Submitting to Your Persecutor
Lately, I have been blessed to read posts from Christian women talking about the honor of serving their Christian husbands and submitting to them. Their posts are mostly in response to the popular and cancerous view of egalitarianism, where gender roles are blended and there are no differences between the roles of a husband and wife. To egalitarians, a submissive wife is unfavorable, even a detriment to progression. Yet the Scripture is clear:
“Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” Ephesians 5:22
“But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ.” 1 Corinthians 11:3
“But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it wasnot Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.” 1 Timothy 2:12-14
“Complementarianism follows Ephesians 5:21-33 as the model for the home. The husband has the role of headship in the family. He is to nurture his wife and lead his family lovingly, humbly, and sacrificially. The wife has the role of nurturing her children and intentionally, willingly submitting to her husband’s leadership. When both husband and wife are complementing each other in this way, Christ is honored. In fact, the marriage itself becomes what it was designed to be: a living picture of Christ and the church (verse 32).
What is complementarianism? | GotQuestions.org )
I appreciate these faithful women desiring to obey what the Lord says and to do so with joy. I am thankful to see them alongside their husbands and declaring they have much joy in their Christ-centered marriage, even if it’s not appreciated by the world. Such a marriage is special a blessing and it glorifies the Lord in immeasurable ways.
The pressures of this world for women to not hold to the biblical commands in their role as wives are unrelenting. That’s why it makes what I’m about to address even more incredible. I want to go to a place of submission that I don’t see discussed much, and honestly, is the difficult reality of many godly wives.
In my years volunteering with GotQuestions.com and receiving questions from hurt women, and knowing and talking with other women in my life, I have seen the other side of the submissive coin; when it is to be done with an unbelieving husband (perhaps false convert), especially one who is a very difficult man, possibly hateful and deceitful. There are the unbelieving husbands who couldn’t give two hoots about the wife being godly and just leave her to it but there are also those who are actually angered by her incessant desire to obey the Lord and mocks her obedience and devotion. These husbands are seemingly disturbed by the meekness and submission of their wives and sometimes do anything they can think of to stir up the hornet’s nest in order to see their wives sin and fall. These apparent narcissistic husbands don’t care if their wives are growing in Christ; they just want meals made, the house cleaned, the kids dealt with, and the physical intimacy when they want it. The wives’ hearts are seemingly never a thought. Conversation is a one-way street. Nasty words, name-calling, angry tones, and accusations are the everyday norm.
I received several calls from a woman usually sobbing and many times asking how long she must endure. She literally thought she’d die from the agony of having to withstand a husband who not only didn’t understand her new identity in Christ and desires to leave a false church but one who turned into her biggest and daily persecutor. The disregard, even disdain, he expressed towards her was constant and crushing. She wanted nothing more than to obey the Lord she loved. She wanted to submit to her husband “as to the Lord”, not in a way opposed to the Word of God. This was always evident to me in our conversations with her and it always amazed me. Submitting to and honoring was excruciatingly hard to live out when her husband was calling her awful names, mocking her faith in Christ, demanding impossible things from her so that he could relish in her failures, turning the kids against her, exhibiting questionable social behavior… yet she truly desired to be obedient. Her husband desired to stay married and she desired to do as the Lord had commanded.
“And a woman who has an unbelieving husband, and he consents to live with her, she must not send her husband away. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband; for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy. Yet if the unbelieving one leaves, let him leave; the brother or the sister is not under bondage in such cases, but God has called us to peace. For how do you know, O wife, whether you will save your husband? Or how do you know, O husband, whether you will save your wife?” 1 Corinthians 7:13-16
Asking for forgiveness and strength to endure was her continued prayer. Even more constant was the prayer for his salvation. She knew nothing was impossible with the Lord (Mark 10:27). This woman of God glorified her Lord beyond anything I’ve witnessed from other women who are loved and cherished by their husbands. It’s easier to love those who love us back. I think of these verses:
““But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Luke 6:27-28
“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.” Luke 6:32
“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.” Romans 12:14
For her (and for others I know) the focus was Christ and it was keen. She relied desperately on her Savior to get her through each day in a way that glorified Him. She grew exponentially in the Lord during this time. He was the light of peace, love, and hope she basked in. He was the reason she could get up in the morning and find joy in salvation. He is why she knew that if her husband was never going to change, she still had the Lord with her.
“Give ear to my words, O Lord,
Consider my groaning.
Heed the sound of my cry for help, my King and my God,
For to You I pray.
In the morning, O Lord, You will hear my voice;
In the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch.
For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness;
No evil dwells with You.
The boastful shall not stand before Your eyes;
You hate all who do iniquity.
You destroy those who speak falsehood;
The Lord abhors the man of bloodshed and deceit.
But as for me, by Your abundant lovingkindness, I will enter Your house,
At Your holy temple I will bow in reverence for You.” Psalm 5:1-7
She struggled, she groaned and despaired, yet she saw Christ’s faithfulness and knew He wasn’t going to forsake her. She became shrewd as a serpent and innocent as a dove every day as she sought to bring up her children in the Word of God instead of the false religion and mockery of her husband. She being daily wounded still found the strength to witness to the lost, to serve her brothers and sisters in Christ and pray for them. She put God first.
God is gracious to not let His faithful children take on more than they can bear. He also works in mysterious ways! Her husband has yet to come to faith but through her laying down a biblical line with him, through her constant prayer and biblical submission, along with refusing to cave in to fear and sneakily getting the message of the Lord to him in unsuspecting ways, her husband finally softened his ways. The Lord provides. Even though her husband is not Christian they have an agreeable marriage. She may never have a saved husband who leads her in the Lord or who really understands her Christ-honoring views and actions but that’s ok, she still has and loves the Lord. And it’s not over yet.
One has to live this in order to understand what pain that comes with submission in these situations. Like all submission in the Lord, it’s God-honoring and it blesses. When it’s within a difficult marriage and when it’s towards an unloving mocker, it’s on another level. It leaves women like me truly hurting for them and praying hard but also praising God even more.
Please note, I would never suggest a woman stay in a dangerous marriagebut often times God wants us to see through extreme difficulties in order to grow in Him and be a light to the unbelieving spouse. Overall, it honors His Name greatly to do as He commands, and that means to submit to our own husbands, even difficult ones.
It’s so trying for a wife in this situation to show daily kindness to a husband who is unkind yet that is a small picture of what Christ did for us. Let us remember:
“For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:7-8
How joyous it is to submit in a healthy marriage to a godly man! It’s the ideal scenario, for sure. It’s what we should want to have and to see. We know husbands and wives, no matter how godly, aren’t perfect and marriage is still hard but the sweetness of being a help-mate to your believing husband, your brother in Christ, is something that brings great joy. However, I’m finding out that one’s joy in Christ has a certain profoundness to it when it’s nourished in heartbreaking and desperate situations.
I find great inspiration from women like Abigail mentioned in Scripture who was married to that “harsh” and “evil” Nabal (1 Samuel 25:3,14,25). She put God first, His people first but she was still there as his wife, living faithfully despite his evil heart and influence. God sustained her and she honored Him despite the difficulties.
What is the walk like for an obedient, loving, and godly woman married to an ungodly man? Their love for the Lord is even more evident as they daily die to self and focus on Christ with desperate precision. There’s no doubt about it, other women take notice of this.
I want to emphasize these worn yet faithful women don’t run to books written by progressive women who believe you must serve yourself and focus on self and set out to find happiness, “whatever it means for you.” “Girl, Wash Your Face” would have rightly been found in these godly women’s garbage cans. The worldly literature would have sided with their weak flesh but it wouldn’t have honored their Lord. Instead, they run to the Word. He sustains them. He is their strength and song.
These women are not cherished by their husbands but they honor anyway. They are not loved by him but they share the love of Christ anyway. They are not heard or seen by him, but they support him anyway. They may not be prayed for by him but they pray for him anyway. The Lord is their strength and it’s the Lord they desire to be seen and known. The Truth is their guide and they trust in His wisdom. I’ve learned so much from this woman and others like her. I’ve been edified and challenged, immensely. I’m convicted often. I pray their situation improves and their husband’s come to faith but I praise God for them and what their faith in turbulent times as shown me.
They cry, a lot. God hears them. They suffer in silence most times. God sees them. They struggle and stumble. God strengthens and lifts them up. Pray for your sisters in this situation. Encourage them in Scripture and remind them of what God says,
“The Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8
“The Lord also will be a stronghold for the oppressed,
A stronghold in times of trouble;
And those who know Your name will put their trust in You,
For You, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.” Psalm 9:9-10
To you women, some of whom I know well and who have suffered in silence I pray for you. Do not allow yourself or your kids to be in danger, seek help if you are in a dangerous situation. Seek the help of trusted Christians and even the authorities if needed. Don’t suffer needlessly.
When staying is safe, know that in suffering for His name and in your obedience you honor your Lord so much and are being used of Him, even if it doesn’t seem so. As Job cried out and wondered why he was alive, God was doing something very good. Trust in Him. May God continue to strengthen you, grow you and use you to honor His Name.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Mathew 5:43-48.
Here are some great resources to check out:
Blog Post – The Submissive Wife (gty.org)
Blog Post – The Power of a Submissive Life (gty.org)
Girl, Wash Your Face (Book Review) – The End Time (the-end-time.org)
What is egalitarianism? | GotQuestions.org
Does a wife have to submit to her husband? | GotQuestions.org
Above is an article written by Gina Cook, Gina and Tami write Through the Narrow here at Tulips & Honey Hub. They’ll be posting articles every other Tuesday. Both are published authors, you can find Tami’s book here, and Gina’s book here. We’re blessed to have them apart of our team, and pray their writing will be as edifying to you as it is to us. – Lauren Hereford