If you decide to obey God’s Word about respecting your husband and honoring his God-given leadership (Ephesians 5:22-33) – I believe your marriage will be greatly blessed. I believe you will likely find much greater intimacy with your husband. You will definitely find incredible intimacy with God as you submit completely to Jesus first and then want to obey Him in everything. You will find God’s joy, peace and abundant life as you walk this road.
It will be painful first – as you die to yourself and have to see your own huge sin and repent of all of that. Digging out all the decades of lies, idols, pride, disrespect, controlling behavior/attitudes, unforgiveness, bitterness and misunderstanding about God and His design is HARD! Then you begin to rebuild your life on Christ alone and His Word alone. You throw out everything you thought you knew about femininity, masculinity, being a godly woman, being a godly wife, marriage and even being a Christian and understanding who God really is. You begin to realize just how toxic our culture is and how very far we have strayed from God’s Word. But as you follow Christ and obey Him – you discover that His yoke is easy and His burden is light and that you will have freedom, joy, peace and a huge weight off of your soul that you have never experienced before. It is the most wonderful thing in the world to live in obedience to God and be full of His Spirit!
Many wives quickly discover that when they talk about respecting their husbands, they begin checking with their husbands before making decisions and they begin to live with their husbands’ authority/protection/provision/covering over them instead of trying to please all the other people in their lives – other people sometimes get really angry. A turf war for control begins.
Many wives learned to be disrespectful and controlling wives by watching the dynamics in our own families growing up. (I think I learned it from being a dominant twin, my mom wasn’t controlling or disrespectful at all, interestingly!) So our original families are where this new way of living will probably receive the greatest amount of criticism. The people I have seen who get the most angry with wives are controlling extended family members who suddenly find that they don’t have power over these women anymore. To these family members, losing control over their loved one is UNACCEPTABLE. Many times, families begin to up the pressure, the guilt, the manipulation and attempts to control wives because that is what they have always done in that family and they cannot tolerate that this woman is no longer under their control. For a controlling person to realize that he/she no longer “has control” over someone is the ultimate insult and nightmare.
Trying to control other people is idolatry of self – it is sin. It is saying that we are sovereign and have to make everything work out right, not God. It is saying that other people don’t have a free will but must do what we say. This is how I lived for DECADES – trying to control others and be a people pleaser (which meant allowing others to control me).
We do not have to submit ourselves to that! THANK GOD! The only One Who is qualified and worthy to have control over me is God – when His Spirit fills and controls me, I have His joy, peace, love, patience, kindness, goodness,faithfulness, gentleness and self control! (Galatians 5:22-23). I either am controlled by God’s Spirit or by my sinful nature. Those are the choices. If I give in to the controlling and manipulative tactics of other people, I am allowing my sin nature to be in control of me, not God.
It’s interesting to me that family members will say, “You are oppressed! You don’t get to have a mind of your own anymore. How dare you listen to your HUSBAND!?!?!” – like that is the most heinous thing in the world. “GASP!!!! You are listening to your HUSBAND??????? How awful!!!!!! There is no hope left for you!”
But these same people are totally fine with being controlling themselves over these women – even though that is wrong and the wives who are respecting their husbands are actually walking in obedience to God. We like to call evil, “good” and good, “evil” in our society. If the family exerts sinful control and the woman caves to them in an effort to be a people pleaser – that is labelled “good” in these families. NO! NO! People pleasing is sin – actually, the worst kind of sin – it is idolatry!! We are to please God, not men. And God commands us to LEAVE our parents and all other human relationships behind as secondary and cleave to our husbands. There should be clear boundaries around our marriages that well-meaning, loving family members cannot cross. It’s time to let go of unhealthy boundaries and trying to control other people and erect healthy boundaries – that is better for everyone in the family!
We have a covenant with our HUSBANDS and with GOD. Not with our parents, sisters, friends or coworkers. I no longer answer to my parents as my God-given authority. I answer to my husband as my God-given authority when I am married. If we don’t get that straight, we are in for a lot of misery and possibly the destruction of our marriage.
Our family members/friends/coworkers need the freedom Jesus can bring, too! We can pray for God to open their eyes to their sin and we can pray that God might use our example to draw them to Himself. Being a controlling person is awful. It is a stressful, frustrating, anxiety-producing, lonely life. That is how most of us used to be. PRAISE GOD, there is hope for change and a new life in Jesus!
IN THE CHURCH
You can expect other people, even people who call themselves Christians, to say that you are “oppressed” or that you have “joined a cult” if you begin to respect your husband and honor his leadership. Seriously. Just saying that you trust your husband once or twice can get you labels like this. That just blows my mind!
Even in the church – many people do NOT understand God’s design. Our culture’s influence has poisoned the church, too. There are so few women living as godly wives that it is extremely difficult in many places to find a godly wife as a mentor who actually obeys the Bible about marriage on even the most basic level. This is a huge problem.
Pray for a godly mentoring wife to talk to as you learn on this journey. And you may always find support, prayer and encouragement here.
It is hard enough trying to learn to completely submit and yield to Christ and die to self and live with Christ as Lord and learn His design for marriage without opposition. But I want you to be aware that you will likely face opposition. There are many people you may not be able to talk with much about what you are learning. That is ok!
Thankfully, God can take what other people mean for harm and use it for good. I find that when people insult me, mock me, verbally attack me (sometimes pretty viciously) – it is a great reminder to me that I answer to God and I answer to my husband. I do not answer to these other people. God calls me to love them and to respond to them with prayer, kindness, respect, gentleness and goodness. But I am no longer a slave to pleasing other people. I used to do that. It is a form of idolatry – desiring to please people more than desiring to please God.
- People pleasing is OPPRESSIVE!
- Having my sinful nature controlling me was oppressive.
- Grieving God’s Spirit and not having His power filling me was oppressive.
Now, I am living to serve and honor and please God alone. That is FREEDOM, joy and peace! What a relief! I don’t have to try to make everyone happy anymore. That was an impossible and extremely stressful goal. I love people, but I am not oppressed by them anymore. I will stand before Jesus Christ to give an account one day – not to any friend, family member, coworker or someone who reads my message online.
When we stand for God’s Word and His truth – we will be hated by this world. We will be persecuted to some degree. And God says that we are blessed and to give thanks that we are counted worthy to suffer insult for the Name of Christ. It is totally worth it to do things God’s way! I am not ashamed of my Jesus AT ALL! I thank God EVERY DAY for what He has done for me, my husband, our marriage and our family! And I thank Him every day for all that He is doing in so many of YOUR marriages!