The Goal of Submission in Marriage

Healthy Submission

Healthy submission is a beautiful thing. I love to garden. This is a metaphor that I like to use to think about healthy submission. Every March in Minnesota, gardening season sort of kicks off and I plant lots of little seeds that we grow on our counter in dozens and dozens of tiny pots.

He is where we get all our life, sustenance, and everything good. He helps us to know what we’re supposed to be like.

It’s really interesting to watch these little seedlings as they come up. They kind of turn whichever way the sun’s going. My family loves sunflowers, so we plant sunflowers in our garden. When they come up, they’re huge and beautiful, and they have this ability to turn in any direction so that they are always facing the sun. I will walk down to the garden in the morning and the sunflower is pointed one way and I come down in the afternoon and the whole thing is facing the other direction. How does a flower move itself? It’s really really cool and I think this is a picture of healthy submission.

For Our Good

Wives bend toward the nourishment and the leadership of their husbands—not because it’s some horrible thing that the husband’s asking them to do, but because there are good things for them when they do that. They are turning themselves toward what is for their good.

Of course, the metaphor breaks down because our husbands are not flaming balls of gas in the sky—they are not the sun. Jesus is not an actual flaming ball of gas in the sky, but he is our morning star. He is where we get all our life, sustenance, and everything good. He helps us to know what we’re supposed to be like.

You can’t push the metaphor out beyond its limits, but we can say Wow. That’s what a husband is supposed to be like for the good of his wife. And this is what a wife is supposed to be like responding to her husband in a way that is for her good. It’s not going to harm her, and it’s a beautiful thing.

We wouldn’t take the sunflower and say, “Hey, you’re pointing that way, but you’re supposed to be pointing this way!” and break it off to make it face the way we think it ought to be facing. That’s not what submission is. That’s just coercion. But the picture of the flower that bends on its own toward the sun is very much a picture of what healthy marriages look like. You don’t find many unhappy sunflowers.

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