First, a quick review.
God created a beautiful world, and in it placed the man and the woman, who was made to be a suitable and strong help for the man. Humankind, both male and female, was made in the image of God. God gave them dominion (rule) together of all He had made, and God pronounced it all “good.” Disobedience to God's directions brought sin into the world, causing fear, shame, pain, and damaged relationship with God and each other. God cursed the earth and the serpent. God also told the man and woman that their relationship was damaged. The result of sin would change them. The man would seek to dominate the woman, and the woman would turn toward the man instead of to God. God did not pronounce this good. He just told them that the world was going to be a much different place.
And we learned a verse: I Peter 3:7 “...Live with them...as heirs together with you of God’s gracious gift of life.”
We found out that verses 21 and 22 are one sentence, not two, or even a separate paragraph like we see in most of our English Bibles. We discovered that the word "head" (kephale) is a metaphor for source. Customs of the time, word usage and context all combined to show us that these passagec are not about the husband’s supposed authority over his wife, and not even about Christ’s real uthority over his church. The man is the source of the woman as Christ is the souce of the Church. This isn't about authority at all, but about love, humility, honor, respect, and mutual submission.
We also discovered that the Bible does not assign leader-follower roles to the husband and wife, but partnership and interdependence--on each other and on God.
So, now what do we do? How does this different idea work out in real life? What does “mutual submission” look like? We don’t have time to consider all they ways this might change our marriages, but here are some thoughts just for starters.
Work and Responsibilitie: We are free to divide things up however it works for us. If we reject someone else’s idea of what our marriage must be, we are free to decide for ourselves. Each person can lead out of their strengths and receive support in weak areas. Dividing up the work and responsibilities according to what each person likes and does well means that the person doing the job is more likely to do it right.
Decision Making: Much is sometimes made of authority, of husbands having “final say.” I’ve been told that every organization must have a head and that if no one is in authority that chaos and confusion will be the result. This makes marriage more like a corporation, and not much like a loving relationship of partners.
I can honestly say that we have not always followed this advice ourselves, but when we have we have always been able to reach a decision together. When we have not, we made mistakes.
Fighting Fair: Some of this should not have to be said, but I’ve learned that it does. Remember the “one another” principles we looked at a few weeks ago? Practice them! No name calling. No swearing, belittling, demeaning the person, telling them their opinion does not matter. No dragging the past into the future every time you disagree. If you can’t disagree without yelling, stop. Take a break to cool off. No projecting how YOU feel on to your partner. Use “I” statements instead of “you” statements. If either of you thinks there is a problem, there is a problem. No itimidation, not verbally, physically, emotionally. Submit, love, honor, respect—even when you disagree.
What About the Kids? Just a few words here. Discipline is necessary (and is beyond the scope of this message) but living in God’s grace and freedom means you respect and value your kids. No using them as weapons. No playing them against your partner. No painting the other parent as the bad guy. No name calling, humiliating, swearing, screaming. Involve them in decision making as appropriate.
This kind of relationship frees both of you to grow the way God designed you—free to be who you really are. This is not just a "woman's issue." It is a people issue!
For every woman who is tired of acting weak when she knows she is strong,
There is a man who is tired of acting strong when he knows he is vulnerable.
For every woman who is tired of acting dumb,
There is a man who is burdened with the constant expectation of “knowing everything.”
For every woman is who is tired of being called “an emotional female,
There is a man who is denied the right to weep and be gentle.
For every woman who is called “unfeminine” when she competes,
There is a man for whom competition is the only way to prove his masculinity.
For every woman who is tired of being a “sex object,”
There is a man who worries about his potency.
For every woman who feels “tied down” by her children,
There is a man who is denied the full pleasure of shared parenthood.
For every woman who is denied meaningful employment or equal pay,
There is a man who must bear full financial responsibility for another human being.
For every woman who was not taught the intricacies of an automobile,
There is a man who was not taught the satisfaction of cooking.
For every woman who takes a step towards her own liberation,
There is a man who finds the way to freedom has been made a little easier!
Nancy R. Smith
A marriage of mutual submission, mutual honor and respect, mutual love, means that you are free to design your own marriage. You are free to decide what it means to be “heirs together of the gracious gift of life.”