I Love Him But Do I Have to Submit?: Part I

For today’s blog I interviewed Pastor Louie Gibbs and wife, Shenel Gibbs, on the topic of marriage and biblical submission.

This is a 3 part series.

Lately, I have been on a stand still regarding the idea of marriage. Last year I had a conversation with my Pastor’s wife in which I told her, “I don’t see the point of it [marriage] all.” And as confident I was when I spoke those words I still believed that it just didn’t sound right. I come from a single parent household with my mother being the single parent. So, I’ve seen her be both mom and dad, provider and nurturer, plumber and cook. She has taught me and my sisters to be independent with her actions more than she ever could with her words. As a young woman, I have a full and part time job, I’m writing two books and blog faithfully all without a significant other in my life. So, in my mind, I question the purpose of having a husband. What could he do for me, other than procreating, that I am not already doing for myself? I don’t want to be that girl who needs a man in order to be happy or suddenly begin living.

However, the God in me has caused me to identify the reason why I feel this way and forgive the first man in my life (my father) for his lack of emotional, financial and physical support. And as a result, question what I’ve known to be true. Of course, there are plenty of women who are successful and are not married and there are plenty more who are. But I want to know for myself if marriage is for me absent of how I feel toward men. In a sense, I can testify that I have come from hating and thus avoiding men altogether to at least having conversations with them. Thanks to the help of my church, many hours of prayer and tons of obedience to my generous Father in spite of my push back; I find myself in search of answers, an honest look at the conundrum of two becoming one flesh: the covenant of marriage.

I’ve known the couple (Pastor Louie Gibbs and wife, Shenel Gibbs) for more than three years and they have a bond that is foreign to me. I have a very intimate view into their personal lives being that they have an open door policy about their relationship, home and everyday life.

While flanked beside them both I began with a simple but detailed question for my Pastor’s wife, Shenel. I decided to have the conversation with the both of them, however, I always believe ladies are first. “What would you say to a woman who’s been taught to be fiercely independent but wants to understand biblically what it looks like to have a man lead her; however life has taught her otherwise?” I hesitantly spilled out my deepest question because that is exactly what I’m experiencing: it’s confusing and maddening. “Wow, that’s a lot,” she stated the obvious. “Independent does not mean absent from a man. Independence does not mean you can’t be married or be in a relationship. I think that [a woman] not allowing a man to do anything for her comes from a place of brokenness because being a wife is not a position where you have to be subservient. Being submissive, in my opinion, is not something that means I’m less than my husband. It means that I have an opinion, position or thought about a certain thing but I understand my husband’s leadership role in the marriage. So, it doesn’t mean that he is my ruler. For me, being an independent woman and being submissive doesn’t mean that, because I’m married, that I now have to be controlled. It’s not negative. It means that I don’t have to concern myself with certain things because, at the end of the day, he got it.” To this, I was completely taken back. Maybe I had been thinking about the independence thing the wrong way.

My next question was as equally intrusive, “What would you say to a woman who views submission as a dirty word? She feels like her rights will be taken away if married or that she will become a slave to her husband?” I realize a lot of the time women run away from men and marriage altogether because we can’t find a sweet place of compromise even for the woman who isn’t a believer. Shenel responds with as much grace as the first. She asks her husband for his point of view, “Have I ever viewed submission as a dirty word?” “I don’t think you ever viewed it that way, I think you went through a moment where there was a sense of ‘wait a minute, I don’t know if I want to submit and hmm what does this really look like,’” he concludes. (They said those last six words in unison, no kidding.)Their bond is utterly foreign to me and honestly, often times, it makes me uncomfortable. To see love displayed that way is quite confusing and definitely not what I expect to see in a young black family so close to me. Sometimes I think they’ll become different people or that they’ll shame me but they never do.

His wife explains, “I think if a person views submission in marriage as this slavery or this dirty word it comes from brokenness. Because you have no problem submitting to the rules of this world or the rules and regulations at your job, or the law in your practical life but in marriage, there is a problem with it. It comes from brokenness you may have viewed in your home with your mother and father, aunts, grandmothers or community. Or maybe you grew up in a great home and society is displaying this whole ‘we don’t need a man, bossing out’ thing. If you are found and you say ‘yes’ to the proposal and you get married, it’s something about that guy that you want to spend the rest of your life with him but how is there something about him you don’t want to submit to?

We submit every day but a woman has a problem submitting to the man she lies down with or the father of her children or the man she communicates with and the man she loves and trusts and the man she wants to love and trust her in return. But she has no problem in submitting to people she has no relationship/connection with.” This completely shut down my idea of submission in that I hadn’t viewed it in a general sense. As citizens in any society, we submit or obey rules of the law, rules of the road, policies identified in our employee handbooks and everything in between. I seem to only have an issue with submitting to a man in covenant. But I know it’s not always comfortable for me to submit to the Lover of my soul. And I definitely have a certain disdain for authority figures.

Honestly, this submission thing is deeper than I thought. I have an overarching issue of surrendering to not just earthly authority but the authority of my Father in heaven. And I would never want to disobey and, in turn, hurt the man in my life who has given up his life for me. Honestly, I have to journey with God through the thick of this and I’m ok with the learning process.

Honestly, ladies, I’m still working through this and if you’re like me, it’s a lot easier said than done.

But being around a couple who has a strong foundation in Christ has helped me understand this idea of biblical submission more than reading a bible has. It’s the act of reading the truth and seeing an example of it lived out. So if you’re like me I encourage you to do the same.

2 thoughts on “I Love Him But Do I Have to Submit?: Part I

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