If you want to start a hot conversation among Christian women, bring up the word submission. You will likely hear heated opinions about what it means, whether it applies today, and practical questions about situations like abuse in marriage. As a clinical psychologist and a Christian who believes that the Bible is the authoritative Word of God, I've wrestled with this topic of submission while counseling women and couples through some deep waters.
Submission in marriage is one of those biblical teachings that can aggravate and anger Christian women. Some end up concluding that either the command for the husband to be the leader is for a different time and culture, or that the teaching is simply not reasonable for the modern-thinking woman. Although the Bible was written in a certain place and time, it represents unchanging truth that calls and equips us to be servants of God in every area of life, including marriage. Even on topics that make us bristle.
I've come to embrace that not only is the biblical teaching on marital submission true for today, but that it's a treasured secret that can unlock deep intimacy in marriage. Before you write me off, please know that I am a woman who loves to think. I have not turned off my brain in coming to this conclusion, and I don't want you to turn yours off either.
Submission is about power, not weakness
I was drawn to my husband, Mike, because, along with being a man of integrity, he was a lot of fun. He loves to talk and enjoy life, while I'm always thinking and working. During our years of dating, Mike would do crazy things that made me laugh and would challenge me to relax. This was very attractive while we were dating, but it set us up for conflict once we got married.
How could I submit to a man who was "less of a leader" (in the traditional sense) than I was? I was the planner, the responsible one. To make it more complicated, I was a psychologist—an "expert" in marriage and family. Shouldn't I take the lead in disciplining our children and setting the course for our family? If I took a back seat, wouldn't I be compromising who God made me to be? Wouldn't I be pretending to be stupid when God had given me knowledge and wisdom?