Images of VP nominee Sarah Palin waving to cheering crowds with her family beside her evoke discomfort among some Christians as they wonder, “How is this going to work with the wife running for office instead of the husband? What about her kids? What about her marriage?”

But the Palin’s are not alone in living out an unconventional mix of Christian values and modern opportunity. Cindy Easley, wife of Moody Bible Institute president Michael Easley, encounters countless marriages every year that pose challenges to the biblical model of husband as spiritual head and wife as helpmeet. Wives supporting their families financially, wives of unbelievers, and wives of deployed soldiers are among the women who approach Easley at Family Life conferences asking, “How should biblical submission work in my marriage?”

Seeking sound counsel for modern women, Cindy turned to Scripture and to other godly wives for answers. This past July, she shared some of her thoughts with Crosswalk in anticipation of the September release of her book What’s Submission Got to Do With It? (Moody, 2008). Here’s a peak into our conversation:

CW:  Let’s start with your background. This book is about practical ways to live out biblical submission in modern, Christian marriages. You didn’t fit the profile of a submissive woman when you first got married.  You write you had definite feminist leanings at one time.  What changed you?   

CE:  God’s word definitely is what changed our minds. It wasn’t something that I thought, oh boy, I am married now, I am going to buy this! I had not seen submission done well in my family of origin. My mother was submissive, but not biblically. 

[So] I studied God’s word. I could not find a way that I could water down what it says in Ephesians 5:22, “Wives be subject to your own husband.” To me it says what it says. So, then I had to figure out, okay, so what does that look like?  What does that mean for me, since I am very opinionated, and I am strong-willed? I began to understand it was really more attitude than action. Action is certainly there, but I can act submissively and not have the attitude of submission. 

As I was writing the book, one of the definitions of submission that I found was to voluntarily cooperate with your husband. When I began to voluntarily cooperate with Michael, our marriage got so much better.  I saw him become more of a leader. I saw him step out, especially in things with the children that he might acquiesce to me in the past, and I would be wrong. Now, sometimes he [still] acquiesces, and I am right.  I saw it as a win-win, personally. 

CW:  You mention a difference between just "submission" and "biblical submission." Could you expand on that?   

CE:  Yeah, one thing that I discovered when I was doing a word study on the word submission in the Bible -- it comes from a military term.  It means to line yourself up under someone else’s leadership -- privates under generals or lieutenants under generals. [This definition] had the nuance of voluntary cooperation. That is what I think [submission] really means -- empowering your husband to lead by voluntarily lining up under his leadership.  

Now, my other favorite word picture [for submission] that actually my husband gave me, and I have no idea where it comes from, is: Knowing when to duck, so God can get to your husband. I like that.  (Laughter)