By Deborah Stonell, certified Christian marriage mentor at Living Free Kingdom
When the subject of marriage and submission is being discussed in Christendom, often it seems that women have no power in their marriage. This creates a situation where several women start believing that they have no say and must put up with anything, even abuse within their homes. I say within their homes because more often than not, the husband will not openly be abusive and/or controlling when they are in public.
I realise that there are controlling wives out there too but I am specifically talking here about controlling husbands, mainly because there are so many that use Scriptures to justify their behaviour.
The bible speaks about the roles of a husband and wife in the home but when people are inherently controlling, they can twist the Scriptures to suit their thoughts and behaviours.
It is important that there are no misconceptions, when one spouse is given all the power in the home, there can be a tendency to gravitate towards becoming controlling and perhaps abusive if the situation is not caught in time.
Firstly, the bible states that those with authority should treat others with respect and even prefer others above themselves.
Read about it in Mark chapter 10, verses 42 – 45 and you’ll see that Jesus is not approving of controlling behaviour.
It goes against the grain of imitating Christ, to exercise control harshly over other people simply because you have some measure of authority over them.
Secondly, Paul states that we should “submit to each other in the fear of the Lord”. KJV (The Msg version says “out of respect for Christ”. Christianity is not about forcefully demanding obedience and compliance with one’s own will, it is about service and loving others as oneself.
If you are in an abusive relationship, it is unbiblical. If your husband is controlling, his behaviour is unbiblical.
To be controlling means “trying to control others’ behaviour in an inappropriate way” [Free dictionary and Collins English dictionary]. Notice the word, ‘inappropriate’.
The definition of inappropriate is “Something that is inappropriate is not useful or suitable for a particular situation or purpose.” [Collins English dictionary].
So, a controlling husband is using behaviour that is not useful or suitable for your marriage.
Controlling behaviour damages a relationship. If you are being dominated so much so that you cannot make any decisions, you need his permission to do anything, you are not allowed to disagree with him, you are scared, you get hit or verbally abused, access to friends and family is limited or grumbled about constantly, he controls the finances which you never agreed to or even discussed, he uses bible verses against you saying that you need to submit because the bible says so – then you are not in the loving, powerful and authentic marriage that the Lord approves.
I am not saying to leave or get divorced, but I am saying, it’s time for healthy changes to happen. Nothing changes if nothing changes. As a caveat to that, I would advocate removal from a dangerous situation where a life or lives are in danger. Seek professional and legal help in those instances.
The examples given describing controlling behaviour are by no means exhaustive; therefore, if you have other instances where you feel you are being made to act under duress, then it could be that your husband is controlling you.
HIS will or his will?
Whose will should take precedence, God’s or your husband’s?
In the bible, the story surrounding married couple, Ananias and Sapphira, teaches us that the husband’s will could be at odds with God’s will and the wife should obey God’s will regardless. If Sapphira had spoken the truth, she would not have obeyed her husband but she would have obeyed God and lived. You can read about it in Acts chapter 5.
You are to do the will of God, first always! It is always about our relationship with the Father first, and then others second. Even the commandments tell us that.
So, consider your relationship with your husband against the background of God’s commands. Are you obeying God or just doing the will of your husband?
Of course, the healthiest scenario and the one I believe God meant us to live, is that a strong wife can be submitted, respect and support her husband fully when he is fully submitted to Christ and he treats her as the queen that she is. You are a joint-heir with Christ, just as much as a saved husband.
In an authentic and loving marriage, submission is not a dirty word – it’s not even spoken about because it doesn’t need to be!
We are supposed to be becoming more and more like Christ and encouraging others to do the same, so encourage your husband more in the ways of Christ and stop enabling controlling and sinful behaviour by being docile – you are in no way inferior – you are strong, a strength to your husband in fact. We are suitable helpers (comparable) for our husbands not doormats.
You are a precious gift of God and should be treated as such. As much as we are encouraged to submit and respect within our marriage, we should be submitted to one another, preferring one another, loving each other as ourselves and husbands in particular are told to LOVE their wives.
1 Corinthians 13 gives beautiful examples of what love is. Is this how your husband treats you?
4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. (NASB)
Is your husband laying down his life for yours? Scripture tells us, there is no greater love than this.
Marriage should be a beautiful imitation of the synergy between the Godhead. The pattern of Jesus Christ and His beloved Bride. What does your marriage look like? Would you want your children or anyone else to emulate your marriage? Is it healthy? Are you putting Jesus first?
His will (God’s) or his will (husband)?
By Deborah Stonell
Living Free Kingdom www.livingfreekingdom.org