All posts by Allison Stevens

What Does It Mean for a Wife to Submit to Her Husband?

Some believe that being submissive means to simply obey and to deny personal feelings, desires, expectations, and dreams. They think a wife is not submissive if she shares her opinions with her husband.

Worse, countless women have been sent back to their homes and told to submit to abusive husbands — in some cases without anyone ever speaking to him about how he treats her. Some even believe that wives who are abused cause the abuse by their lack of submission.

This false concept of submission is often used to manipulate and control women. It advocates quiet obedience and subservience, and denies a woman’s irreplaceable value in her marital relationship. It also ignores the potential for a man to be heavy-handed and unloving in his attempt to be the “ruler” of his home.

Unfortunately, some Christian leaders have contributed to this false concept of submission by overlooking the husband’s obligation to love his wife. This is an extreme misrepresentation of Paul’s intent in Ephesians 5:22-30 .

Others have accused the apostle Paul of being a male chauvinist, one who didn’t respect women or see their value. If we consider what Paul wrote within his culture, however, we see that Paul had a high view of men and women. He understood how they can best work together in marriage to reflect Christ’s love for us.

In a day when men married for money, Paul strongly stated that husbands were obligated to love their wives (see also Colossians 3:19 ). Paul’s words to husbands were revolutionary in Greco-Roman society. Most men married not for love but for financial gain. Marriages were usually arranged, and the father of the bride provided a dowry — a portion of money, clothes, jewelry, and possibly slaves.

Paul’s instructions for marriage were a breath of fresh air. His thoughts were not those of a man who degraded women and wanted to “keep them in their place.” Quite the opposite — he elevated women to a place where they are to be loved as Christ loves the church. That is pretty radical thinking!

It is significant that Paul compared a husband and a wife to Christ and the church. He regarded marriage so highly that it is used as an analogy of Christ and His relationship to the church. If the husband is the head of the wife in the same way that Christ is the head of the church, we can safely draw conclusions from the comparison of Christ’s relationship to His bride, the church.

Christ loves His bride and is her Savior. Christ gave His life for her. Likewise, the husband is to love his wife as Christ loves His church. A husband’s love should be sacrificial, nourishing, cherishing, and protective. A man should love his wife in the same way he loves his own body ( Ephesians 5:25,28 ).

The same level of devotion as required of the husband to love is required of the wife to submit ( Ephesians 5:22 ). Before looking at submission unique to a wife, though, we need to remember that Paul advocates mutual submission between believers ( Ephesians 5:21 ). No one is to demand or force another to yield; submission is voluntary. The Bible doesn’t say that it’s a husband’s responsibility to see to it that his wife submits to him.

A wife’s submission to her husband is in response to her love and devotion to the Lord first. She submits to the Lord out of a humble and grateful heart, not because she is a slave, but a servant. Likewise, biblical submission in marriage is servanthood, not enslavement. A godly wife is motivated to submit to her husband, not out of fear, self-interest, or self-protection, but out of love ( 1 Peter 3:6 ).

Scripture does not define submission as mindless obedience to a husband’s every wish or demand. Nor is it avoiding an argument at all cost. Instead, submission is a deep commitment to a person. It is choosing to work with one’s mate in a way that promotes oneness. A married couple becomes one flesh and must work as a team ( Genesis 1:26 ). Constant fighting and arguing works against a couple trying to become unified.

To illustrate, a team player must submit to the guidance of his coach. A good coach guides the team in strategy and utilizes the strengths of the players for the success of the team. A gifted player may debate a point with his coach, but there comes a point when, if they continue to disagree, the player must submit to his coach. Likewise, the wife, at times, must put aside her disagreements and follow the lead of her husband, whom God has placed in her life as the head. (Sometimes, it is not in the best interest of either the wife or the husband to submit, as in the case of abuse.)

Marriage, according to God’s design, is a relationship that returns love for love, service for service. Husbands and wives love and sacrifice for one another differently. Husbands love their wives by protecting, cherishing, and serving them. Wives submit to their husbands out of respect and love. Both the husband and the wife are given vast opportunities to show Christ’s love to one another. It is not always easy, but marriages can best reflect God’s redemptive work in our lives by following the principles of Christlike love and submission.

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How Can Our Stepfamily Be a Happy One?

All families struggle at times to be happy, but blended families

1 often have bigger obstacles to face than others. For instance, the quality of the relationship between the stepparent and the stepchildren has a big impact on the level of happiness in a blended family. Loyalty issues with the biological children and knowing how to discipline also add major complications.

To meet these challenges well, a husband and wife must make their relationship to each other the top priority ( Genesis 2:24 ). All efforts toward a happy home are useless if you don’t consider your spouse’s feelings and make decisions together. A spouse whose feelings are ignored will begin to feel neglected, insecure, and unloved, which creates unhappiness. It’s important for spouses to discuss everything and make decisions only after they have come to an agreement.

It takes a lot of time to build loving relationships in a blended family. Emotional bonds don’t happen overnight, and it’s unrealistic to think that a stepparent and a stepchild will automatically hit it off. Sometimes that happens, but more often than not, it takes years to develop a more normal parent-child attachment. Be patient when it comes to developing close relationships with your stepchildren ( Proverbs 19:11; Colossians 3:12 ). Also be realistic enough to recognize that sometimes the kind of affection you long for never develops. Nevertheless, stepparents need to respect and accept their spouse’s children, not seek to force an immediate close relationship. That respect and acceptance often turns out to be the foundation of the relationship you desire.

As your husband or wife gets to know your children, they will begin to see things in them that you may have overlooked. Be open to your spouse’s judgment about your children. You may feel threatened to hear something negative about them, but listening to your spouse shows respect. Valuing these insights indicates that you respect your spouse’s important role in the family. Honoring his or her opinion may even help solve some of the discipline or relationship problems you may have with your children. It’s natural to feel protective; but those protective feelings could lead you to reject valuable observations, which can in turn lead to heated disagreements over the children ( 2 Timothy 2:22-26 ). When that protective instinct is turned on, admit it to your spouse and talk about it. If you are open about your feelings, you can develop deeper trust and intimacy with your spouse ( 1 Corinthians 13:6; Ephesians 4:15; James 5:16 ). Remember that it’s not you against your spouse; it’s you and your spouse, together, trying to find the best way to raise the children that God has given you ( Proverbs 1:8 ).

Both the natural parent and stepparent 2 are responsible for the guidance of the children ( Proverbs 13:24; 23:13; Ephesians 6:1,4 ). If you love your children (or stepchildren) you will lead and train them. Neglecting to help prepare them for life is a failure to love. Biological parents, in their own way, need to make it known to their kids that the stepparent has equal authority so that there is a strong united front. It’s vitally important for the kids to know that there is agreement between you, and that each of you has the same authority over them.

Blended families have just as much hope for happiness through good relationships as traditional families. They need to recognize that their unique situation has unique challenges, and that those challenges are best met when they have built a strong, God-honoring marriage. (See the ATQ article Who Should Come First in My Stepfamily: My Spouse or My Children?)

  1. A blended family is one where one or both spouses have children from previous relationships.Back To Article
  2. Stepparents can have a positive influence in their stepchildren’s lives. While stepparenting is difficult at times, especially with older children, it is an important role because they are looking to you as a role model James 5:10-11. Back To Article
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What Does Jesus’ Life Reveal About How to Treat Unbelievers?

Jesus’ entire adult life was characterized by a deep concern for the spiritual condition of the nonbeliever. He saw them as desperately lost, and His heart was broken because of that. His compassionate purpose for their well-being was deep-rooted, and He showed this concern specifically in the way He met them where they lived, fed them, taught them, and healed them (Matthew 9:9-11; Mark 1:33-34; 6:30-42; Luke 5:1-11).

The example Jesus set for us is to build relationships with people who don’t know Him. When we meet a person who has not yet experienced God’s saving grace, we are to have the heart of Jesus and extend a helping hand at their point of need. If they are thirsty, we can give them a cup of water; if they’re hungry, we can feed them (Matthew 25:35-40).

Let’s not forget that Jesus came to our rescue when we were lost. So now, out of gratitude and love, we can find opportunities to do what we can to help others who are separated from God. Isolating ourselves from sinners misses the point of sharing the good news of Jesus, and it feeds into a self-righteous attitude.

Nonbelievers are spiritually sick (like we were), and they need saving faith in Jesus. They need His love, forgiveness, mercy, and grace. And it’s important to remember that the only difference between a believer and a nonbeliever is the condition of the heart. He who has a redeemed heart should be broken over the one who has the sin-sick heart. Matthew 9:10-13 reads,

“While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and ‘sinners’ came and ate with Him and His disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked His disciples, ‘Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and “sinners”?’ On hearing this, Jesus said, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’   ”

We won’t be much good to the spiritually sick, however, if we ignore our own spiritual health. Just like getting enough rest, exercise, and nutritional food will help build strong physical bodies, meditating on God’s Word, praying, and listening to God will strengthen our spiritual lives. It’s equally important to make sure our closest friends are Christians who encourage us in the faith. It matters who we spend most of our time with, because friends can either make us stronger or bring us down (1 Corinthians 15:33).

I think it’s clear that we, in countless ways and opportunities, can and should reach out to non-Christian people. We can show them love by offering them a meal, a job, or friendship, and most importantly, we can introduce them to Jesus, the Savior of our souls.

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How Can I Serve Others Without Feeling Like a Doormat?

No one wants to be a doormat. But if we haven’t put healthy limits in place, we can easily end up feeling used up and stepped on.

Biblical service is not mindless, robot-like obedience to the demands of others. It is intentional and life-giving. The giver and receiver are better people because of the act of compassion. It cultivates unity, closeness, and goodness in others that moves relationships in a positive direction.

It doesn’t always work that way, though. Occasionally, other people won’t appreciate us or they’ll take advantage of our kindness. We can ignore some of these instances, but we shouldn’t close our eyes to a pattern of disrespect or abuse.

We should be honest and, out of love for ourselves and others, refuse to give in to selfish demands or egotistical attitudes. Let’s not mistake Jesus words about turning the other cheek (Matthew 5:39) to mean that we overlook sin. We should refuse to accept disrespectful or abusive treatment so that we can restore our dignity and the other person has hope for change through repentance (Romans 6; 1 Corinthians 5:1-5).

Both Jesus and the apostle Paul are known for standing up for what is right and resisting evil. Jesus didn’t passively stroll through the temple while it became a “den of robbers” (Matthew 21:12-13). Paul exercised his rights as a Roman citizen and asked for a public display of regret when he was illegally arrested without a trial (Acts 16:36-40). He also advised the Corinthian church to kick a man out of their congregation who was sleeping with his father’s wife! We can’t pretend that a pattern of serious sin won’t affect our ability to serve.

Jesus set limits on his service to others by paying attention to his own needs as well as the needs of others. He healed the sick and fed the hungry, but he also made sure he got the food, rest, and time with his heavenly Father he needed so that he would be healthy to care for others (John 4:5; Mark 11:12-13; 6:30-32).  We simply can’t ignore our own needs if we want to be available to help others. We must have physical nourishment, exercise, rest, relationship, and time for personal reflection on the Word of God. If we regularly neglect these areas as we serve others, we may begin to resent the very people we want to help.

Another way to limit the chances of becoming someone’s doormat is to keep in mind the scope of our talents, opportunities, and time that we’ve been given, and to seriously think twice about those things that do not fit into the unique purposes of our lives (1 Corinthians 12:1-31). Volunteering for things that you aren’t capable of or gifted for may not be a sensible stewardship of your time or resources. Find opportunities that accommodate the position in which God has placed you and that fit with the dreams and passions God has set on your heart. Performing only obligatory duties will drain us because they aren’t in line with who we were created to be.

And yet, we can’t base our service solely on how comfortable we feel. There are times when we feel the nudging of the Holy Spirit, asking us to do something completely out of our comfort zone. Often, the Lord is asking us to trust Him. On these occasions, pray fervently about it and ask God to confirm the direction. If you go ahead with a heart of gratitude and faith, the Lord will be delighted with you. He loves it when we trust Him.

Serving others involves personal sacrifice, but it is not without appropriate limits. We have physical requirements for life that we can’t ignore, and gifts and opportunities that distinguish us from the next person. But equally important is the disrespect or abuse from another person that may require us to limit our service.

 

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People Tell Me I Can’t Follow Christ and Be a Loner: Do I Really Need Friends? 

Emotionally healthy people are comfortable spending time alone. They don’t need constant companionship. Bottom line, they enjoy their own company. Granted, some need more time alone than others, but folks that are in good psychological shape regularly escape from the crowds and noise to be alone (Matthew 14:23).

Solitude is valuable, but so is connection with others. After all that God had created and called good, there was one thing He said was not good: that man was alone. Animal and plant life simply weren’t enough to sustain Adam’s need for relationship. So He created Eve for Adam (Genesis 2:18).

We also know that the apostle Paul had many friends (Romans 16:5, 9, 12; Colossians 4:14; Philemon 1:1). He loved them deeply and felt rejuvenated by his friendships (1 Corinthians 10:14; 2 Corinthians 7:1; 12:19; Philippians 2:12; 4:1). It’s clear that friendship can be good for the soul (Proverbs 27:9; Ecclesiastes 4:10).

The number of friends we have or the amount of time we spend alone are unique for each of us. We weren’t all created with the same cravings. Like Paul, some prefer lots of friends while others are content with very few, if any, close relationships. Instead of forcing everyone to fit into a specific “community” of believers, we can embrace this diversity as a part of God’s perfect plan for His body (1 Corinthians 12:13-27). We each bring necessary and significant gifts to the body of Christ.

The key is finding the balance between friendship and solitude. Either without the other may mean that a person is running from problems, personal growth, and insight.

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