I have been wanting to write this post for several months but have held off because I find it hard to organize my thoughts on this topic. Additionally, I am not sure how well it will be received, since it is a fairly touchy subject among Christians. But after a lot of thinking and reflecting, I have decided to share my thoughts on Biblical, marital submission. I am fully aware that not all Christian couples practice, or even believe in submission but it is something I feel strongly about. I also want to point out that I am not a theologian, Biblical scholar, or even someone who claims to know a lot about the Bible. I have grown up reading and studying it, and in doing so, have drawn my own conclusions about certain matters. Marital submission is one that has been a fairly new concept to me, so even though I have studied it, I certainly do not have all the answers.
I know what the word submit means, but I checked with different online dictionaries for a concrete definition. Here are some of the ways it is defined:
- accept or yield to a superior force or to the authority or will of another person
- to yield oneself to the authority or will of another
- to permit oneself to be subjected to something
- to defer to or consent to abide by the opinion or authority of another
So while they all differ slightly, the general idea of the word is the same. Some translations of the Bible use the phrase “be subject” in place of the word “submit”, and in this post I am sharing from the NASB which uses “be subject”. Alright, so here are my thoughts and reasons for submitting to my husband’s authority.
First of all, in marital submission is not just mentioned once in the Bible. It is not one of those little things we can disregard now, such as not wearing clothes of mixed fibres (Leviticus 19:19). Do you know how many times in the New New Testament submission in regards to women is mentioned? Six.
- Colossians 3:18 Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.
- 1 Timothy 2:11 A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness.
- Titus 2:5 (older women are to encourage younger women) to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonoured.
- 1 Peter 3:1 In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behaviour of their wives.
- 1 Corinthians 14:34 The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says (note: I KNOW this is a controversial verse, but my thoughts on it are not discussed in this post. I am including it here solely because it refers to submission).
- Ephesians 5: 22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord.
In my mind, if something is mentioned specifically that many times in the Bible, I am guessing it is pretty important! As I said in a previous post, since this topic was written about in letters to early churches, it can often be disregarded by the modern church. People will say it was only for a specific culture, region, etc, but I personally feel that it is most certainly still applicable today, since it was mentioned so frequently! I like what Ephesians 5:22-33 says because it not only talks about wives submitting to their husbands, but also husbands submitting to God. That part of submission is often forgotten! This little illustration below perfectly sums up that passage of scripture.
Christ has authority over men and women, regardless of their marital status, but for the sake of the “protection umbrella” illustration, I am only going to refer to husbands and wives. While Christ has the authority over husbands, He also has authority over wives. This is especially important to note because some women may not be married to believers, but according to scripture, wives still have to answer to the authority of Christ. Okay, back on track…wives are under the authority of their husbands. It is as simple as that. And how blessed is that position! Not only do I have my Christian husband looking out for my well being, acting as my protector and provider, but I also have Christ! Ephesians 5:22-33 goes on to say that husbands have authority over their wives, as Christ has authority over the church (meaning all believers). Does this mean that husbands are given the go-ahead to boss around their wives and be an oppressor? No! They are to treat their wives the way Christ treats his followers.
So why do I personally choose to submit to my husband’s authority? Well, God, through the Bible tells me to!
But I don’t just blindly do it because I’m told…no, I choose to submit because I genuinely want to. I love and respect my husband, and desire for him to be the leader that God wants him to be. How can he (my husband) do that if I am trying to get my way all the time, bossing him around, calling the shots, “wearing the pants”? Not only do I desire that for him, but I also desire NOT to be in his role. Let’s face it: our husbands have a lot of pressure and responsibility on them. Biblically speaking, they are to be leaders of their home (as I have already mentioned here) but also they are to be providers for their families (1 Timothy 2:8). Personally, I would not want that pressure!
Let me recap so far: I submit to my husband’s authority because it is Biblically mandated, because I want him to be the leader God wants him to be, and because I have no desire to have all the pressures and responsibility he has.
For all of my adult life I have known about marital submission, and would have claimed to practice it as a wife. But within the last year or so I really committed to practicing submission. I can’t recall exactly when, or what spurred it, but I have been consciously making an effort not to usurp my husband’s rightful authority. You may be wondering what exactly that looks like, so allow me to explain it the best I can.
- I am more mindful of my words. Do I look for ways to cause an argument? Am I bent on getting in the last word? Do I use a sarcastic or belittling tone of voice? Am I ensuring that I speak positively of my husband and try to build him up? Do I speak ill of him around others?
- I ask him for suggestions. What meals does he want for the month? When should we complete certain chores or projects at home? Is there any particular task he wants me working on over the weekend?
- I don’t fight to have my way on important decisions. How much money we spend on vehicle repairs. What jobs he is applying for. When major renovations or projects are done at home.
- I look for ways to make his life easier. Organizing the home in a way that makes sense to both of us. Offering to deal with bills so he doesn’t have to. Ensuring the house is always tidy and clean.
In our marriage, we have always respected each other. When I want to make plans with a friend, I never confirm anything until checking with David. I don’t ask for permission, necessarily, (May I please spend time with so-and-so?) but I check to make sure he doesn’t need me to do anything at home, or that he hasn’t made plans for us already. Likewise, when he wants to go on a hunting trip or help a friend with chores, he confirms with me that we have no other plans or commitments. I know that I am very blessed to be under the authority and protection of a husband who does not abuse that position.
This post ended up being quite lengthy, so I appreciate those of you who took the time to read it all. Hopefully you can make sense of my words here! AS I already stated, I KNOW this is an issue dividing many believers. But here is something else I know: my husband and I do not have many issues in our marriage, and I am convinced it is because we respect and recognize each other’s rightful role and the hierarchy of our relationship.