Mark and Vanessa Hart have been married to each other – and to the military – for 12 years. They share a love for God and country and do their best to follow the Bible's teachings. But whenever their pastor preaches a sermon about leadership and submission in the home, their minds swirl with questions:
- How is Mark supposed to lead the family when deployed on the other side of the world?
- Is it OK for Vanessa to be in charge when Mark is deployed?
- How can the kids view their father as the leader of the home when he often isn't around for their birthdays or daily afterschool debriefings?
- Is Vanessa supposed to just turn over her responsibilities as soon as Mark returns home?
- What does leadership and submission look like for a military couple?
The Harts aren't the only ones asking these questions. If the topic of submission and leadership in the home is tricky for the average couple, it's even more complicated for those in military service, no matter which spouse is the active duty member.
Military couples can start by looking at the issue through the lens of attitude. It's not what you do that matters (for instance who pays the bills), but how you demonstrate respect and humility toward one another. In Philippians, the Apostle Paul lays the groundwork for all human relationships:
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness (Philippians 2:3-7, NIV).
Additionally, Ephesians 5:21 instructs us to "Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ."
With these Scriptures in mind, and with Christ as the example, couples can begin building a foundation of humility and respect for one another.