Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Confident, Strong, and Submissive

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Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: One of the Revive Our Hearts Ambassadors received a letter from a woman in Nigeria. Our Ambassador had sent some Revive Our Hearts resources. After reading them, this woman in Nigeria said:

Woman:

I have come to realize God has a specific intention for me as a woman. I have come to know what is expected of a woman biblically. I’ve come to know that I am not in a competition with my husband, and I am not meant to play his role for him. God has made me a responder and a nurturer. What blew my mind last night was discovering the lies about children and the truth that actually set me free.

I know that I will give account to God for the spiritual condition of the children He has entrusted to my care. I have decided to give God these children. My husband and I cannot do it without God. I discovered my children don’t have to ‘fit in’ in the world to learn. My sister, my eyes have been opened wide, and I have already started sharing this. I intend to start a home group specifically for True Womanhood. I am so excited and liberated! God bless you real good. 

Nancy: My heart is so encouraged to know that resources produced by Revive Our Hearts are bearing fruit in Nigeria. I love how this woman is quickly starting to share what she’s learned with others in her community. Now, those kind of connections wouldn’t be possible without friends who generously give to support this ministry.

We’re able to equip Revive Our Hearts Ambassadors who are spreading this message around the world thanks to friends like you. And our listeners are helping Revive Our Hearts reach even more women around the world. In fact, we’re in the process of creating a digital framework so the core content—the most important, culturally transferable Revive Our Hearts materials—can be easily translated into other languages. Currently, we are working on French, Portuguese, Turkish, and Farsi (spoken by over 110 million people in the world). We are also laying the groundwork for having materials translated into Mandarin, Russian, Arabic, and other languages as well.

In order to continue all these outreaches, we’re asking the Lord to provide for our needs here in the month of May. That's when we close the financial books and start a new budgeting process. In order to end the fiscal year in a strong position, we’re needing the Lord to provide at least $680,000 this month, and you can be a part of making this possible! If the Lord is prompting your heart to make a gift, however large or small, give us a call at 1–800–569–5959, or you can visit ReviveOurHearts.com to get more details on the need and to make your donation.

Thank you for partnering with us as we continue spreading the truth that is setting women free—in Nigeria and right where you live.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, co-author of True Woman 201, for Thursday, May 3, 2018.

Nancy gave a lot of women a lot to think about yesterday. I appreciated her clear teaching on biblical submission—what it means and what it doesn’t. Today, we’re going to follow up that teaching through a conversation with Cindy Easley. She and her husband, Pastor Michael Easley, have spoken at marriage conferences for fifteen years. 

Nancy: Cindy, I have to say I think it is very, very brave of you or anyone today to have written a book on the topic of submission, the “s” word. What in the world possessed you? What were you thinking when you decided to write this book titled What’s Submission Got To Do With It? (new title: Dancing with the One You Love)

Cindy Easley: You know I asked myself that same question many times as I had my laptop trying to write these words.

Nancy: And probably as you were explaining to people what you were doing.

Cindy: Oh, my goodness. There were many times that people would say, “What are you doing?”

And I would say, “Oh, I’m working on a book right now.”

And they’d say, “Well, what’s the topic?”

And my typical answer to a woman would be, “You don’t really want to know.”

And they’d say, “Of course I want to know,” because it begged the question. So I’d explain it’s on submission in marriage. I had some very interesting conversations based on just admitting what the book was and the title.

Nancy: Yes, you have to have thick skin today to bring that subject up.

Cindy: You do, because people think you are either an alien or oppressed.

Nancy: So what made you do it? You had to know that you were going to get some tough mail. In fact, when I wrote my most controversial book, Lies Women Believe, I wondered if we were going to have to hire someone just to handle the mail about the controversy. You had to know some of that would come.

Cindy: Absolutely. I think most of the anger, though, is really masking pain. Women have been wounded. Therefore, they don't want to put themselves in a position where they are giving up their rights. That's how they view it, which is not what I see.

Back to your question, there were a couple of reasons that I really felt compelled to write this. I started thinking, How sad that as Christian women we have taken away our husband’s manhood and their design by somehow making them feel inadequate.

The other thing, the practical issue, was when I would speak to FamilyLife Weekend to Remember conferences there was one hour on the wife’s role and about three-to-five minutes of that was discussing submission. When I would finish I would have women come up to me and say, “Thank you so much for explaining submission to me. I never understood it before.”

But then they would say, “But this is my situation.” And they would describe their marriage and say, “What does submission look like for me?”

And I would say, “I have no idea because I’m not married to your husband.” So that was what precipitated the different women that I sought out to interview based on some of the questions that I was hearing over fifteen years of speaking with FamilyLife.

I went after specific situations to answer those women’s questions.

Nancy: And the Table of Contents that I'm looking at here, talk about specific situations: "What does submission look like for a non-believing husband?"—a lot of our listeners who are in that kind of situation. "Submission to a husband with a chronic illness"—where you become the caregiver and have to make a lot of the decisions. "An often absent husband"—you think about military husbands, for example. "Where there's an economic role-reversal"—where she's making more income than he is. There are a lot of practical, specific illustrations of what does submission look like in this situation

One of the things I love about this book is that you tell real-life stories or real women who live in these situations and how they have processed from a biblical standpoint what it looks like to live out biblical submission. But I want to back up before we talk about some of those other women’s stories and talk a little bit about your story, because submission was not something that you naturally gravitated toward. Who does? It’s not something that when you went into marriage you were really fond of or maybe even had a great concept of.

Cindy: First of all, I am a very quick decision maker. I’m an aggressive woman. I am happy to step into a leadership role when there is a void. So it is not in my nature to submit to anyone. I’m the youngest of five children so I always fought . . . 

Nancy: . . . to get a voice.

Cindy: That’s right. I felt like my voice should be heard. I was raised in a Christian home, but it was dysfunctional. My father was an alcoholic. When my father would return from work, my mother would follow my father into the bedroom and they would talk over their day or issues or problems. Almost every time my father would raise his voice and my mother would remain silent. I never remember hearing her voice her opinion or talk back to him in those situations.

I loved my mother. But I thought, I will never be like that. And then later when I heard the word submission for the first time, not ever knowing it was in the Bible, just hearing the concept; when I heard the word I thought, If that’s submission, I don’t want anything to do with it, because I will not be walked on.

When Michael and I got married and I started studying the Bible more, I found the word submission and understood the roles of headship and helper, I just didn’t like it. I was pretty sure that maybe God was wrong.

Nancy: Or at least that He didn’t mean you.

Cindy: Right, or that was for back then. We’re just so much farther, so much more sophisticated than back in the New Testament times.

So I had to wrestle with this personally quite a bit before I came to the conclusion that God really does mean this, and not only that, He means it for my good.

Nancy: You say in this book, “I am opinionated. I am independent. I am strong-willed,” talking about yourself. “I’m not afraid to make decisions. I am happy to take leadership. I am confident.”

And I read that and I think, How does that work with the concept of submission?

Cindy: One thing that I discovered as I interviewed these women that without exception, they were strong, capable women. Not one of them was a wallflower or easily walked upon. What I discovered is that I believe that women who are very strong women when they choose to voluntarily submit to their husbands, it is an amazing gift that those men have. Because they do have strong wills, it is hard for them to back up and say, “No, I’m going to let you lead because I believe that’s how God wants our relationship to work.”

I also think that in our willingness to back up and let our husbands lead, God can work in us in ways that He cannot work any other way. So yes, it’s a contradictory thing to say you’re a strong woman but you also submit to your husband. But I think that’s the point. It takes a strong woman to submit well.

Nancy: Yet you’re talking now about some of the misconceptions of submission. You said none of these women were wallflowers. But sometimes when you say the word submission even within the Christian world, there’s this kind of caricature or picture of someone who has no opinions, has no backbone, is kind of just wilted.

Cindy: Oh absolutely. It’s that barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen and oppressed. I would say that most women would say submission equals oppressed. I don’t think—at least in my own life and in the lives of each of these women . . . For these women it was a process they went through. Every single one of them did go through a process, I think, with the exception of one who said that it was in her nature to be a more submissive personality. The rest of them all said it was not in their nature.

Susan who was married to a non-believer said she is a pleaser. But being a pleaser is different than being submissive. Because submission has to do with your attitude as much as or maybe even more than your action. Because you can just do what somebody else wants you to . . . 

Nancy: . . . and not have a submissive heart at all.

Cindy: And not have a submissive heart. That’s right. You can do it with hands clenched and jaw tight. But yes, to most women submission is a situation being put down. These women as they began to understand submission went through the process. All gained a peace that they had never had before in their relationship with their husband in knowing they were doing what God wanted them to do and knowing that God was ultimately in control.

For most women you forget; it’s kind of like your husband is the middle man. Really, you’re submitting to God, and your husband is just the middle management. If we can remember that, ultimately it’s the Lord God that we’re choosing to submit to and our husband is the vehicle with which we align that attitude.

Nancy: That’s where submission really is an act of faith that God is bigger than the human authority, whether it’s a husband or a boss or a parent for a younger person, and that God is able to turn the heart of that leader, that authority and to change their direction. “The king’s heart,” Proverbs 21 says, “it’s in the Lord’s hand. As the rivers of waters he turns it whichever direction he wants” (v. 1). 

So it takes faith to say, “Lord, I’m casting myself on You and trusting You to work through the leadership and the direction of this authority in my life.

Cindy: As I studied the word submit in the Bible, one thing I understood is that the word submit is actually a military concept. It’s the idea of lining yourself up under someone. It actually means “voluntary cooperation.” When I started applying that to my own life, I would ask myself, “Am I voluntarily cooperating with Michael and with God?”

It really helped me clarify and understand what that word meant. “Am I voluntarily cooperating with my husband?” It’s a good way to wrap your arms around the idea of that scary word.

Nancy: You point out in this book that the Scripture nowhere says that men are to make their wives submit.

Cindy: That’s right. It is not the man’s responsibility as it is not her responsibility to say, “Love me like Christ loved the Church.” I did ask my husband to write a chapter in the book called “Man to Man.” The subtitle is “Chauvinists Need Not Apply.” He specifically addresses husbands on this issue and talks about understanding the gift that your wife is giving you and understanding what it looks like to be a loving leader.

Nancy: So in the early years of your marriage is this something . . . I know Michael, your husband, is a strong leader himself. He’s a strong man; you’re a strong woman. Did you ever butt heads on this? What did your marriage look like as you were developing a biblical concept of submission?

Cindy: What I found kind of weird is that I fell a little bit into the role that my parents had had when I married. I think I was more passive aggressive. I didn’t necessarily argue or tell Michael he was wrong or whatever, but I just wouldn’t do what he wanted me to do, and I would find an excuse for not doing it.

He and I might talk about a certain way to parent, and when he walked out the door, I would parent my own way. You can give it lip service because I wasn’t arguing, but I was not submitting. I was not learning to grow under that relationship in the way that God would want me to.

So it wasn’t until we were married for I would say five or six years that I started wrestling with submission and really understanding what it was and how I was not. Even though on the outside I thought I was real submissive, I was not at all submissive.

Nancy: So as you would make those kind of manipulative decisions to do what you were going to do while giving the outward appearance of being submissive, what did that do to your husband? What did it do to your relationship? What did it do to your children?

Cindy: Well, it certainly undermined our relationship in that he felt he was not respected. He felt like, “Why ask me for my opinion, Cindy? You’re not going to do it anyway.” I heard that a lot.

And I would say, “Oh, but I am.” Because again I thought I was. And I thought, Well, I really know better anyway.

As far as the children, they were young enough that they weren’t even aware of what was going on. There were times that they learned if you want something come to mom. Those lessons that later we’ve corrected and said, “No we’re a team, and if mom speaks she speaks for dad. If dad speaks, dad is speaking for mom because we’re a team.”

So that helped us formulate that attitude with our children.

Nancy: Your husband has been a pastor for many years. You’ve probably seen some situations where parents are not a team and they’re living out different philosophies of parenting. The children get caught in the crossfire of the parents not working together.

Cindy: Absolutely. I think that can be devastating for children not to know that their parents are not only a team but that they are the most important people to each other; that as much as they love their children, their relationship is first and foremost. I think children respect that. They try and undermine it. They want to pull you toward themselves. It’s that selfish ego we all have that we want to be the most important. But in truth, they really don’t. They love Michael and I to kiss in the kitchen or to hug each other. They’re just like, “Aw!”

Now our son may go, “Oh stop that!”

Nancy: Gross.

Cindy: Exactly. But they love to know that our relationship is the most important relationship in that household. That gives them such security and stability that no matter what happens, mom and dad love each other. Mom and dad are together forever.

Nancy: In a lot of cases the way you started out those first five or six years of marriage would have continued and only pulled you apart. But in your case, you really dug into the Word of God and into the marriage and said, “We want to do this God’s way.”

How did you develop a more biblical understanding of how you were to respond to Michael’s leadership?

Cindy: I have to say part of it was when we started speaking with FamilyLife. I started really digging and understanding what submission meant. I was around godly women who I respected who were also very strong, and I watched them live it out in their lives. That’s when I started going, “Okay, this is what this looks like.”

One thing I learned is that none of us are exactly the same. We each in our own marriages bring in our own personalities. So you tweak submission for what’s right for you. That’s one thing I try to bring out in this book is that as I’ve interviewed these women and they’re telling me their stories, they’re all in very different situations.

You said in the contents one woman is the primary breadwinner, another one has an amazing amount of power in her workplace. So you understand that it’s not that you’re giving up who you are or your identity or your giftedness or your strengths. It’s that you’re learning how to hone them in a way that will encourage your husband to be what God intended him to be and encouraging his leadership and giving him an understanding, a respect, that really only a wife can give a husband.

Nancy: You talk a lot about the words respect and encouragement. You actually interviewed some husbands and asked them to complete four statements.

  • I wish my wife understood that . . . 
  • I know my wife respects me when . . .
  • I don’t feel respected when my wife . . .
  • The hardest thing about leading our home is . . .

And you got some really interesting responses back from those men. Is it what you expected or a little bit different?

Cindy: I’ll tell you what surprised me. I interviewed men from different walks of life, both socio-economic and age ranges—from early married to men who had been married for years. All of their responses were similar. So what I learned is that it really doesn’t matter how long we’ve been married or how old we are, our husbands tick all about the same way.

What I found was a lot of it was things that I saw in these women and how they tweaked their understanding of submission to show how much they respected their husbands. I was hearing it again from the men on the opposite side. A lot of it had to do with their attitude, the way they were approached. They all said, “We don’t mind if our wives disagree with us. That’s not the issue. The issue is how they do it.”

One of the things that really discouraged their leadership was when their wives publicly disagreed or criticized them. Some of the men felt blindsided when their wives would disagree. They loved when their wives asked their opinion and followed their opinion.

But not one of them said, “I want a wife who does everything I say.”

Nancy: They’re not looking for blind loyalty.

Cindy: No, not at all. They’re looking for someone that is going to be a team with them, a partner in life, but who will respect and support them. And they did say, “There are times I cannot explain the decision I made. I just know it’s the right decision.” And for her to say, “Okay, let’s do it then,” that just speaks volumes to know that you trust him enough that you don’t have to understand every single point of his decision. But you trust him enough as a person to follow him anyway.

Nancy: When we come back to this conversation tomorrow, we want to talk about what if you really think the decisions is not a right one? What if maybe it really is not a right decision? But let me back up again on this respect and encouragement thing. What are some of the things in your marriage that you think make Michael feel respected and encouraged by you as a wife?

Cindy: Well, I would say hands down telling him that I respect him, following his advice, asking his opinion on things. For Michael, one of the huge areas is when I respect him in relationship to the children because often we have different parenting styles.

Nancy: Can you give us an example of that?

Cindy: One situation is that my husband really has a very strong feeling about electronic games in the home. And so he said, “Let’s not do that. Let’s encourage our children instead to spend time reading or outdoors doing sports.

I would have been much more, “Look, I’m really tired at the end of the day. I would love them to go play for an hour in front of the TV.” I have to, to the kids not say, “Dad doesn’t think we should have this.” I have to come back and say, “Dad and I just don’t think this is the right thing.”

Because again, I don’t want to set him up as the bad guy. It comes in other ways, too. We have three daughters, and I tend to think more like they think being a girl. So as a result, often I’ll find myself trying to dismiss something Michael thinks in relationship to them or parenting them because I’m just like, “Oh, you don’t understand. You’ve never been a girl.” Well obviously, that’s true.

But the thing I forget is that God gives him a wisdom as a man, and he sees things sometimes that I don’t see. One particularly is in modesty. There were things that the girls would wear that I would be like, “Oh, that’s so cute. Michael that’s not immodest.”

And he would say, “Yes, Cindy, it is. You need to understand how men think.”

And I would think, Not their generation. They don’t think that way. And we’d have this ongoing discussion. So God gave me a son. And I’m amazed how I see the world as I look through my innocent son’s eyes from commercials to the way girls dress that come over to our house because I think, Lord, protect his heart and his mind.

So I had to go back and say, “You have been right all along. I apologize for not upholding your thoughts and respecting your feelings more in this area.” So then I would get to the point where I would say, “Now girls, I think this is cute, but let’s go see what your dad thinks because he is a man, and he’s going to see things that I’m not going to see as a woman.”

So that’s been helpful. But those are issues that I’ve had to learn that when Michael knows I disagree, I still follow his lead and respect him. That speaks volumes to him.

Leslie Basham: That’s Cindy Easley. When she and Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth recorded this interview, Cindy’s book was called What’s Submission Got to Do With It. But it’s been re-released with a new title. It’s called Dancing with the One You Love. We’d like to send you a copy to help you get in step as a couple. It’s our gift to you when you call 1–800–569–5959 with a donation of any size.

Your gift will help Revive Our Hearts continue bringing you powerful programs like this one and it will help meet the fiscal year-end needs we told you about earlier. Again, ask for Dancing with the One You Love when you call 1–800–569–5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

When you approach your husband respectfully with the right words, and he still chooses to head down the path, what is your behavior? How do you react? Nancy and Cindy will talk about it tomorrow. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts. 

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants to help your marriage thrive. It’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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