As soon as you say the words “marriage submission,” many people, even Christian people, can lose their minds.
The problem is that most people who think this way are using submission and obedience as synonyms. And while there are similarities between the two words, they have some significant differences.
Difference between submission and obedience
Look at the definitions of the words obey and submit.
Obey-Willing to comply with the commands, orders, or instructions of those in authority.
Submit- To yield or give way to another.
Both words mean that one person does what the other person wants, but the differences lie in the attitude of the one who is following.
When you obey someone, you follow the orders that person gives, but there is no indication that you have any actual connection to that person. It’s like a soldier in basic training. They receive orders all day long, and they follow them. It’s not because they care about their drill sergeant, but they know that there will be severe consequences if they don’t do what they are told.
Obedience doesn’t give a choice, and because of the lack of connection, it can cause resentment and anger in the one who is expected to comply with the orders.
Submission, on the other hand, isn’t about obeying orders. It’s about giving way to someone else. You do what they ask because you want to show your love and affection for them. You put their needs ahead of your own.
Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another. Romans 12:10
When you are submissive, you show a genuine desire to do what the other person asks of you. You love them and respect them. You have the choice, and you choose to defer to the other person.
Yes, Wives should submit.
The Bible does say that wives need to submit to their husbands.
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Ephesians 5:22-24
Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, 1 Peter 3:1
But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. 1 Corinthians 11:3
Why does the Bible say that women should submit to their husbands? Well, because someone needs to have the final say.
In a company or church, there is always someone who has the final say. Whether it is a pastor or a CEO, the buck has to stop somewhere. God recognized this when he set up the family’s organizational structure, and he gave the husband that responsibility.
There are a lot of misinterpretations of the submission of a wife to a husband. Many women somehow think that if they submit to their husbands, they will end up being treated like a child or like someone who doesn’t (or perhaps shouldn’t) have a mind of their own.
To me, marriage submission is the tiebreaker. Suppose my husband and I disagree about something (which honestly, isn’t that often), I will allow him to have the final say. That gives husbands a massive responsibility because he has no one to blame but himself if it doesn’t work out.
If you look at what you and your spouse disagree about, you’ll see something interesting. Most disagreements between husbands and wives are not matters of principle, but instead, matters of preference.
In other words, most conflict is just about getting your own way.
Lies about Submission
The world has taken the concept of Biblical marriage submission and turned it into something God never designed it to be. And just because women were lower class citizens for thousands of years doesn’t mean that’s the way God created them.
Here are some lies you hear from people who don’t believe that a woman should be submissive.
Submitting to your husband means you have to give up your goals for your life.
Many women resist submitting to their husbands because they believe that it means we can’t have any ambition or goals for life that do not revolve around our husbands. God does not expect us to bury the talents he gave us because we got married. Instead, we use those gifts for the work of God and the betterment of our marriages.
If you submit to your husband, he can ask you to do things that go against God’s word.
If your husband wants you to do anything that goes against God’s law, you cannot go along with him. Your commitment to God comes first.
In Acts chapter 5:1-11, the early church was so close to one another that they would sell their possessions so that everyone in the group could meet their needs. Ananias and Sapphira were a couple who decided to sell a piece of property they owned and donate the money to the church.
When the time came to give the money, they decided to hold back some for themselves. That wasn’t a problem. Sharing all this money was not a requirement of the church. No one expected you to give everything. However, the church held people who did so in high esteem, and Ananias seemed to want that honor.
First, Ananias came to the church and gave Peter the money, telling him that it was all the money they had gotten from the property. Peter called him out on his lie, and when he did, Ananias dropped to the floor, dead.
When Sapphira arrived at the church, she had no idea that any of this had happened. When Peter asked her if the amount of money they had given was indeed the entire amount they received for the property. She followed her husband’s lead and faced the same outcome, dying right there on the spot.
This story teaches us that, even though wives should submit to their husbands, if a man wants his wife to do anything that goes against God’s word, she has the responsibility to say no. If Sapphira had said that to Ananais before they went to see Peter, they might have lived a long and happy life.
Being submissive will give your husband the right to use and abuse you.
Sometimes we hear stories of women who submit to their husbands out of fear. Somewhere along the line, a flawed understanding of the word’s true meaning has caused some to create situations where a husband can demand submission.
Remember, though, marriage submission is about doing what your partner asks out of love and respect for them. If your spouse is doing anything that causes you to be afraid of him, it’s not a godly relationship. His behavior does not show the love that God requires of him to earn his wife’s respect and submission.
Men who expect their wives to submit Biblically treat them like a doormat.
Actual biblical submission requires that a man love his wife like Christ loves the church. It does not mean that the husband gets his way every single time there is a debate. It also doesn’t mean that wives need to keep their mouths shut and do what they are told.
Being submissive to someone does not mean you are not permitted to share your opinion. Again, if Sapphira had shared her opinion with Ananias and he had seen her point, the whole dropping dead thing wouldn’t have happened.
Submitting to your husband means you are weak.
It actually takes more strength to be a woman who practices marriage submission than one who goes along with the flow of society asserting that her needs come first.
Meekness is not weakness. You can read more about this here: Overcome Marriage Struggles with Meekness (Not Weakness)
Marriage submission means you are inferior to your husband.
No, no, and no.
No one is superior or inferior to anyone else in God’s eyes. He created male and female to be equal partners in a marriage. No one, especially your spouse, has the right to treat you any differently.
So, ladies, is this you?
You do what your boss says, and you probably don’t have a strong emotional attachment to them. But you balk at the idea of following your husband, whom you are supposed to love?
By choosing to support your husband and follow his lead, you empower him to develop his role as the man God wants him to be. This helps you grow into your role as a helper to your husband.
Men, are you taking the lead in the family and loving your wife as you should?
Do you accept the responsibility for your wife and family? God has selected you to protect and provide for your family. Lead your family in the ways of God.
Remember, “In honor preferring one another.” The husband shows that he prefers his wife by loving her the way Jesus loves the church. Wives prefer their husbands by allowing them to take the lead in the family.
The more a woman follows her husband’s leadership, the easier it is for a man to lead. The more a man leads, the easier it is for a woman to follow.
When that cycle breaks, marriages struggle.
Are you struggling with the concept of submission and wondering if it’s worth the effort to continue in a marriage that doesn’t seem to be working? Maybe you know that God’s will is for you to keep your relationship together except in the worst of situations, but you’re tired of the fight.
The truth is, no matter the condition of your marriage today, you can create one that is strong, healthy, and based on the Word of God.
At Marriage Confetti, we are committed to helping you build a marriage that will last a lifetime. We do this by understanding God’s word, creating a positive mindset, and creating new marriage habits.
It’s all about building a better future starting where you are today.
If you are interested in finding out what we have to offer, please take us for a test drive! We offer free, private 45-minute marriage breakthrough sessions where we give you a set of neutral eyes and ears to provide you with some perspective you may not see because of your proximity to the problem.
Answer a few questions, so we can get to know you, and we’ll schedule a time to chat online! No strings, nothing. We just want to help as many couples as possible move forward in their marriages.