In my post God-Fashioned Living I mentioned that there are obstacles that can interfere with submission. Some come from the world around us and some come from within us. Not every wife will experience the same obstacles, but I think it’s safe to say that we all face them. Even when our heart fully desires to follow the Lord’s will, we can still face challenges that hinder our submission. Thankfully with the Lord’s grace and help, we can grow in those areas.
This week I’d like to take a look at one obstacle that some wives experience: A Perceived Intelligence Gap.
But My Husband is Not as Smart as Me
Do you believe that you are smarter than your husband? The truth is, you might be in some ways. God has gifted each of us differently, and we all have different strengths and weaknesses. Some wives have a higher level of education than their husbands. Though that is not necessarily a correct way to gauge who is smarter or who should be listened to, many people including some wives look at it that way. This form of assessment is nothing new. In biblical times, the rulers and elders did not miss the fact that Peter and John were uneducated. This made Peter and John’s confidence surprising to them. (Acts 4:13) They were not the type of men they would expect to talk as they did. Interestingly, the Lord chose Peter and John to be leaders in the church even though they were uneducated and untrained. God has a way of doing things that runs contrary to the way we think things should go. (1 Corinthians 1:26-29)
Wives may differ from their husbands in other ways besides education. Like education, these differences may also lead to an assessment of who is smarter. Some wives have more mentally demanding jobs. Others have more knowledge about the Bible or world events. Others still may simply see themselves as smarter due to everyday interaction with their husbands. The question is, should a perceived intelligence gap have any bearing on whether or not a wife takes a submissive role to her husband? (Another question is should any of this affect the respect a wife gives her husband, but I will address that at another time, Lord willing.)
The short answer is no. Who is smarter really shouldn’t be the determining factor for who leads and who submits. There is no such qualifier in the Scriptures. Our roles are not based on our IQ’s. Our Lord has not said, “Wives submit unto your husbands as long as they are smarter than you”. (Nor has He said, “Wives submit to your husbands because you are less intelligent”. Some equate submission with lack of brain power, but that is simply not true.) The roles of headship and submission are not designated by anything except by God’s design.
The Reasoning Behind the Objection
I understand that when a wife believes she is smarter she may feel she is better equipped to be the leader and may resent needing to take a role that seems to invalidate her strength in this area. She may even think it’s unfair. Let’s take a look at these things.
When we think about being equipped for leadership, obviously intelligence is an important characteristic. However, as mentioned above, who is smarter is not the criterion that God has ordained for headship in marriage. We should not allow our own ideas of how to decide roles to replace God’s. God is the one who created marriage and everything else for that matter. This is His world and headship and submission is His design. I trust He set things up the way He did because it is what’s best. He created us male and female and knows us better than we know ourselves. I know we will be most blessed when we follow His way.
Secondly, taking a submissive role does not mean a wife’s intelligence is no longer needed. She can use her strengths under the headship of her husband. She can use her intelligence to support her husband and do him good all the days of her life. (Proverbs 31:12)
Contrary to popular opinion, being submissive does not negate intelligence, at least not in a marriage where the wife is loved and respected. My husband avails himself to my intelligence on a regular basis. We discuss all sorts of things including decisions for his business. He is wise and loves and respects me. He values my opinion and my intelligence. I imagine many husbands would respond in kind to their own submissive wives. Yes, there are exceptions out there. But I believe many men would be considerate when put in the position of leader, and that they would value their wives’ strengths.
As to the issue of fairness, if you feel it is unfair to submit since you are smarter, I ask you to please pray about that. To be honest, there was a time when I felt submission was unfair, but it had nothing to do with intelligence. It was an objection to being called to submit simply because I was a wife. The Lord worked in my heart to teach me to love His ways. I trust He can do the same for you.
I would like to address something that may turn this whole issue on its ear. It is possible that the judgment of who is smarter is not correct. There may be something else going on. A wife may hold this belief because she feels her thoughts and plans and assessments are simply always right and better. This can form the impression in her mind that she is smarter. I confess that I had some of this in me in the past. I use to think that I always knew best. It didn’t readily occur to me that the different direction my husband was suggesting or taking could be better or at least as good. I know. Arrogant! But I was not conscious of my arrogance or how off I was. I thought I was simply trying to direct things down the “correct” path. I recommend sitting down and prayerfully considering whether or not this is happening in your situation.
Help with Submitting
“Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.” Ephesians 5:22-24
If you have been doing most of the directing in your marriage due to your perceived higher intelligence and truly wish to obey the Lord and submit to your husband’s leadership, please pray for patience and humility and strength. Make time to reflect on the verses about submission and seek the Lord’s will. Examine your heart and pray about your objection. You may even have more than one objection. If you find any arrogance about your intelligence, our Lord is faithful to forgive. Also, trust that the man you choose to marry and the man the Lord joined you to can be a good leader. The chances are very good that your husband is plenty smart and is capable of doing a great job. How do I know? Well, you chose to marry him. I imagine that in your intelligence, you chose well. ;)
Help your husband to do well by encouraging him in his role. Use your God given gifts to help him in every way possible without managing everything he does. Remember, change will not happen overnight in either you or your husband; but always seek to move in the right direction – towards greater obedience to our Lord.