Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Confrontation Is Not Anti-Submission

Despite the incredible amount of debate that the word "submission" has inspired, the word continues to be misunderstood and misinterpreted.  And if it isn't being misunderstood, it's being ignored.  There are those who believe it's an outdated misogynist concept and others who believe it's the central concept of marriage.  Among those who make a wife's submission into the most important aspect of marriage, there is often a belief that submission = silence.  According to this mindset, wives have no opinions of their own and they certainly do not offer correction when their husband is misbehaving.  Many times they are told that the reason their husband is acting in an ungodly way is because they spoke up.  

My personal belief generally stands in opposition to this concept.  Before someone gets upset thinking that I am now going to proceed and undermine a wife's call to respect her husband, let me explain.  

I have expressed in the past that I believe in submission.  But I also believe that confrontation in a marriage is sometimes both good and necessary.  The call to submit to your husband does not negate a call to confront sin when necessary.  Here's why:

You are brothers and sisters in Christ.
When you became your husband's wife, you did not give up your status as his sister in Christ. All throughout Scripture, particularly in the New Testament, believers are called to exhort one another, encourage one another, admonish one another, instruct one another and rebuke one another.  

You are called to be your husband's helper.
God very often chooses to use relationships and community as major tools in the sanctification process.  Where is your closest source of community?  In your marriage.  If your husband is falling short in an area that is not pleasing to God, you are the person who will see it most clearly.  If you ignore those areas - impatience, irresponsibility, laziness, anger, a lack of love - you are not helping him to become more Christlike.  Similarly, your husband is not helping you to become more Christlike if he ignores the areas where you fall short and need to be transformed.  A good helper will lovingly and gently participate in the sanctification process.  

Now, the dangers here are numerous.  We wives are just as sinful as our husbands and therefore, we often do not do confronting very well.  We can slip into a critical spirit.  We can be motivated by hurt feelings and bitterness.  We can confront with harshness and anger.  We can mistake weaknesses and annoyances for actual sin.  We can enjoy confrontation and find pleasure in pointing out failures.  

So how do we do this correctly?  I'll be following up in another post later this week, so stay tuned!

What do you think?  Are confrontation and submission in conflict with each other?  


  1. I agree that submission is not synonymous with silence. I don't like the word "confrontation," because it has such a negative ring to it. We have to be able to discuss without being confrontational. Much of it depends on the husband. My husband does not have time for overly emotional outbursts, so when I go to him with an issue, I need to respect that, just as I don't like to continue discussion when I can feel myself getting too emotional. I think if we wives really asked our husbands, sometimes, they come to us very uneasily, wondering how we will react to them, just as we might be careful with them. It also depends on what the situation is. If it's something fairly mundane, like putting the laundry in the hamper, I think "confrontation" is over doing it. When it's sin, such as substance abuse, emotional abuse, or neglect, "confrontation" is definitely suitable. I think it's hard to draw general conclusions.

  2. Stay tuned...I am well aware that there is a great deal of clarification to be done on the topic of confrontation. I've been learning a lot from Paul Tripp's book Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands (which my church has been doing as an adult learning center class for anyone in personal ministry or leadership). Confrontation isn't always what we think it is.

  3. I agree! They are definitely not in conflict with each other. You've brought up some great points, Elizabeth and I'm so glad you're tackling this controversial topic. I can't wait to read what you have to say in your follow-up post!

  4. I totally agree. There are many times that my husband and I have strong debates over things. In the end, he has final say over the whole scenario whatever it may be, but he takes my opinions and thoughts into consideration all the time.

  5. What do I think? Yes. What you said. :)