One of my friends emailed me about this asking my opinion. I know I’ve discussed here before and opined elsewhere. But I figure it’s not a bad idea to have a reference sheet handy. So I’m repeating what I told her. Keep in mind, of course, that I’ve only been a Christian Wife for 21 years. There were a few months there where I didn’t do the best job at it, too. So take that for what it’s worth.
My basic opinion is that the marital relationship requires women to submit to men. But it requires those men to love their wives as Christ loves the church. (those exhortations are found in the same passage.) The vows we say attempt to cover this. Better or worse, richer or poorer, sickness or health. Worse, poorer and sickness all happen to all of us.
If men are Biblically exhorted to love their wives unconditionally, wives do _the husbands a grave disservice_ when they assume that the love is only owed to them if they are thin, pretty, impeccably groomed. No man is worthy of your submission if he is not able to love you in that unconditional manner.
For you to submit is for you to bring to a man your greatest gift. Not your sexuality, but the whole of you. Your mind, your heart, your ideas. Just as you would not pray to idols (“Oh, here’s a god. I better get to worshipping!”) you do not submit to every man or just any man. Submission is an intimacy reserved for marriage.
Out of respect for yourself and consideration for your partner you always do the best you can with your actions and your appearance. But there will be days in this humanity when “best you can” looks remarkably like “what the cat drug in”. That is OK. You’re allowed to be sick on occasion, tired on occasion. Besides, marriage isn’t about “aren’t I lucky to have caught a man?! How can I keep him?”. It’s about binding in partnership with another Christian so that you are iron sharpening iron, lifting one another up. Starting a Christian marriage should be treated the same way as starting a church plant or a missionary service. The benefits are necessary to allow you both to accomplish the hard works.
I’m endlessly angry when women talk about how bad it is for them to put on weight/go without makeup. That’s like sitting around fretting over what colour the mints should be at the visitor welcome table on Sunday. It’s not the major detail you should be concerned about.