The power of submission

| March 26, 2014
Lakeya Stewart

The Rev. Lakeya Stewart

By the Rev. Lakeya Stewart

“But… I don’t want to be a doormat!” This is the phrase many women and some men use when asked about their feelings concerning submission in a marriage. The word “submission” by itself often causes people to cringe. It is often mistakenly seen as a sign of weakness. Why does this happen? Ephesians 5:21 tells believers to “Submit{ing}
yourselves one to another in the fear of God.” This submission requires action on each part. Submission is a two-way street.  I argue that submission is not a sign of weakness but rather is a sign of power. This power that I refer to is a person’s ability to acquiesce or give into the needs or desires of another. This takes self control and humility, and often times a lot of it.

Webster’s Standard Dictionary defines the word “submit” as meaning “to yield to another; to present for consideration, to surrender; obey.” For many women, but particularly, the African American female, submission is often a scary forethought of marriage. From the experiences of many people I know, many Christian women enter marriage believing that they have to concede with every thought and idea that the husband presents because after all, the husband is the head of the home. While yes, women should be submissive, a respectful wife knows how and when to speak to their husbands about matters in a loving way. Mark and Grace Driscoll in the book “Real Marriage: The Truth About Sex, Friendship, and Life Together,” share some great insight into Godly roles of wives and husbands based on biblical models. The Driscoll’s in this book write, “honestly, underneath a controlling attitude there is usually a major fear that a wife needs to work through, such as from past abuse or a neglectful father or the fear of being seen as a “doormat” (page 77). Women, how can we conquer this fear? Is it really necessary to conquer it?

I am so glad that you asked! When I am asked my view on submission in marriage, I often refer people to scripture. Reading and hearing the perspectives of others can be enriching but as believers, we must be concerned about what God says concerning the matter. As an independent 26 year old, African American female when I first married, I knew that if I were to be married, that I wanted to do it God’s way—so I prayed, cried and searched the scripture for myself to better understand what this “submission” thing was all about.

Upon reading and studying the scriptures, I found the power and freedom truly hidden within submission. One passage in particular that helped me understand what God required of me as a wife was in Ephesians 5:22-24. Verse 22 says, “Wives, submit yourself unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.” This scripture gave no race, age, educational attainment or ability that could cause one to be exempt from being submissive. This eliminated or gave no credence to my single, independent, strong, educated black woman complex that I possessed. I had no excuse. I knew that I loved God and that since I did, that I needed to follow His word. As an obedient, loving, and spiritually sound wife, my attitude toward submission quickly changed. Let me explain why.

The Bible does not state that men should demand submission of their wives. It does, however, give power to the wife to choose to submit to her husband. The Bible speaks of contentious women in Proverbs 21:9 when it says, “Better to dwell in a corner of a housetop, than in a house shared with a contentious woman.” The Bible here is giving us an example of what can happen when a woman becomes contentious and is always disagreeable with her husband. People often joke about it, but there are times when men would much rather stay out late or sleep out in their cars instead of hearing a nagging woman complain about a decision a husband has made. God has given all of humanity a choice regarding many things in this life including whether we will serve Him or not. Joshua 24:15 says to, “Choose you this day whom you will serve.” Even though God first chose us, He has still given us the freedom to choose to serve Him. Just as it is an honor to serve God, women are given the honor of choosing to submit to the one person sent to us to protect and provide for us. It is strange how many women desire so badly to be married but they are not willing to live up to the marriage vows they agreed to. Just like there is safety in the Master’s arms, women should find comfort and security in their husbands who must also answer to God if they misuse women when they choose to submit.

Now, let me take a second to explain what submission is not! Submission is not permission for a husband or a wife to abuse each other. We often think of men abusing women but there are many men who are both physically and verbally abused by their wives daily. God is not pleased. We can all agree, however, that in most instances of abuse, the man is the perpetrator because God designed the man as the stronger in the unit. In a nutshell, no form of abuse by either husband or wife is acceptable. It definitely does not please God.

In a final example, I would like to remind us all that submission is not always an easy task. For a second let us think about the example that Jesus left for us. Jesus had to submit to the will of the Father and die despite his human desire not to die. Ultimately, Jesus had to bear the difficult task of submitting His will to the Father’s and the rest is history! What kind of legacy and example of submission are we as both men and women leaving for our communities and our families? Is God pleased?

For questions or further correspondence concerning future topics or speaking engagements, please email at RevStewartSpeaks@outlook.com.

The Rev. Lakeya Stewart attended Berea College in Kentucky and earned a double major B.A. degree in Sociology and in African & African American Studies. In 2010, she earned the Master of Divinity Degree from the Lexington Theological Seminary and is currently writing a dissertation on Spiritual Abuse for the Doctor of Ministry Degree in Clinical Pastoral Education from Regent University. Lakeya and her Fort Wayne native husband, Daniel, resides on the Southwest side of Fort Wayne.

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Category: Local, Spiritual Matters

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Frost Illustrated is Fort Wayne's oldest weekly newspaper. Your Independent Voice in the Community, featuring news & views of African Americans since 1968.

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