It sounds odd, right? Most Christian women wouldn’t claim to be submitting their time and energy to other women rather than their husbands. However, about a year ago, a friend shared a podcast with me that convicted me to see how I was doing that very thing.
Now, if you ask most Christian women who read their Bibles, they’ll agree that submission is their role in their marriage. But upon further examination, we may find that most of our actions, choices and attitudes are motivated not necessarily by submitting to and loving our husbands well, but instead out of the desire to impress the other women.
I’m referring to these “other women” because you likely know exactly who I mean. The other women in your life likely differ from the other women in mine. And it’s possible that they change from season to season depending on your geographical location, group of friends, women at your church, etc. But I doubt you have to look far to identify who the other women are. Please don’t misunderstand me – these women are not the enemies. It’s not our place to judge if other women are submitting to their husbands or not. And we can learn from other women ideas for how to walk in Christian faithfulness, for sure! The point is not necessarily who they are or what they are doing, but the fact that we tend to focus more on trying to impress the other women instead of submitting to our husbands.
This was what I found to be true once I began examining my own heart and life. Let’s start with one of the places in scripture where we see this command to submit to our own husbands.
“Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled” (Titus 2: 3-5, ESV).
How much of what I really chose to do was based on what my husband desired? How much was based on the latest instagram post I’d read that made me feel I was missing out or falling short? Social media is not the only place we can get ideas contrary to what our husbands desire. In the church alone, we rub shoulders with such a variety of personalities, giftings, interests, talents and opinions among Christian women that the challenge remains steadfast to discern between how others should inspire us to grow and change, and where we need to simply celebrate with others without feeling the need to become exactly like them.
Here is where God gives us such a gift. Our husbands!
I hate to say it, but it’s simply the truth, traced all the way back to Genesis 3 with Eve. Women are easily deceived. I hate admitting that, but if I accurately examine my heart, I know it’s true. We can easily be deceived by culture around us and slowly drift into taking truths about God and putting in parentheses lies about how those truths are supposed to flesh out for us. This tendency, coupled with our strong emotions that often mislead us, truly would be an equation for disaster were it not for the power of God revealed to us in scripture. This is why it is so vitally important that we be reading our Bibles and sitting under the true teaching of the Word of God!
So how are our husbands a gift in this area? Regardless of how imperfect they are, they are our filters for how we should be spending our time and efforts. Unless your husband is requesting that you assist him in a murder or something sinful of the sort (I would dare to say most of us are not dealing with that), then you can trust that whatever pleases your husband is what you should be doing, not because pleasing him is the ultimate goal, but because that’s how scripture says we honor and serve the Lord!
Let me give an example of how this fleshed out recently in my own life and heart. I was trying to make the decision on whether or not our family would get the flu shot this year. I considered talking to friends who are against vaccinations. I considered talking to our friends in the medical field who support vaccinations.
Finally the Lord stopped me. “Have you asked your husband?”
Well, no I hadn’t even thought about that. I quickly asked him, and he quickly responded with an answer that settled the whole debate. Talk about freedom from the pressure of trying to figure out what the other women want!
Now, there are plenty of areas where my husband delegates to me the responsibility to do research and make a decision based on that research. Our philosophy of education in our homeschool is one of these areas. He loves me doing the research and then discussing with him what I think is best, and seldom has he ever spoken against what I think we should do in this area. But this specific question about the flu shot was not one of those areas. He had an opinion, and by simply asking him what he wanted us to do, we could move forward in that decision without worrying about what all the other women would do.
Let me give you another example of how submitting to the other women can be dangerous in a marriage. It has happened more times than I care to admit where I have discussed an issue with other women, only to become convinced an action, stance, or belief was necessary regarding the topic, completely apart from and void of my husband’s input. I then would return home to expect my husband to agree with the stance. However, more times than not, he is able to point out my tendency towards being deceived, to which I’m completely opposed, and before I know it, there’s disunity in our marriage because I’ve elevated the authority of the other women above that of my husband in my own life. He sees it, the disrespect is palpable, and the bitterness growing in my own heart because my husband won’t let me lead is compounded to a degree that certainly doesn’t yield fruitfulness in our marriage and home. Goodness! None of that is worth the nastiness it yields in every direction!
Yes, God gives us friends, and what a blessing they are in our lives and hearts! However, our first worldly friendship and primary relationship as a married woman is devotion to our husbands above that of our friends. Again, as long as our husbands are not requesting that we sin, we may find that we are actually sinning by elevating the opinions of the other women above that of our husbands in our hearts, minds and lives.
Now, this may not be seen in quite as confrontational a manner as I shared above. Let’s simply consider how we are using our time and energy, potentially doing good things, but for all the other women vs. for our husbands. Let me list a few good things, each of which your husband could either want or not want you to do, and I encourage you to ask the question – who are you doing these things for?
- Have you started an at-home business? Is it because your husband asked you to and support it, or it because the other women on social media are saying this will fulfill you and give you something of your own?
- Have you decided to start homesteading? Is it because your husband wants you to pursue this, or because you think the other women will be impressed by how you’re doing it all?
- Are you going to the gym or exercising regularly? Is it because your husband wants you to take care of yourself, or because you’re wanting to impress the other women with your discipline and compare your figure to them?
- Are you cooking the latest nutrition fad diet? Is it because your husband wants you to sustain your family in this way, or because the other women are telling you it’s wrong to cook anything but this diet?
- Are you learning how to bake sourdough? Would you husband appreciate you perfecting sourdough hamburger buns? Or do you feel like you aren’t a real mom unless you learn to make something from scratch like the other women?
- Are you learning a new skill, craft, or trade? Examine your motivation for why you are doing this! Does it benefit your family, or does it simply satisfy your ego and make the other women impressed by you?
- Are you attending all of the moms’ groups and Bible studies available? Is your husband encouraging you to do this for your spiritual growth and health, or is he wishing you’d be home more often rather than leaving him with the kids while you attend all the social activities?
These are just a few examples, and although you may assume that all men or do or do not want one of these items, there is no one size fits all for every woman. What one husband wants, another may not.
I recently texted my friend Kate that I was considering learning to sew using a sewing machine. Her response?
“Have you asked Nick?”
Bingo. That’s the kind of friend I need in my life! That’s the kind of friend I want to be! I want to encourage friends when I see them living creatively and learning new skills with their time and energy, but I never want to make a friend feel like they need to do something because it’s what I am doing.
Another ironic aspect of this is I often don’t even have to ask Nick what he prefers me to be doing. If I’m in tune with his desires at all, I have a pretty good idea what he wants. Right now, the extra skills I need to be working on include making sure I can cook for a crowd (with plenty of meat of course) the foods he likes and finds sustaining, and learning all I can about managing our new business of breeding German Shepherds.
If there’s an area that confuses you about whether or not you should be spending your time on it, then go to your husband. Ask him, and trust what he says. He may have a definite answer, or he may pray about it alongside you, or encourage you to pray more about what you should do. There is so much joy and liberty to be found here if we will embrace our role as wives in this way.
Listen, friend. My nature is fierce independence, I have an opinion about almost everything, and submission does not come naturally for me. But I can tell you that when I more fully embrace God’s sanctification of my own heart through understanding my role as a biblical wife, joy is found here. Peace is found here. Purpose and abounding fruitfulness is found here.
So don’t follow the counterfeit joy that comes from submitting to the other women. Embrace submission to the man God gave you, which is really more about submitting to God’s sovereignty, and you’ll find true joy in Christ alone. I’ll leave you with this final exhortation from Peter.
“Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening” (1 Peter 3:1-6).