The Submission Condition
10 Jul 2017
Mathilde* was smart, thoughtful and honest with herself and others. She was not one to make rash decisions, or to agree with others’ opinions blindly. She liked to think things through for herself. Through a café ministry in her French city, Mathilde came to hear and understand the gospel and gave her life to Christ. She began to meet regularly with Ruth, a Pioneers worker who helped run the café, to read the bible and be mentored in her faith. But then came the stumbling block.
Mathilde loved reading through the gospels and getting to know her saviour Jesus, and then reading the letters in the New Testament, with such practical instructions for life. When Mathilde was reading through Ephesians, she came to these words “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.” Ephesians 5:22. Mathilde could understand that she should submit to the Lord, she had already surrendered her whole life to him. But why would a loving God require her to submit to a man? She could not ignore the words, but they made her feel sick to her stomach. Her own father had shown her that husbands were not to be trusted. He had treated all women as objects, even her and her mother. How could any woman choose to put herself in a position of submission, a place where she might be mistreated and abused?
These questions stopped Mathilde in her tracks, and she wondered if she was really following the right path. A great struggle followed, and Mathilde was tempted to reject the bible completely. When she met with Ruth, she spoke of her confusion and apprehension about what God was saying in these verses. Ruth was then able to share with her what a Godly marriage looks like. How husband and wife are created equal, in the image of God, but that they are designed to take on different roles within marriage. Going further into the passage, Ruth explained that in a Christian marriage, the husband takes a ‘headship’ role, but how Christian leadership is all about serving. By sharing personally about her own marriage with Peter, based on mutual respect and love for one another, Ruth was able to give Mathilde a picture of how safe and satisfying voluntary submission is when the husband loves, serves and respects his wife.
This turned Mathilde’s world upside down. Not only did she understand God’s design for marriage, but she was given a new framework to understand the shortcomings of her own father, and how differently her heavenly Father loved her. With the stumbling block demolished, Mathilde was freed to continue her journey of faith, and to enjoy her growing relationship with God.
‘Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free’ (John 8:32).
*Name changed for privacy