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When "Submit" Feels Like a Dirty Word – by Shannon Popkin

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Bio

Shannon Popkin is a speaker and writer from Grand Rapids, MI. Shannon enjoys blending her love for humor and storytelling with her passion for God’s Word. Shannon’s first book, Control Girl: Lessons on Surrendering Your Burden of Control From 7 Women in The Bible will be published by Kregel Publications in 2016/2017. Check out Shannon’s blog at www.ShannonPopkin.com, where she shares “Tiny Paragraphs” from everyday life as a wife and mom, which are tucked back into the One True Story of God.

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By: Shannon Popkin

God doesn’t use swear words; I know this full well. But if I’m honest, the word “submit”—which God uses often when He instructs wives—sometimes feels like a dirty word.

Picture this. You’re at the mall, and you see a husband and wife who are obviously having an argument. Their body language is terse and their tone is sharp. The wife looks frustrated and angry, as she folds her arms across her chest and turns her back toward her husband. Should you, at that moment, approach this wife and suggest she submit to her husband?

I know I wouldn’t. But this is exactly what God does in his Word. When I am the angry, terse wife, crossing my arms—convinced that my husband just doesn’t understand, God whispers softly, “submit.” But often, as that word clanks against my iron will, I bristle. It feels degrading and insulting. I’m to submit, simply because I’m a woman? How can that be right?

God’s Curse Word

There’s another word which God did speak as a curse over women: the word “desire”. After Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, God told her, “Your desire will be for your husband.” (Gen. 3:15, emphasis mine.) This word always baffled me because I thought it meant a sexual desire. I figured if I had more of that kind of desire, my husband would not consider it a curse.

Then one day, I was painting my laundry room and listening to John Piper preach a sermon on the curse of Genesis 3. He used parallel language from the next chapter in Genesis to explain that this word “desire” was a desire for control[i]. God was telling the woman that she would be cursed with a desire to control her husband. Now that did make sense to me.

With paintbrush in hand, I realized that I, too, as a daughter of Eve, am cursed with the desire to control my husband. For me, this was like finally—after a lifetime of suffering its effects—being diagnosed with a degenerative disease that had been passed on to me from generations back. Suddenly all of my symptoms made sense. I always wondered why I was so testy, obstinate, and even surly toward this man I love so desperately. Now I understood. As a daughter of Eve, I am infected with a desire to control him.

That day that I was painting the laundry room was over a decade ago. I’d love to say that understanding my “condition” has healed my desire for control, but this is not the case. As long as I live under the curse, I will struggle with a desire to get my hooks into the people I love. I have, however, gotten better at recognizing my desire for control.

 

Recognizing my Desire for Control

Recently, my husband and I were driving to our daughter’s swim meet. In the back seat was our angry tween, who was wishing he could be at a birthday party with his friends. This privilege had been revoked because of his attitude (which wasn’t improving).

I’ve noticed that my desire for control seeps beyond the bounds of marriage and into all of my relationships—especially parenting. And especially when my child is being rebellious and rude. As we drove down the highway, I felt the desire for control rising up in me. “His insolence is going to destroy his life,” I said to myself. “I’ve got to stop him. I’ve got to do something right now!”

And so I did. My swelling desire for control erupted in the form of white-hot, spewing words. My voice was loud and commanding. My words had manipulative undercurrents and harsh overstatements. I lectured. I shamed. I warned. I demanded. I gave full vent to my desire for control.

And how did my son respond? He recoiled. He folded his arms in anger and said he didn’t care. There was stubbornness, not remorse, in his tone.

Just as I began to launch round two of my lecture, my husband cut in. “Shannon, stop.”

Stop? I couldn’t stop. I shouldn’t stop! I ignored him and kept going.

“Shannon, stop.” Quietly, but forcefully, my husband put his hand on mine. “Stop. It. You’re making it worse,” he said quietly.

“No, I’m not! He needs to hear this!” I said in a loud whisper. But my husband wouldn’t back down. He calmly assured me that he would handle it. For the rest of the drive, he wanted me to be quiet. Then when we arrived, he wanted me to get out of the car and let him deal with the situation. Alone. Without me.

Well that pretty much felt like a total loss of control, especially for a Control Girl like me. My arguments were burning a hole in my heart. My son needed my correction. He needed it right now! From my dark corner in the passenger seat of our car, I cried out silently to God. Was He seeing this?

Just then, the word “submit” flashed through my conscience. It’s in moments like these that this word feels like a swear word to me. It seems degrading for God to ask me to defer to my husband. Especially when I know I’m right!

Yet I’ve learned that it rarely feels like I’m living out the curse in the moment I’m doing so. Taking control often seems right and good. And submitting to my husband feels quite wrong.

A Moment of Choice

Oh how I wanted to overrule my husband and continue my lecture. My heart was screaming with the desire for control. But rather than giving in to myself, I gave in to God.

I always picture yielding to God as a quiet, peaceful experience; yet it is some of the most grueling, challenging work of my Christian life. Yes, I was sitting quietly on my side of the car that night, but inside I was doing battle with my flesh! Stepping from that car and deferring to my husband was my way of passionately yielding to God—trusting that His ways are better than mine.

Fifteen minutes later, as I sat in the bleachers overlooking the pool, I saw what I couldn’t see back in the car. My husband was right. I had been making it worse. My heart had deceived me again. My words had been like a harsh, driving wind, causing my son to hold tighter to his pride and belligerence.

Just as a tear of remorse trickled down my cheek, my son slid onto the bleacher seat beside me. He put his arm around my shoulders and gave me a warm squeeze, saying, “I’m sorry, mom. I was so wrong. I see that now. Will you forgive me?”

Ladies First

Have you ever noticed that the wife’s instructions to respectfully submit to her husband come before her husband’s instructions in the Bible? Since he is named the leader, I would expect his instructions to come first, but it’s the opposite. (Eph. 5:22-25, Col. 3:18-19, I Pet. 3:1-7). Why is that?

I think it’s because my husband can’t lead me if I’m not willing to submit. Ken can shut down my lecture, yes. But he can’t make me submit to him. He can only invite me to. But when I do, God blesses me. Sometimes I even get the warm squeeze and apology that I was hoping for in the first place. And even when my husband doesn’t handle a situation with wisdom, or things don’t turn out well after I defer to him, God uses submission to reverse the curse—this wretched desire I have to control everything—in my heart.

Submitting to my husband is exactly what my controlling heart screams for me not to do. So when I submit (which is the opposite of taking control), I break the curse’s hold on me. I free myself to be healed of sin’s effects. I invite peace and restoration to my relationships. This is what God has in mind when He asks me to submit to my husband. He knows that my desire is to control, and He’s gently leading me to do the opposite.

Is “submit” a degrading curse word against women? Hardly. It’s actually the way that wives like me can break free from the curse, and be healed.

 

RELATED:

What Is Biblical Submission?

Biblical Submission Is Not Passivity

Biblical Submission – a Huge Key to Peace

Can a Wife Overdo Biblical Submission? – by Nikka

The Pendulum Effect – we are all tempted to go too far one way or the other (too passive or too controlling)

Fear Fuels Our “Need” to Control

What Causes a Woman to Become Controlling? – Peacefulwife Video

Overcoming Fear

Fully Trusting God with My Husband

Posts about Control – by Peacefulwife

Spiritual Authority – a general overview of a foundational doctrine

A Husband’s and a Wife’s Authority in Marriage

Husbands Are Never the Absolute Authority 

What Is Godly Spiritual Leadership?

What Biblical Headship/Submission Look Like at Our House

 

55 thoughts on “When "Submit" Feels Like a Dirty Word – by Shannon Popkin

  1. Really enjoyed this read, as; no disrespect to April, but I’ve recently read a series of books by Laura Doyle on submission, which are truly amazing. These books don’t mention the bible or quote scriptures, but I was excited as I read all the advice was biblical, and Laura confirms, it works. She is determined to stamp out world divorce, a noble ambition, and I’m sure one God would applaud and encourage. I myself have never felt the desire to control my husband, but strangely, and I think the root cause of many of our problems is that my husband seems to want me to control him, and is not comfortable with responsibility. Maybe a future blog for April to tackle…..Husband who can’t cope with responsibility?

    1. angiecliffordskitchen,

      Thanks so much for sharing about Laura Doyle’s books. 🙂 Her book, The Surrendered Wife, was one God used so powerfully in my life to help me see my control and much of my pride and sin, even though she doesn’t write from a Christian perspective. I haven’t read her other books, but I am sure there is a lot of helpful stuff there – we just want to carefully weigh everything against Scripture – as we should with any human author. 🙂 I know she used to say she wasn’t endorsing submission, but taught “giving up unnecessary control.” That is a big part of submission, of course, but doesn’t acknowledge a husband’s God-given leadership. So it would be interesting to see what she said.

      I do have some posts about that, actually, about how we can encourage our husbands to be leaders. Some husbands don’t want to take on leadership because they are afraid they will fail. Ladies may search my home page search bar for:

      – lead
      – leader

      Much love! 🙂

    2. AngiecliffordskitchenI: When I married my husband in 1981 I did not want to control him. I saw him as a warrior in the defense of this nation and its people and of myself, but three and a half years latter, he came home after 956 days under water. the rest of the time in sequestered schools or refits. and this man came home as emotionally hard as the steel ships he served on.
      We had been warned by the Navy that he was considered as paranoid due to extreme exhaustion, (His last refit he had a chief that kept him on duty for 106 hours without sleep), the Navy apologized in a formal letter to me about how my husband had been abused, by them slipping through the regulation cracks and not getting leave or R and R the last three and a half years because the navys need for people in his rate that had my husbands qualifications.
      When my husband was coming home His father who wanted him to reup, along with his friends, Told me that the area was just getting back to a little normalcy after the 1981 recession, That they really did not need my husband coming home, with his accrued seniority, and just using it for his wants harming others with hopes needs, and aspirations, So I agreed to somehow keep him from using his seniority for the first two years he was home to keep him from taking a different shift, job, holidays off, the vacation slot he wanted. In general the things everyone else wanted my husband was to be kept from forcing others to do because he had more seniority than 60 percent of the 7500 person work force.
      It was not three days home before the terrible arguments started. The first day home It stated with his father screaming since he wanted out so bad he could go back to work the first day home, It was explained to me that evening they could not let him have time off or he would expect it. I did not see him until the second day home when his mother came in begging me to help stop a murder. My husband was so angry his father yanked him off the sofa where he had been told to sleep after getting home from his first second shift 12 hour day that morning. His father was straight arm pinned to the ceiling turning blue, with my husband hand in the middle of his chest yelling at his father he had just climbed on his last nerve and he was getting off, We got my husband to drop his father, who ran off crying he had no time to deal with me. By the next day we had found, selected and paid for the house we were renting, arranged for the things from South Carolina to be delivered the next day. My husband was also angry that a process server met him at his work gate the night before with a guardianship the state was assigning on me for my bi polar illness.
      He had also put in his shift preference in for days a few minutes after he received the guardianship. He was bumping a pretty young 19 year old girl off days, she was in beauty padgets. Had a very active social life. And she was waiting with her mother crying on his fathers shoulder, about how second shift would ruin her life. So before my husband left for work. I was telling my husband that he had to just lay off his seniority rights the next two years, that’s when I would live up to being a wife in all ways. but until then he needed to just be a human and look to others needs.
      He slammed out of the house, calling me a mercenary b****. . Left me crying in the kitchen thinking he just needed to understand I did not want to start a life in that society with people angry.
      The next two years was bad, he barely talked to me, every week he would says wen was I going to contriibut something to the marriage. at times I could not even move for days fearing he was coming home angry about the cards he was dealt. When The vacation to Rome came up two years latter, We asked my husband to arrange for it for an entire group with a union perk he had, The trip would cost less than 40 percent of full price. when his father came over and told me we had to figure out a way to get my husband to cancel his vacation slot. To let the same young girl get married in Rome.
      So I went hat in hand and explained that he would have what was a stack of favors owed already if he would just take a different time and stay home. I told him we could arrange for a different time latter. I thought the roof was still on the house he was in my room getting my bible, He sat in front of the typewriter and I thought the springs were going to fly out of it , and he called a neighbor who was a notary to witness something. I swore that upon my return, that any time, any where and any way he wanted I would be both a willing bed partner and travel companion. The notary even sealed my signature on this promise which I discovered was a trap. I went to Rome with insults thrown at his father, friends and the girl, His imitation of slavery at the airport made everyone want to hide, then dumping every ones luggage in the road as he screahed off with his finger in the air was considered by all to be the most petty way to be about doing something nice for someone.
      In Rome we decided he was taking his three weeks between January the second and February the 14th. Nobody wanted that time. and it would not get into other peoples needs.
      When we got back the Scene was a terror that Saturday morning. My husband was going to take everyone home and he was planning to leave that morning to take us on a 3000 mile road trip to Yosemite. No discussion with any one, I was tired after the flight, just wanted him to take us to breakfast and I would give him the peace offering I bought in Rome, A pair of boots that would have cost 1000.00 here, and talk about what we could do in January.
      He said to late to make reservations someplace nice, they were already booked for that time. I said what about his road trip then. He said he was not crazy enough to try and drive any where in mid winter.
      I also knew if he took those next three weeks then the Genie was out of the bottle s to speak, There would never be cooperation from my husband and all any one would hear was how mean he was over making people work holidays, weekends he did not want t work. and he would do as he pleased and no more peace.
      I found my self on a bus back to my mothers a half hour latter. A divorce filing he was sending that after noon. and a determination that he was going to rule his life, It took a court order to get him into work that day. It remained in effect until 2000 12 years latter. There were other very terrible fights about working day in and day out and many promises made the next time. please don’t ruin some body’s hopes. It was so nice on the holidays for a friend to come up and say how my husband working allowed there son, daughter or family member have that holiday off while he worked.
      I admit time got out of control. and in 2001 my husband was out of control, first the brain surgery july 31 2001. Then his father and others refusal to let him have the recommended recovery. forcing him back to work six days latter ( they actually yanked him off his sleeping mat and took him to work) I had been put on my rear in the living room when they came in.
      Then my husband getting violent in not letting people force him again.
      The compliments about my husband dried up and everthing that we tried getting my husbands Cooperation ended up even some times the only way to get him to go to work on vacations and holidays was the use of firearms to push him in to work. even with that people walked away bleeding and broken. He was then in rehab starting in 2009. MRSA was in his spine, He lost Nerve imput from top ogf his legs down.
      Now all I do every night is sit and cry, I remain so scared of him after he came home from rehab with no intension to talk through needs any longer. He took from me what I had withheld for 31 years, He took any promise, that I make and tells me I was and am a liar. as well as any right to turn him away again,
      He told his father and others to get out of his house on Christmas under the barel of a riffle. It was the first time in 33 years. any one left my home hungry. All because control has not been possible the last three years without his stalking and hurting any one that gets in his way.
      I never could fund a middle ground for him, everyones game was all or nothing until my husbands resentment built. I now have a two year old out otf the night resntent came to a head, When he refused to talkl any thing over and he did not allow me to say no. As I said I sit and cry a lot know trying to think of something I can do to stop this. Cycle of defiance and hate. It has gone so wrong its in courts. They said my husband had rights that we decided he should not have.
      He is using that as a club to destry everthing everyone felt was good, He’s tyrannical, Anti conservative, pro liberal, anti NRA. Even though he has a riffle hes very good with.

      1. Callie,

        Wow. 🙁

        What an incredibly sad, painful, and tragic history.

        Are you still living together? Do you believe you are safe? You think he may rape you again?

        Have the police become involved?

        I don’t understand a lot of what happened or why it happened – why his family could decide that he could never have a day off and that wasn’t his decision to make for himself, why there was no sex for so long, why there is so much violence… The whole thing is very confusing to me. I’m sure you are aware at this point that all of this is incredibly dysfunctional. 🙁

        What help are you both receiving now to try to bring healing to each of you individually and/or as a couple?

        How is your relationship with Christ going, my dear sister?

        What is his relationship with Christ?

        What do you want to happen in your relationship with God and in your marriage?

        What spiritual support do you both have?

  2. Great post! With God’s help, we can have victory over this area of our lives. We just need to stop insisting we try it on our own first.

  3. I would just like to add that the word is “sub” + “mission”. We wives are in this “mission” to live godly lives whether or not our husbands or kids are, but always according to God’s perfect plan, and we are the “sub” part of this. God know it’s hard at times to take a back seat and close our mouths, and let the husband take over. We seem to think we know better. But isn’t that what Eve thought as she ate of the fruit and then shared it with her husband? So in all things (except sin), let us ask the Lord for help in performing our part in this wonderful role of being godly, Christian wives. When those around us see our submission and meek and quiet spirits yielding to the wills of our (saved or unsaved) husbands, they will see the glory of God move in our lives, and know there is something different about us, and our husbands, families, and even strangers, will find that beautiful. When we find our place, according to God’s plan, we can and we will be blessed, and happy.

    1. Susanna,

      YES! We are on a mission for God. That is the ultimate thing – to bring glory to Him, to be fruitful in His kingdom, to please Christ, to bless the Body, and to see many people come to know Jesus as Savior and Lord! LOVE THIS!

      Thank you so much for sharing and reminding us that the ultimate purpose of God’s design for us as wives is that people will see Christ in us and that they will be drawn to Him as they see His power, love, peace, humility, compassion, strength, joy, and beauty on display in our lives, in our attitudes, our demeanor, our words, and our actions.

      WOOHOO! 🙂

      That is so true! There is no better place to be than the center of God’s will. That is where He is – and that is where our Treasure is and more peace, joy, and fulfillment than we could ever imagine.

  4. I really enjoyed this and I have so often been the wife hubby has had to say, just let it go, let me handle this. Yes, I’ve met “control girl” and she can make everyone miserable. Setting that down and doing things Christ’s way is freeing, peaceful, a great blessing.

    I have to say however, the curse of Eve is not an idea I endorse. It is a concept that has been perverted in the world and used to justify abuse. If you read the chapter carefully, God blames the serpent, He does not curse His own children. God curses the serpent and He curses the ground. God actually gently clothes Adam and Eve in skins and He already has a plan in place to redeem them. Even if you do perceive those words as being curses, Christ died on the cross. He had victory there, the curse is broken. It is finished.

    There are so many in the world today who tell me women are inherently bad because of the curse of Eve and that is often used as justification to mistreat us. God is not cursing us, there are consequences for sin, but even in that He is merciful and kind.

    1. Insanitybytes22,

      Adam and Eve chose to sin, and therefore, chose the consequences of the curses related to sin.

      Here is the passage, for anyone who may not be familiar with Genesis 3:

      So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this,

      “Cursed are you above all livestock
      and all wild animals!
      You will crawl on your belly
      and you will eat dust
      all the days of your life.
      And I will put enmity
      between you and the woman,
      and between your offspring and hers;
      he will crush your head,
      and you will strike his heel.”
      To the woman he said,

      “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe;
      with painful labor you will give birth to children.
      Your desire will be for your husband,
      and he will rule over you.”
      To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’

      “Cursed is the ground because of you;
      through painful toil you will eat food from it
      all the days of your life.
      It will produce thorns and thistles for you,
      and you will eat the plants of the field.
      By the sweat of your brow
      you will eat your food
      until you return to the ground,
      since from it you were taken;
      for dust you are
      and to dust you will return.” Genesis 3:14-19

      God certainly cursed the serpent and the ground. But there also were new hardships that Adam and Eve would experience themselves because of sin. The painful childbearing and labor, the conflict and new power struggle in the marriage relationship, the difficulty providing food for the family (for the husband)…

      I do not at all believe that any husband is justified to mistreat or abuse his wife based on Eve sinning first or her being deceived or the curses in Genesis 3. That kind of blows my mind that some husbands would use that as an argument to justify sin. (If anyone is interested, in more on how I do not condone any abuse against a spouse, please read here. And for a post about how violence and abuse have no place in our relationships as believers, please read here.) It makes no sense to me for a husband to abuse his wife because of what Eve did. Using that logic, Adam was much more responsible for sin – because he knowingly sinned and didn’t stop Eve. God required him to bear the greater responsibility for sin entering the world – and throughout the rest of Scripture, Adam is the one named as responsible for causing sin to enter the human race, not Eve. But God holds each of us accountable and responsible for our own sin – so we really can’t blame Adam and Eve. We would have done the same thing, unfortunately. And we have!

      God holds each person responsible for his/her own part in the fall, is what I see here. God holds Satan responsible for his actions. He holds Adam responsible for his sin, and He holds Eve responsible for hers. But how thankful I am that YES! Jesus became a curse for us – took the thorns of the curse on His head as a crown, sweat drops of blood for us, and has set us free from all of the curses that the Fall brought upon us!!!! PRAISE GOD FOR THAT!

      All of us are wretched sinners (Romans 3:23, Isaiah 64:6) apart from Christ – men and women. There is no one who does good, according to Scripture. We are all evil on our own in our old sinful nature. BUT – Jesus offers to crucify that old nature on the cross with Him and to bury it with Him in the grave. Then He gives us His Spirit and a new nature and we are new creations in Him! We are set free from the curse of sin and death and we get to know God and be with Him here and forever in heaven! Yes! Jesus has overcome the curse of sin and death and has provided salvation from hell if we will receive it and yield to Him as both Savior and Lord. 🙂 He will restore all things for us – beginning here, and ending in heaven. We will get to live the perfect life God created us to live without any of the curses or effects of sin when we reach heaven. And we get a foretaste of that even here as we yield to His Spirit being in control of us. So many blessings!

      Thank you so much for sharing, my dear sister, and for this important discussion.

      Here are some posts I believe are helpful in this discussion:

      https://answersingenesis.org/family/gender/is-male-headship-a-curse/

      http://www.gotquestions.org/desire-husband-rule.html

      1. “I do not at all believe that any husband is justified to mistreat or abuse his wife based on Eve sinning first or her being deceived or the curses in Genesis 3”.

        Me neither, but there are some who teach this very thing and still others who believe it, and it makes talking about the beauty of scripture, of marriage, of submission, so much harder. Men who believe Eve is permanently cursed will not lead and women who perceive them selves as accursed creatures worthy of punishment will likely wind up in abusive situations.

        1. insantiybytes22,

          That is terrible! I haven’t heard of this type of teaching. Why would Eve be permanently cursed and unredeemable but not Adam? It doesn’t make sense to me. But thank you for letting me know this teaching exists. 🙁

          I am so thankful Jesus came to redeem men and women from the curse and to set us free to be holy and to be in right standing with God and with each other!

          1. I agree with April! This is terrible teaching with absolutely no Scriptural support. Eve (and not Adam) being permanently cursed, with no hope of redemption? insanitybytess22, can you site this teaching? I would be interested in taking a look at what it is based on in the Bible.

            Just another example of false teaching which leads to more bondage and less hope. I’m so thankful that the Bible helps us get our bearings by explaining the curse we currently live under, but also gives us such hope through Jesus. Because of His sacrifice, the curse can be broken, and we have the freedom to reverse its effects in our hearts and relationships.

          2. Shannon Popkin,

            Perhaps this post explains a bit of what InsanityBytes22 may have been talking about – maybe this teaching was from much earlier in the Catholic church?

            http://www.womenpriests.org/traditio/sinful.asp

            (Note, I do not endorse this site – or promoting women being priests – which is against Scripture. But this post may explain some of the teaching InsanityBytes was talking about.)

            Insanitybytes22, you may have a lot more info on this than I do. This is not something I have heard previously.

          3. Interesting. But back to your earlier point. How could it be understood that women were any more cursed than men? Man holds the greater responsibility because he was accountable, as the leader of his family, to protect.

            I’m so thankful that both men and women are redeemed by a merciful savior, and have every hope of restoration!

          4. Shannon Popkin,

            I have no idea how anyone could rationalize this based on Scripture, but I do know that the human heart is easily deceived. That must be what has happened here to introduce this false teaching.

            YES! So thankful Jesus can redeem us all!

          5. Thank you April (and others) for the conversation on this issue. That link is exactly what I was speaking of and it does continue in some quarters to this day. Some people’s misunderstanding is also simply rooted in human nature and not in false teachings at all, but there are some who do still hold onto these beliefs and actively teach them.

            It’s somewhat amusing too, because while that article speaks of women becoming priests, I really do hold onto the idea that men should be taking leadership in our churches, not necessarily because they are more qualified but because of designated roles, because women have enough to do, and because what is more important then leading us spiritually? When men are not in those roles, women will step in a fill them. Like in other aspects of submission, I really do believe in the idea expressed in John 3:30, “He must increase, but I must decrease.”

            So the definition of “desire for her husband” is probably a little of both, whether a curse or just plain old sin, women do often fall into the trap of either wanting to control or wanting to idolize men, both which can create problems in our lives and the world around us.

          6. Insanitybytes22,

            That anyone would have taught this as “Christian doctrine” really breaks my heart! It just completely flies in the face of the Gospel.

            Yes, I agree that Scripture is clear about men holding the leadership positions in the church. That is God’s design – not a manmade teaching. But all of us – men and women – are to serve God and others humbly, to love each other, to honor each other, and to have the fruit of the Spirit in all of our interactions. Sometimes, it seems some people teach that if men lead, they will abuse those they lead. I am sure it may be that way in the world at times, but should never be that way among those who submit to Christ as Lord!

            True – whether “desire for her husband” means idolatry or a desire to control – those things are sin and Jesus can give us victory over all of it! WOOHOO!

        2. Insanitybytes22

          Romans 5;12 says that when Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned.

          Eve was certainly tricked or deceived by the devil but the Bible records that it was Adam’s sin that brought in sin to the world.

          The church is guilty of misinterpreting the verses on submission and for saying that that husbands are to lead their wives because wives are easily deceived and cannot be good leaders. Women as a result have become like modern day slaves to their husbands. Not all wives, but a big percentage

          There is so much freedom in the Scriptures but some Christians prefer to twist the verses and keep people in bondage. Submission is taught as a doctrine that transcends and overshadows all other scriptures. So if a wife submits to her husband, she is obeying the Lord. But there are many other scriptures out there for the wife which she has to follow and obey, not just the part on submission. Wrong and misguided teachings on submission can lead to destroyed lives and we must answer God on Judgment Day.

          Concerned

          1. Hope,

            We do have to be very careful with how we teach Scripture and God’s commands. Some teach that biblical headship and submission are a result of the fall, sadly. They use this as justification for male domination and abuse. That is not right! As Grudem and Piper point out in Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, Adam had headship before the fall. The wife being the helpmeet and honoring her husband’s leaderships as part of God’s original design for marriage, the dynamics have been corrupted by the fall. Adam was created first. He named Eve. God gave him the command about not eating from the tree and he taught that to Eve. They were both equal in value and both made in the image of God. But God questioned Adam first as the head of family and held him more accountable and responsible.

            The headship/submission concept was created by God to display the relationship of Christ to the church before sin entered the world. Marriage is intended by God to portray the gospel and to bring glory to Him. (Eph. 5:22-33)

            In Christ, the marriage relationship can be restored from the warped and distorted, sinful errors where a husband or wife becomes too dominant or too passive to be something beautiful, healthy, and God-honoring.

            Thanks for sharing your concerns. 🙂

  5. This was rather encouraging and refreshing actually. A long time ago a popular tv comedy show did a parody of christians based on the old PTL club which was still on the air. I will never forget the hilarity as one woman in the skit being acted out was asked if she enjoyed the long tedious flight she had just supposedly taken. ” OH, no, I enjoyed everrrrrryyyyy minute of it because I flew with Jayyyyssssus!” she intoned in a fake, syrupy accent. I had to laugh. This is exactly what church sometimes winds up being, a shallow game of pretend that makes mockery of what life in the real world, dealing with the real results of the fall. We do others a grave dissservice to make it seem as if you are living the christian life properly and are a real christian, its going to be pleasant and EASY to submit and obey all the time. Thanks for this article, April 🙂

    1. I’m so glad you were refreshed, “just me”. 🙂 So true about playing a shallow game of pretend. To project Christianity as a path that leads away from self-denial and suffering would be grossly misleading. However, it is the path that leads to life and freedom and joy. I’m so glad that Jesus invited me to come.

      Blessings to you!

      Shannon

  6. I always thought that “desire for husband” meant an insatiable, needy pursuit of the husband…much like a temptation for idolatry…when the desire that we have can only be fulfilled by the Lord?

    1. That would be the desire I had for my husband that I have to fight against.
      Just one more thing, about Eve and the role of women. In the 800s, one of the Byzantine emperors said a similar thought about women to a St. Kassiani, a brave women who completely gave her life to Christ and wrote many beautiful hymns to Him. He said “Through woman (Eve) came forth base things. ” i.e sin and death. And Kassiani replied “And through woman (Mary, the Mother of God), came forth better things. ” i.e. Jesus, and salvation. I have always liked that rebuttal of condemnation of women. “In Christ, there is neither male nor female… We are different beings, and have different roles, but are equal in God’said eyes.

      1. I love that, Grace! What a brilliant reply from St. Kassiani!

        I think Mary is an incredible example of the OPPOSITE of a Control Girl. Without even flinching at the sacrifice God was asking of her, she said, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.”

        1. Without a doubt, she is the ultimate example of what womanhood should be! Which is why Our Lord chose her, from all women, to be His most pure mother.
          “For behold, all generations shall call me blessed..”

    2. Mrs. G, If you look at the parallel language in Gen. 4:7, God says to Cain, “Sin is crouching at the door, It’s “desire” is for you, and you must “rule over it”. So you could say:

      “Sin has a desire, Cain. It wants to control you.”

      Sin is–yes–insatiable in its pursuit of us. God was telling Cain that sin was waiting like crouching tiger, ready to pounce and take control of his whole life. (And it did).

      If you take this imagery back to Genesis 3, where God used the exact same phrases when speaking to Eve about the curse that she would now live under, the meaning is consistent. I, as a wife, living under this curse, can attest:

      “Shannon has a desire. She wants to control her husband.”

      This also makes sense because it’s an exact reversal of the way God intended marriage to work. The primary instruction to wives in the New Testament is to submit to their husbands–to go back to the way God originally designed marriage to be. The curse has caused us to have disordered desires. We love sin. We naturally abhor what God says is good and right.

      Someday in heaven, our hearts will be healed, and we’ll naturally want what is good–and ONLY what is good, the way Adam and Eve did before the fall. For now, while we still live with the effects of the curse, God invites us to cast off the curse and live the way he designed for wives to live: in submission to their husbands.

      Hope that is helpful to you, Mrs. G. If you’re interested, look at this sermon transcript by John Piper (it’s the sermon I was listening to, while I painted the laundry room. :))

      http://www.desiringgod.org/messages/manhood-and-womanhood-conflict-and-confusion-after-the-fall

      Warmly,

      Shannon Popkin

      1. For centuries the Hebrew word teshuqah was translated “”desire” or “turning” and had neither a positive or negative connotation. The context was necessary to determine a translation. It wasn’t until 1975 when Susan Foh’s paper, “What is the Woman’s Desire?” was published in the Westminster Theological Journal that many Christians have swallowed the notion that ‘desire’ meant that the woman was cursed by God with a desire to control her husband based on a comparison she did between Genesis 3:16 and Genesis 4:7. However, carefully and thorough studies have show that though these two passages share two keywords, their contexts are obviously different.

        I strongly urge people to carefully and prudently rethink this belief. I suggest you start with an article by Margaret Mowczko whose scholarly research shows the errors of Foh’s iinterpretation: http://newlife.id.au/equality-and-gender-issues/teshuqah-desire/

        Another analysis of Genesis 3:16 can be found here: http://www.theologyforwomen.org/2012/04/somewhat-scholarly-analysis-of-genesis.html

        For the last 40 years Foh’s teaching has flooded the christian’s thinking. It is sad how quickly people can disregard centuries of evidence and interpretations just because someone comes up with a novel idea. Just because a popular preacher says it is so – doesn’t make it so. Unfortunately, this aberrant idea has been blindly accepted. It’s time for this idea to die and that can be done if people stop and feeding it to the masses.

        Maddie

    3. Mrs. G.,

      I know there are two interpretations of this, at least. One is that “desire” is the desire to control, like the word was used in the verse about sin desiring Cain. One is that the “desire” is the desire to have her husband as used in the Song of Solomon about the wife desiring her husband. I hadn’t really thought about the idolatry kind of desire. That is really interesting.

      For me, both the desire to control and the desire to idolize my husband were both issues. Whether they both came from Eve’s sin originally or not, they both sure showed up in my sinful heart! I desired and fully expected Greg to meet the deepest spiritual and emotional needs of my heart that only God could meet. And I desired to control him so that he would meet those needs just the way I wanted to. That was messed up!

      I sure have seen where idolizing our husbands seems to be an issue almost across the board as I have been in ministry to women over the past few years.

      That is a great question. Hmm…. will have to think about this!

  7. Thank you! This post was such a blessing!
    Amen. Submission is a beautiful strength.
    Sadly, the true meaning and point of it has been severely distorted universally.

    I’d like to add that I just want to rejoice in that I’m seeing that some of the readers are understanding that Eve was not cursed, and Adam was held responsible to a greater degree.
    He was leader, he sinned willfully and didn’t protect Eve, who was deceived, from the serpent. All of it had a purpose, of course.
    I’ve wondered before where was Adam when Satan was running off at the mouth to his wife?
    Anyway, a Christ type will die for his wife. Adam did just that.

    I have heard gloating by some men and the teachings that emphasize the woman being easy to deceive and being at fault, the message being, therefore women are generally at fault. In some churches the woman in general is ridiculed.
    This is not of God.

    Some men have insinuated they are right and wife is wrong, just like Eve was wrong. The garden of Eden has sometimes been used to try to win a disagreement.

    A man’s natural ability to make right or wrong decisions has nothing to do with God giving him the authority and responsibility to lead.
    God has to hold one person responsible
    and with that responsibility comes authority. That’s God’s design and order in marriage- husband as head of the wife- even if the husband is wrong 100% of the time and the wife is right 100% of the time. Or vise versa.
    Women must chose wisely, knowing this is God’s design no matter what kind of husband she choses.

    God gives a wife wisdom, insight, talents and gifts to bring to her marriage and He can and does use her, in many ways in her marriage.
    Spiritually healthy husbands should understand this and joyfully acknowledge this in their marriage.
    Being a help meet goes far beyond cooking, cleaning, and making and having babies.

    I’m also aware that wanting control is not unique to women moreso than men.
    Satanic influence in the flesh, including fear, causes men and women to want to be control freaks. Some men can be domineering and tyrannical in their headship because of this. Some men also commit violent acts against women because of a twisted desire for power and control. Likewise, women can be harsh in trying to usurp authority over their husbands.
    We are all called to submit, including men.
    Men are fully equipped to lead properly only when they submit to their head,
    Jesus Christ. They can properly and lovingly sacrificially lead, cherish their wives, and lay their lives down for them in their daily actions toward them only when they humbly submit to their head, Jesus Christ.

    1. These are great points, Trina! Thanks for reminding us about mutual submission. (Eph. 5:21) Also, thanks for bringing up the fact that men can control, too. I do think women do it differently. We use our gifts for relationship and communication to control in a way that is often unique to women. (I have a lesson devoted to this in my upcoming book, “Control Girl”).

      Regardless of how we control, both men and women find freedom from the curse of sin through yielding to God, rather than their own selfishness.

      Blessings to you, Trina!

      Shannon

      1. Trina and Shannon,

        I have a video about mutual submission, for anyone who is interested.

        And YES! Men can be controlling, too. Men and women tend to veer toward one end or the other – being too controlling or being too passive. Both of those extremes are sinful distortions. God has a beautiful, healthy place in the middle that we can only really reach by the power of His Spirit working in and through us. I have a post on this issue, as well, if it might be helpful to someone.

        Much love!

        Shannon,
        Thank you so much for sharing this post with us. I am excited about the important conversations we are having. 🙂

    2. Trina,

      I do think we are all under a general curse in this world (even the animals are) because of sin and that men and women have specific consequences that impact us as a direct result of sin. But the idea that Eve was cursed and is not redeemable – or that women are not redeemable – is SO not from Scripture. Praise God all of us have sinned, but all can turn to Christ and be saved by His sacrifice on our behalf!

      I am so sad to hear about women being treated harshly or blamed for all sin or being ridiculed in a Christ-professing church. 🙁

      Thank you very much for sharing these important insights. I love how God has healed you and how He has shown you the truth that sets us free in His design and in His Word. 🙂

  8. I want to share a victory today. I’ve been doing respect for four months now and have only had some very small minor things come up that I’ve had to address with my husband. God has been good to ease me in. I’ve had some crazy emotional moments with God of course, but not too much that I’ve felt I needed to actually take to my husband.
    Enter April 2016.
    I’ve been under serious attack for two weeks which culminated today in me on my knees shaking in my prayer closet. The kids I watch have been horrible which is not like them, so I’ve been stressed with them. And my husband has been making choices that hurt me by staying out late and not texting me and choosing to neglect his duties here at home. I have gently asked once a week for three weeks that he would find time in his week to mow our lawn which is embarrassingly overgrown. The kids can barely play outside in it. He told me yesterday he would do it today. Today, he told me he would be home at four to mow and then we would grill some burgers. Four came and went. Five came and went. No text. Finally, he came home at six from the gym. From 5-5:45 I was shaking and crying in my prayer closet as I fought my desires to control him and lash out in anger to relieve my pain.

    But today, ladies I must announce that I had victory in Jesus! I fought through and gently approached my husband about hurting me. I told him I wanted to respect him and asked how I could help him with this situation. The whole thing went so well and he even hugged me and thanked me for approaching him so nicely! He is out mowing, and I am completely washed in peace now. Me, the crazy controlling wife of twelve years chose to walk in the Spirit instead of the flesh! I passed this test. I did it! In the power of Jesus I said no to my flesh!!! Now, please Lord give me a rest before another round.

    1. Michelle,

      WOOHOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I wish I could type in HUGE letters and have confetti and streamers all over my comment because THIS IS A MOMENT TO CELEBRATE GOD’S POWER TO GIVE US VICTORY OVER TEMPTATION! He can give us the wisdom and strength to respond without sin even when we are being sinned against. We can take our concerns and stress and our husbands’ sins to Him in prayer. He can show us how to approach things in a way that honors Him, honors ourselves, and honors our husbands. Then, the conflict can lead to greater intimacy and unity instead of tearing us apart.

      Praising God with you tonight, my precious sister! Thank you so much for sharing!!!!!!! 🙂

    2. Oh, bless you, Michelle! What an amazing story of victory! You overcame! You said yes to God and no to the flesh! I have tears of joy for you.

      Thanks so much for sharing your beautiful testimony. I’d love to share it on my blog… would that be okay? My email is shanpopkin@gmail.com if you’d like to message me privately.

      I’m rejoicing with you!!

      Love,
      Shannon Popkin

        1. Shannon,

          Please let me know when you share Michelle’s story – if that is okay with you, Michelle – because I think that is an awesome idea and I would love to share it on my Peaceful Wife Blog FB page when you share it.

        2. Thank you so much, Michelle! I can see your story being such an encouragement to many. I just have a couple of questions for you to round out the story… Could I email you? Or you can email me at shanpopkin@gmail.com. Thanks again! I look forward to your “victory lap” on my blog. 🙂

          Warmly,

          Shannon

    3. Michelle this is so cool, thank you for sharing it! It gives me encouragement that it might be worth it to say no to my flesh too 🙂 I would have reacted the same way you described having to fight against. Thanks again.

  9. Hey April, was over at the crying out for justice blog and today the discussion was on “What is the woman’s desire”? referring to Genesis after Adam and Eve fell. Thought you might be interested in seeing as we just happen to be discussing that very thing 🙂

  10. For your consideration and better understanding of God’s Word:

    https://jenniferjolene.wordpress.com/2016/02/26/two-verses-i-never-understood-before-genesis-47-and-316/

    These are the best, most accurate translations:

    Genesis 4:7 – “Will you not, if you do the right thing, be uplifted? And if you don’t do the right thing, there at the entryway lies (a male goat), a sin offering. He is turning towards you, so rule over him.”

    Genesis 3:16 – “To the woman he said, ‘I will greatly increase your pain in pregnancy. In painful toil you will bear children but your turning will be towards your husband (like a sheep turns toward its shepherd); therefore he will rule over you.” (Genesis 3:16)

    Much love,
    Jennifer

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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