Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife as Christ is head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Husbands love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. --Ephesians 5:22, 25 (NIV)
When my husband and I were engaged, we took deliberate efforts to ensure that we were laying the groundwork for a godly marriage and a Christ-centered home. This included our selection of wedding vows that would be used in our wedding ceremony. Because marriage is an earthly illustration of Christ's headship over the church, my husband and I elected to use the phrase "love, honor and obey" for my part of the vows. By repeating the word "obey" in front of a roomful of witnesses, I was cementing my commitment to my husband and publicly acknowledging him as head of our household.
Many so-called "liberated" women balk at the idea of submitting to anyone, particularly the man whom they have chosen as a husband. They equate submission with oppression and fail to see the freedom that lies hidden within such an onerous word.
Submission, in the Biblical context described by the apostle Paul in his letter to the church in Ephesus, is a beautiful thing. Whether a man or a woman, each is able to find peace by relinquishing control to someone who always has the other person's best interests in mind. For wives, this means to your husband. For husbands this involves caring for your wife and leading her in a lifestyle that submits to Christ. In my own marriage I have been so blessed by the ways my husband takes care of me. Because he knows I am trusting him enough to follow obediently, he is careful to make wise decisions about how and where he leads me.
Certainly the concept of love, honor and obey does not only apply to married people. As the apostle Paul points out, the church is Christ's bride. This means that all church members--married or single--are called to submit to his Sovereign headship. Again, submission in this context is not oppressive. In fact, submitting ourselves to Christ is the most appropriate and loving way to respond to His gift of salvation.
God's only Son, Jesus willingly left His position beside His Father to come to us on our level. He allowed Himself to be stripped of His heavenly glory in order to become human. He died so that we may be forgiven. For this we cannot pay Him back, nor does He expect us to. He does not demand that we love and honor Him for what He did--He did it whether or not we chose to believe Him. However, isn't it reasonable for us to look at what He has done, the promises God made and kept, and decide that He truly is worth believing?
The greatest way for us to love Christ is to love Him for who He is while being thankful and mindful of what He has done. We love Him by obeying Him--submitting our selfish ambitions to Him, knowing that following the path He has chosen for us is far better than anything we might stumble upon alone. There is freedom to be found in our willingness to love, honor and obey a God who loves us unconditional.
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