Girls are unique individuals that every dad, husband, and boyfriend need to understand. Regardless of her age, there are universal truths that apply to all girls.
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Did you know that girls have a “call to submission” that is different from a man’s call to submit? What are some of the things that you, as a future husband, could do to make it easier for your future wife to submit with joy?
You will find the answers to my questions in a proper understanding of how women are different from men. Those differences, and the male’s role in understanding and practically living out those differences, are the topic of this chapter.
Submitting to Submission
All women who choose to marry will interact with three primary authority figures in their lives:
- She must submit to God.
- She must submit to her father.
- If she marries, she must submit to her husband.
Within the marriage and family constructs, there are biblical hierarchies that God commands us to follow. These hierarchies have nothing to do with being loved more or less by God, but they do have a lot to do with living in an ordered way in God’s world while representing Him effectively to others. We submit to governments, employers, and church authorities. Children submit to their parents, and wives submit to their husbands. It is a reasonable, understandable, and biblical idea, but submission is only one side of the relationship.
The other “side of submission” expects and demands responsibility upon all those who are in authority to lead well. Fathers are not to provoke their children (Ephesians 6:4). Employers should direct their employees in a God-glorifying way (1 Peter 2:18-20). Husbands have a biblical responsibility to motivate their wives to submit (Ephesians 5:25-33; 1 Peter 3:7).
The Father’s Picture
A little girl’s daddy is her first and primary authority figure that calls for her submission. He is the one who will set the stage for how she will eventually view God as Father, and submit to Him. This responsibility is why dads are called to model God (Philippians 4:9). They are to imitate God (Ephesians 5:1). And all dads are to follow God (1 Corinthians 11:1) as they put Him on display (Galatians 2:20). Biblical fathers teach their children about God (Deuteronomy 6:4-9) and lead them to God (Proverbs 22:6).
All daughters will learn–to some degree–how to think about, understand, and respond to God the Father through the strongest and earliest picture that they will ever see, which is their fathers. The most radical instance that I saw of this was a lady whom I was counseling many years ago, who began to cry during our counseling session spontaneously.
I asked, “Why are you crying?”
She said, “I am crying because I was looking at your Bible.”
I asked, “Why are you doing that?”
She said, “When I look at your Bible, it reminds me of God the Father. When I think about God the Father, it reminds me of my father. When I think about my dad, I cry. He was a cruel man.”
Though her case was darker than most children, as far as the cruelty of a father goes, the idea of a “heavenly Father to earthly father” connection is not an exception when it comes to how girls typically build their filter for viewing God the Father. Any father could potentially corrupt a girl’s understanding of a father. Here are the three most common ways.
- He can die.
- He can divorce his wife.
- He can be in the home, but not model a clear picture of God the Father.
It is not unusual for a girl to come to Christ, and then have to begin a process of learning who God the Father is because she was given a corrupted picture, as portrayed by her dad.
Keep Your Picture Clear
Years ago I told my children that I am a picture of God the Father. I said that to them because I already knew that what they were seeing in me was being connected to the idea of a father. After a long pause I followed up with this one major caveat: I sin, and God will never sin. My ability to sin, especially against them and their mother, is probably the most striking difference between me and God the Father. That is why it is stupendously vital for me to repent to my wife and children when I sin against them (or in their presence).
If I do not remove my sin, by nailing it to the cross of Christ (1 John 1:7-9; Colossians 2:14), they will more than likely become confused as to what a good father should be. Here are two typical examples of what can confuse children by blurring the image of God the Father.
- If I love them conditionally (Ephesians 2:9). Meaning, if I love them only when they are meeting my expectations, I will incite their Adamic desires to perform to win my affection (Proverbs 29:25).
- If I criticize them more than I encourage them (Ephesians 4:29), I will further incite those desires because they will feel as though they can never fully measure up to my standards (2 Corinthians 10:12).
Without carefully walking them through my sins and sin patterns, you can rest assured that should they “come to God” through regeneration (John 3:7), they will carry “my effect” on them into their relationship with God (Ephesians 4:22). If I am not repenting to God and my children, they will have a corrupted view of a good father. In time, after they become teenagers, they will discern the actual truth about me, and if the grace of God does not intervene at that point, they may choose to walk away from God and me because of their anger and distrust in both of us.
- What kind of picture of God the Father has your girlfriend’s dad portrayed to her?
- If she is amenable to you both discussing these things, will you speak to her about what you have read here?
The Important Role of Fathers
New Day – New Man
If a dad has done his job reasonably well and has been repenting all along the way when he has failed, he should be able to give a mature, biblically sound, and submitting daughter to her new husband. The little girl will leave her dad and mom, and cleave to her husband (Genesis 2:24-25). If the man knows how to continue to serve his new wife the way her daddy did, it can be a near flawless transition that should set them up for a beautiful marriage.
The Other Side of the Coin – If her new husband has not received sound shepherding, in a similar godly way as his wife, he will not be able to satisfactorily fulfill his role as a spouse–at least not in the beginning. Until he “gets up to speed” on how to love his wife the way Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25), she will have to learn how to enjoy God in spite of his shortcomings.
His husbandry skills will be like a birthmark on someone’s face. In one sense it does not hinder anything, but in another sense, you’ll always know it’s there. In the case of his wife, she can adjust to her marriage disappointment because God provides grace for such disappointments (1 Corinthians 10:13).
Back to the Garden
Adam Loved Eve
The problem with this type of marriage is that the husband has not learned and applied biblical submission to his life. There are two sides to submission, which requires equal responsibility, humility, and maturity. Because of the unique authority/submission relationship in a marriage, it is essential for both the dad and the husband to understand their roles in creating a grace-filled environment that motivates the females in their lives to submit.
The call to submission should not be any stronger than the call to lead well by providing a grace-filled, joy-filled, and love-filled environment that motivates the person to submit.
Submission is the call on all our lives. Thus far, I have been speaking mostly about the female’s role in submission. But the male is also called to submit to a higher authority too. We see this in the first individuals that God created. In the beginning, the male was Adam, and the higher authority was God. The Father created Adam, and Adam submitted to Him. Then the Father created Eve, and she submitted to Adam. This “creation submission construct” set the hierarchy for relationships.
The Father provided Adam with a loving and safe environment for him to flourish. And it was Adam’s job to do for his wife what the Lord was doing for him–to provide a loving and safe environment for her to flourish. Though God did many other things for Adam, I think you will find that all of those things were within these two parameters: (1) His great love for Adam and (2) His protective care of Adam. Those are the two primary things that all of us need to flourish well in God’s world.
- Will I be loved well by God?
- Will I be safe if I follow Him?
It was the removal of God’s love and protective care that sent Adam, Eve, and the whole world into chaos (Genesis 2:16-17; 3:6-19). This chaotic problem is what makes John 3:16 such a cherished Bible passage. In that one verse, we see God’s great love–I will send my Son to die in your place–and His protective care–you are eternally secure with me.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
Giving What You Got
Adam and Eve were different, but the things they wanted were the same: (1) to be loved and (2) protected. While God made Adam and drew Adam to Himself, Eve came out of the man and was naturally drawn to him (Genesis 2:18-25). Now it was Adam’s turn to do for Eve what God did for him: to love and protect his bride. He had a responsibility to image his Creator in a similar way in which he had experienced Him.
- How are you imaging the love of God to your girlfriend?
- How are you imaging the protective care of God to your girlfriend?
To be loved and to be protected are the two conditions that will motivate any girl to submit to the male authority figure in her life. If you do not believe this, I appeal to you to talk to your girlfriend about what I have written here. Ask her the importance of these two things from you to her. Your girlfriend is being asked to do something rather profound: to give up her individual life to blend into you and to follow you for the rest of your lives.
Submission is profound, and it is also what God is asking all of us to do: to die to ourselves to follow Him. What do you think biblical submission means? Submission is a sacrifice made by faith in someone (Romans 10:17) who will love and protect you well (Romans 8:31-39). It was the kindness (love) of God that led to your repentance (Romans 2:4), and you willingly fell in love with God because you believed that He would take care (protect) of you (John 3:16; Romans 8:37). You submitted to Him because there were two things that you knew.
- You would be profoundly loved.
- You would be eternally secure.
A Daddy’s Love
A dad has an incredible and fantastic job description regarding his daughter. He has the privilege to model the love and protective care of God the Father to his daughter. She will submit by default to him while she is young. That is what children usually do.
She will not submit to her daddy as she becomes a teenager if he has not imaged the protective care and compelling love of God to her. If he does model God the Father well, there is a good chance she will not be tempted to satisfy her God-given desires for love through sinful means after she becomes a teenager.
Teen girls, who are crazy about boys, are almost always looking (1) to be loved by them and (2) to feel safe with them. The love they crave is lust, and the security they long for is to fill an insecure void their dads left because of their unwillingness to image God the Father to them. If the teen girl becomes desperate enough, she will latch on to any person. If she follows through by marrying that kind of person, she will probably regret her decision for the rest of her life.
A Husband’s Love
In nearly every case when a wife commits adultery, it is motivated by her desire to be loved and protected by a man. Her craving for those things becomes so intense that the hideousness of adultery pales in her mind.
Friend, I wish I could open up your head and pour this chapter into your brain, so you could see the culpable role you play in pushing your future wife into the arms of another man.
Too often with the adultery of a woman, the husband has been neglectful in loving and protecting her well. He became preoccupied with other things like his work. He became unkind (un-love) and harsh (un-safe) toward her. He did very little encouraging while growing more critical of her. While I would never condone a wife’s adultery or a teen’s lust for boys, it is essential to fully engage all the responsible parties that created such an outcome.
Call to Action
Let’s Start With Dad
- Dad, is your little girl profoundly aware of your affection for her?
- Does she know that no matter what happens, she will always be protected, safe, and secure because of your undeniable love for her?
- Is she more aware of your encouragement of her or your displeasure with her?
- Are you daily repenting of the things that blur the image of God the Father to her?
- How does she view God the Father? Do you know?
- Are you aware of the theological filter that you gave her–the one in which she sees God the Father?
A Few for the (Future) Husband
- Does your wife experience daily cherishing and nourishing from you?
- Are you aware of her secret thoughts that may be bringing division into your marriage?
- Will you ask her to talk to you about how she feels and experiences your love for her?
- Will you ask her to speak to you about how she feels and experiences your protective care?
- Where does she rank on your list of priorities?
- How are you helping her to keep from taking her desire for love and protection, and turning it into a need that drives her to sin?
Also published on Medium.