Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives…(1 Peter 3:1).
Although this verse in 1 Peter is a beautiful description of how a woman can act in ways that would lead an unbelieving husband to the Lord, it can often become a tool of shame in the hands of the enemy against her.
There was a season in my life when the voices of shame screamed loudly into my soul-
“If you just would submit more, he wouldn’t be like this.”
“This is your fault that he’s like this, because you’ve failed to live out this Scripture”
At that time in my life, when I would live out this Scripture, sadly, I was very much taken advantage of. Yet, I was still encouraged to keep submitting because, as I was told, eventually my husbands heart would turn.
Were there issues in my heart that needed to grow and change during that season? Yes, of course, but at the time, during a season where rage and anger were used against me almost daily I didn’t understand how to set healthy boundaries. Nor did I truly comprehend what biblical submission actually was.
I can tell you what submission is not. It is not submitting yourself, time and time again to someone who is leading with rage and anger. Nor is it letting go of yourself, only to be taken advantage of by another person. Maybe someone told you that it’s what God would want you to do and living out this Scripture would please God. Let me just say this, I truly do not believe that God is more pleased when women submit themselves to destructive behavior over setting healthy boundaries for themselves as image bearers of God.
Think about it, does God really value a woman having destructive behavior heaped upon her time and time again, because she’s simply called to submit? I’m sorry, but I don’t believe that’s true. For one, we’ve misunderstood what it means to submit to our husbands if that’s the case. Submission is a beautiful dance done between partners who love, honor, cherish and value the other above themselves. It is not a power play to be used against women to shame and keep them in destructive situations.
God forgive us for making women feel as though it’s their fault that they are being treated so poorly by their husbands. God forgive us that instead of stepping up and holding men accountable, we have instead shamed women into thinking that if they would just submit more, their husbands heart would change.
Sadly, for me, years ago, when I tried again and again to submit to my husband, which mind you, really wasn’t true biblical submission, but a distorted view of it, I kept placing myself under rage and anger. What my husband needed was not a “yes” wife, but a woman who was strong enough in herself to say “enough is enough.” He needed a woman bold enough to declare, “I’m here with you to support you in whatever you need, but this is not ok.”
Amazingly, after I learned this, started applying it, and then gathered men who were willing to lovingly hold my husband accountable, he finally and fully repented. Now, for the first time, we are submitting to one another out of reverance for Christ. Submission is no longer a power play to be used against me, but instead it’s a beautiful dance of a partnership between two people who love, honor and value one another above themselves.
Lord, forgive us for how we have used Scripture such as this to shame and hurt women. Forgive us for misunderstanding what submission really is and in the long run only hurting people because of it. Forgive us for not teaching women how to stand strong and draw healthy boundaries for themselves. Help us to love hurting people. Help us to walk alongside of them in love, grace, kindness and truth, in Jesus name, Amen.
***If you’re in a situation like this, please get help and don’t allow shame to keep you from it. Things can get better and you don’t have to continue to live believing it’s all your fault.***