MONDAYS WITH KERRI
The past few weeks we have been looking at the importance of spiritual covering. It is imperative to our spiritual growth to understand that God designed us to be covered. We were created to respond to protection, provision, and most of all, love. When a woman lives without these critical needs being met, she becomes crippled. She will over compensate in one of the two ways, desperation or hardness. Over time, part of her femininity wilts and eventually dies.
My friend Kelly knows how it feels to be in a commitment without covering. She loves her husband but longs for him to “step up and be the man” in their relationship. She feels alone when the family decisions fall on her and she feels burdened by the responsibility for her family. Her husband travels extensively, while she essentially raises their two daughters alone. It was when she went through a health crisis that she realized the impact his absence was having on every area of her life. Over coffee she confessed that she has a hard time respecting him because he does not make her feel safe. She never knows when, or if, he will be there for her physically or emotionally. Through tears she acknowledged the secret shame she carries over wishing she was still single. Kelly is learning that while it is not her husband’s job to meet all her needs, her relationship with him reveals her spiritual need.
I believe her story is an example of why Paul challenges men to love their wives as Christ loved the church in Ephesians 5:25, “And you husbands must love your wives with the same love Christ showed the church. He gave up his life for her to make her holy and clean, washed by baptism and God’s word.” He knew that wives could not submit to their husbands as they had been admonished to (in the preceding verses) if they were not safe in the knowledge that he was putting her needs before his own. Notice these marriage directives are found immediately after Paul’s instruction to live in the Power of the Holy Spirit (verses 15-20). The context is clear: marriage will not be successful outside of the Holy Spirit empowering a man to love his wife more than his own flesh. And it is only through the Spirit that a wife can respond with surrender to the desire to control as she trusts God to work on her behalf in and through her husband.
We long to be vulnerable, honest and real, but that only happens when we feel safe and protected. Covering only works when it is done in love. If we seek to protect, provide or care for someone out of duty, it falls flat and the attempt is meaningless. We know when the motive is love because love is the only thing a woman’s heart fully responds to; it is what we were created to receive. Therefore, we must remember true love is only possible through the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
Many single and married women have a difficult time with Paul’s words in Ephesians 5:22-24. However, when we sit together and look at it through the lens of our created design, it is not such a tough passage to digest. “You wives will submit to your husband’s as you do to the Lord. For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of his body, the church; he gave his life to be her Savior. As the church submits to Christ, so you wives must submit to your husband’s in everything.” When a woman is well loved-perfectly loved-with Christ’s love, she has nothing to prove. When we receive and walk in the perfect love that casts out fear (I John 4:16-19), it not only changes us, but it changes our relationships. This is the same love that caused Jesus to walk in His authority without feeling the need to defend Himself while He was here on earth. This is the love we were created for–the love that we as His Signet Ring will naturally submit to. Love is the most powerful motivator on the planet when it is derived from the source of all love. The Father is love–is an unstoppable force–one that cannot be reckoned with.
Paul is not simply demanding that women submit to men. He is instructing married women to submit to God’s love, whether or not it is evident in their husband’s lives. When a woman submits, she surrenders to the power of love. We are to submit because of God’s love in and for us; we are to submit because we are The Beloved.
The preceding verse in Ephesians 5:21 states, “And further, you will submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” The covenant of marriage brought with it a commitment to submissive love. A wife is to submit to the promises she made in her vows out of reverence to The One who created her, not in response to how well she is loved by her husband. Once again, we see that our relationships here on earth were designed to illustrate our relationship with our Heavenly Father. The same truth applies for a single woman as she submits in her relationship with the Lord, as it does for a married woman with her husband. We submit to our husbands and the Lord because love compels us, not because we are forced or coerced–just as a new bride wants to please her husband and he wants to love and protect her. Once we come to this understanding, we are free to place ourselves under the covering and protection of The One who created us. Then we can give and receive protection in the Body of Christ.