Lately I have been reading a excellent book by my friend, Dr. Christine Bacon, entitled The Super Couple: A Formula for Extreme Happiness in Marriage. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to improve their marriage or prepare for marriage. I have been reading it and gaining some great insight even as a single woman. My thinking is being adjusted so that I can be prepared in the event that God sends a “Boaz” my way in the future. Therefore, today I would like to share with you some of the insights about submission and headship I have received while reading the book. I think this will encourage those who are married and help prepare singles for married life in the future.
SUBMISSION EQUALS SELFLESSNESS
The first insight I received is that there are two types of submission going on in a marriage. Just like a coin has two sides, submission in a marriage has two sides. The first type of submission is exemplified in Ephesians 5:21 which states that we should “submit ourselves to one another out of the fear of God.” In her book, Christine talks about “selflessness” as the first element of the formula for an extremely happy marriage. When I read that passage, I got a new revelation of what the Bible means when it says to “prefer one another” above yourselves. Each party’s personal needs must become secondary at all times to their partner’s needs for a marriage to become “Super.” I believe this is what Paul meant when he said in Romans 12:10, “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another.” Submission to one another is just another term for preferring one another and being selfless as Christine pointed out in The Super Couple.
HEADSHIP EQUALS LOVING LEADERSHIP
When it comes to the term “submission,” we usually focus on Ephesians 5:22-23 which says:
“Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”
Thus, this indicates that the husband has been designated by God to be the head of the household. However, I have often heard it said, “The husband is the “head,” but the wife is the “neck,” and the head can’t turn without the neck’s support.” Therefore, I believe that headship involves a husband lovingly leading in a way that allows for decisions to be made together that are based upon God’s divine will for the household, takes into account the input of the wife, and ultimately works for the good of everyone involved.
SUBMISSION EQUALS THE RESPONSE TO PROPER LOVING
After reading Ephesians 5, I began to ponder about why I have no trouble submitting myself to Christ. My musings led me to identify ten ways He loves the church, and thus explains why I have no problem submitting myself to the Lord’s leadership. Christ loves the church in the following ways:
- On the cross, He sacrificed His life and ignored His own needs for ease and comfort.
- He is a servant (as exemplified when He washed the feet of the disciples in John 13:5-17).
- He protects and defends His bride.
- He meets her needs.
- He loves her unconditionally.
- He continuously tries to help her to fulfill her call and be her best.
- He totally has her best interests at heart at all times.
- He has no hidden personal agenda and can be completely trusted at all times.
- He never tries to promote His own self-interests at the expense of His bride.
- He allows I Corinthians 13, the love chapter, to be His guide in all his dealings with her.
Just think, if a husband loves a wife like that, there is nothing left but for a woman’s defenses to break down completely! She can totally relax in his love, lay herself bare emotionally, and there is absolutely no resistance to his leadership. Submission becomes an effortless byproduct of being loved extremely well. She can’t help but submit when she knows what He does for her is absolutely always in her best interest. When a husband is doing his job and loving her properly, submission is a “no brainer” for her under those conditions. There is no sense of a need for the “obedience card” to be played because she will simply respond to his love automatically and desire to please him. He will never have to give her “an order” because she will see and understand that because of his selfless love being poured out upon her, things can’t help but turn out well for her under his leadership, and she falls right in line. At least, that’s what an emotionally and spiritually mature woman would do.
THE MARRIAGE FORMULA EQUALS LOVE AND RESPECT
A husband might ask, “How can I love her like Christ loved the church?! I’m not Jesus!” True, but I don’t believe God is in the business of giving commands and not empowering us by His Holy Spirit to carry them out. God will enable you to do all things through Christ who strengthens you (Philippians 4:13). Dr. Bacon’s formula relayed in The Super Couple is a template for loving your wife as Christ loved the church. On the other hand, a wife may lament, “Respecting my husband is a tall order! I can’t do it. He doesn’t even deserve it.” However, the formula for an extremely happy marriage can also be used by a wife as a template for rendering respect to her husband as commanded in Ephesians 5:33. According to the author, If both husband and wife apply the formula and there is mutual submission going on, the phrase “Happy wife, happy life” should become a household reality.
In summary, those who are married should submit themselves one to another as instructed by the Apostle Paul. My mom, who was married 49 years to my dad before he passed away, wisely stated, “If each spouse prioritizes meeting the other’s needs, then everyone’s needs will be met in the marriage.” Husbands should love their wives using Christ’s model. Wives should submit to their husbands and give them respect in response to their mate’s lavish love. Those singles who want to be a part of a happy marriage should take heed and prepare themselves by recognizing beforehand what will be required of them if and when they actually get married. Consequently, with much prayer and conscious, deliberate application of the Word, Christian marriages will be better able to serve as a positive example for the world at large.
If a husband does NOT love his wife like Christ loved the church, should she still submit? Or if a wife does NOT respect her husband, should he love her like Christ loved the church anyway? What do you think? Leave a comment below.