A verse quoted in the book which I think I've always glossed over is Ephesian 5:33
However, each one of you must also love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.Wow - can't be much clearer than that! I decided to read this verse in context and skipped back up to verse 22 and reread Ephesians 6 from verse 22 to 33. Interesting how many new things popped up to me.
The first verse speaks of the wife submitting to the husband. I know this verse has been a huge contention for many before. We hear the word submission or submit and cringe. But God has given me this word over my life this year and I'm beginning to see it in a new light. For me I'm learning to submit to His Love this year. To truly understand and accept how much He loves me unconditionally. Seems pretty easy on the surface, but for some reason I've been programmed all my life to feel that I have to perform for love. I have to do something to earn the love of others. So this is a new concept for me. I've known for quite awhile that God's salvation, forgiveness and mercy were free gifts. But I'm just beginning to understand that His love is also a free gift.
But I digress. I know many who will recognize verse 22 about wives submitting to their husbands, but only if verse 25 is fulfilled. Verse 25 tells husbands to love their wives the same as Christ loves the Church. This is true, husbands should love their wives in this way. However, stating that you won't submit to your husband until he shows you the love detailed in verse 25 is putting us right back into that crazy downward spiraling circle - the Love & Respect cycle.
So, once again - someone has to step out and decide the marriage is more important than their "rights". Someone has to step out and say - "Lord, I know you want me to love my spouse unconditionally, just as you love me. Even if in the world's eyes he/she does not deserve it!" Will you choose to be this person? Will you choose during those tough times instead of clinging to your rights, to go to the Lord and ask Him for strength and to fill you with love for your spouse? To help you to see them through His eyes?
Today, a good friend of mine explained that the original meaning of the word submit was actually to come up from beneath someone and to give them support. This makes so much sense. As wives we were created to be our husband's helpmeet. That is why God created Eve for Adam and nothing has changed since then. It makes sense that as wives we are to submit, to come up under our husbands and support them. To do this we must show them respect and unconditional love - even when we don't believe they deserve it. We can only do this through the strength of the Lord.
Now, given our husbands are not perfect and we should not follow them into something that goes against the Lord, however if we truly learn to turn to God in submitting to our husband, respecting them and loving them, He will be faithful to show us in those circumstances how to stand for Him and His Truth in a way that is loving and respectful.
In the end, it all comes back to the Lord. He is the one asking us to submit to our husbands and He is the one who will show us how to do so and give us the strength to do it. And in the end, He will bless us, our husbands and our marriages if we are obedient.