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Submitting under protest is not something I think we should need to use often, (hopefully). But if we strongly disagree about something, then it can be important for us to use this concept.
*** If our husband is asking us to clearly sin or to condone clear sin, then I believe we must have a spirit of submissiveness toward them and toward God (desiring to honor their leadership), but respectfully refuse to cooperate with blatant sin (this is addressed in the post, Spiritual Authority).
*** If your husband is committing severe spiritual, emotional or physical abuse against you, or is actively addicted to drugs/alcohol or has an uncontrolled mental health disorder or is involved in major sin – please seek godly help! This blog and this post are written for wives who tend to dominate, try to control or be in charge and who try to enforce their way on their husbands, not for wives who are victims of severe abuse and I cannot possibly begin to address marriages with severe problems in a general post. You will need godly, experienced help, precious wife!
*** I only write for wives. I don’t write about what husbands should do. I spent 14+ years focusing on what “my husband should do” and that didn’t lead me anywhere good. Submission is something that cannot be forced or coerced, it is something a wife does out of reverence to and obedience for Christ, just like a husband cannot be forced to love his wife. God commands wives to do certain things in marriage and God commands husbands to do certain things in marriage. He does not command husbands to enforce their wives’ respect and submission and He does not command wives to enforce their husbands’ love. I am responsible for my part and for my sin and my obedience to God – that is where my power is in marriage and in my walk with Christ. My husband is responsible for his part, his sin and his obedience to God. (Ephesians 5:22-33)
In submitting under protest – we are not usually being asked to sin or condone clear sin here – we simply disagree, maybe strongly – with our husband’s decision.
Submission in God’s Word is a military concept – similar to the First Mate on a ship and the Captain. The Captain is ultimately in charge, yes, but it is the First Mate’s duty and responsibility to share her wisdom, ideas, perspective and concerns respectfully. Ultimately, the Captain has the authority and responsibility to make the final call on a decision. The First Mate can share her concerns and then can “submit under protest” if she does not agree with the Captain’s decision.
How does that work?
A wife presents her feelings, her desires, her concerns and her perspective respectfully – which is her duty and responsibility if she feels strongly about something (A Husband’s Authority and a Wife’s Authority in Marriage). If the husband still does not agree with her after she has shared all of the relevant and necessary information she has, she calmly shares with her husband that she will submit to him out of reverence and respect for him and for God’s Word – but that she does not agree. Then she supports her husband, prays for God’s will and trusts God’s sovereignty.
Some theoretical examples to prayerfully consider – but keep in mind – nothing takes the place of seeking God for ourselves and hearing and obeying His voice:
- If a husband believes the family should move to another state for him to take a job, for example, and the wife does not want to go. She can say, “I am excited for you about your job offer. I want to support you in every way I can with your career. I know this promotion means a lot to you. I am REALLY proud of you for landing this opportunity! I am feeling sad about the idea of moving. I really would rather stay here for the following reasons…” But if her husband decides this is what would ultimately be best for the family, if the wife strongly disagrees with this decision, she can say, “I will submit to you out of reverence for your position of God-given authority in our family and out of reverence for Christ. I am submitting under protest. However, I will support you, I will trust you and cheerfully cooperate with your decision and will do everything I can to bless and empower you to do what you believe is best for us.”
- If a husband believes that they should discipline their child in a certain way, and the wife strongly disagrees, she can say, “I believe this would be the best route for us to use to handle this situation and here is why…” But then if the husband still disagrees, she can say, “Out of respect for your God-given authority in our family, I will honor and submit to your decision, knowing you are ultimately accountable and responsible before God for this decision, not me. I don’t agree with this course of action, so I am submitting under protest – but you have my full support and willing cooperation. I pray for God to give you His wisdom. I want to do everything I can to stand with you in unity in front of our child.”
Here is a real life example I received about this concept yesterday:
This was me for the first six years of our marriage. I was so prideful and wanted my way and there were times my husband became passive and unplugged. He recently shared with me that He did this to avoid me exploding, it was just easier to let me have my way. BUT there were also many times he would respond in anger and now I see why, my disrespect was crushing him and no man wants their authority usurped.
GOD has been so faithful to convict me of my sins cleanse me and fill me with His Spirit and enable me to respond in gentleness and kindness. This is huge I never thought my husband and I could have a conversation without yelling sadly I accepted this as normal Praise God for His word and this blog.
Just this past weekend I had a chance to apply this. Since beginning this journey God has showed me how my daughter has begun to pick up on my controlling and prideful attitude toward God given authority. LADIES THIS IS SO SERIOUS. We are training our children how to respect authority as they see the way we interact with our husbands. they will learn by watching us more than anything else.
Well since I have stepped down as the main disciplinarian and let my husband lead in this area, he has really stepped up to the plate. I thank Him so much though I still correct and discipline my kids I’m not carrying the whole responsibility alone and it feels wonderful.
This weekend my eldest kept getting in trouble for her disrespect toward her father. After one particular incident he sent her out of the room and was preparing to discipline her in a way I felt was unnecessary for a certain offense and she had been in trouble all day.
When she was completely out if ear shot I asked him if he had a second to talk and explained how I felt. He listened to me told me thank you but he felt that He was gonna handle the situation the way He felt led. He was able to do this because he has begun to feel it is safe to disagree With me now. Though it was hard I submitted and trusted God. I may not be right, just because he doesn’t do things My way doesn’t mean it’s wrong.
Later that day my daughter came to us with tears and her eyes and said she thanked us because she knows we discipline her because we love her. WOW what fruit I would have missed out on if I would have continued to fight my husband on this. And we have seen such a dramatic change in our children respecting both of us since I began to respect and submit to my husband like Christ desires.
- If a husband decides, “We are not going to visit my family/your family this year for Christmas. They are a toxic influence on our family, and I don’t want our family to have to endure that.” A wife may disagree. She may say, “I really want us to try to go to visit our family. I hate for there to be conflict and for us not to be speaking to anyone in X family. I wish we could try to reconcile with them and have peace. I am so sad to think we might not go.” But then if the husband says, “I believe this is something we have to do this year. I know it is hard, but I believe this is the right thing to do to not go.” A wife can pray for God to give her and her husband wisdom. She can pray for reconciliation between the families. She can say to her husband, “I don’t agree with your decision. But I do respect you and your leadership. I respect your decision. I am sad about it, but I will submit to you under protest. I will cooperate with you and do all that I can to stand with you on this decision and to make Christmas a blessing for you and our children. Thank you for wanting to protect us. Thank you for your leadership and for doing what you believe is best for us.”
This would be usually a one time thing for a wife to say to her husband. After that, he knows her feelings and concerns. There is usually no need to bring things up again. Then she will trust God to work in his heart and to direct his path.
If God is not pleased with what the husband is doing – He is able to change her husband’s mind and heart. He can convict people – we cannot. He can change people. We cannot. It is extremely important for me to “get” that I am not the Holy Spirit for my husband!
Sometimes husbands will make mistakes – in those moments, we have the incredible opportunity to bless them and offer grace – to not rub it in their faces, but to show faith that they will do better in the future and that we trust them to learn and grow and we will continue to stand beside them in support and respect. Sometimes, it will turn out that the husband was actually listening to God – but as wives, we will only be able to see that in hindsight. This is where we trust God’s sovereignty and trust Him to lead us through our husbands.
E.V. Hill’s funeral service for his wife – what an incredibly godly example of a wife who blessed, protected, respected and honored her husband. I pray ALL of our husbands might be able to have such praise for us when our life on this earth is over. (Please listen to the first 4.5 minutes in particular)