Submission - is it really that daunting?

There are two verses in the bible that modern women do not like, in fact it makes them see red - one from Ephesians and the other from Genesis. 

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 Saviour of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. (Ephesians 5:22-24)

And the LORD God said, [It is] not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. (Genesis 2:18)

Are these verses as daunting as they sound? Do they take away a woman voice in a marriage?  Do they allow men to control their wives? Why are women scared and angry about these verses? 

Submission is a scary concept for many women (and a topic many churches avoid due to its controversy), especially in this feminist world where women are encouraged (expected) to be independent, in control, in charge and in leadership positions.

Most woman who are quizzed about submission will say it is about loosing control of everything as they will no longer have a voice in any aspect of their marriage. They see submission as handing over all control to their husband, loosing their independences and no longer being able make a decision or have an opinion. This is totally incorrect. Submission isn't about husbands marching about issuing orders, demanding what their wives wear or say, disciplining their wives through punishment and if husbands use submission to control their wives they are not acting biblically. No loving husband would behave like this.

A marriage is a team effort and not a dictatorship. 

I think it is important to list all the things that submission does not mean:
  • Submission does not imply that the husband is superior and the wife is inferior. We are all equal, but in different ways. 
  • Submission is not about obeying your husband out of fear. 
  • Its not going along with things to gain an advantage to control or manipulate your husband
  • Submission does not mean saying "yes dear" to everything your husband suggests.
  • Submission does not mean a wife can not have an opinion on something.
  • Submission does not mean a wife can not make a decision.
  • Submission does doesn't not mean closing your eyes to sin just for the sake of keeping the peace. A wife may need to speak the truth in love to their husband, just as he may need to speak to his wife. (source)
No husband has the time or energy to manage all aspects of a household (and work full-time) and many husbands will ask their wives to take responsibility of particular areas of the home, such as the finance, shopping, caring for the children, schooling, cooking, gardening etc.. It is about sharing the load and this is what being a helpmate is all about, helping our husbands in any way we can (with a cheerful voice and with joy).  We all help our husbands in many different ways.  My husband finds handling the finances rather painful and very happy for my to manage it completely. I only consult if I require further advice (sometimes two heads are better than one) and share with him any major changes. He trusts that I will do the right thing. As for running the home, I make most of the decisions, however when it comes to large purchases such as furniture or white goods we jointly make decisions. However, when it comes to cars or technology, he tends to make the decisions.

Other ways of submitting to one's husband and being his helpmate can include keeping the home clean and tidy (my husband doesn't like mess), making sure his favourite food is in the cupboard, baking dinners he enjoys, removing stressors that may upset him, offering to help when he is undertaking a difficult task, respect his decisions (very important) and making him full aware that he is number one in your life (after God). 

Submitting may mean doing things you do not agree with, e.g. going out to work or sending your child to school when you want to home school. These can be very tough and upsetting, but it is important not to nag or bully your husband to change his decision. God will change your husbands mind if it is the right thing to do. Respect your husband's decision and allow God to work through your husband. It doesn't mean you will always get the answer you want - it may mean changing your heart. Remember, Gods decision is always right. 

It is these difficult decisions that can lead to very heated, nasty and often prolonged and painful arguments. This is when submission really kicks in and someone has to make the final decision. However, it is at these times that acting biblically can be very difficult - knowing when to shut your lips and allow your husband to make the final decision when you think he is wrong or you are very passion about the outcome. This is why it is so important to continually practice the skills of a gentle voice, not overreacting, letting go, remaining calm, remembering to be tenderhearted and kind and praying. These aren't traits that are encouraged in this modern world and for a woman, they are seen as weak.  However, the bible encourages us to do these things and they keep the peace in one's marriage and allows our husbands to do undertake their leadership role as God has asked. With practice it does becomes easier, but I am still learning!

A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger. (Proverbs 15:1)

Do you see a man hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him. (Proverbs 29:20)

So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; (James 1:19)
However this doesn't mean we can't disagree with our husbands, especially when they are wrong (they are human and as flawed as we are) or acting sinfully. It doesn't mean we can't offer advice or other solutions. We have minds and are intelligent and God never intended us not to use our brains. It is how we go about using them that is important.

Remember we live our submission through our actions - we can say we submit to our
husbands but God will know if it is just words or we "walk the talk". By the way we speak to our husbands, the tone of our voice, our body language, the way we talk about him in public. Our actions also include the way we keep our homes, they way we care for our children, in the foods we prepare, by not wasting the family money etc.. It isn't about nagging and bullying your husband to get your own way. Submission allows him to lead your family.

The most important thing about submission, is the request for wives to submit to their husbands comes from God. God is asking us to to do this. If we don't, we are going against God. When we submit to our husbands (whether they are believers or not) we are submitting to the Lord. This is why it is so important to not skip over this verse and say it is no longer relevant in a modern marriage. It is more relevant in this age of "me" than ever before. 

If struggling with submission, turn to a woman who is godly who can mentor you. This takes us to Titus 2 which dovetails beautiful into next weeks blog post by my guest writer.  These wonderful women are there to teach us how to love our husbands and to be obedient to them (submit). They are full of wisdom and can provide the love and support we need when struggling. No one says you have to struggle on your own.

 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. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)

Source: What a husband needs from his wife by Melanie Chitwood



  1. Even though Biblical submission is even harder in this culture, I think it's always been hard no matter what the times, because we are sinful creatures, all wanting our own way. So many times I've thought I was doing well in this area, only to discover my pride or selfishness getting in the way. And the Lord's commandments to men are actually even more difficult. I think these commands to us are the Lord's way of helping us to be more Christ-like. Thanks for the post Jo, and I love the vintage photos.

    1. Very true - I struggle and then find that I have really slipped and need to start again. I think it will be a life time of trying my best!!

  2. Hello Jo, These are always hot topics that as we read them, we can learn a bit more concerning how we can grow in this area! Learning how to be submissive is a fine gentle and biblical art that God has given to women!
    I hope you are having a good week,Roxy

    1. Roxy, it is such a hot topic and an area that women like you and I can support and encourage each other as the world won't be doing that.

      Have a wonderful weekend.

  3. If submission hadn't always been an "issue" and a challenge, it would not have been needed to be written about by the apostles! It's definitely an issue that is as old as the hills!! Of course, knowing that it's always been a challenge doesn't change anything or make it any easier for us, but at least we can know that we are not alone! Women have always found it hard to submit - to God and to man. And I think it's probably true to say that the sooner we submit to God (accept His will and plan for us even when we don't like it or find it tough), the easier it will be to submit to our husband. As the Scriptures say, when we draw near to God, He draws near to us, and the closer of a relationship we have with Him, the less difficult obedience is to Him and His commandments (like this spousal submission).
    I think it's true that what God has asked of husbands is possibly even more challenging... But then He did make each role FOR each gender/person, so it's probably just as challenging for each person in their own unique situation. And something in which to be very prayerful and watchful. It's just when we think we're doing better that we mess up (again)!! So we must be vigilant and keep working at this submission thing our whole lives through (and try really hard to model it right to our daughters so it's not such an uphill battle for them when their turn comes!!).

    1. I think we find it hard because it is SO against the modern grain, but perhaps it was just as hard in previous generations. But I do wonder if all the messages about women being tough and independent, which we have never had before makes it just that bit harder. You are right - it is a life time of practice and some of us never quite get it right but at least we keep trying our best :)

  4. A few years ago when my husband and I joined a new church, we had to take a Bible Basics class. Our classmates were two younger couples just planning their weddings. When the verse about "submit to your own husbands" was discussed, both women literally scoffed and laughed and said, in essence, "Yeah, right!" Both husbands were silent. I was saddened by that and wished I knew how to convince them how much peace and happiness could be found in Biblical marriage. I did give one of them a book about it as a wedding present, but she hasn't spoken to me very much since!

    1. Hi Kim, I think submission is taught in such a way that it makes women panic, especially in the age of domestic violence. What they don't realise, if done biblically (and that is the point), it doesn't give men "power of women" instead it creates a peaceful and harmonise environment to live in. At least you tried :)

      Have a wonderful weekend.

  5. Great post.
    I love the idea of submission - i agree with all the things you wrote about it "not" being and how that is often confused....
    what i love is that ultimately God sees the responsibility of our family's decisions being on his shoulders! And that is definitely something i can live with lol. I enjoy letting him be the ultimate decision maker! Then again I'm not a bossy type!
    Let's remember too that the bible tells us that as much as it's possible we are to live 'peaceably' with all people!


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