Submission: How Far is Too Far?

Submission: How Far is Too Far? December 11, 2010

One of the comments on my submission post really caught my attention and spurred yet another round of interesting conversation between the Ogre and I. We can’t come up with an answer that satisfies either of us yet, so I thought I would ask my readers what you guys think.

40DaysOf was disturbed by my post because she saw it as being submission taken to an extreme, or rather, submission when the husband was not fulfilling his end of the bargain, we might say, by loving like Christ. It got me thinking about this whole idea of submission in a new light. After all, if we only submit to requests that we agree with or that we think are reasonable or right, aren’t we really just obeying ourselves and not our husbands?

Obviously, this can and probably is terribly abused. But how do we know when the idea of submission is being abused? Where’s the line? How far is too far?

The Ogre posed a great question. He said, “If a woman has a horrible husband who treats her terribly, is she wrong for continuing to obey him?” I’d never thought of that before. Assuming he’s not asking her to do immoral things, I don’t think she’s wrong for obeying. But I also don’t really think she’s wrong for not obeying.

So is that how we’re supposed to understand Ephesians 5? Is it a contract, so to speak? My gut reaction is to say no, but that road leads to a myriad of difficulties.

I’m blessed to have a husband who treats me wonderfully. Sometimes he makes decisions I don’t agree with (like the circumcision), but he never makes a decision until we’ve talked about it. He never discounts my feelings. If he has a reason to make a decision that I wouldn’t, it’s always a good one, and he always explains it. Sometimes I have to do things I don’t like to keep my promise of obedience, but I always know that it’s right. There’s always some grace that comes with obeying my husband.

Not all women are so lucky. What about a woman who’s being abused? I certainly wouldn’t tell her to stay and take the abuse. What about a woman who’s being emotionally abused? I don’t know. What about a woman whose husband doesn’t really abuse her, but just treats her like a doormat? Is she still expected to obey, knowing that he is most emphatically not loving her the way Christ loves His Church?

These things must be decided on a case-by-case basis, but ultimately I think that reason can only take us so far. We can justify much with reason, but still the choice will remain to all of us, even those who are in a bad marriage where obedience seems ludicrous: obey or don’t obey. I have no idea what the right answer is, but I do know that the idea of obeying my husband was something I vehemently opposed until I just started doing it. Grace accompanies sacrifices. I also don’t know that that can be applied in all situations, though. What do you guys think?

In other news, we’ll be flying to Texas today for the holidays. I would be indebted to you if you could take a minute and say a quick prayer for our safe travels. I will try to get a few posts up every week while we are gone, but it may be slower going than usual. Thanks guys!

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