I have heard many wives say, “Being a submissive wife is a learning process.” It’s true. However, it will be easier for a woman to learn Biblical submission if, in her childhood, she has learnt obedience. Being a wife starts at the time when the minister says, “I now pronounce you husband and wife”, but learning to be a submissive wife does not. It starts early in life and at home, when a little girl is being taught to obey.
Four-year-old Sarah did not understand why Mommy and Daddy kept telling her what to do and what not to do. She could not see why they demanded her obedience. Tick-tock-tick-tock…and years pass by. Now she obeys voluntarily whenever her parents tell her to do something. Tick-tock-tick-tock…and more years pass by. A young lady now, she is learning to submit to her father’s authority. She had the choice to disregard Daddy’s advice (which is actually from the Bible), but because she has learned to obey, Sarah submits to what Daddy wants. Tick-tock-tick-tock…time flies. Little Sarah has matured to a beautiful virtuous woman and is happily married. Her husband rejoices in the blessing of having a submissive wife. (That was a quick story, wasn’t it? J)
Here’s how it went:
- Obedience demanded
When Sarah was four, Mommy wanted her to memorize Ephesians 6:1. “Children obey your parents in the Lord for this is right.” But she never understood what it meant. Her parents would tell her to obey what they wanted her to do and not to do because it was for her own good. If she did not obey, there was the switch. During this time, Sarah’s explanation of her verse was: Children ought to obey their parents because it is right.
2. Voluntary and happy obedience
As Sarah grew up, her understanding of Ephesians 6:1 increased. Not only would she obey her parents because it is right, but also because it pleases the Lord. Her obedience to her parents gave testimony that she wanted to serve God. She learnt that obeying without murmurings and making faces, in other words, obeying because you’re happy to do it, is doing God’s Word and pleasing Him.
3. Submission in obedience (while in her father’s authority)
There were many instances during her teenage years when Sarah wanted to go somewhere with a group of young people. Most, if not all, of them profess to be Christians. She would tell her dad where she wanted to go, who are the people she would be with, why she wanted to go, etc. Dad would then tell her why he did not want her to go, giving hint that he does not give his consent. He gives her Biblical truths that give him the reason not to permit her to go. Since Sarah has learnt to obey, and because she wants to please the Lord Jesus Christ, she happily obeys what her dad (and the Bible) says. In obeying, she is learning to submit under her father’s authority. Obedience is the stepping-stone to submission.
4. Happy submission (when she is married)
Years pass by…oh, how time flies! Sarah is now happily married to a Godly man who loves her “even as Christ loved the church, and gave himself for it”. Her memory verse is changed. Her childhood verse was, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord…”. Now, her present verse says, “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.” –(Ephesians 5:22) She has learnt to obey and submit to her father’s authority; it is easier now for her to learn to submit to her own husband.
As a little girl, Sarah saw that her obedience to her parents pleases the Lord and is one sure way of serving God; this was her understanding of the application of Ephesians 6:1. Comparing this verse with Ephesians 5:22, she saw that these two verses were parallel. The way that she happily obeyed and submitted to her dad is the same way she now joyfully submits to her husband, and because of that, her husband also praises her, and the name of the Lord Jesus Christ is glorified.
You marvel at the elder women who, with their example, “teach the younger women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands”. You esteem virtuous women and submissive wives, and you wonder how they became to be so. Look around, and you’ll see. It starts when one is young, and it starts at home.