Welcome to part three of my series on submitting in everything. This series is written with Ephesians 5:24 in the spotlight. If you missed part one and two and would like to start reading from the beginning, please follow these links.
In this post, I am going to present some possible areas and situations in which submission could occur under the umbrella of “everything.” This is more about the application or the action of submission than the internal heart condition of a wife that out of obedience to God and His word consistently acknowledges her husband’s God-given leadership. However, that heart condition is a big part of submitting in everything because it is the foundation for the action. It sets up a consistent readiness to submit.
I am presenting the following lists because specific examples can help clarify what submitting in everything can entail. It can also help reveal any areas we have not yet submitted to our husbands’ leadership. Of course, we can’t really cover everything that might come up in marriage, so the following areas and situations will be representative of what might happen. Through them we will see that everything could extend to every area of a wife’s life.
I know, that can sound intimidating. I pray that this series helps in some way to make that less so as it is studied in light of God’s word. If need be, please revisit Part One and Two and read and reread the verses regarding submission. Pray for God’s help in understanding His will in this. Our desire to obey HIM in everything should be a great help. He should be our main focus and motivation in these matters. Love for our husbands can also be a great motivator. Let’s give them our best!
And remember, each marriage will experience “everything” differently. What shapes it practically speaking are the unique interactions that you and your husband have in each situation that comes up. Hopefully good communication and mutual respect and consideration are a big part of those interactions.
For some of us, “everything” could in practice be a small amount. For others, it could be a lot more. Regardless of how far everything extends in your marriage, all Christian wives should be ready to respond to the biblical, God given authority found in their own husbands and yield to their direction out of obedience to God.
Three Major Categories
I am going to divide everything into three categories: big, medium, and small issues. Below I have examples for each. The arrangement is not in stone. For example, what one wife thinks is a small issue, another wife might think is a medium one and vice versa. The main thing is that we see submission applied in everything.
It can be really hard to submit in the big issues. They can be life changing and therefore come with strong opinions and feelings. Fear can play a part too. We can imagine all sorts of negative outcomes if a different path is chosen from the one we would take. It takes a lot of faith to submit when you’re worried or scared. It takes a lot of humility to submit when you think you’re right. I have seen our Lord’s provision for both of these things. Trusting Him brings strength and courage to move forward, and His convicting word deflates pride. We can also find great comfort in the fact that the Creator of the universe cares for us. (1 Peter 5:7) In all of life’s situations, He causes all things to work together for good for us. (Romans 8:28) We can trust Him as we submit in the big issues.
Here are some situations that might come up in this category.
When to start a family
Whether to send your children to public school
or private school or to homeschool
To rent or buy a home
Whether or not to use daycare
When to call the doctor
What medical treatments to try
Where to worship
To move to a new city or not
When to retire
Resolving these matters is not always easy. Couples do not always agree on what to do. In all these cases, a wife’s submission can manifest by yielding to the will of her husband or simply by being willing to follow his leadership even if there is no disagreement. In the process of resolving issues, there may be varying degrees of discussion.
Handling discussions well can be a real challenge sometimes, but it is so important. I hope to look at that more closely at a later time. For now, I would just like to mention the need to be respectful. (Ephesians 5:33) That includes not harboring resentment or bringing up the matter again and again after your husband has made a decision or made it clear that the discussion portion is done.
For a long time, I thought this was the only category that existed for submission. Having only learned about submission shortly before I was married through reading the Bible, but not having really studied it or received any instruction in it, I thought that submission only came into play if my husband and I ever came head to head over something really big. Since then, I have learned that everything means much more than that.
It is in the medium and small issues that submitting in everything really starts to show. Submitting in these things demonstrates that a wife is not exempting her husband’s leadership from any area of her life. While the medium category may contain lesser issues, it can still be difficult to submit. We can still have strong opinions and feelings about these things. As in the first category, when working through issues in this category, our faith can play a big part in how we behave. Submitting in everything is greatly aided by prayer and trust in God. He is trustworthy and sovereign and filled with lovingkindness. Thankfully, we do not submit to our husbands in a vacuum. God is there.
Here are some possible areas of submission and situations for this category.
What Christian authors you read or speakers you listen to
Bible reading and study time
Negative emotions and thoughts
Tone of voice and demeanor
Which day care to use
Which car to buy
Where to go on vacation
Hair style and length
How much money to spend on Christmas gifts
Whether or not to get a pet
When to have sex
What to do in the bedroom
Housework and other chore management
Giving time and attention when it is requested
How to handle issues with minor and adult children
I am hopeful that as a wife expands her submission into more areas, she will see that her husband is capable of leading well and that she can trust him. She may even find joy and contentment in submission. I believe most husbands can and would lead with compassion if given the chance.
OK, this is the category were some of my readers might recoil and think, surely not THAT!! Though I imagine that could have already happened. But, here’s the biting truth: I put the things on the following list for the same reason I included the things on the other two lists. We are to be subject to our own husbands as to the Lord and as the church is subject to Christ, in everything. That must include small things. Jesus is in authority over us and the church in all matters, not just over what we would call “big” ones. Though we may find it a lot easier to obey Him when it comes to not murdering someone verses not gossiping, we are still subject to Him in both. We shouldn’t qualify issues with Him or our husbands. (Ephesians 5:22-24)
This does not mean we should forget about what I covered in my first post in this series, namely the all-important exception to submission. Before submitting, we must always make sure that it is not contrary to God’s word. And as I have said before, the Bible does not teach that wives must submit to domestic abuse.
I could say that small issues are the easiest things to submit in since they are – small, but that is also the exact same reason why some wives might find submission in these things hard or even ridiculous. A wife might think that since they are small they don’t need to be under her husband’s headship. But they do, if he cares about them. A wife who is subjected in everything is non-contentious even in the small things.
Here’s a short list of small issues.
How much to tip the waitress or waiter
How home renovations will be handled
When to have discussions about problems/heavy issues
If Christmas cards will be sent out
What to watch on TV
Where to sit in the movie theater
I hope these lists have successfully demonstrated just how comprehensive submitting in everything can be. Please remember, what’s on these lists are just examples. Each couple would have their own unique list that could change with time. What’s important is to be ready to submit in everything that matters to your husband.
The Heart of the Matter
Being willing to even consider submitting in everything doesn’t come easy. So if you’ve read this far, praise God! This submission that we are called to can be hard to accept, especially in this day and age. I would never minimize that. Growing into it was hard for me, and I still struggle with it. Just ask my husband! But I always come back to the same thing. It is a command of God. It is His will for me. I may not always like this command, but I am His. (1 Corinthians 3:23, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20) Therefore, because of who He is and what He has done, my heart is drawn strongly towards His will. I must not fail to mention that living this way has transformed my marriage and my walk for the better. It is not for naught. God knows what He’s doing, and I trust Him far more than I trust myself. If He says this way is best, I believe Him. Furthermore, I love my husband and want to give him the best, to the glory of God.
If you find all this to be incredibly gut wrenching, I really do understand. I am not oblivious to the fact that real disappointment and problems can sometimes develop in marriages when the verses about headship and submission are misunderstood or misused. I’m not insensitive to that and plan on addressing those things in time. I also know that there can be many other obstacles too. There is pressure from our culture, family, friends, and a whole bunch of personal reasons why we might run from this.
If you are a not a Christian wife, I imagine you might be passed out by now. I understand, but please don’t let this interfere with learning about Jesus. I assure you, when you are His, He provides what you need to follow Him. He not only gives strength but also a desire to please Him, and there is joy in that far beyond anything you seem to lose by being submissive.
If you are a Christian wife and are having difficulties with submission, I can encourage you that God can help you grow in this area and come to peace with it. One of the greatest helps is remembering that ultimately it is God we are called to obey. We submit to our husbands because of our relationship with the Lord. And through that, we get the honor of picturing the relationship of Christ and the church. Remember Ephesians 23-24.
“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 5:23-24)
And that’s the heart of the matter. Will we obey our Lord in this? May our desire to please Him and a correct view of His holiness and proper fear of His wrath and the enjoyment of everything about Him that we love motivate us to humbly kneel before Him and say, “Yes, Lord. I will follow you. I will obey You. I will submit in everything by the help that You give me. (John 15:5, Philippians 2:13) Please forgive me and please help me.” I pray this for you; I pray it for me every day.
Posts in this Series
Part One: Are Wives Really to Submit in Everything?
Part Two: What Does it Mean to Submit in Everything?
Part Three: Real Life Situations For Submitting in Everything (This post)
Part Four: How to Begin Submitting in Everything
See Also: Submission Verses: Quick Reference
Additional Resource: Domestic Abuse in Marriage
Excerpt: “Though I have consistently affirmed submission in my ministry work, I have also repeatedly stressed that wives should not submit to anything that is contrary to God’s word. The Bible does not teach that wives should submit to domestic abuse. I do not believe that wives default settings should be to suffer in silence even in small things, never mind serious abuse.”