The Pursuit of God

Serious Topics for Serious Christians

Boundaries in Marriage: Inappropriate Submission

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As a Christian, it is vital that you keep a firm distinction in your mind between created and uncreated things. Yahweh, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are uncreated. Everything else is created. You need to treat these two groups very differently. If you try to treat them the same, you will end up in a major mess.

Your three glorious Creators demand that you present your entire self to Them first. They get it all, and then They decide how much of you They want to share with others. Maybe you’re a woman with a husband and kids pulling on you. Fine, but you belong to your Gods first. So in your heart, you need to be saying, “All that I am is Yours. Have Your way in my life.” Maybe you’re a man with a large family to support and a demanding job. Fine, but you belong to your Gods first. So if They tell you that They suddenly want you to preach for Them and that means a life of poverty, then what They want comes before what anyone else wants. This is what it means when we talk about living for our Gods—it means treating Their convictions, preferences, and requests as infinitely more important than anyone else’s. When your spouse asks you to do something, it’s appropriate to say, “Let me think about it.” When one of your Gods asks you to do something, this is not an appropriate response. When an uncreated Being asks something of you, you should rush to comply.

Now the Bible is not a perfect book. The Church says it is, but the Church is delusional. There are some obnoxiously wrong statements thrown out in both the Old and New Testaments. This means that you have to keep your guard up when you read the Bible and you need to be asking God to help you sort out the good from the bad.  Good teaching will encourage you to embrace the correct spiritual priorities in life, bad teaching will encourage you to embrace the wrong priorities.  One fine example of bad teaching is found in Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus:

Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. (Eph. 5:22-24)

This is terrible instruction.  You most certainly should not be viewing any created thing as being in the same class as your glorious Gods. Paul is leading you into a very dangerous delusion here—one that can only lead to major problems in the home. In the first place, the kind of submission you God wants from you involves a surrendering of your soul. You should never be surrendering your soul to any created being. Soul submission is far too extreme for any created being to be worthy of. Soul submission is a mindset of, “Anything you say, I will do, just because you’re the one saying it. Your pleasure is my highest desire.” If you say this to your Creators, They will be quite pleased. If you say this to your husband, your kids, your parents, your dog, a saint, the moon, an idol, or anyone else, then your Creators will be very displeased. Men: the same goes for you—you should not come anywhere close to giving your wife this level of submission. Soul submission is for God alone. We can form strong emotional bonds with people, and we can give them sincere love. But our devotion and submission to other humans should be extremely limited at best, because we do not live for the pleasure of people. We only live for the pleasure of our Gods.

For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body.

Christ reigns over the Church and all other created things with absolute sovereignty. Does a human husband have anywhere close to this power over his wife? Certainly not. There is no human relationship in which God authorizes one partner to dominate the other and assume the role of His equal. To draw parallels like this leads us into some very dangerous delusions. Soon we have wives groveling at their husbands’ feet and men treating their wives like carpet lint while everyone says “It’s biblical.” Well, “biblical” doesn’t mean “pleasing to God.” A lot of things are “biblical”. King Solomon peppering the land of Israel with shrines to demonic idols and sacrificing his own children to those same idols is “biblical”—does that mean we should all rush out and do the same? You can’t just blindly accept what some dead apostle tells you.

Demons love to use human foolishness and the contents of a “sacred” book to drive you astray. You have to check all things with God. Don’t just accept something because it comes from a source that other people have branded as trustworthy. The apostle Paul says some useful things. But then he’ll suddenly slip in some whopper of a lie and if we’re not guarded, we’ll end up taking on attitudes that displease our Gods. Yahweh, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are quite clear that no one comes anywhere close to being Their equal. Wives, do not treat your husbands like God in any area. Husbands, do not deify your wives. We are all sinful, selfish human beings. If we start trying to submit to each other the way that we are supposed to be submitting to God, we will tear each other apart.

People can’t handle being worshiped. It wrecks them. When you keep saying “Yes, dear, whatever you say,” to your husband, you’ll only be encouraging him to go on some abusive power trip. Your husband is not Christ. Sometimes he’s just a carnal jerk. When he is, you need to tell him to step off. The same goes for you husbands: when your wife starts demanding inappropriate things from you, you need to break out the boundaries. We cannot agree to start worshiping each other or submitting to each other unconditionally. Instead, we need to help each other keep our carnality in check and identify when our own greedy lusts are getting the better of us.

God did not create you to be a doormat for some other human to wipe his or her feet on. No human is worthy of your total devotion. Only your Creators are worthy of soul submission, and They are the only Ones you can trust with your soul.

Continuing with more useless directives, Paul aims this next grenade at husbands:

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the Church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the Church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. (Eph. 5:25-27)

No, men, you really should not be trying to take on the duties of Christ in your home, nor should you be thinking it’s your job to try and fix your wife’s spiritual problems. Christ said that He voluntarily gave up His life as an atonement sacrifice for others.  In Isaiah, Yahweh describes His future Messiah as taking the punishment for sins He never committed. Is this what you’re supposed to do today? When your wife willfully rebels against God, are you supposed to rush in and say, “Blame me for it, God. Punish me, not her”? No, you are not. This kind of attitude does not please God.

God is very clear that He will judge each soul separately, so who are you to go trying to revise His system for Him? You can’t see into your wife’s heart because God is intentionally blinding you from things that He considers to be none of your business. By blending the concepts of Christ’s atonement with the way you’re supposed to love your wife, Paul is turning both concepts into a muddled mess. First of all, Christ said that He died on the cross out of devotion to Yahweh, not because saving the Church was His top priority in life. Christ never modeled putting the created above the Creator. Second, Christ didn’t just die for the Church, but for the whole world. Should you go laying your life down for any rebel who comes along spitting in God’s face? Are you supposed to throw your hands up and surrender your body to any creep who finds it amusing to torture you? Not at all. The cross was a one time, special event which accomplished a very specific goal. You should not be trying to duplicate Christ’s atoning work in any way. Your marriage has nothing to do with atonement for sin.  Paul is talking like a complete fool here. Happily, he’ll snap out of it soon and return to giving us advice that is actually useful. At the end of this passage, Paul says:

Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband. (Eph. 5:33)

Well, this is more like it. Now if he’d just remind wives that they should also be loving their husbands as they do themselves, we’d be somewhere useful. But he doesn’t. He leaves us with this lopsided statement of husband doing one thing and wives doing another. This is when you need to remember that Jesus trumps Paul and Jesus commanded us all to love our neighbor as ourselves. Your “neighbor” certainly includes your spouse.

Loving people like you love yourself simply means treating them the way you’d want to be treated. Since we’re selfish, we tend to treat ourselves better than we treat others. We are far more patient, gracious, and understanding towards ourselves than we are towards others. By getting us to think about how we treat ourselves, Jesus really punches home the point that He doesn’t like favoritism and icing and all of these petty incrowd outcrowd games that we play.  No human should be treating some other human as inferior. Jesus died for all of us, not just for some of us, so no one is to be excluded. God’s system of loving others is very simple and balanced. Paul’s system is dangerously extreme and utterly inappropriate. Your spouse is not God and you are not God. Keep the Creators and the created in two totally separate camps and do not attempt to treat them the same way. Also, keep your guard up when you read the Bible. Remember that the Bible is a created thing and no created thing is perfect.

FURTHER READING:
The Bible isn’t perfect. Now what?
How God Wants Us to Relate to Four Kinds of Beings
Godly Submission: Guidance for Alpha Women
Boundaries in Marriage: Opposite Sex Friendships
Who should be the spiritual leader in a Christian home?

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