Today’s culture has created confusion in the hearts of many. The idea of women’s “equality” with men has been overused, misused and abused to the extent that it has been acceptable for a woman to do anything and everything a man does. There seems to be no more distinction as to who does what.
Women have risen to the position of leadership – even in relationships. There is “nothing wrong” with women being the initiators. And as women began taking on the role of men, men started acting like boys.
The biblical design for both sexes however, is very clear – one leads, the other submits.
“Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, His body, of which He is the Savior.”
— Ephesians 5:22-23
I would agree that this commandment was of course, written for married couples. But what does this have to do with single women?
The way the greatest imaginative Artist of the universe incorporated His design for leadership and submission into the very fabric of our human biology is fascinating. For even our physical architecture exemplifies that man is the initiator and woman is the receptor, the responder. The Latin phrase res ipsa loquitur translated as ‘the thing speaks for itself’ is made manifest as His creation points clearly to His original intention. Therefore even for us, single women, the same principle applies.
I can almost hear someone say, “But the Bible doesn’t say it’s wrong for women to initiate, right? I mean, you know. The guy I like is quite shy. I don’t think he will ever have the courage to ask me out. I think our case is an exception.”
While the Bible doesn’t call it sin when we reverse our roles, there are serious repercussions when we violate the Creator’s design.
The Word of God, from the very beginning, illustrates these repercussions.
In Genesis 2:18, God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” And so He created the woman. But man surrendered the position of headship to the woman who was supposed to be his helper. “The man said, ‘The woman You put here with me — she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.’” (Genesis 3:12) She took on the role of headship by becoming the decision-maker. And instead of exercising authority over her, the man submitted. Needless to say, they’ve made a mess!
While both our biblical and biological design illustrate our role as women, single women who has not (yet) been given a husband to submit to may find the concept of submission as something so abstract. But we need not wait to be married to grasp the concept of this biblical design.
One beautiful thing about our season of singleness is that if we use it right, it nurtures us, prepares us and equips us to take on the role of being a wife and a mother someday. This means that our singleness is not simply a season of waiting, it is a season of preparation.
If we are serious in our desire to obey God and honor our husband someday especially in this area, we must start now by learning ‘the practice of submission.’
We do this by practicing these three things:
1. Submitting to God and His Word.
Going back to Ephesians 5:22, “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord,” it is clear that we must submit to our husbands as we submit to the Lord. So if by now we already have trouble submitting to the Lord and His Word, then we will clearly have trouble submitting to a husband. For how in the world will you and I learn to submit to a flawed and imperfect human being someday if, even as a single women, we refuse to submit to the perfect and trustworthy Word of God? If we are serious about honoring our husband someday, then we need to be serious about honoring God now.
2. Submitting to human authority.
We become better at submission by learning to submit now to authority figures. For as “the husband is the head of the wife” (Ephesians 5:23), a single woman who acknowledges no authority, one who wants to be completely in control of every matter concerning her, one who consults no one and prefers to decide on her own in all her affairs, will certainly have trouble submitting to a “head” once she is married.
By now, we need to acknowledge that we have been entrusted by God to the headship of people in the form of our parents and spiritual leaders. While they too, may err as humans, their wisdom was never meant to be taken for granted.
One of the things we will someday be compelled to practice is consultative decision-making. Major decisions, whether we like it or not, will involve our husband.
In our present vulnerable state as single women, it is easy to lose objectivity in the context of romance. With this, the value of consultative decision-making involving godly parents and spiritual leaders cannot be overemphasized.
3. Letting the man rise to take on his role.
We do not boost their morale, we do not help them grow, we do not empower them to be men, if we take on the role which is supposed to be theirs.
Besides, if we actually end up marrying the man we “pursued,” would we be pleased to live with the idea that it was us who initiated? When tension sets into the marriage someday and the man who discovers our imperfections claims that he was “just pressured” from the very start, how will we respond?
We honor our (future) husband now by letting him rise to the position which God designed for him – that of leadership. I am deeply convinced that no matter how intimidating women may appear at first, men called by God to lead us someday will be bold enough to initiate courtship once directed by God.
Dear Christian women, this is not pride. This is biblical womanhood.
Therefore, if and when a man takes the lead by asking us out or being vocal about his intentions, we are not to confuse him by playing hide and seek or trying to see how far he is willing to chase us.
Just as men are called to initiate, we too are called to respond – that is, with honesty and humility.
Responding with honesty means that we are not to play hard to get when a man we are interested in starts to pursue us. Humility dictates that when we cannot reciprocate his affections, we are to value others [him] above ourselves (Philippians 2:3) and not swat him off like a fly no matter how unattractive he may appear to us. We are to uphold him, protect him and edify him by speaking with sincerity and humility.
And so someday, if God wills it, I will be given the “privilege” of submitting to and being led by a husband.
No matter how flawed and imperfect this man may be, if God has entrusted me to his care, to protect me, cherish me and husband me, He will give him the wisdom to lead just as He gives me the grace to submit.
Fulfilling the role of the one who submits does not at all make me feel inferior. It does not make me feel ‘the weaker half.’ Rather, it gives me a sense of satisfaction to know that I am operating the way I was designed – to complement, to honor, to submit to a man.
And again dear Christian women, this is not a sign of weakness. This is biblical womanhood.