Love ceases to be love when free will is taken out of the equation.

Think for a moment about the home you live in.

Or the church you are a part of.

And how your soul reacts to what you’ve been taught about God, and what it means to honor Him. And what it means to “honor” your spouse.

So much oppression!! And fear!! Love is never about oppression and fear!! While our English language uses “fear” in Scripture to also mean “reverence and awe” to talk about God, that is not the fear I’m talking about here. I mean the fear that silences God’s voice in us, not the reverence and awe that might make His voice loud in and through us.

Submission that is demanded ceases to be submission and has become servitude. Love that is demanded ceases to be love. At that point it simply becomes obedience. Obligation. No longer a free choice of the free will. Destroyed. And the soul shrivels up.

Submission does not equal obedience, and obedience does not equal submission. There is a fine line of free will that makes the difference. Is the weight of responsibility put on the act of submission, or is it put on the invitation (or demand) that must be responded to? The healthiest scenario would be the husband submitting to Christ: loving and laying down his life for his wife, and the wife following her husband’s loving lead as submitting to Christ’s love and care for her. The one making the request leaves the one responding with the same room that God leaves us when he invites us to be in relationship with him. Room to choose out of our own free will.

If a man claims to be the authority of the home and expects submission to be a normal part of that home, submission starts with him. The Biblical context is always the husband submitting to Christ first, leading by love. If his platform is pointing a finger at his wife to be the “submitter,”, he is totally missing the point. Her submission isn’t what God holds him accountable for. His behavior is. When his behavior usurps God’s authority (including the authority to define and control the life of another person), God will take issue with that. What a sobering thought!

How do the concepts of love and cherishing fit in with submission that is demanded? In other words, he decides what is best for her and who should she be and expects (often acting entitled to do so) her to go along with it even if it conflicts with her own soul. The message is he has more authority than herself to know what she needs and who to be, and that honoring him means giving up what she knows about herself. Along the way, she ends up less and less known, not more loved or cherished.

What “authority” is a man given? Is he the one who puts into a woman what her gifts/talents/mission are? Did he have the authority to define God’s voice in her life? Or was the authority more about cultivating the landscape in such a way that she could flourish as God designed, called, and purposed her
to be?

Dying to self should not include killing, disabling, or silencing the Holy Spirit in you, or the ways He has called, purposed, and designed you to leave His mark on the world. You cannot be a Light to the world when the bulb is smashed. You cannot reflect God to the world when the mirror is shattered. You cannot speak Hope to the world when your voice is silenced. That is NOT what God intended in relationships.

Meet Sharmen Kimbrough, a relationship coach specializing in women’s issues, marriages, and family  dynamics. She shares how she found sanity and authenticity along the way, inspiring others’ own escapes from the crazy relational cycle. She operates Live Found, Inc – a virtual relationship coaching to find healing and freedom from emotionally and verbally abusive relationships/marriages. You can learn more at www.livefound.org