Biblical Submission

This blog will be most relatable for wives who tend to be strong willed/in charge whose husbands are passive.

If your husband is controlling or you are more passive – many things I talk about will still apply (God’s Word always applies)- but you may have to approach some of the practical issues from a different angle.  It IS possible to be TOO submissive and TOO respectful. This blog may not be as helpful for you. If you have serious marriage issues like addictions, abuse, uncontrolled mental health disorders or infidelity  -please seek godly, experienced help. I am not able to address these kinds of extreme issues here and I do not have experience with these situations.

I only write for wives – I don’t write for husbands. A husband cannot force or demand his wife to respect him and submit to him any more than a wife can demand that her husband love her. She must do this willingly and voluntarily out of her love and respect and obedience to Christ.

PLEASE!  Always compare everything I say to God’s Word!  My wisdom is useless.  Only God’s truth is valuable.  Please prayerfully evaluate everything any human says and weigh it against Scripture.


“Not My will, but Yours be done!”

This is the essence of biblical submission.  These were the words of Christ, Himself, within hours of His betrayal and then His crucifixion.  If ANYONE in the universe had a reason for wanting to find another way for people to be made right with God – it was Jesus Christ.  He asked God sincerely, urgently, with anguish – if this “cup” (of crucifixion) could pass from Him.   But He chose to submit to God the Father for our benefit, yes, but primarily because He loved His Father – so He obeyed and submitted Himself to God the Father.

“Submission” in the sense that God uses it in the Bible is a concept that began in the Trinity – in a relationship of Equals.  Jesus is not inferior in any way to God the Father.  They are One.  The Father has the position of authority, the Son honors His Father’s authority.  He is not a second class citizen, a slave or of less value than the Father.  In fact, His willingness to submit to and honor His Father leads to His own glory later.


It’s the Great Exchange.  He exchanges our spiritual poverty for His spiritual riches, our death and punishment for His life and victory.  He gave up ALL for us.  And He desires all of us – men and women – to be willing to give up ALL for Him – to submit to Him, to surrender to Him as Lord and to obey Him.  That is how we show our gratitude and love for Him.  He won’t force it on us.  It has to be our free choice and gift to give our lives to Him.  He died for us willingly, now it is up to us to live for Him willingly.  Both sides of this holy covenant relationship are gifts, freely given to the other.  Both commit their all.

As Christians, we are all part of the bride of Christ.

Marriage is to be a living parable of the intimate, one-spirit relationship between Christ and His beloved church – His people, those who know Him, love Him and serve Him as Lord.

Christ knows what it means to submit to the authority of God.  He submitted to God FIRST, then He became the Head of all things, including His body of believers, His church.  He is our example.  THAT IS LOVE.  That is what the love of a husband is meant to be for his wife.


Our primary relationship of submission/authority is between ourselves as believers and Christ – that is true for all believers. This is why we call Him, LORD.

I cannot MAKE or FORCE my husband (or anyone) to submit to Christ – whether he already claims to be a believer or not.  That is a free decision to be made by each individual.  I cannot control him.  I can influence my husband to want to obey God by my own willingness to obey God and my own humility.  I can pray for him.  But I cannot control or change him.

  • A husband cannot force his wife to submit to him or respect him.
  • God does not command husbands to enforce their wives’ submission and respect.
  •  A wife cannot force her husband to love her as Christ loves the church or in the specific ways she desires him to love her.
  •  God does not command wives to enforce their husbands’ selfless love.
  •  A wife cannot force her husband to lead in marriage.  She can step down out of the way and wait for him to lead and give him encouragement.
  • Each husband and each wife decide willingly and voluntarily whether they will obey God and meet his/her spouse’s needs or not – independently of what their spouse does or does not do.

I can only control  my own obedience to God’s Word, not my husband’s.   Christ-like love, submission, godly leadership, respect – the ingredients of a healthy, godly marriage spring from each person’s heart voluntarily out of our reverence and obedience to Christ.


Husbands are called first to submit themselves to Christ – as are all believers.

It is only when a man is under the authority of Christ and submits himself, his desires, his plans and his dreams to God’s desires, plans and dreams – that he can truly lead his wife in a godly way that most honors Christ, brings glory to the gospel and benefits his wife and family.  All believers are also called to submit to government authorities and church leadership as well as managers/bosses in the business world.

God can and does use even unbelieving husbands to lead believing wives.  Wives with unbelieving husbands are still to obey God’s commands for them to respect and submit to their husbands.  I Peter 3:1-6 specifically addresses this situation.

A godly husband is willing to say to God, “Not my will, but Yours be done in my marriage, in my family, in every aspect of my life, Lord!”

Note Solomon’s prayer when he became king of Israel and God invited him to ask for anything he wished.

“Now, Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguishbetween right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?”

10 The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. I Kings 3

The response of a godly man to being in a position of God-given authority is humility – not arrogance or pride.


Wives have parallel roles.  I learn to submit to Christ and I learn to submit to my husband.

Ultimately, my submission is primarily to Christ, not my husband.

The reason I follow the leadership of my husband is out of reverence, respect and submission of my life to my Lord, Jesus Christ – not because my husband “deserves it” in my estimation.

Many people get upset about the concept of “submission.”  And, sadly, this word has been used to describe so many derogatory situations and such outright perversion today, that it has almost completely lost its original implications on our culture.  Sometimes I wish we could use a different word for this concept altogether!  Submission has nothing to do with a person’s value, oppression or slavery.  Jesus and God are equal, but Christ submitted to God out of love.

In the Bible, “submission” is similar to the concept of the Captain and the First Mate on a ship.

It’s a military term that connotes ranking oneself under a higher authority.  This doesn’t mean that one person is more valuable than the other, or that one doesn’t need to use his brain or do any work.  No!  They both have a long list of critical roles and responsibilities. But the Captain has ultimate responsibility and accountability for the decisions and consequences.  It is the First Mate’s duty to give the Captain her perspective and her wisdom and ideas respectfully whenever time allows.  But then she supports the ultimate decision the captain makes and communicates that to those beneath her in the chain of command.  Neither the First Mate nor the Captain are to “dress down” the other in front of those under their command (same concept with a husband and wife not criticizing or undermining each other in front of the children).  If they disagree, the disagreement is handled privately, and they present a united front to the crew.

God is a God of order and when He places God-given authority over us – it is always for our protection,  for our provision, for our sanity and to give us peace and joy.   Husbands are the ones who will stand accountable for the decisions and well-being of their families before God one day. God’s ways are higher than my ways!  And the foolishness of God is higher than man’s wisdom.

A godly wife has the attitude toward Christ, “Not my will, but yours be done.”   She desires God’s will above her own.  Her intimacy and relationship with Christ and her husband are MUCH more valuable to her than getting her way about a certain decision.

She can and should express her feelings, desires, concerns and thoughts to God and her husband – these are both deeply intimate relationships of oneness.  But once she has expressed herself, she trusts that her Lord Jesus is big and powerful enough to lead her through her  man. She doesn’t want to stand in the way of God’s leading in her husband’s life.  She cooperates with God’s leading and is willing to say, “Yes!” to God and to her husband.  Ultimately, her faith is in Christ.  But because she has great faith in Jesus, she is able to show great faith in her husband.


My understanding of Ephesians 5:22-33 is that a wife submits to her husband IN THE LORD.  The Bible teacher I studied under at my church teaches that it is a principle of the doctrine of spiritual authority in the Bible that if a spiritual authority attempts to force a believer to severely violate God’s commands, we  “must obey God rather than men.” Acts 5:29

But, if we choose to obey God rather than men, we must be prepared for the consequences of our actions.  Some examples of this are Daniel, who refused to bow to the king’s idol, and faced the lion’s den and his three friends who refused to worship the king and were thrown into the fiery furnace.  The apostles all refused to stop preaching in the Name of Christ, and 11 of them were martyred, all of them we severely persecuted by the Jewish religious authorities.

Resisting our husband’s God-given authority does not mean we will experience capital punishment, thankfully, in most parts of the world…  

Let’s seek to be really sure that we are in line with scripture before we decide to go against our husbands’ God-given authority.  

I would certainly not personally resist my husband for something minor like how to calculate a tithe.  I would personally have to believe my husband was asking me to commit very egregious sin for me to be willing to refuse to submit to him.  Such a situation has never happened in 5 years in our marriage since I have been practicing biblical  submission.

Ultimately, each of us will answer to God for our obedience to Him.  Be VERY SURE you are operating in obedience to Christ before you consider going against your husband.  Read God’s Word.  Pray. Study it.  Understand the possible consequences.  No one answers to me!  We will each stand accountable to God one day and we will be responsible for each decision we have made.  Only God’s authority is absolute.  Every human God-given authority has been given his/her authority by God to be used for God’s will and His purposes. (

  • If my husband asks me to blatantly defy God’s Word and clearly sin – then my understanding is – I must obey God rather than my husband.  That is my husband’s understanding as well.  He is totally on board with me teaching this subject in this manner.  I made sure I am submitting to his authority on this issue!   (Acts 5:1-11 a wife followed her husband into sin. Both were killed by God.)  ie: if he says to kill, steal, commit idolatry, have an abortion, commit adultery, lie, do something illegal, molest children, cover up a crime for him, lust with him by watching porn, have a threesome, worship him as god … I believe I would have to refuse and obey God instead.  This should only be in very rare cases, hopefully.
  • God holds our husbands accountable for their leadership, love, gentleness and selflessness and He holds us accountable for our respect, biblical submission and obedience to the commands He gives to us.  We will each stand accountable to God for any time we resist our husbands’ God given authority.  Tread very carefully and reverently here!  God’s Word says that those who disobey God given authorities bring judgment on themselves.  (Romans 13:1  Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.)
  • If it is just that I don’t agree with him, or it is a difference of interpretation in Scripture –  I share my heart, my perspective and feelings and then trust God to lead him to make the best decision.  Just because I don’t agree with my husband does not necessarily mean he is wrong.   But even if my husband is wrong, that is not an excuse for me not to obey God’s Word to submit to my husband’s leadership.  God is still SO SOVEREIGN that He can use even my husband’s mistakes to bring about His will in my life.
  • Submission does not mean I must agree with my husband and change my mind and not have my own opinion.  If I always agreed – that wouldn’t be submission, now, would it?  I am my husband’s most important advisor, and he cherishes my ideas, feelings, insights and suggestions as I respect him and cooperate with him.
  • We as humans are not in a position to always be able to see clearly what decision “is right” at a given time.  Our wisdom and vision is flawed.  Only God can see the whole picture.  God may move upon my husband to make a decision that I don’t like at the time – but I may see later that God was in it.  Submission to God and to our husbands is a HUGE test of our faith!

Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding  Proverbs 3:5


The amazing thing is that as my husband witnesses my joy and peace in Christ, and my faith in Christ – which also begins to be faith in him as a husband – he is empowered to become a more godly husband!  A wife’s respect, admiration and willing cooperation with her husband’s leadership POWERFULLY motivates her husband to love her with the love of Christ, to desire to hear God’s voice more clearly and to begin to lay down his life for her with a servant’s heart.

There is no guarantee my husband will change.  I must trust God with the results and the timing and allow Him to work in my husband as I focus on allowing Him to change ME.  Then I am out of God’s way so that my husband can much more clearly hear His voice.


Show us Your beautiful design for marriage!  Rebuild our understanding of marriage on the foundation of Christ and Your Word alone!   Help us to be willing to die to ourselves, to crucify our own sinful nature and take up our cross daily and follow You, Jesus!



Do I Condone BDSM or “Christian Domestic Discipline?”

Do I Condone Marital Rape or Abuse?

The Doctrine of Spiritual Authority

Biblical Submission Does Not = The Husband is Always Right

A Real Life Example of Respect and Submission

How Respect and Submission Impacted a Husband’s Soul

Biblical Submission – a Huge Key to Peace

A Wife’s Authority and a Husband’s Authority in Marriage

Confronting Our Husbands about Their Sin

A Wife Can be TOO Submissive!

Biblical Submission is Not Passivity (or Slavery)

My Husband Referred Me to Your Site – What a Jerk!

60 Comments on “Biblical Submission”

  1. MARIE
    April 12, 2013 at 1:29 pm #

    Yeah, so many women that fuss about this are: 1) Biblically illiterate on the subject, 2) Not qualified to enter the conversation because they are unregenerate and non-believing or anti-churc or anti-man activists, 3) controlling, 4) caught in the emotional thicket of past abuse by some man or men (sad).

    • peacefulwife
      April 12, 2013 at 1:39 pm #


      I know it is impossible for the world to see it – but God’s design brings such freedom, peace and joy. It’s definitely the opposite of what our sinful natures want to do – but obedience to God always brings power, joy and abundant spiritual life.

      Thanks for your comment!

  2. Tim Shey
    May 2, 2013 at 3:45 pm #

    Here is another angle on submission. I used to work at a lumber yard in Ames, Iowa years ago. For five years, I worked for the best foreman on the planet: he was hard-working and had great leadership skills. Then that foreman left the lumber yard for another job. Then I had to work for the worst foreman I had ever met: he was lazy and had no leadership skills whatsoever.

    I soon began to think that maybe I should quit that lumber yard and go to the yard up the street. Then I realized that the Lord put me in that particular lumber yard and that I wasn’t working for the lumber yard, but for the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. My attitude changed drastically. I worked there for another four years until the Lord told me to quit and do something else.

    We need to really submit and surrender our lives to Christ for everything else in our lives to fall in place.

    • peacefulwife
      May 2, 2013 at 3:53 pm #

      Exactly! I talk about that a lot. First we submit completely to Christ. And because we love and respect Him – we submit to those in authority over us, trusting God to lead us through them and serving them with all our hearts as to the Lord – not men. When we have no idols in our hearts and we truly seek Him with all that we are and all that we have and lay ourselves at His feet every day – that is the best place to be in the world!!!

    • peacefulwife
      May 2, 2013 at 3:58 pm #


      I would love to use this example in a post if that is ok with you!

      • Tim Shey
        May 2, 2013 at 4:05 pm #

        Yeah, go ahead; that’s okay with me.

  3. Mediatrix
    June 15, 2014 at 11:38 pm #

    God bless you and increase your wisdom in marital write ups as this is blessing lives and even causing people to make a u turn in their marriages.It has opened my eyes and with the help of the scripture which is our manual I have a deeper understanding of what God wants from us. Though hasn’t been an easy one to respect my husband but I have a sincere desire to walk in the part of respecting him just because I love God and I want to live life in Christ and every aspect of my life including marriage should portray christ like and with God by my side and the help of the holy spirit I pray that will be my lifestyle without struggle

  4. Abi
    September 28, 2014 at 7:47 pm #

    Thank you so much for your blog which I have followed intermittently for the last year. You are such a blessing. I find myself running to different segments of your website depending what I am facing in marriage at the time. Please keep up the great work. I have a quick question for you.. do you have any marriage daily devotionals for couples that you can recommend at all?

  5. Our Christian Walk In Faith
    January 21, 2015 at 8:43 am #

    I really found your articles to be informative and lifting. May God bless you always.

  6. Betsy Holt
    January 28, 2015 at 4:24 pm #

    “Partner abuse has been found NOT to exist in societies where males and females have EQUAL power.” Lundy Bancroft, Why Does He Do That? I believe we must strive for equality both personally and as a society.

    • Peacefulwife
      January 28, 2015 at 6:38 pm #

      Betsy Holt,
      Thanks for sharing! It is a pleasure to meet you. :)

      Great news! In God’s design, men and women (and all people) have equal value and are equally precious in His sight. We are all “made in the image of God” Genesis 2. And we are all of equal worth – Galatians 3:28. It is only the roles that are different. We all have equal access to God when we are in Christ and we all have equal access to the power of heaven on our knees.

      God’s design is that husbands are to represent Christ and wives are to represent the church. But ALL believers are to be fully submitted to Christ as Lord. When a husband is submitted to Christ, it is not a dangerous thing for a wife to trust his leadership. AND, wives have the power to pray and seek God’s wisdom, power, guidance, sovereignty, and intervention if wives do disagree with their husbands. Wives also have a responsibility NOT to follow their husbands into clear sin. Also, if a husband is not in his right mind, a wife might not be able to safely honor his leadership. If a husband is truly abusive, the wife may need to separate until he is in right relationship with God or until he is willing to live in a gentle way with her.

      The key here, is that the wife is in Christ. Her faith and submission is ultimately not about her husband, but about her faith and trust and submission to Jesus. There is Someone with infinitely greater power and authority to whom the husband answers and to whom the wife can appeal. If a husband rebels against God, God can and does discipline such husbands.

      Because the husband and wife are to be in Christ, they DO both have equal power. Actually, a spouse who has Jesus and His power and His Spirit has all of the resources of heaven at his/her disposal – which could be an “unfair” advantage over an unbelieving spouse. But, one who is living for Jesus is going to seek the greatest good of the other spouse. They are one. What hurts one, hurts both. What helps one, helps both. They are a team.

      Much love!

  7. Red Bible
    July 4, 2015 at 12:17 am #

    My sister’s been abused by her spouse for over 20 years. He references your site (and others on this topic) to justify his abuse. He does not read in context what you write about and point to in scripture. I feel terribly for my sister that Christians words can be twisted so cruelly and be used as the means to torment her daily. This site, along with countless others, has led her to fear church and Christians entirely over the years, she’s feeling safest when alone and in prayer. She reads the scripture references and feels helpless to her spouse’s abuse, because she is a believer and is constantly ‘reminded by him/the husband’ that SHE MUST SUBMIT…. the rest of the scripture goes blurry or something. I don’t know. I pray that as men are reading this – they are convicted deeply of how wrong it is to use God’s word to justify their crimes against spouses.

    • Peacefulwife
      July 4, 2015 at 7:02 am #

      Red Bible,

      This completely breaks my heart!!!! Thank you so much for writing to me. No one ever deserves to be abused. God does not condone abuse – and I do not condone abuse!!!!! Are you talking about specifically about physical abuse – or are there other kinds going on, as well?

      Has she read the posts I have for wives whose husbands are abusive?

      Has she read my hundreds of disclaimers for wives that if they are being abused, it may not be safe to submit to their husbands and they may need to get appropriate help and get somewhere safe?

      Please search my home page for “abuse” and “abusive.” I don’t want ANY woman to be unsafe in her own home. I want her to get the help she needs!

      Also, please read the post “Spiritual Authority” at the top of my home page to see what one of the ministers of my church says about husbands being abusive and how wives are to respond – I believe it is toward the bottom of that post. But you can also see how husbands are supposed to lead – and it is NEVER harshly or abusively – always humbly, gently, lovingly, and selflessly.

      Please encourage her to seek help to get somewhere safe if she is not safe!

      I don’t ever want a husband to twist my words to justify sin or abuse. That upsets me more than I could possibly express! Husbands are NEVER commanded to demand or force their wives’ submission. They are only commanded to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her and to be gentle with their wives so that their prayers will be heard by God. Submission is something a wife gives freely out of her love and obedience to Christ. And if her husband is truly abusing her and she is not safe, she has a responsibility to leave. No husband is ever the ultimate or absolute authority, Christ is the ultimate and absolute authority!

      PLEASE share this with her and know that I do not condone any husband being abusive in any way or sinning against his wife in any way, nor do I condone abusive husbands to use my words at all!

      Do I Condone Abuse?
      Why Don’t I Write for Wives with Abusive Husbands?


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