I get a lot of flak about submission on this blog.

Whenever I write about resolving conflict, or areas in which husbands and wives disagree, I get taken to task in the comments for not telling women to submit more.

I find this rather strange. To so many, it seems as if submission is the goal of marriage.

Oneness is the goal of marriage; submission is a tool to get there. It is not the end, in and of itself.

But I think what I mean by submission and what some other people mean by submission are really two different things. I consider submission when I care about my husband’s needs first; when I think about what he may want or need, and I sacrifice something to meet that need. I consider submission when I pray God’s will for his life.

Yet to some people, it seems the only definition of submission that matters is that when you have a difference of opinion, she defers to him.

This really irks me, because to me, that’s a failure. Using that definition of submission, I’ve never submitted to my husband, because when we have had differences (and we had major ones, like deciding whether or not to have our son have life-threatening surgery, or deciding whether to move, or deciding what to do about jobs, children, etc.), we’ve always worked it through. We’ve never, ever said that because he thinks it’s one way, that’s the way it is.

To us, deciding to do things “his way” when we had a disagreement would have meant that we had failed, because the goal is oneness.

And usually, when we work it through, we come to a solution that neither of us even envisioned in the beginning. We find a win-win. Other times, just by talking about it, I realize that I was totally off-base, or he realizes that he was, and it’s all good. We feel like we’re one, like we’re a team, like we’re intimate and on the same side. And it’s wonderful.

And so I can never really understand the women who take pride in saying, “I let him make all the decisions, even if I think he’s wrong.” To me, that’s a cop out. If you think he’s wrong, you have an issue in your relationship. One of you–or both of you–is not listening to God. Why should we be proud of that? Why should we not instead wrestle through it together, and with God, until we’re cheerfully on the same page? If you’re always deferring to him, then you could easily be preventing oneness, not enhancing it. And you could  be keeping both of you from hearing from God. (I wrote a three-part series on handling differences and submission here). Sometimes we must decide to let things go for the sake of the marriage, but I don’t believe this is a victory. This is done often in sadness because you aren’t one and you aren’t on the same page. And so prayer for God to be more evidenced in both of your lives is the only proper response when that has to be done.

I really, really worry about the strain in Christian marriage thinking that women must obey their husbands at all costs, and that the GOAL of marriage seems to be this hierarchical relationship which I do not see in Scripture. And so when I was sent Larry Crabb’s new book, Fully Alive: A Biblical Vision of Gender That Frees Men and Women to Live Beyond Stereotypes, I was excited to read it.