Someone recently called me a feminazi.

That made me stop to think. I realised that given how vocal and opinionated I am as a person … I probably shouldn’t be surprised if others think I believe women are superior to men – because I actually don’t.

What I do believe are the words of the Bible. But I’ve always struggled with the part where they talked about how a woman should be. “Wives submit to your husbands” (Ephesians 5:22-23), and to be a woman “working at home” (Titus 2:3-5) were two injunctions I found stinging.

I was on edge about this issue for the longest time, until my mother softened my heart.

My mother shared this simple truth with me: The Bible doesn’t say I must submit to all men – just my husband! Our marriage would model the relationship Christ has with the church, where women would submit to the leadership of their husbands, as the Church (Bride) submits to the leadership of Christ (Groom).

My mother taught me submission is powered by love, not necessity. That’s a higher love I never cared to think about.

It takes strength and grace to submit to any authority, and especially to your husband, especially when you don’t agree. I personally am irked by the need to submit because I often feel my way of doing things is better – I know what’s best for myself.

With God or my husband, I am not my own – we over me.

But the Bible tells us that true love isn’t proud, and it always trusts (1 Corinthians 13). So true love is humble submission and trust in a good God and in honour of the covenantal relationship I am in. With God or my husband, I am not my own – we over me.

The full verse in Ephesians 5 actually goes, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord” and “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the Church”. The message to “submit to your own husbands” was written to the wife, not for the husband to lord it over her.

Similarly, the message to “love your wives” was written to the husband, not for the wife to lord it over him. And each one has a part to play!

When both parties submit to their respective instructions as they submit to Goddemanding neither submission or love of each other – marriage works.

I’m still learning what it really means to be a woman of God. But I’m blessed to have a mother who models for me how to be one – a Proverbs 31 woman – while remaining empathetic to my struggles.

“Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.” (Proverbs 31:25-26)

My mum shows me that a heart that is right with God will naturally display His character without. And I’ll always remember her words to me: “Just love God lah – everything else will fall into place.”