Faith Focus: Will your marriage be a submission competition?

FRANKLIN LIVING JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2024

Untold amounts of time, energy and money are often invested to ensure that a bride and groom experience the perfect wedding, an unforgettable day that is supposed to be the first day of happily ever after. Yet recent statistics tell a sobering story about our marriages here in the Unites States. Just under half will end in divorce, and on average, the typical U.S. marriage that ends in divorce lasts just eight years.

However, based on what we find in Scripture, neither of these statistics reflect God’s vision for what he designed marriage to be: one man married to one woman for as long as they both shall live. What is it that goes wrong in so many marriages? These unfortunate statistics exist because many people who get married either do not know or do not choose to follow God’s instructions related to marriage.

Scripture reveals that Christ is the key to marriages that make it!

In Paul’s inspired letter to the Christians at Ephesus he wrote, “And further, submit to one another out of reverence to Christ” (Eph. 5:21). While this command does apply to Christian relationships in general, Paul follows this statement by explaining what this is supposed to look like in marriage. “For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord … For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church.”

Consider two important takeaways from this passage. First, a successful marriage should include both a husband and wife who are fully committed to following Christ. Second, because these two Christians who are married to each other have reverence for Christ, they will create a marriage wherein they submit to each other.

Sometimes marriages get off track when wives choose not to submit to their husbands; on the other hand, some marriages fail because of husbands who fail to understand how submission connects to being the God-appointed leader of the home. Think about it: A husband who loves his wife like Christ loved the church is going to understand that even though he is the leader of the home, he’s not to be domineering. He will care what his wife thinks and what she says. He’ll value her in making decisions. He will understand that submitting to her wants and needs is an aspect of successful leadership.

The reason husbands and wives submit to each other is constant and unchanging. Husbands and wives are to submit to each other out of reverence for Christ, and Christ always deserves reverence. Consequently, husbands and wives who want a marriage that makes it should be engaged in what has been referred to as an ongoing “submission competition.”

No other relationship will have more impact on your spiritual health than the person you choose to marry. Marry someone who will follow Christ with you so that the two of you can help each other go to heaven.


Philip Goad has been serving as the minister at North Highlands Church of Christ in Russellville since March 2020.

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