Mar 24

Fight to Submit

2011 at 3:39 pm   |   by Carolyn Mahaney Filed under Marriage

So we see that the submissive wife—far from being the weak-willed woman our culture portrays—is actually a model of inner strength. By God’s grace, she has conquered this opposition within her own heart. It is actually weakness on display when a wife is not submissive; she is only caving in to her natural inclination to usurp authority and demand her own way. That doesn’t take any effort at all.

This truth eventually dawned upon my friend Marianne. When she realized that her adversary was not her husband, Kevin, but the sin in her heart, she began fighting back—by submitting to his leadership. The result was peace and joy for Marianne and a newfound harmony in her relationship with her husband.

Now, some twenty years later, Marianne freely admits that submission is still a struggle at times. However, her thriving marriage testifies of her persistent efforts to resist sin and follow her husband’s leadership.

May the same be said of you and me

(adapted from Feminine Appeal)

Mar 23

Trouble Spot

2011 at 3:30 pm   |   by Carolyn Mahaney Filed under Marriage

The source of our submission trouble is our very own hearts.

Does that surprise you? It surprised my good friend, Marianne, soon after she got married. See if you can relate:

“The whole idea of submission was a real challenge for me. I knew what Scripture said in Titus, Ephesians, and 1 Peter—I just didn’t like those parts very much! You see, I was raised to be very independent. I was strong and self-sufficient. I thought I was capable of taking care of myself and doing a pretty good job of it. I didn’t like being led. I liked leading. This was especially true when it came to my schedule and how I spent money. And because I wanted to make decisions about these things on my own, Kevin and I had some heated conflicts! It made it very difficult for my husband to lead.”

Scripture sheds light on this struggle to submit—for Marianne and for the rest of us. One of the consequences of the Fall for women, it says in Genesis 3:16 is that their “desires shall be for [their] husband[s].”

The form and context of the word desire actually has a negative connotation—an urge to manipulate, control, or have mastery over. Because of the curse, we now have a sinful tendency to want our own way and to resist our husbands’ authority. This evil desire is what poses the greatest opposition to our submission.

That’s why we need the gospel in order to become gospel wives.

(adapted from Feminine Appeal)

Mar 22

The Trouble with Submission

2011 at 4:17 pm   |   by Carolyn Mahaney Filed under Marriage | Submission

“As the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.” (Eph. 5:22)

“Many are the discussions I’ve heard on this one, almost all of them directed to what it ‘can’t possibly mean,’ rather than to the plain word of the Lord. The statement is simple. Not easy for women like me, but simple, that is, I understand it only too well. (As Mark Twain said, ‘I have far more trouble with the things I do understand in the Bible than things I don’t understand.’)” Elisabeth Elliot

Why do we have trouble with the practice of submission? What is it about this command that can make us bristle? Even though we may accept, as Elisabeth Elliot does, the clarity of Scripture on the issue, we also can agree that submitting to our husbands is not always easy.

Certainly our culture presents us with a formidable challenge. It treats the submissive wife with a noxious mixture of scorn and pity. And it doesn’t help that many in the church are trying to explain away this command, thus cutting off a vital source of our encouragement.

But the real threat to submission comes from a place we may not initially expect. More on the source of our submission troubles tomorrow.

(adapted from Feminine Appeal)

Mar 21

Being a Gospel Wife: I am his bride…

2011 at 8:36 pm   |   by Carolyn Mahaney Filed under Marriage

“Marriage was designed by God most deeply, most importantly, to be a parable or a drama of the way Christ loves his church and the way the church loves and follows Christ.” John Piper

Being a bride means—above all—that we imitate THE bride, the church. We are to respect, follow, love, and submit to our husband as the church does to Christ. “As the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands (Eph. 5.22).” That’s a pretty tall order, for sure.

We have to admit, though, that our husbands might have the tougher assignment: they are to imitate Christ who “gave himself up for us” (Eph. 5.25). We have to follow, but they have to die! This series is not about the husbands, though. We want to focus on God’s calling for us as wives.

Submission (Eph 5.22) and respect (Eph. 5.33) comprise the primary role of a bride, and that’s who the command is addressed to. Submission was not our husbands’ idea, and neither are they responsible to enforce it. This command is not divine permission for husbands to assert authoritarian leadership. Nowhere in Scripture does it say, ‘Husbands, see to it that your wives submit.’ That’s our job.

The requirement to submit to our husbands comes straight from God to us as wives. And we are answerable to Him for our obedience. We cannot blame our husbands for our lack of submission. The responsibility is entirely ours!

And notice to whom we are to submit. As married women, we are not called to submit to all men (and neither are single women, for that matter), but rather to our husbands. Conversely, we should not seek leadership from other men, apart from our husbands, no matter how worthy they are of honor or respect. We are to follow our husbands.

But as I said, this isn’t always easy. We’ll talk about why, next time. Stay tuned.

(adapted from Feminine Appeal)

Mar 17

Going for God’s Ideal

2011 at 5:13 pm   |   by Carolyn Mahaney Filed under Marriage

The gospel makes it possible for us to be gospel wives. But what does this look like exactly? Over the next few weeks we’re going to talk about who we are called to be:

I am his bride…

I am his lover…

I am his best friend…

I am his equal…

I am his helper…

I am his glory…

We need to be reminded of God’s ideal for marriage, because so often our own ideal gets in the way. We don’t naturally want to be a gospel wife. Our natural drift is toward the selfish ideal of marriage idolized by our culture. And so without realizing it, we can often struggle, strive, long, and even pray for a marriage that fits our selfish, worldly ideal (and usually includes our husband changing big-time!).

If we don’t keep God’s ideal for marriage front and center, we’re going to be headed in the wrong direction. That’s why we must be continually transformed by the renewing of our minds through God’s Word, and we must ask God to give us hearts that long to be gospel wives.