Singleness, Submission, & The Tangibility Factor
A new friend, and one of my readers, recently told me that she teaches teen girls at her church. She’s starting to teach them some of the principles she’s learned about on my blog. My first thought was, “That’s great! Teen girls NEED to be prepared for when they eventually get married!” Learning to submit to my husband has been a struggle for me. It’s hard! So of course part of me wishes that I had been more prepared. Knowing the practical ways to respect my husband would have been excellent preparation for me as an engaged woman!
The more I thought about it, though, I began to think that it has to be much more important than just preparation for the future. I started wondering WHY it was that learning submission has been so hard, and only one thing comes to mind:
Submitting to my husband in marriage brings the EXACT same fleshly struggle that submitting to GOD has always brought.
I struggle to submit to my husband in the EXACT same ways that I have ALWAYS struggled to submit to God. I’ve submitted to God in the BIG things in life–like choosing a college, changing my degree, coming to Seminary, or choosing a mate. (Though even with some of these BIG choices, my obedience to God was quite delayed.) When it came to small things though, I could easily brush those things off as “no big deal”. If God convicted me that I owed someone an apology, it was easy to rationalize not offering it. I convinced myself that an apology was selfish–that it was about making myself feel better, and so it would actually be wrong! I might even convince myself that too much time had passed, and that it was now TOO LATE to apologize. I was so convincing that I myself actually BELIEVED that I was submitting to God. But my actions & thoughts PROVED what I truly believed about God. Here are some beliefs that my thoughts & actions revealed (that I would have NEVER admitted!):
- “God’s way doesn’t make sense.”
- “I told God WHY I couldn’t do that, and then He saw it correctly.” (OUCH!)
- “I’m smarter than God.”
- “God’s way is sinful, and my way is right.”
- “I don’t care about loving others the way that God loves.”
- “God doesn’t really expect me to obey Him in the little things.”
- “Focusing on little things will take AWAY from me being able to honor God in the big things.”
- “Not getting caught up with the ‘little stuff’ proves that I’m more spiritual.
I could list SO MANY other LIES that my life promoted. But I didn’t even KNOW these things about myself! I truly thought I was submitting to God! How heart-breaking that we can be so incredibly blind to our own sin! I was living, and even thinking, AS IF these lies were true. How could I not have seen this blatant sin in my heart?
Upon getting married, I QUICKLY realized these sins that were there. Crazy that I’d lived this way for YEARS, and never saw the sin until I became a wife. So WHY, all of a sudden, is it SO easy for me to see the sin that I’ve been blind to for so long? What’s the difference between submission to God, and submission to my husband?
–Now that I’m married, I can more clearly SEE my sin, and it’s effects.
–I can more clearly see the NEED for submission.
–I can more clearly see the EFFECTS of submission.
–I can more clearly see the EFFECTS of a LACK of submission.
–OTHERS can more clearly see IF I am submitting.
Because of this ‘tangibility’ factor:
–It is much harder to brush off the conviction that comes when I fail to submit.
–It is much harder to deny that I am sinning, or claim that I am submitting.
–It is much EASIER to see my sin!
I’m thankful for this ‘tangibility’ factor. I’m thankful that God has used my husband and marriage to open my eyes to my sin. But the SIN was already in my life, and my heart, even BEFORE I became a wife! The sin is not all about my lack of submission to my husband. Ultimately, it’s about my submission to GOD! And that applied to me even when I was single. The things I thought were small were indeed HUGE stumbling blocks to me. My lack of submission to God always resulted in a rift in my relationship with Him! When I held back something small, I was in essence letting God know that I didn’t trust Him. That my ways were better than His. That He could LEARN from my wisdom. With that as my attitude, I could NEVER grow in my relationship with Him. I could never experience Him to the fullest.
It isn’t until I FULLY submit to God that I can fully know Him,
experience the peace & joy of His presence, and produce His fruit.
This is the ultimate goal of submission. God’s Word calls us to submit to our husbands “as unto the Lord.” Sadly, many women could submit to their husbands at the exact same level that they submit to God, and yet not be submitting AT ALL. Teen girls NEED to learn submission, not just as preparation for their future husbands. They need to learn how to submit to God Himself!
When discipling young girls, it is SO important that our process includes a goal of developing in them a character and heart of submission (to GOD!). These young women can learn to FULLY submit to God while they are still young and single! There is no reason to wait for the ‘tangibility’ factor to open their eyes. So many Christian leaders train single women in a much different way than they do married women, but this shouldn’t happen! A woman shouldn’t grow up in the church learning to be an “independent woman of God”, and then suddenly–when she marries–be told that this independence is sinful! The truth is, no matter your age or marital status, God never leads any of us to be independent! He calls us to surrender to His will. To follow His ways and relinquish our own. He calls all women to have a heart of submission! These teen girls–these YOUNG WOMEN–can submit NOW. They can be peaceful young women who have a gentle and quiet spirit, and a heart of submission to God. I’m so thankful for my new friend, who sees the importance of training up her teens to become women after God’s own heart! We truly need more people like her working with our teens!