Wives, Let’s Go Ahead and Submit

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It’s weird for me to think that this time, six years ago, I was a young 19 yr old who had a pretty firm idea of what I wanted my life to look like. I was moving towards my dream of being a full-time missionary, hopefully overseas one day, and my dream did not include a husband, let alone children. Yet the Lord had already begun the softening process in my heart towards the beautiful covenant of marriage.

In the spring of 2013, before I met Joe, I traveled to India. I had a couple books to read on the many flights as my team and I traveled across that amazing country. On the flight from Dubai to New Delhi, I took out “The Apocalypse of Ahmadinejad: the Revelation of Iran’s Nuclear Prophet” by Mark Hitchcock. Looking around me, I saw mostly middle eastern, Muslim men and decided that I should probably read something else. So, I started a book I had put off reading ever since my mom had given it to me almost a year before.

“Let Me Be a Woman”, written by Elisabeth Elliot, always triggered an immediate eye roll from me. One, it had a soft pink cover with the image of a woman’s head with perfectly styled hair. I hate pink. Two, I was a self proclaimed tomboy who prided myself on my independent spirit and zero desire for marriage or a family. A book about biblical femininity, composed of letters written by a mom addressed to her recently engaged daughter, held zero appeal (obviously, since I would rather read a book about an Iranian dictator).

I read the entire book in that flight, and the Lord used Elisabeth Elliot’s words to reveal to my silly soul the TRUTH regarding femininity and marriage – the beginning of a complete transformation that changed the course of my life.

It is a naive sort of feminism that insists that women prove their ability to do all the things that men do. This is a distortion and a travesty. Men have never sought to prove that they can do all the things women do. Why subject women to purely masculine criteria? Women can and ought to be judged by the criteria of femininity, for it is in their femininity that they participate in the human race. And femininity has its limitations. So has masculinity.

Elisabeth Elliot, Let Me Be a Woman

I spent most of my teen years proving that I could do all the things my brother and his friends could do. I remember at his 13th birthday party, I arm wrestled his friends and made one of them cry because I wanted to prove a girl was stronger. When I went salmon fishing, I stayed out in the freezing river until I got hypothermia to prove that I was tough enough and didn’t need a break. When my period started, I was so frustrated and angry. I didn’t see the gift of fertility as a blessing, I saw it as a limitation – how unfair that only girls had to deal with all that every.single.month.!

With that attitude firmly entrenched in my heart, the quote above rocked my world. The feminist movement has spent so much effort trying to make way for women to become like men. What a boost to the male ego! You don’t see men attempting to take over roles that women are best equipped for. I think this problem dates back to the fall, ladies.

…your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.

Genesis 3:16b

I read in a commentary something that stuck – when the Bible says Eve’s desire will be for her husband, it means her desire shall be for her husband’s position, yet she is to remain under his authority. That longing to step in to a role that isn’t ours has plagued women throughout the ages. Have you seen it in your own marriages? The desire to take the matters into your own hands and jump the gun when it feels like your husband is taking forever to make a decision, or when it seems like his leadership skills are inferior to yours?

On June 14th, 2015, I stood before about 150 people and pledged myself to love, serve, honor and obey Joe Brown. The Lord had accomplished a remarkable work in my heart since the spring of 2013. I was now in awe of the beauty and holiness of the marriage covenant, and eager and excited to step in to my role of wife and, one day, mother. But that desire for my husband’s role gradually crept in and things came to a head about a year in to our marriage.

Joe and I had moved into the house he grew up in. It was packed full of his family’s possessions, which made it very difficult to make our own. I longed for a new place to live, somewhere we could start from scratch and I could decorate and design and make into a home unique to us. I pestered and nagged my husband for weeks. I would spend hours looking at available rentals around town, printing out the ones I liked and placing them where I knew my husband would see them. I couldn’t understand why it was taking him soooooo long to reach the same conclusion as I – that it would be best to find a new place to live, ASAP. I was annoyed that I couldn’t just take matters into my own hands and move forward with my plan.

Finally, after about a month or two of me pressuring him, Joe had enough. He came home from work and I immediately greeted him with the latest rentals I was interested in, and he pushed them away and said he had had enough. I remember my heart pounding as I realized I had a choice to make – either submit to my husband or fight with all my might for my way. I looked at all the saved tabs on our laptop, available places that I wanted to move to, and then I looked at the house we currently were living in. I was so convinced that this place was what was in the way of my happiness and contentment. But I knew that God had given my husband the leadership and to skirt Joe’s authority and push for my way would be to undermine the authority of God Himself.

I cried. Many hot and angry tears. But by God’s grace I submitted and told my husband I wouldn’t bring the matter up again, and I kept my word. It hurt, for sure, but I’m so thankful for that experience! Submission stings, but it brings peace and freedom because you are walking in obedience to the Lord. My disobedient desire to usurp my husband’s role was the real obstacle to my happiness and contentment, because it was coming between my relationship with the Lord.

Freedom begins way back. It begins not with doing what you want but with doing what you ought – that is, with discipline.

Elisabeth Elliot

As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.

1 Peter 1:14

He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.

John 14:21 (words of Jesus)

What a gift we can give to our families – submission to God through living in contentment and peace in the role God has given us, without coveting the role given to our spouse. It is a beautiful example of Christ and the Church – the model marriage is intended to reflect.

You can’t talk about the idea of equality and the idea of self-giving in the same breath. You can talk about partnership, but it is the partnership of the dance. If two people agree to dance together, they agree to give and take, one to lead and one to follow. This is what dance is. Insistence that both lead means there won’t be any dance.

It is the woman’s delighted yielding to the man’s lead that gives him freedom. It is the man’s willingness to take the lead that gives her freedom. Acceptance of their respective positions frees them both and whirls them into joy.

Elisabeth Elliot, Let Me Be a Woman

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Originally written and shared by Natalya Brown. Used with permission.