Offering up some more comments on the topic of spiritual leadership in the home. Keep 'em coming! This is great.
Bill Cunningham informed me of an article he wrote several months ago called How to Discipline Your Wife. That sounds terrible, evoking images of Ricky bending Lucy over his knee after saying "Lucy, I need to teach you a lesson." But his article actually takes a practical look at being a spiritual leader and giving a family loving, productive correction when necessary. (Scroll down to the September 25 post if your browser doesn't automatically take you there.)
Read Rebecca's love story on her site before reading her comments here. —Curt
Michael always encourages me to improve in worship—sometimes he goes about it the wrong way ;-) but his desire is to see me achieve my full potential in God. I think that is fantastic. He doesn't try to compete with me or anything, even though I know he would do a better job than me. He lifts me up.
About the whole husband-dominant-wife-submissive thing…I have two friends, a married couple, who told me about the time they were teaching a young married sunday school class, on Ephesians. They said that on the day when they got to the verse about "wives submit to your husbands", all the young husbands were sitting there all puffed up and ready for an ego boost. Instead, my friends talked about the picture of a husband caring for his wife the way Christ cares for the church—all the young women in the class cried—one of them said "If I had a husband like that, I would WANT to submit to him!"
I don't think I fully understand it, like, am I supposed to always do what
Michael says or wants to do? Sometimes I KNOW that he is wrong, and if I submitted
to him it would be wrong, or even sinful!
When it comes to making decisions, we need to work on it I know, but
generally we discuss things. If it's something like "Where shall we eat" he always wants me to choose so that I will be happy (awww) but for bigger things sometimes we argue because it gets complicated. I don't see how always doing things his way would be a good thing. That's not a marriage! But he loves me so much that a lot of the time he will do things my way because he wants to make me happy. Sometimes I submit to him even when I don't want to because I know that he is right, or better, even though I prefer something else. Or sometimes I submit even when I disagree because sometimes you just have to do that.
I guess that, as far as possible, he tries to make me happy, but sometimes he has to lay down the law and when he does that it is never to hurt me, it is usually because it's necessary.
I will and I do oppose him when something feels wrong though :-)
Anyways, I don't have much experience in this but that's what I think.
I try to base my actions on Paul's exhortation to husbands in Ephesians 5:25: "Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her." Jesus gave up His own life for the benefit of the church. No boss or general or dictator would do that—in most earthly scenarios, that just wouldn't make sense. Those of a higher rank hold a higher importance and would not sacrifice themselves for an underling. That's why I don't look at traditional leaders as husband role models, but rather to Jesus.
You're right to base your actions on Paul's statements here. I think that many spouses get hung up on "obey". It's a scary word to people because for most of us, those people we have had to obey did not necessarily have our best interests at heart. Yet, if you are loving your wife has Christ loved the church—you'd never want to do anything to hurt her. Her best interests would always be in your mind.
When a husband is truly obedient to the Lord. When he honestly seeks him for wisdom and guidance for decisions then why should a wife be afraid to "obey"?
For example, when there is a decision to be made my husband and I sit and discuss things. I give him my opinion and thoughts on the subject because sometimes God gives women a different point of view, sometimes women have a different sensitivity in areas that their husband does not have. Then my husband takes all we've talked about and goes to God. I trust that my husband seeks God with all his heart. I trust implicitly that he wants to follow God's will. There is no fear or resentment in my heart when my husband comes to me and say "we are taking this direction". I know that he loves me and would not make a decision to purposely hurt me or our family.
It also says in Ephesians 5:22 Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. Verse 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. And again in Colossians 3:18 Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.
It's a give and take situation. When the husband loves his wife as Christ loves the church then she has no problem submitting to him as she would the Lord. Christ is asking you to trust Him and your wife to trust you.
The problems come when these verses are taken out of context by men who want to dominate and control their wives. That's when what was originally intended to mirror the church (marriage) now mirrors a war zone.
Good luck as you explore the meaning of these verses in your own heart and how the apply to your marriage. When seeking answers with a heart open to Jesus' answer, an answer is always given.