Watered Down Wedding Vows

Watered Down Wedding Vows

“I just went to a wedding where the officiant talked about headship and submission. He told the groom that he was to love his wife unconditionally and sacrifice everything for her. He told the bride that submission did not mean she had to be a doormat and it did not mean her opinion didn’t count and it did not mean her husband was allowed to bully her. He said absolutely nothing about what submission really meant, only what it did not mean.

“This is also a problem with sermons about Ephesians 5 that spend 90% of the time talking about the husband’s responsibility, 9% about mutual submission, and 1% listing the things submission does NOT mean.”

Mitch made this comment on my post Why I Don’t Make a Disclaimer on Every Post About Submission. Can we ask ourselves why pastors and teachers of the word and even Focus on the Family are so afraid to teach about biblical submission? Has feminism impacted the Church so heavily that there are few preachers who teach the truth about a wife’s submission to her husband without softening it so much that it’s hardly recognizable and gives the wife many ways out of obeying her husband?

My husband married my youngest daughter and her husband four years ago. He laid out all of the biblical commands concerning biblical submission to his own daughter during the ceremony. It was great! Unfortunately at the reception, one man made statements against what Ken had said in the ceremony during his toast. It seems that almost everyone wants to water down what God has to say about it. They seem to fear women, instead of fearing God.

No, we don’t need to try to soften God’s Word and give all of the exceptions. This isn’t our job. It’s our job to speak the truth in love. Yes, wives are to live in submission to their husbands and be obedient to them. They are to submit in everything. They are to reverence their husbands and learn what pleases them. Let’s focus on doing this and see how many marriages improve instead of giving all of the exceptions and allowing women to be the decider of when to submit and when not to submit. (Of course, a wife should never submit to a husband who asks her to do evil or something that could harm herself or her children. God’s will always trumps man’s.)

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
Ephesians 5:22-24

22 thoughts on “Watered Down Wedding Vows

  1. What we are seeing is the double standard turned completely upside down. The emphasis in marriage ceremonies is either on mutual submission or, as you said, the watering down of biblical submission. The church has largely become silent when it comes to biblical marriage. But at the same time, the culture is screaming, very loudly, feminism. Wake up, church, before it is too late.

    1. You’re so right, Amy. Many who claim to be “Christians” are ashamed of Christ and His words. They want to make them palatable to the masses instead of used to convict and change people. Watered down, lukewarm teaching does nothing to change people. Only the straight truth of the Word does this.

  2. The world, and even many Christians, seem afraid of the word submission. Its meaning has been so twisted, that it’s understandable that some people balk at the idea. I think it’s good to show those people the whole picture… Christ/husband loving the church/wife, the church/wife submitting to Christ/husband.
    (Sad to say, though, some would still disagree, even if they knew the Biblical view.)

    Marriage is a high calling indeed, because sometimes, you’re the only one fulfilling what God has called you to. But just because the other half is not fulfilling his/her part, still doesn’t negate yours.

    1. We will all one day stand before God and have to give an account for our own behavior, no one else’s, therefore, we must focus on our obedience to the Lord and not others. It’s God’s job to convict and change others, not ours, as you stated.

    2. This: “But just because the other half is not fulfilling his/her part, still doesn’t negate yours.”

      I love that reminder. Thank you.

  3. This is so frustrating.

    My good friend and I had a discussion about this the other day. I am trying to help her become a…”better” (for lack of a better term) wife. She says that shes does not believe this because when that part of the bible was written, women were viewed as property, not people. She doesn’t believe that God ever intended for women to “be under men’s thumbs”, but to live in mutual submission. Because she grew up in an abusive home, she feels that this opens the door to control and abuse. I politely told her: “you really don’t have any idea what Godly submission is. For the sake of your marriage and your kids, I’d get to learning!” I hope my influence will rub off on her.

    1. Many people today equate submission with abuse instead of trusting that God’s ways are perfect and a truly godly and submissive wife is a joy for a husband to be married to and is something we should all strive to become. 1 Peter is a great book for you to encourage her to read!

    2. Katie – In my experience (of abuse in a marriage) submission doesn’t open the door to abuse at all. If the man is already abusive, submission can potentially make it worse. But if the man is abusive, he’s going to be abusive anyway, even if the woman isn’t submissive.
      If she is married to a good man, submission can only make things better, not worse.

  4. I don’t know if it this is too personal, but could you at some point post Ken’s speech? Or maybe just a bullet point list of the ‘points’ of submission.

  5. Too many women are choosing…free choice…enjoying the choice…purposefully choosing…men who are abusive/unfaithful/controlling and then they play the victim when they decide that being married to this guy is no longer fun (but up until that point…they enjoyed the drama greatly make no mistake about that!)…and then they turn against the concept of ‘submission’ as leading to abuse…because they need to grasp at something outside of themselves for the reason for their bad choices.

    Submission can only work if you choose a really good guy.

    This forces women to choose men who aren’t sexy cads or rich or whatnot but instead genuinely good.

    If a woman doesn’t choose a good guy to marry…that’s on her…not Christianity.

    1. I married a good man. A very good man. But sadly, my good man has battled for much of his life against addictions, and at times, these have changed his personality and have turned him into an abusive, horrible, paranoid man who is truly no fun to be married to.

      He always wins the fight against his addictions and the good, loving man comes back, but then the devil takes hold of him again. It’s a vicious cycle.

      There are so many things that can make a “good” guy turn bad, and that is entirely on the man, not the woman. Choosing a “good” guy doesn’t guarantee anything, sadly.

      1. Saying a prayer for you today KAK. May you stay encouraged, and may the devil’s strongholds be broken.

        There’s an old book called “The Kneeling Christian” (maybe you’ve heard of it) that has encouraged me and challenged me in prayer.

        “If ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it.” I think it’s safe to say that we can take the Lord at His word. If we ask anything “in His name” (something that’s according to His will), He will do it. That really opens up a HUGE door of opportunity. There are SO many things we know are His will. Why don’t we pray then? We know He wants the lost to be saved, we know He wants us to be more loving, patient…, we know He wants us to be free from addiction. Yes, it may take time, but praying for these things are truly “in His name” aren’t they? “If ye shall ask anything in my name, I will do it.”

        Be encouraged today!

    2. “Submission can only work if you choose a really good guy.”

      So Sheila, you are then saying that God’s Word does not work, it is a lie, and it cannot be trust. And since Jesus is the Word of God, then you are saying Jesus — the Truth — is a lie. You deny who He is.

      Please reconsider your acceptance of ‘submission.’

      1. Everyone knew Khloe Kardashian was going to get cheated on by Tristan.

        What I wrote above is exactly what I meant.

        You can’t change some people, nor should you try. You should avoid them.

        Marry a good man and have tons of children and don’t waste time trying to change someone.

        The man you marry must at his core have your same morals. My husband, with all his flaws, I know his core is the same as mine and all his decisions reflect that (even when he’s done stupid stuff in the past as a young man…he’s righted those things by himself because of that good, solid core…no woman required…it was all him)

        Submission is for a man and wife…and you shouldn’t become man and wife with someone who differs from you in that they need tons of personal growth.

        And telling young girls to go out in the world and find some damaged guy and change him is saying ‘Hey the Kardashians…they are your role models!’

        Christianity has lost of a lot of ground over the last 100 years and it’s because Christians spend a lot of time trying to change people who will never change.

        “Look, I am sending you out like sheep among wolves; therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.”

        The shrewdness part seems to always be forgotten.

        1. I do disagree with you on your definition of submission, Sheila, and that it only works on a good guy. This isn’t what God tells us. He tells us that a woman may win her disobedient husband by living in subjection to him with godly behavior. I always go to the Word for answers to this life, not my experience or what I think is right. Even men who aren’t “good” can be won by godly wives. What a wonderful promise!

          1. In the book about Submission…there was an example about ‘Sunny’ and I just whacked my head into the wall.

            Here are some thoughts:

            1) The author of the book even said Sunny was a stupid girl…which I guess is why no one tried to stop her from marrying/dating the guy. Everyone thought ‘Oh she’s stupid, let her mess up…she’s the weak member in the herd so its worth the sacrifice…she can be our little test case.’

            I’ve had Sunnies in my life (male and female) and my ‘stopping the marriage rate’ is pretty high…I got 2 out of 3 stopped…sure I lost a friend for 2 years but in the end she came back and said ‘You were so right’ and is now married to a great man!

            The ‘Sunny’ I lost was the Sunny whose parents threw him to the wind as a Test Case (he is a bit dull). It’s like a sacrifice of a child so you can have discussion points with friends. Bad parenting 101.

            2) I think we have a bit of a conceptual problem between Before Marriage and After Marriage. Before marriage you should identify the man’s problems and if you are Unequally Yoked…RUN!

            1) All people will be disobedient…everyone…but a good man won’t be That Disobedient. He will know before marriage that certain basic behaviors are bad. His basic core will be Goodness and if he is disobedient here and there then you can deal with that.

            This concept of submission as related to ‘changing a disobedient man in marriage’ could really backfire if you preach it to young girls…because you don’t want a young girl purposefully pulling a Sunny or a Khloe Kardashian and dating someone who they are absolutely Unequally Yoked With…when they are surrounded by lovely young men.

            Women will marry the bad guy for sexy reasons if you give them the opportunity or the excuse.

            Why do you think we have so many single mom’s here in Scandinavia? Why go for the good guy when the state will support your spawn from a sexy cad?

            I think there’s scientific evidence that all the Sunny’s in the world are actually lowering the overall IQ because of dysgenic mating.

            We really need to make it clear to women that they need to marry a man who they can submit too because He’s Such a Great Guy, a Provider and shares Her Values. Then ‘disobedience’ is reduced to more pedantic problems that won’t threaten the marriage.

          2. Yes, we must be SO wise in choosing who to marry. It’s the second biggest decision in life, next to getting saved! But when Lori is saying that a wife can “win her husband without a word,” she’s speaking to those who are already married and who need encouragement in their situation. I don’t think that will encourage anyone to marry the wrong guy. In fact, it highlights how hard it must be for a woman in that situation. But even for them, there is hope. There is always hope with God!

  6. Thanks for quoting me and elaborating on the problem. I was disappointed in our pastor for giving short shrift to submission because one of my wife’s biggest problem areas is complaining about me to her girlfriends after we have a fight. She seeks refuge in their knee-jerk affirmation rather than face me directly and try to work it out.

    This is a major breach of both submission and trust. It makes me often unwilling to express my feelings because I am afraid of it becoming a discussion topic at her next girls day out.

    The pastor should have talked about submission involving respect and unwavering support of your husband to others outside the marriage. He should have talked about how important it was for women to refuse to get involved with other women who slander their husbands and to chastise each other when they succumb to the temptation.

    But sadly, he gave no examples of what Godly submission looks like. Ironically, one of the associate pastors joked a few weeks earlier that when the staff sat down to assign sermons, the senior pastor drew the short straw and had to give the sermon about submission. He thought it was funny, but it was an early clue as to just how afraid of this subject these normally solid biblical teachers are.

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