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Love, Honor,Respect and Submission Are Gifts

939233_84038141 The passages about marriage in Ephesians 5, Colossians 3, I Corinthians 11:3, I Peter 3 and Titus 2 all give God’s commands for husbands and wives in marriage.

Before we dive in, let’s begin with the understanding that God made men and women with equal value – both are “image bearers of God” in Genesis 2.  We have equal worth and dignity as human beings, made in God’s image.  And in Christ we are all equal (Galatians 3:28).

I think it is interesting to note that each spouse is given direct commands by God that are without condition.

  There are no exceptions to the commands for either husbands or wives (with the one caveat for wives that they submit to their husbands “as unto the Lord” – so I understand this to mean that if a husband asks his wife to directly violate God’s Word, God’s authority and the authority of His Word trumps the husband’s authority.  For example, if a husband tells his wife to steal,  have an abortion, lie on the taxes, get drunk, do drugs, put something/someone above God in her heart, go to a strip club with him, have a threesome, etc…. it is a wife’s duty and responsibility before God to respectfully and firmly refuse to cooperate with such sin.)

God commands wives to submit to their husbands – which means, to honor their husband’s God-given authority. (Just like God commands all believers to submit to the government, bosses and church leaders – unless the authority is asking us to sin.   The apostles told the Pharisees “We must obey God rather than men” when the leaders told them to stop preaching in the name of Jesus in Acts. In God’s command for wives to honor their husband’s leadership, there is no “IF.”  As in, “If your husband:

  •  is a good leader”
  • has prayer with you every day”
  • leads family devotions”
  • goes to the church you prefer”
  • does things your way”
  • makes more money than you”
  • has a job”
  • deserves to lead the family in your estimation”

God commands wives to respect their husbands. Again, there is no “IF your husband is:

  • honoring God”
  • loving you the way you want to be loved”
  • making a certain amount of money
  • has a job”
  • is a Christian”
  • is the kind of father you want him to be”
  • deserves to be respected in your opinion”

God does not command us to respect sin.  And He does not command us to cooperate with sin, addictions, infidelity, physical abuse, etc.  If there are MAJOR problems like this in your marriage, that goes way beyond the scope of this blog, please find godly, mature, wise, experienced counsel. If you or your children are not safe, please get help ASAP!

God commands husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the church and gave Himself for her.  He also commands husbands not to be harsh with their wives, but to be tender with them.  He commands husbands to honor their wives as the weaker vessel and co-heirs with them in Christ.  There is no qualifier that the wife must do something in order for her husband to obey God or that the wife must earn her husband’s love.

The way a husband treats his wife is an indicator of the depth of his love, respect and reverence for God. A husband’s love for his wife is gift to her that springs from his love, obedience and reverence for Christ. A wife cannot force her husband to obey God and to love her as Christ loves her.  It is a gift he gives willingly because He loves and honors Jesus, so he loves and honors his wife.

A wife’s respect and biblical submission towards her husband are gifts that a wife gives freely to her husband out of her love, obedience and reverence for Christ, as well.   There is no qualifier that a husband must do something first before the wife obeys God or that the husband must earn his wife’s respect.  A husband cannot force his wife to respect him and submit to him.  

Jesus gives us free will.  He does not force us to obey Him.  He loves us and demonstrates His great love for us.  He invites us to come to Him.  He wants us to love, reverence and obey Him freely – not because we are forced to.

The way a wife treats her husband is an indicator of the depth of her love, respect and reverence for  God.

GOD’S COMMANDS TO HUSBANDS AND WIVES IN MARRIAGE ARE DIRECTED AT THEM INDIVIDUALLY

  • God does not say, “Husbands, make sure your wives submit to you and respect you.”
  • And He does not say, “Wives, force your husbands to love you and have a humble, servant’s heart towards you.”
  • Wives are responsible for their own obedience to God’s commands for them to respect and submit to their husbands.
  • Husbands are responsible for their own obedience to God’s commands for them to love, be gentle, not be harsh, be humble and give selflessly to their wives.

TRYING TO CONTROL OTHERS IS SELFISH, PRIDEFUL AND SINFUL – IT DOES NOT HONOR GOD OR OTHERS.  BEING CONTROLLING IS NOT LOVING.

When I as a wife tried to control my husband and make him do what I wanted to – I was attempting to violate the free will that God gave my husband.  I also repelled him and made him not want to be with me!  If a husband tries to control his wife and force her to do what he wants her to do – that violates a wife’s free will.  It will repel her, too.

What I am doing when I am being controlling is I am idolizing MYSELF.  I am putting myself in the place of God in my life and I expect my spouse and other people to obey me and submit to me as if I were God.  This mindset is built on HUGE pride, selfishness and a lack of trust in God.  I am saying I trust myself, not God.  I am attempting to take some or all of God’s sovereignty on myself.  It is sin for me to set myself up as god in my own heart.  It is sin for me to try to demand that others put me above God in their hearts, too.  It would be sin for others to cooperate with my demands.

It is ok for me to say, “I feel unloved.”  “What you said/did hurt me.” “I feel disrespected.” “Please don’t treat me like this.”  “Please don’t talk to me that way.”  But I cannot try to make someone do what I want them to do.

JESUS KIND OF LOVE

The love Jesus has for us is unconditional.  When we love as Jesus does, we have healthy boundaries.

  • We don’t try to force or coerce anyone to obey/submit to us or love us.
  • We don’t try to manipulate others with guilt, martyrdom, bribery, sabotage.
  • We don’t try to control people by being people pleasers thinking “If I am nice enough, he/she will HAVE to do what I want.”
  • We don’t try to change people ourselves thinking, “If I obey God, then God has to give me what I want, or then my husband has to change to be what I want him to be.”
  • We realize we are responsible for our thoughts, our behavior, our attitudes, our sin, our actions, our emotions, our spiritual development and our relationship with Christ.  And other people are responsible for their own lives.
  • We trust the sovereignty of God to work for our good and His glory instead of trusting self.
  • We love others because Jesus loves us.
  • We forgive others and have grace for them because Jesus forgave us and lavished us with grace
  • We repay evil with good

BIBLICAL SUBMISSION IS NOT

  • slavery
  • destroying a woman’s personhood
  • forced upon a woman
  • a woman having no opinions, no voice, no influence in the marriage and family

BIBLICAL SUBMISSION IS

  • given freely by a wife
  • part of the path to God’s peace and freedom
  • much less stressful for wives than trying to have control themselves
  • the beginning of finding God’s joy
  • totally counterintuitive to women and completely counter-cultural
  • one of the greatest tests of a woman’s faith in Christ – to believe that HE is sovereign “enough” to be able to lead her through her sinful husband
  • part of becoming a godly woman – a big part of having a gentle and peaceful spirit that does not give way to hysterical fear.
  • when a wife is free to share her perspective, her feelings, her desires, her concerns and ideas respectfully and her husband takes her opinions and desires into very careful consideration, seeking God’s will far above his own.
  • how a wife can rest in the sovereignty of God, knowing that even if her husband does make mistakes, God can and will use that for his good and her good ultimately – to make them more like Christ – and that God will use it for His glory in ways she can’t begin to understand at the time.

The KEY!

The key to all of this – is that when I am in an intimate relationship with Christ – when I have fully surrendered myself to Him and desire Him and find my life in Him alone – then obedience to God’s commands is a joy and delight.  When I am empowered by God’s Spirit to obey Him, His Words and commands bring LIFE, joy, peace, contentment, fulfillment, freedom for me – and then my life also brings great glory to God.  That is what this is all about ultimately!

My purpose in life is to exalt the Name of Christ and to shine for Him, sharing Him with the world, loving others simply out of the overflow of my supreme love and abandonment to Jesus.

16 thoughts on “Love, Honor,Respect and Submission Are Gifts

  1. As always, this was a blessing to my spirit. I like how you broke it down, and reiterated that there is no ‘if’ to God’s word….

    1. Corronda,

      You are welcome! I pray that we might all draw near to Christ – and see how marriage is such an incredible picture of the way Jesus loves and cares for and leads US – and how we are to respond with joyful, glad submission in an intimate relationship of being one Spirit with Him.

      Knowing the glory of God and what He designed marriage to represent – it is the most powerful picture of God’s love and care for us. And we get to portray the character and nature of God in the Trinity as well as the character and love of Jesus for us so that the world might be drawn to Him.

      It is all about Jesus! It really isn’t about us.

      I pray every husband and wife in the Body of Christ will see the desperate need we each have for Him and that we will accept Him as ALL that we need and the only thing that will satisfy our empty souls. Living in His will and by His wisdom brings so much joy and freedom in Him!

      Much love to you! 🙂

  2. This, I believe, points to a large issue in Christianity: We no longer believe God knows best. I heard someone say this past weekend that “God’s truths are a burden without a relationship with God.” (paraphrase)

    We see it in submission and headship, tithing, Sabbath keeping, devotional life, obeying our leaders, etc. etc. etc..

    I find in my life, the closer I get to God, the easier these things are to do. They transform from “do I have to?” to “I wouldn’t do it any other way, this really works and I like it!”

    Great post!

    1. Jay Dee,

      What a great point! I totally agree. Sometimes we approach God and our faith in Christ as if it were just a bunch of rules to follow that tie us down. Obligation and drudgery.

      But it is not about that at all! It is about relationship! I love the way David Platt talks about the origin of loving headship and glad submission between God and Christ in the Godhead. It is a holy, GOOD, sacred, beautiful thing – the oneness and love between the Father and Son.

      The world looks at the concept of authority and submission as oppressive and bad. And, there are distortions of God’s design that definitely are BAD. But God’s design is GOOD. David Platt talks about that if we balk at loving authority and glad submission in marriage, we are really balking at the character of God.

      When we are filled up with Him, desiring Him with all our hearts, minds, souls and strength – His Word and commands are a JOY and DELIGHT!

      Great comment. Thanks so much!

      1. Agreed, ladies. I am still struggling with the idea of trust, but one point that was brought out in this blog was it’s not about trusting.the husband but the Creator of us all…Amen

    2. That’s a very interesting take on the subject Jay.

      I think if you look back through the post and replace respect your husband with respect God or love your wife with love your God that it’s really just a blueprint for how we are to be in a relationship with God as well as our spouse.

      Our spouse is truely just here to help us learn and develop that relationship and those life attitudes with someone we can see and hear. For many that makes it easier than trying to create and have that relationship with someone they take on faith alone.

      But just as your last statement says, the closer the relationship the easier all those items become. It doesn’t matter if it’s husband and wife or your relationship with God if you follow what’s been laid out and make that relationship stronger all the things you think are hard become second nature and something you WANT TO DO just because it makes you happy and make the other person happy.

      The real struggle with most people in a relationship is to keep doing those things when that other person is just another sinner and does something hurtful to you and it makes you question why be respectful or loving if they are not doing that in return.

      Something we all get to work on and for those that are married you have someone that cares for you and is willing to help you work on that relationship which helps you in turn with your relationship with the one who truely matters.

      Great post as always!

  3. ah yes………………… submission. Gotta love that one; it’s by far the hardest thing for a woman to do. imo. It’s our FIRST sin. 😉

  4. I have been married fir 18 y r s. I married young (18) came from a broken family and was looking for love and to show love. Dont thunk i ever got it and havent really had the opportunity to give it to the fullest.

    While dating my husband would talk about Ephesians and submission. I was young didnt know what it all meant and now yrs later and throughout have been beat with the submission belt constantly.

    I hate it, its like im a gynie and ur wish is my command cause the bible says so. Im so sick of it it has turned me bitter and angry feeling worthless and unloved. That my narriage was only for gain biblical gain to control and not for love or servenathood.

    I pray ask God to help me and change me but the feeling of oppression now seems lije abuse of power and my marriage feels like im a citizen in a country with a ruthless dictator.

    I really dont want to be married anymore but i have kids. How am i suppose to change and put in completly in Gods hands when hI feel even forsaken by him. Am i the wrong rebelliius jezebel. Is this why God hasnt really answered. Me is he really leading me and my kids right with this kind of dictatorship i mean headship. I dont know what else to do or how else to pray

    1. Nicole C.,

      It doesn’t sound like a healthy definition of submission from what you are describing. I don’t know your situation. Would it be okay if I ask you a few questions to try to help you hash through what is going on?

      Most importantly, are you and your children safe?

      Much love to you!

  5. My submission has been a struggle. The more I fought it the more I fought my husband the more miserable we became. I confess that then I just gave up. I submitted but it was with a cold empty heart. A heart of exhaustion. And he took advantage of it. Not knowing of my inner attitude of resignation and exhaustion, he just basically enjoyed sex whenever he wanted and enjoyed me doing whatever he said. he had no idea and I was absolutely miserable.

    The turning point for me was leaving him. One day I went to a friend and asked to stay. It gave me breathing space. He was devastated. He had no idea. I was angry and deflated. He was angry and bewildered. At least then I did not have to have sex whenever he wanted. I could wear what I wanted (he used to make me wear mini skirts and other things). I could do what I wanted without risking an inquisition.

    Time passed. I had had my break and I started to think. then I started to pray and then I started to talk to him.

    We got back together but it was somehow wrong. We were both so scared to upset the other. He no longer lead. For a while I was king, queen and almighty over our house. but again I felt uneasy. I had all this freedom but still I was not satisfied.

    I guess one problem was that I had friends. good church friends who I respected who were telling me what I now see as the ways of the world. They were reinforcing that I had to be totally independent. I had to be in control. responsible. And that any idea of submission or deferring to my husband was weak and wrong.

    Then finally we began to talk.

    and talk

    and talk

    and pray together.

    What did I learn. Well he loved me. Yes he wanted sex and he wanted me to look sexy and sexual. In the end my rebellion had boiled down to just that. I was rebelling against him on just that. I had a job. I had a car. I had a house. I had friends, and faith and church. I had a university degree. He did not resent any of that. He supported me and encouraged me. I just never heard that because I hated the sexual aspect of our relationship and I think I hated it because I hated it and that colored everything.

    The only difference between before and after this realisation was our differences on sex and clothing or looks and we all know guys are visual.

    So I decided, with prayer, to put aside what my girlfriends had said and let him back in. Into my heart. It was measured at first. I was still controlling I realise but I was fragile. I was scared of getting sucked in and all this misery and resentment swamping me / us.

    The first thing I did was start to smile at him. then to accept his kisses. To kiss on the mouth. To let him touch me. I guess in those moments, I decided to let him have my body and enjoy it. Now I had not really ever been overly sexual and maybe because I had interpreted his touch as groping, I had withdrawn sexually. Who knows. Anyway I decided to just let him have his way with me. however (within reason) he wanted. Likewise I would, when I was with him, wear the mini skirts and stuff that he likes. In the end that’s was all it was. he did not want to control every aspect. he just wanted close intimate sexual and physical contact.

    I guess what I am trying to say is that once I started to resist, to rebel, I could find faults in every thing he did and once I started to submit to him, I no longer found those faults and in between I realised that I thought I was fighting a war on a thousand issues when really I was rebelling against just a couple.

    1. Kristen,

      Thank you so much for sharing this painful struggle you have been through! I love that you eventually both began to really talk and discover more about each other and what you each really needed and felt. Most husbands connect sexually in an emotional and spiritual way with their wives. Sex is very bonding for most husbands, kind of like deep intimate conversation is emotionally bonding for us. I’m thankful that you discovered that your husband really does love you and that you have been able to learn to enjoy him and allow him to enjoy you. What a gift!

      Praising God for what He is doing in your life and in your marriage, my sister!

My grandmother is on hospice and won't be with us much longer (11-30-16). I will get to comments when I am able to but I need to be with family right now. Thanks for understanding.

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