[From the archives]
‘I’m not qualified to speak on submission.’
That’s what I told a pastor once when he asked me to preach from Titus 2 – about wives submitting to their husbands.
How dare imperfect-me preach on submission, I said, when I have such an imperfect but seriously cool husband? He makes submission so easy and uncomplicated – even for an opinionated initiator like me – that I hardly know I’m doing it. (Sub-what?)
I preached anyway.
I said how Paul’s letter to Titus is all about freedom. It’s about how the gospel sets us free, and how that frees us to live healthy lives in the church and out the church – out there in the big wide communities of the big wide world. It frees us to lead well and to follow well, and to raise up others to do the same.
And women get stuck on Titus 2:5, because when wives are told to submit to their husbands it doesn’t sound like freedom. History has us equating submission with oppression – with disrespect, disqualification, disentitlement, disenfranchisement, and all the other ways women were dissed for #MeToo millennia, and too often still are.
For too many centuries culture’s pendulum swung dangerously to one extreme. Women were appallingly dominated.
More recently – because this is what humans do – our fear-turned-anger has swung the pendulum dangerously to the other extreme and everybody’s got a feminist drum to beat and a bra to burn and a man to emasculate.
Yet, the scriptures keep landing this non-issue dead centre because the Word is never a pendulum. It’s always the plumb line of truth – if we’d pause for a rational moment to consider that truth.
The truth is, marriage is not a competition; it’s a communion of lives. It’s a one-flesh I’ve-got-your-back-always-and-forever thing where you can’t remember where you stop and the other person starts.
That’s not oppressive. It’s deeply comforting. Freeing.
So girlfriend, if you insist on making marriage a competition, make it a game of poker. And then you need to know your husband will win hands down, every time. He’ll say,
‘I see your submission. And I raise you sacrifice.’
If your husband is following his calling, then he’ll love you like Christ loved the church. He’ll lay down his life for you. That’s way harder, way cooler, way sexier than submission. And it makes our bra-burning seem kinda silly because why would we feel threatened by that kind of love?
So, I’m thinking –
You need not be shaken. You need not fear.
But you’re maybe thinking –
Oh, so easy for you to say. You just told me you have a really nice husband.
You’re right. That’s true. He’s kind and he’s generous and he has this gentle way of making me go, ‘Oh right. The buck stops somewhere. Cool. It stops with him.’
Submission makes me safe, not subjugated.
To which you say,
You have no idea the kind of husband I’m dealing with. He lays his life down for golf and for beer and for rugby. Sometimes he even lays his life down for other women – real or digital. He’s definitely not laying it down for me.
I would never assume to minimize the pain or the disappointment of that. I would also never dare get all preachy and churchy on you, where there has been abuse or infidelity.
But hear this:
Even if your husband isn’t willing to lay down his life for you, Jesus Christ already has.
Jesus already has laid down His life for you, and therein lies your security.
At the cross, Jesus took your shame, and restored your dignity. You’re clothed in royal and righteous robes. Adopted as a daughter. Gifted with worth.
That gift can’t be taken away from you.
You need not be shaken.
You need not fear.
. . .
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