Marriage Talk with Pastor Vincent J. McCaskill
(Installment 2 - "I refuse to submit to anyone, especially to my spouse!")
Ephesians 5:21 (NLT)
21 And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
The word submission is touchy for some. Primarily because the word submission has taken on different connotations in today's society. The idea of individualism and self respect seem not to align with the thought of giving up that individualism and self respect for someone to have dominance over our lives. We have seen the word submission used in so many negative ways that when someone says submission to anything, images pop in our minds related to how we view submission. With a mind that has embraced individualism and self respect, it will not accept giving that up to someone else. And this is why submission has become a bad word in today's society for so many.
But if we look at it again from a different vantage point, let me ask the question... what thoughts do we hold near and dear to our hearts? These are the very ideas or imaginations/thoughts that shape how we see things. They form the foundation by which we stand on. We won't move without that foundation under our feet. While it seems we are on top of that foundation which holds us up... the foundation is what we are submitted to. In other words, I am so attached to it that I will not move away from it for fear of whatever. This is submission.
So when Ephesians 5:21 points out the importance of "submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ"... this gives us a recipe for success in the relationship. Verse 21 talks about both husband and wife submitting to one another out of reverence to Christ. This simply means to honor and respect one another and look to Jesus (The word in written form and through prayer) to tackle whatever you face together. Submission out of reverence to Christ gives us the ability to listen to one another even when opinions differ... and to seek God for clarity on which direction to go. Every situation should follow the ways of God in how to handle what a couple faces together. This is what we must submit to and somebody has to stand on that after taking time to process the different perspectives.
Submission to one another also means I do not see you as an enemy but an equal partner in this Kingdom enterprise called marriage. The following verses will establish the structure in this enterprise, but if both people are not willing to follow verse 21, then it will be highly unlikely the couple will follow the established structure according to God's will for married people. We are out of order when we are not willing to adhere to verse 21. No matter how much we try to use the verses that follow in 22-36... without following verse 21 we are setting ourselves up for failure. This is a serious issue for many couples. Your future together hinges on your ability to embrace that you are one... and when you submit to your spouse... you are submitting to yourself as well. You are submitting to the God in your spouse. You are putting God ahead of how you feel and trusting God to direct your path. If you feel your spouse does not have God in him or her, then the question becomes... did you put God in your decision to choose the person? If God is not in the person so you will not submit to that person... then it goes back to your decision to marry a person who you now say God is not in. Was God there before you chose to marry your spouse? Were you truly looking for God in your spouse? Or were you looking at other things instead of the things that matter most as you say now?
Here's the deal... your submitted to a way of thinking regarding the selection of your spouse. If that selection turned out to create some struggle for you, perhaps the struggle is with you letting go of the thinking you stood on to choose that person... and submit to new thinking that comes from God to the one who submits to God in their hearts. Perhaps the problems you face now were initiated long before you entered the marriage. How? Perhaps you embraced knowledge that went against God's way. You chose to stand on faulty information instead of the the word of God. We have our reasons for making such decisions, but the key to recognizing this is to acknowledge it... and trust God to make what seems crooked...STRAIGHT.
Remember, we are each responsible for the choices we make. It is not the other person's fault. Seek counseling. Talk to your pastor and allow God to heal and reshape what you thought could not be repaired.