Hand... just rest there and seek His Face.  Delight yourself in the LORD and He will give you the desires of your heart.

Titus 2:5 "To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to
their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed."

~pamela spurling ~ 2000

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