Thursday, January 28, 2016

If Only Submission Fit Into a Nice Biblical Box

{Written by Ken}
There are far too many Christians who want truth to fit into a nice box, their box, and their perspective. They too desire to be true to God’s Word, but we find that they are so black and white, right and wrong, that they are even more far right on issues of submission than we are. All truth must stay in a tension with others of God's truths, and once one truth is out of its tension against another, one falls off the horse of truth and into something God does not intend for us to believe or live.

The Christian life is intended for us to try to learn all of God’s will and to walk in His ways, as we walk in the Spirit. We find Pharisaical attitudes prevalent in our segment of Christianity, where we are all on the same side of trying to honor God at His Word, all of His Word, yet we disagree with those who reject a scriptural common sense where Christians are intended to walk in the Spirit of Truth, and not "the letter of the law."

On Lori’s post Stipulations to Our Obedience  a few wanted to take Lori to task for suggesting that a Christian wife who disagrees with her husband is to “gently tell him why you disagree but if it is not against God's commands, obey him.” One accused her of creating loopholes and the other implied that a wife could not express any disagreement without showing her facial and emotional expressions in an unsubmissive manner. We strongly beg to disagree with such faulty thinking and teaching, and we do this with scripture.

The perfect example of godly submission is Jesus Christ in His relationship with His Father. Not only are they One in all things, we are told that Jesus willingly submitted to the Father. As the apostle Paul teaches us in Philippians 2:5-8:

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,  but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

Jesus is our perfect example of what our submission should like to God, and in turn a wife’s desire to submit to her husband. Did Jesus ever make a request of his Father in sorrowful pleading? You bet He did as the Word says,

“And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, ’My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.’” {Matthew 26:39}

Notice now that not only did Jesus express Himself and His desires clearly, He also added that He was willing to suffer what God had planned for Him from the beginning of time. His submission was never in question, even as he asked the question, “If it be possible.” Note that Jesus’ request was even wrong, as He in His humanity was asking for something that God the Father in His infinite will could not grant Him because God knew what was best for Jesus and it was to suffer death so that He and His children may be gloried. Hence, I find that even a wife’s wrong request is not sinful, so long as she is willing to accept the answer “no,” and to submit.

Also notice that Jesus did not say it once and drop the matter, but instead asked twice. Although we might encourage a godly wife to express herself once, and if she knows she has been heard, drop the matter and submit, we are not opposed in vital matters for her to make a second request. If she feels the matter so critical to her marriage and family, she is invited to ask a second time, maybe even a third. Look at the Word on this matter:

“Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done" {Matthew 26:42}.

I am sorry, but those who have boxed in submission to mean that a wife ALWAYS obeys her husband, as it says “in everything” and never with questioning him on the matter, you have fallen off the horse of truth and must try to get back on. The best way to get truth back in tension is to check your heart on the matter. If your heart’s desire is to please God in everything, then indeed you will desire to also submit to your husband in everything. But there are times, hopefully very rarely in a godly marriage, but perhaps not so rare in a marriage where a wife is married to an unbeliever, where a wife must continually check her heart on this matter, and follow her husband in all things that are not clearly forbidden by God’s Word.

The concern for some is that many a wife may find this to be a “loophole” where she gets to pick and choose which areas she is to submit. She may make up her own views of what the Word permits or does not permit, and in doing so she has taken the reigns of the relationship and given herself an excuse not to submit. We understand this concern, and it is something that perhaps far too many Christian wives do to their husbands at times. For instance, it is not permissible in the context of godly submission for a wife to make up things that she feels the Word says, but in an area that many other godly believers would claim Christian liberty. No matter what your individual opinion about the Word may be, if it is not in conformity to what other godly believers would counsel, you must submit your will to your husband. In other words, a wife does not have permission to make up her own things of rights and wrongs or not submit in items of conscience, unless it is clearly defined in God’s Word. And a godly submissive wife should always question her own motives for why she does not want to follow her husband’s lead.

Lori’s post was quite clear that if it is not against God's commands, obey him.” This rightly assumes that a wife first stands in allegiance to her Lord and Savior, and second in submission to her own husband. Not her own loving husband, her godly husband or her sacrificial husband, but her husband, even if he is not a believer. But that said, God does not desire a wife to obey one of His strong and clear precepts of wifely submission just to blow off other clear Biblical commands. In all other areas of liberty, a wife is free to submit to her husband, even if she disagrees, and I believe she is covered by his authority when her conscience goes against his desires, yet she willingly submits. This is not to say that her conscience does not move her to ask a second time: “Will you let this cup pass from me, but if not, your will as my husband be done.”

We, as Believers, have much to be accountable to by God’s Word without adding in things that are not clearly forbidden. Let’s learn to trust in walking in the great liberty that the Lord gives us, and in all things not clearly forbidden, see them as permissible, yet some, or many things, still yet not profitable. If a husband decides to have you enter into an area that is permissible, yet you believe it unprofitable, express your concerns once, maybe twice, then enter into his will with joyful obedience if his mind cannot be tempered. The results may be that in time he will come to “be won without a word” or perhaps you will be won by a change in thinking realizing that indeed our God of liberty is not against what your husband desires. Either way, God is honored in the lessons learned, especially the valuable lesson learned by a husband that even at times when he is wrong, his willing companion sets aside her own will to conform to his will, just as Jesus has given us the perfect example of submission and humility.

How can a wife win a husband if she is not willing to follow, even at times when her spirit thinks that he is wrong? Pick your points to voice your concerns over clear Biblical violations, not on preferences or questionable issues. For the greater goal of a Oneflesh marriage is the conformity of two wills in harmony with God’s Will. And it is the husband’s responsibility to set the direction of the wills, and a wife’s role to willingly, and may I add, joyfully follow, if it is not clearly contrary to God’s Word.

Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.
Hebrews 13:17