I recently have been pondering this concept again. The principle of respectful submission of a Christian/Messianic wife to her husband remains one that I have to study and pray about, and quite frankly there are aspects to it that I still am learning and trying to understand. Such is the case with a couple of things that have been revealed to me during the last few days. See, since marriage I have had some problems with some issues that have, at their core, a direct correlation and direct bearing on the whole submission issue. I lightly addressed one of them in a recent article about how we are affected by what we are exposed to in the media. It brought to light some other areas of potential conflict and a misunderstanding that, once again, Yahweh was merciful enough to give me some insight into for my own understanding.
See, although I absolutely accept the biblical authority of my husband to make rules for the family, including wives, I would be less than honest if I did not admit that I have had some trouble, at least in my heart, with some of those rules. I found, and frankly still find some of them unnecessarily binding and legalistic, particularly in the areas of diet and dress, and still have some problems with the practical elimination of every bit of music that I used to like. I have complied physically but have had problems spiritually with these issues at times, which have led to not a little resentment.
I think you know what I am talking about. I have been saying things to myself like, why do I have to be told at 45 years of age what to eat, drink, read, listen to, watch, etc. I have noticed a sense of not-so-righteous indignation at the thought of someone else, anyone else, thinking it necessary that I need someone to micromanage my activities to this degree at this late date. I found myself thinking, 'Well. This is not fair!' Does that sound familiar to anybody? I was having trouble accepting and understanding the validity and necessity of having to accept this, aside from the clear scriptural direction, which often does not lend itself to concrete interpretation immediately. Not to mention the fact that I was feeling a little abused because it begins to seem like everything I do is wrong and no one wants to feel that they are all wrong about anything, not to mention the fact that I truly do not agree with some of the edicts handed to me. But there is something that wives must remember that I have known with my head but now have to learn with my heart.
When we are instructed to submit to the authority of our husband, it is not in our purview to decide whether his decisions are right or wrong or necessary or unnecessary. While that may seem a bit arbitrary, and while that may mean that we have to accept some decisions that we truly do not agree with or may even be a little hurtful to us, I have been shown that there is a rational reason for this that goes beyond just having to be obedient to our husbands, important as that may be.
I was talking with Kasia and Kryztina yesterday evening about some of these very things and as the conversation progressed, Kasia asked a question that stopped all three of us in our tracks. We were talking about some of these things along with other things such as spiritual warfare and demonic influences when suddenly Kasia got very quiet and looked a little puzzled and asked, 'As often as Stanisław is assailed by demons and is attacked by them, I wonder why we are not attacked as he is?" She was talking about all the times that Stanisław tells us of having to fight off demons in the night or seeing them hovering waiting to attack when we don't. Now that was a particularly astute question to me, because I have not ever been one to see demonic influences everywhere nor have I covered that particular subject much in my perusing and I have wondered if perhaps there was a little too much concentration on things like that so I thought hard about her question. Then like a blinding flash of light the answer came to me.
Demons and principalities do not attack and torment us the way they do Stanisław because they cannot. See, that is what is meant by our husband's spiritual covering. It means that the bad guys cannot attack or accuse us directly. They have to go through our husband. Now there are two different trains of thought that will lead back to the same conclusion that the scriptural principle of righteous submission to our husband is absolutely essential.
The first one is that a wife's spiritual safety is bound up in the proper submission to her husband's authority. If she is in rebellion to his authority then she opens herself up to those principalities to attack that could not before because of her disobedience. If she is in disobedience, then her husband cannot protect her as Yahweh has given him the authority and responsibility to do. Due to each individual's own free agency, no one is compelled to obey Yahweh's instructions, but when we do not, we then lose the claim we might have had to any protection or blessing that would have been coming to us under those rules. Does that not make sense? Much as he may want to, a husband cannot effectively intercede and protect a disobedient and rebellious wife, it just is not possible because of her unnatural attitude. Now this is not to say that no wife ever is the least rebellious to her husband's authority. I venture to say that it is likely that every wife that has ever been has had moments of rebellion when she just did not agree with something her husband decided or did. But let us consider what happens when that spirit of rebellion begins to creep in. It might be a tiny thing to begin with, a disagreement over a piece of music or a video or mode of dress, and perhaps it is truly just a difference of opinion, not necessarily a matter of who is right or who is wrong, but the point is that at the point that the wife actively resists or rebels against her husband's authority, a whole host of other problems begin. She usually begins to get her feelings hurt, then the next thing you know a contentious spirit has brought her to view her husband as an unfeeling tyrant with a penchant for arbitrary and capricious decisions just because he can. Before you know it, she is in a rage, crying and insecure and ready to believe that her whole marriage is futile just because she began to allow a spirit of rebellion to creep in. When that spirit creeps in the demons of resentment, pride, insecurity and vengefulness creep right along in with it. And what should have been a minor difference of opinion has become a ripe opportunity for demonic influences to attack someone that they should have no authority to attack. Ever. So we wind up in a tempest that upsets and stresses everyone out and causes a great deal of pain for everyone involved because disobedience allowed a foothold for negative influences that should never have been allowed.
What is more, as awful as that scenario is, there is even more to the story. See, assuming that a husband is a devout man who also strives to be obedient to Yahweh, then a wife's rebellion is equally, if not more, painful for him, as he will still attempt to stand in her stead against the principalities because of his commitment to, and love for, her even when she has vacated any claim for his protection due to her rebellion. What this does effectively is weaken his ability to protect her spiritually, but not his desire to do so. So he valiantly gives his best effort to stand in her stead, without very good results because of her disobedience so usually in a situation like that he takes a spiritual beating as well, because of his obligation to protect her. Over time this can be devastating to the husband as well, stressing him spiritually, mentally and even physically beyond what he should be stressed.
The implications of these scenarios in plural marriage should be obvious. A Christian/Messianic husband's obligation to protect and cover his wife or wives does not change in any degree at all no matter how many wives he has, so it stands to reason that rebellion and disobedience in one or more of them could have disastrous consequences, particularly over time. A loving and dedicated husband could literally be eaten alive by the spiritual devastation of rebellion thus negating his ability to protect his family and cherish them as Yahweh intended he do. In simpler terms, when we rebel against our husband, we are literally attacking him and causing him great harm that over time can cause serious ramifications. All this for what is usually a petty pet peeve. This is what we do to the man we have covenanted with to love and cherish and be a helpmeet to for all our lives. I do not know about you, but that is not what I want to do to my husband, and I am certain it is not the goal of any other Christian/Messianic wife.
See, the only logical conclusion to draw here is that the scriptural submission doctrine, far from being designed to keep the man as the boss, is designed to enable him to protect his wife/wives as Yahweh intended he do. When we adhere with a glad heart to these instructions, we ensure our own well-being, as well as the well being of our husband, who is vitally affected with everything that happens to us. Far from diminishing us in some way, it ensures that we can be cherished and secure the way Yahweh intended. It might mean in the short term giving up some small things or making compromises that we might not have otherwise made, but the reasons and the rewards should be obvious for anyone to see. Just my thoughts.