This is the first of a four-part marriage series. Today and tomorrow we will focus on the role of a godly wife, and the next two posts will explore the Christlike love husbands are called to provide. We pray that God will use these excerpts to strengthen your marriage and enable you to more clearly reflect our Savior.
Adapted from No Ordinary Marriage: Together for God’s Glory by Tim Savage
What does a wife’s subordination look like in practice? In short, it bears a striking resemblance to her subordination to the Lord. She submits to her husband “as to the Lord” (Eph. 5:22)—in other words, in the same way as she submits to the Lord. Since she is more than the Lord’s slave, her submission entails more than mere acquiescence in times of disagreement or decision. Since she is his beloved child, she responds to him as to a cherished parent, seeking in every way and at all times to honor him, to please him, to respect him, to exalt him, and to serve him.
Her subordination is thus a proactive subordination. It is a vocation which she takes into her own hands, so to speak, and pursues with every fiber of her being. It is not passive subservience but active engagement. Hence its application, far from being restricted to isolated occasions, represents the prevailing, moment-by-moment pattern of her relationship with the Lord.
When applied to marriage, subordination of this kind ennobles the wife. She becomes a creative and energetic partner. She interacts thoughtfully and actively with her husband. She becomes so much more, radically more, than simply a deferential partner in times of dissent. She is also more than a competitor vying for equal status. Confident of her equality to her husband, she passionately uses that equality as a platform for revolutionary action, the sort of action which makes other revolutionaries look insipid by comparison. She throws herself into fulfilling the needs of her husband, viewing his interests as more important than her own (Phil. 2:3).
Revolutionary indeed! What person with even a modicum of self-respect, with even the slightest measure of egalitarian propriety, would dare to subordinate her interests to those of another? We have met just such a person: Jesus Christ. He viewed his position of equality to God as a reason to submit himself to the appalling death of crucifixion. By doing so, he put our interests ahead of his own. He regarded our needs as more important than his own. He “lined up under” us—not in the sense that he became inferior to us, but in the sense that he gave priority to our needs.
Does this kind of self-sacrifice offend our enlightened minds? Does the subordination of Jesus scandalize our egalitarian sensibilities? Of course not! It is gospel, good news, because it is the grounds of our salvation. Through the subordination of the Son of God, we are exalted.
Exaltation by subordination! It is a profound paradox. It is the provocative way of Jesus Christ—and now also the provocative way of wives who have in themselves the same attitude that was in Christ Jesus (Phil. 2:5), who willingly “line up under” their husbands, who view the needs of their husbands as more important than their own, who seek to exalt their partners—and in doing so exalt themselves.
Don’t forget to join us tomorrow for part two!