As Christian women, we may feel trapped in relationships where our needs, desires, and even our safety are not being respected or valued. We may have been taught that submission to our husbands is our primary responsibility, even if it means sacrificing our own well-being and that of our children. But is this really what God intends for us?
Let’s start by acknowledging that marriage can be challenging even under the best of circumstances. It requires sacrifice, compromise, and hard work from both partners. However, when a marriage becomes destructive, it’s essential to seek help and support. This can be especially difficult for Christian women who may feel ashamed or guilty for not being able to make their marriages work.
The Bible never says that submission is only a wife’s responsibility, nor does it give husbands the final say in all decisions. This has been misunderstood and misinterpreted, causing harm to men, women, and children and thwarting God’s plan for loving family relationships. We must reject any teaching that condones abusive or controlling behavior and instead seek God’s truth on the matter.
As wives, we are called to be our husband’s helpmates, but this goes beyond mere submission. Our role is to encourage and support our spouses to grow and mature in their relationship with God and to love them as Christ loved the Church. This means you may have to confront sin, implement boundaries, and, yes, consequences…for his good. We must also learn to love ourselves and our children enough to protect them from harm.
Biblical headship is not about wielding power or demanding obedience. Jesus demonstrated headship through sacrificial servanthood, modeling humility, compassion, and love. Husbands are called to love their wives as Christ loved the Church, giving themselves up for her. This means that husbands should initiate and model servanthood, showing the way and going first in putting the needs of their family above their own.
Likewise, biblical submission is not about being a doormat or allowing yourself to be mistreated. Submission cannot be forced or coerced but must come from a heart that desires to please God and serve others.
If you find yourself in a destructive marriage, it may be difficult to imagine a way out. You may feel trapped and hopeless. But please know that God is with you, and He desires for you to be safe and whole. He sees your pain and your struggles, and He truly cares. God loves you and values your safety and sanity. Please know you are not alone, and there are many resources available for you at www.leslievernick.com.
Many people, including pastors, misunderstand the idea of marital headship and submission. We won’t change everyone’s mind on the subject. But, as long as you are clear about what God expects – and what he doesn’t – you can be confident in how to be safe and sane, even if that means creating some boundaries for yourself.