Monday, August 13, 2012

A Misunderstood Word

"Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord" (Eph. 5:22).

The misunderstood word is "submit."  Such a beautiful word, yet a beauty undiscovered.  To help matters, consider what the groom is asked at a Lutheran wedding (and I'm sure others):

"Will you nourish and cherish her as Christ loved His body, the Church, giving Himself up for her?"

I will.

Then the bride is asked:

"Will you submit to him as the Church submits to Christ?"

I will.

Now at least in my experience as a pastor, no one has ever objected to or even questioned what is asked of the groom, despite the fact he is called on to give up his life!  Makes me wonder if we're really hearing that question.  No, what meets with resistance sometimes is the use of the word "submit" in the question to the bride.

The real problem is that we're not putting the two pieces together.  They are interlocking questions.  And more romantic terms could not be found!

What the bride is really submitting to, deepest down, is the groom's love, care, and willingness to give up his life for her.  He is making a very strong statement.  And with the word "submit," she is making a correspondingly strong reply.  She is saying, "I hear you, and the answer is, 'Yes, I will be loved by you!'"

"Submit" means to "set under."  But look at how it works.  The wife sets herself under her husband who sets her life above his.  He is her "head" (Eph. 5:23), but as such he puts her needs ahead of his.

Submitting to your husband should be like flying First Class and having to submit to the treatment.

But the best analogy is this: Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her on the cross.  He is risen!  And He lives to lead husbands in the way of loving their wives.  As the Church submits to Christ's love and loves Him greatly in response, so too the wife who is loved by her husband!

Let us hear the words of marriage less legalistically and more, much more, romantically!  They are not behind but ahead of the times.