Husbands, wives and submission

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church.

Ephesians 5:22-29

Painting by Jacqueline Osborn
Women are to submit to their husbands as the husband is the head of his wife "as Christ is the head of the church". Wives are to put their husbands needs first in all things. They are to devote their life to their husbands, they are to be their husbands helpmate. 

I have read many blogs about the importance of wives submitting  to their husbands, about the wives putting themselves second to their husband's needs and desires.

Unfortunately many only provide the bible verses for women and forget to mention the other side of the story. No wonder many women find submission scary and very concerning. It is all about the husbands. Who cares about you? Who is interested in your day, your needs, your worries. For a newly married woman, submitting must feel very daunting. 

But this isn't true — in a Christian marriage, your husband is to love you "just as Christ loved the church", he is to love you "as their own bodies: he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church". 

That is an amazing love between two people who become "one flesh’;  so then they are no longer two, but one flesh". (Mark 10:8)

Your husband should be as interested in you as you are in him. You take care of him and he devotes his time and energy to you. It isn't one sided at all. You love and spoil him, and he loves and spoils you. A marriage is about your devotion to your husband and your husband devotion to you — becoming one.

And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another. (Ephesians 4:32)

Marriage isn't all about your husband and it isn't all about you — it is about each of you taking care of the other. It is about kindness, caring, love, tenderness, forgiveness, selflessness . . . Submitting to a man that treats you like a Queen is easy, trusting in a man that is Godly makes submitting non-threatening. 

Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.  Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. (Philippians 2:3-4) 

Sadly we see Christian men taking advantage of their wives. These men love having a wife that submits — but their interpretation of submission is not Godly but selfish. They want a wife that is at their beck and call, they want a wife that does as she is told, has dinner on  the table when he demands it, a wife that is a doormat that he can control.
Painting by Daniel Del Orfano

This is NOT submission and it is NOT as prescribed in the Bible. 

Remember, husbands cannot force their wives submit, wives need to make that choice themselves, husbands are only asked to love their wives "as their own bodies". A Godly husband, through his love and kindness—walking a Godly path can demonstrate to his wife that being a submissive wife is not scary or going to make her a second-class citizen, rather following God's ordained plan for a marriage. 

Husbands are to "love their wives" with God’s kind of love—selfless, sacrificial, and unconditional and not one that hurts or harms. Treating one's wife like a doormat, disregarding her feelings, punishing her when he thinks she has misbehaved, treating her like a child are not signs of love. A Godly husband is to love his wife and do what is best for her, regardless of the cost to himself. As you can see, what God prescribes as the perfect marriage have both the husband and the wife selfless and not only the wife. 

For wives that have husbands that do not treat them well, it can be a difficult and sad suitation and one that requires much prayer, faith and trust in God. Regardless of ones husband's behaviour, a Christian wife still needs to remain a Godly woman — one of dignity, one of meekness, one of caring, of quietness. 

Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives (1 Peter 3:1) 

One that through her actions and not words, Christ shines.

In saying this, she isn't to become a doormat and to be hurt physically, emotionally or mentally. If the situation at home deteriorates, she must seek help at once. No woman should remain in her home if she or children are in danger. 

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. (1Corinthians 13: 4-8)


  1. Very well put! Thank you for the complete version!

  2. Thanks for sharing the other side! Submission is a beautiful thing when the husband also loves the wife...but even for those that have that marriage, there will still be days it feels the opposite and is hard to submit. Thanks for the encouragement even on the difficult days!

    1. So many, think because they are writing for women to only include the part for women - but its like reading half the story and doesn't make complete sense. It is so important to read the title verses to get the entire story and then it doesn't sound anywhere as daunting as it looks. Submission at times is not nice at all, it isn't all a bed of roses :) But as you say, other times it all runs smoothly.

  3. Yes. People spend a lot of time beating the women's submission thing to death, forgetting that there IS another side to the story and that the man's responsibility is also great. Thank you for addressing this important matter in such a succinct manner.

    1. I have read too many blogs where only one side of the story is presented and it sounds terrible - and for Christian couples, each have their own responsibilities that are just as important as each other.


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