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April - 01-2010

Biblical Submission Is Not Passivity

April - 01-2010
April – 01-2010

There seems to be so much confusion around the concept of biblical submission for wives. I’d like to discuss today something that biblical submission is not because a number of women think they hear me say that biblical submission means passivity:

  • I shouldn’t ever say how I feel or what I want.
  • I should have no opinions.
  • I should never disagree with my husband.
  • I should never share my insights, perspective, wisdom, or concerns with my husband.
  • I should be quiet all the time.
  • I should smile all the time.
  • I should let my husband decide everything in our marriage without any input from me whatsoever.

I am completely heartbroken to think that ANY wife would ever live like this!

This is not biblical submission. For a wife to give up all of her ideas, her personality, her influence, her identity, her personhood, her emotions, and her input would be complete passivity and inactivity – not biblical submission. I am not sure how I can be more clear than this. I don’t know ANY healthy husband who would want his wife to act like this. All of the remotely decent husbands who comment here want wives who can think and feel and be intelligent partners with them.

Instead of passivity, biblical submission means:

In our own human strength, apart from Christ, the best we can do as men or women is to be passive and uninvolved or dominant and controlling. We tend to swing from one sinful extreme to another. But there is this place in the center where we can soar far above human ability as God’s Spirit empowers us. That is where we must be as godly men and women – in the center of God’s design for masculinity or femininity.

John Piper (pastor) and Wayne Grudem (general editor of the ESV version of the Bible) define submission in marriage inΒ Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood:

“Submission refers to a wife’s divine calling to honor and affirm her husband’s leadership and help carry it through according to her gifts. It is not an absolute surrender of her will. Rather, we speak of her disposition to yield to her husband’s guidance and her inclination to follow his leadership. Christ is her absolute authority, not the husband. She submits “out of reverence for Christ” (Eph. 5:21). The supreme authority of Christ qualifies the authority of her husband. She should never follow her husband into sin. Nevertheless, even when she may have to stand with Christ against the sinful will of her husband… she can still have a spirit of submission – a disposition to yield. She can show by her attitude and behavior that she does not like resisting his will and that she longs for him to forsake sin and lead in righteousness so that her disposition to honor him as head can again produce harmony.” (pg. 61)

Real biblical submission begins when a believer (man or woman) yields control of his/her life fully to Christ as Lord.

We die to our old sinful self. We die to sin. We die to wanting our will more than anything else. Then we are living for Christ through His power in us. We embrace and promote His will. We become His ambassadors. We allow Him to love through us. We allow Him to influence and bless others through us. We take up His desires, His priorities, His goals, His wisdom, His heart, His mind, His power, and His Spirit. Christ allows us to keep our personalities, our personhood, our human emotions, our own free will, and our own thoughts and opinions. We do not become mindless robots. We do not unplug and sit like an abandoned, unplugged, old computer in a closet. We are intelligent, emotional, spiritual beings who are able to think on our own – but we willingly yield our lives to Christ, trusting Him to lead us through our husbands.

  • When He prompts us to be quiet and pray – that is what we do.
  • When He prompts us to speak up respectfully, that is what we do.

From this position of great strength in Christ, we submit to our husbands.

This means, we honor their God-given leadership and we treat them with genuine respect because they are our husbands and because God commands that we do this. We do it to honor Christ above all else. The main time that submission is an issue is if a husband and wife cannot agree. In fact, if we always agreed, there would be no need for submission. But we will not always agree – which is why submission is necessary in marriage – in order for one person to be ultimately accountable to God for the decisions and management of the family.

When I don’t agree with Greg, I share the issues I have respectfully as God prompts me to – and then I let Greg know that I trust him to make the best decision for our family as I pray for God to direct him and give him His wisdom. Ultimately, my trust is in Christ Jesus and His sovereignty to work in our lives – not in Greg. God’s wisdom is worthy of all of my trust. (By the way, there are plenty of things a biblically submissive wife will decide on her own, within the parameters of the loving leadership of Christ and her husband. She doesn’t need to run every single possible issues past her husband, usually just the bigger ones that they agree on.)

We are to share our concerns, our ideas, our feelings, our perspective, our wisdom, our desires, and our perspective with our husbands. We have “influence authority” just like a king’s advisor has. The king has “positional authority” and his advisor has “influence authority.” I may choose to use my influence authority to influence my husband to sin – like Eve did. Or I may choose to use my influence authority for God and to bring praise and glory to God like Esther did with the king, her husband.

It would be tragic for me to take the abilities and influence God has given me and bury it all in the dirt and do absolutely nothing with it. No! May it never be!!!

We are accountable to God to use the gifts, talents, abilities, and opportunities He has given us for His purposes and His glory. We are His servants and He expects us to influence our husbands for Christ and to shine for Jesus in our homes.Β Check out Proverbs 31 to see how industrious, intelligent, capable, wise, thoughtful, and useful a godly wife is supposed to be. We are responsible for our own spiritual growth in Christ. We are responsible for our own emotions. Β We are responsible for our own sin and our own obedience to Christ Jesus.

We cannot shine for Christ if we lay down and become completely passive and do nothing. What is the purpose of us even being there if we are not being godly stewards of the position God has given to us as wives and mothers?

I hope that this might help to clarify some of the confusion some ladies have had and prevent women from attempting to become passive, inactive, and invisible in their homes and relationships.

Much love to each of you!

RELATED:

Submission is not CDD or BDSM

Submission Does Not Mean the Husband Is Always Right

Submission Does Not Mean Being a Doormat

Confronting Our Husbands about Their Sin

Godly Femininity

Godly Spiritual Leadership

What Is Biblical Submission?

How Respect and Biblical Submission Impacted a Husband’s Soul

Submission (to Christ) Means Holding Things of This World Loosely

Does Being a Biblically Submissive Wife Mean I Can’t Share How I Feel or What I Need?

A Wife Can Be TOO Submissive!

My Beliefs about Marriage – The Danvers Statement

70 thoughts on “Biblical Submission Is Not Passivity

  1. Reblogged this on Peaceful Single Girl and commented:

    Single women are not commanded to submit to their boyfriends or fiances. There was no such thing as dating in biblical times. But as you think about preparing to submit to a man in the future, if you believe God calls you to marry – this is a really critical issue. I want women to understand what biblical submission IS and what it IS NOT.

    Much love!

  2. This was incredibly clarifying to me. This is probably my number one struggle in my marriage – attempting submission only to drive my husband crazy because I won’t give my opinion or ask for help. It’s definitely backfired on me in the past.

  3. I just don’t understand how when I am being respectful and godly the correct way, as stated above, my husband like worships the ground I walk on, but if I have an off day or do something or say something disrespectful, many times without even knowing it was disrespectful, he turns into this unloving, rude jerk?
    Doesn’t that mean his love for me is conditional – based upon how I act. Yet I am supposed to be respectful and kind even when he is not. (which I understand is right out of submission to Christ) but It seems he has a hard time being loving to me when he feels I don’t deserve it and that tells me he does not do it out of reverence for Christ. What does this show me about my husbands relationship with Christ?

    1. Sara B.,

      Your husband is human. Just like you are. He is not going to respond perfectly unless he is filled with the power of God’s Spirit every time you mess up – just like you won’t always respond perfectly to him when he messes up.

      Your respect motivates his love. His love motivates your respect.

      Dr. Emerson Eggerichs, in Love and Respect, describes the Crazy Cycle – which is what you are talking about. When a wife responds to her husband disrespectfully (even unintentionally), her disrespect triggers a knee jerk unloving reaction in him. His unloving reaction triggers a knee jerk disrespectful reaction in his wife – and round and round they go until someone stops reacting and focusing on his/her own needs and begins to give the spouse what that person needs.

      He is accountable to God to love you unconditionally and to demonstrate the love, humility, and leadership of Christ to you just like you are accountable to respect and love him unconditionally. He will be accountable to God for every sinful thought, motive, word, and deed – as will you.

      I vote to focus on the only person you can control – yourself. Let’s trust the Holy Spirit to work in your husband. Our husbands are not better than we are. We are not better than they are. They are fallen people, too, in desperate need of Christ. God’s Spirit does the convicting and the changing. That is not our job. You focus on obeying Christ yourself – that will get you out of God’s way to work in your husband’s heart for His glory. Let’s be really careful about judging our husbands’ relationships with Christ. It is easy to listen to the enemy’s accusations against our husbands in our minds and to join the enemy in accusing our husbands and criticizing them and looking down on them in pride. Dangerous territory!!!

      None of us will be completely perfect until heaven. We will all have many opportunities to demonstrate grace, mercy, and forgiveness to one another. And we will all need plenty of grace, mercy, and forgiveness, as well. The goal is to allow Christ to change us and to transform us to be more and more like Himself.

      “Why Do I Have to Change First?”

    2. Although I have a blog and name, I wish to be anonymous in this case due to the delicacy of the subject. Thank you, PeacefulWife.

      It’s like the days when things just go out of hand, and those days occur — like right now I have a three year old I’m trying to potty train. Three accidents yesterday, all of them on carpeting, and all of them really — well, you know. Things just got out of hand and dinner wasn’t ready on time. Best thing to do, keep your mouth shut and block out the storm. Pretend it’s not happening. If it gets really bad and you start shuddering — that’s what happens to me because I have a TERRIBLE fear of angry voices — block ears immediately and RUN for a closet or some place where you can shut the door and get away from him. They just don’t understand and they won’t get it, there is absolutely no point in engaging with them regarding whatever may have happened that day. Doing so will only escalate the situation and may make it get very, very ugly.

      Now, this is only my experience, but finding the balance between sweet submission and self-preservation can be tricky. The key is knowing your own husband and what can set off a firestorm. I know a lot of women can shrug off a tempestuous husband, but I can’t. I have nightmares and flashbacks to times when he lost his temper; one time he complained that all I could remember were the bad times. That’s not entirely true, but the bad times terrorized me and I have a memory of them from years back. Events, vacations, etc. are colored by the events that literally terrorized me. Most of these events are events that a lot of women probably would just brush over, shrug off and say are no big deal, such as your husband losing his temper and yelling for an hour. But for me — that is a traumatic experience that I have had to get very specific therapy for in order to simply sleep at night. I would flashback in a nightmare, wake up in a sweat and never sleep the rest of the night, pacing the floor.

      He now realizes it, and it’s obvious he’s uncomfortable when around me, because being from the background he is all the men had tempers, all the men yelled a lot, and even the women were loud, too. He was used to “in your face”. I avoid too many discussions where we might disagree because automatically his voice level rises and I start to shake. I just can’t handle it. So we try to work out a compromise and just avoid topics that could potentially spark any disagreement.

      1. Anonymous,

        The balance requires the power of God’s Spirit – it is certainly not something any of us can manufacture on our own.

        I wonder if it could be possible that you may allow your husband too much power over you when he yells? I hate being yelled at, too. I totally understand your reaction. I have been yelled at a lot by patients in retail pharmacy – and I can remember when I first started in pharmacy, I would just shake and want to cry and run out of the building. Now – I have a different perspective.

        I used to be a people pleaser (Here is a post about that.) I used to think that I was responsible for other people’s emotions and they were responsible for mine. I didn’t understand healthy boundaries.

        So I thought if I was “nice enough” and “friendly enough” that I could make people like me and not get mad at me. What I didn’t understand is that we are each responsible for our own emotions. And some people are carrying a load of hatred, anger, bitterness, rage, and all kinds of spiritual and emotional mess in their hearts all the time. If something doesn’t go their way, they are always ready to just dump all that garbage on anyone who gets in their way. It wasn’t about me. I couldn’t have prevented them from doing that – unless I made a mistake. But even then – a person doesn’t have to scream and cuss and make threats to get their point across.

        One time I actually went outside of the pharmacy and sat down beside a woman with major mental illness and heart and blood pressure problems who was cussing me out. I said calmly, “I want to help you. I will do anything I can to take care of your prescription needs. I care about you. I care about your health. But I need you to show me some respect, please.” So weird. She was my best friend after that and I was her favorite pharmacist. She hugged me every time she saw me after that moment.

        If you can realize that the yelling and screaming isn’t really about you – it is about his relationship with God – you can detach yourself from it. If he had the Holy Spirit in control rather than the flesh, he would have love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, patience, and self-control. If he doesn’t have that fruit of God’s Spirit – that is not about you. You can do things that hurt him or aggravate him, yes. But the way he treats you is a tangible indicator of his love for God. (Check out 1 John 2 and 4, as well as John 14:23-24.)

        You can also search for “conflict” on my home page for other posts, as well.

        Praying for wisdom for you! I don’t believe that avoiding every possible sensitive topic is the answer.

        Much love to you!

        1. Anonymous,

          I hope to have a post this Thursday about how God inspired one wife to deal with her husband when he was yelling and very angry – and in the wrong.

          Another great resource is Sacred Influence – by Gary Thomas. He devotes several chapters to wives who have husbands with anger issues and yelling issues and talks about how the wives learned to handle that in a godly way.

          Much love!

      2. fwiw sounds a little bit like my Dad. He would yell a lot. He had (and still has) a way, for example, of asking you to do something for the first time with an agitated/accusative tone as if it was the tenth time he asked.

        In my early twenties I confronted him about yelling a few times. One of the last times he said, “I can’t change who I am!”

        I just said, “so you’re saying, ‘I can’t be asked not to yell at people.'”

        He was quiet after I said that. I never heard him yell since then (and we still interact for various reasons). He still gets agitated and impatient but it’s remarkable that after being confronted enough times it sure seems like a big change happen.

        Other times when he still had an agitated tone I’d kind of mirror his message without the anger–like I ignored the attack. In general sometimes ignoring garbage communicates to others that it’s not working and they quit. “Oh, you wanted me to do this because . . . ” in a clam tone of voice that communicates that no hostility was really necessary. :

        The sad thing is that there’s a lot underneath behavior but my Dad is the kind of person who isn’t inclined to examine behaviors, meditate and examine himself. Like if I got angry and agitated (working things out personally these days like I used to after long battles), I’d pause and think: “okay, why did I just do that?” I’d stop and search myself–having a hard time going through a lot of things, personally.

        I heard from a counselor once that yelling is something people do when they think they aren’t being heard.

        Your comment just made me think, is all. Blessings to you ma’am. πŸ™‚

        1. JC,

          Thank you for this, my brother!! I appreciate your perspective here about your relationship with your dad and the approach you used. Very interesting to think about.

          I am sure many of us struggle with our own voices and tone. I hate being yelled at. But it can be hard not to raise my own voice. Ironic, really. That was the hardest part of this journey for me – the nonverbal body language, tone of voice, and facial expressions. By God’s grace, I usually don’t use a disrespectful tone with Greg and I can’t remember the last time I raised my voice at him. If my tone gets a bit of an edge to it, I usually catch it right away – again thanks to God’s grace alone. But it took a LONG time to change my bad habits.

          I sometimes feel like I am still on a learning curve with my children. I hate yelling! I don’t ever want to yell. But when there is prolonged disobedience, arguing, disrespect, or we are running really late – yelling is a temptation for me. My goal is to speak calmly. Sometimes, when I feel compelled to yell, I whisper instead, or even sing what I want to say. God empowered me today to respond in a very calm, quiet tone of voice to my daughter when she didn’t do the chore I had asked her to do. She took care of it and everything was fine. I want so much to model godly self-control, gentleness, kindness, respect, and love to my children even in the most frustrating moments. I fail sometimes. Then repent and ask God to change me for His glory and to make me the mom my children need me to be. I have to ask forgiveness at times. I want my children to see me repent humbly when I fail.

          I need God’s Spirit desperately every moment to be the woman, wife, and mom God wants me to be. I sure can’t have self-control on my own in every situation. But when He is in control, He empowers me to have self-control. That is what I want ALL the time for all of us!

          1. Yeah as you know, we have to be strong with people sometimes. I don’t like to yell (like angrily) at people. What I meant to say in the previous comment was searching myself for other frustrations/hurts/flaws and such.

            I remember someone else saying, sometimes a little thing can be the “last straw” after a lot of other stuff built up. I’m very happy right now, after some time alone (after graduation) I’m getting the chance to clean-up, it feels like. I’ve been so grieved over the years when life just felt like such a continuous panic that it was suddenly hard to do that. πŸ™

            Sometimes yelling may have a place. One time I actually yelled back defensively at my Dad and (if you imagine this) he actually respected seeing “fire in the belly.” i.e. just the passion and strength of it. Believe me, I’m not the one who yells ordinarily and maybe that was the point in that case, to see strength in me rather than shrinking away in defeat.

            It’s not quite the disaster of a family that I might sound like I’m portraying from this subject. πŸ˜‰

            I remember sitting down in front of my professors a lot. I remember thinking, I have to go WAY out of my way to “be nice” (polite, respectful, responsive, generous) because auto-pilot would probably not be good.

            I’m sure I never got cussed out the way you did, but I also did security and faced lots of unhappy people too.

            I know another mom who struggles with dealing with the kids too (worried about being hard on the kids). Again I think you have to be strong with kids without being negative or condemning. A harsh scowl can be just as bad as a yell, and maybe worse because the other person suspects that even more repressed sentiments lie underneath.

            Yes, I pray for our heartwork! πŸ™‚ I’m truly so excited right now just because I’m kind of putting my thoughts together after so many ugly years–just things to sort out, discover, clean out, organize. I ask with all my being that God puts His heart in my chest. πŸ™‚

          2. JC,
            True, there are times to be strong – and especially to be firm. I think there can be times when yelling could be necessary occasionally – but I really hate to yell! I feel angry when I do -even if it is just because someone couldn’t hear me. Thank you for bringing up that point.

            I know you have had a lot of healing to do from the issues in your family. I praise God for what He is doing in your life!

            When drug addicts can’t get their drugs – or they brought me a forgery for a controlled substance and I keep the prescription and tell them they can’t have it – yep. Things can get really dicey. I did get a phone thrown at my head once by an 8 month pregnant hydrocodone addict. Such a God thing – because the cord kept it 2 inches from my head – she had thrown it at me as hard as she could when she heard the doctor say he was canceling the rx because she had already gotten another hydrocodone rx a few days earlier. (I was the one who had to call the doctor to let him know – and then he canceled the prescription.) She did quite a lot of yelling and cussing. I have even had patients threaten to hurt me after I got off of work who would claim I shorted them on their narcotics. Of course, we double count those rxs so that we know that the quantity is right before it leaves the pharmacy.

            It is difficult to balance love, discipline, firmness, strictness, fun, gentleness, kindness, and self-control every moment of every day with children. Especially when I am extremely sleep deprived and they are very sleep deprived. Not a good combo! There are times when children don’t respond to gentle and really need firm and strong. But my goal is to use the least amount of emotional force necessary.

            I remember if my Daddy even looked at me like he was disappointed in me, I was devastated when I was younger!

            I can see that God is doing that in you – and I pray He will do the same in each of us. πŸ™‚

          3. So on the topic of yelling at your kids…I try SO hard not to yell at my daughter, but my husband seems to think that if I’m not yelling or being harsh with her, that I am coddling her. If she is disrespectful and I calmly ask her how she should have responded instead, rather than raising my voice and telling her how unacceptable her behavior is, my husband will get very upset with me for not handling it.

            I want to honor his leadership, I want him to know that I respect him and I agree her behavior was wrong, but if I don’t react the way he would, he feels disrespected by both of us and gets angry with me for not disciplining her the “right” way.

          4. M,

            Maybe that is how his parents treated him?

            I agree with you about being calm and setting an example of speaking respectfully and using self-control.

            My sweet sister – you are in such a very tough situation. Your particular husband has not been acting completely reasonable. Are you still seeing the counselor? What does he/she suggest?

            I am praying for MUCH wisdom for you. This is such a difficult time. I know you are seeking God wholeheartedly. I know you love your daughter and don’t want to be harsh with her – especially if it is not necessary. I am not sure there is an answer that would satisfy God and your husband. My desire is that you might please God in all things and that He might find you faithful.

            Much love to you!

          5. I’m fairly certain that’s how his parents treated him, or at the very least, his mother. That makes sense when I think about it. I do need to focus much more, in that particular situation, on pleasing God rather than my husband. Maybe when we are talking about it calmly at some point, I can tell him that I don’t want to be harsh with her, I want to speak softly and calmly and make things a game. Maybe he will understand.

            I haven’t seen the counselor again. She asked me to search for those things before seeing her again, which I have a little bit, but I haven’t found anything (and didn’t really expect to).

            PRAISE GOD my husband has been SO much different since that last session. I haven’t told him anything about it, I’ve only had prayer warriors praying (thank you, April!!!), and I have told him, during times when he was receptive to it, that I feel there is a spiritual battle going on and I am praying for him and for us. There have been a couple of times when things could have gotten bad, but he reacted differently than he normally would have. There have been a couple of semi-bad moments, but nothing like the usual. A couple of moments with the ring being on the wrong finger, but I haven’t mentioned it at all so no fights were started over that.

            I am nervous to get comfortable, because I know spiritual warfare can take weeks, months, years, and satan will not give up that easily, but I am so grateful for the work God has been doing in my husband the past couple of weeks.

            There is a chance he will have to transfer to an office 2 hours north of us, and for the trial period he will be up there during the week while we’re still here at home. That could be an okay thing, I’m not sure. I don’t like the idea that he’ll use the free time to go to bars, but he might use it to work more and to hear God more. He knows he has my full support if the job goes permanent and we need to move up there.

            Please continue to pray. I feel so nervous all of the time that the floor is just going to drop out from underneath me, it almost feels too good to be true lately.

          6. M,

            I praise God with you that you are seeing some changes!!!!!!!! We will pray that God might continue to work in you both for His glory and that the enemy might not have victory in your home and family.

            If your daughter responds to a more gentle approach and obeys – it seems to me that would be the main thing – that she is obeying and respecting. I pray for wisdom for you!

            And I pray for God’s clear direction about the transfer. That would be a very big change. But I pray for God’s will!

  4. This was a wonderful post, April! The hardest thing for me is to know when a disagreement turns into an argument. It is a lot better than it used to be but sometimes I still struggle with it since I don’t want to argue with him at all. There’s a fine line here and I can usually tell by our attitudes, postures and tone of voice when it becomes an argument and then I quickly let up and decide to stop since I know arguments are NEVER productive or pleasing to the Lord. They just give Satan a foothold into our lives.

    1. Lori,
      That’s a great question! I like it especially because I think we can still make our cases on a given subject with a lot of passion. Our emotions are part of communication and who we are, I think. For me, when that passion turns into a louder voice or with an edge, I’m pretty sure that fine line has been crossed! Any action on my part that feels disrespectful to my husband, too, may be a sign my heart is not fully yielded to God in the midst of my passion.

      1. Lori,
        Howfunny, I just reread your comment and realize you didn’t include a question! Coffee still perking! But what you said did raise some interesting questions in my own mind, so thank you! xx

      2. Julie,
        I find it’s when I have too much passion that I am then disrespecting my husband and his thoughts and opinions! I’m very strong in my beliefs and black and white so I need to always remember to temper it with God’s command to me to submit to and obey my husband, plus respecting him on top of all of this! It does call for wisdom and discernment and I asked Ken a long time ago to help me in this but I have since learned to recognized it myself.

      3. I know that I have to go do some serious praying when I find myself feeling frustrated, held back by Greg, disappointed, or like we are not getting where I want to go spiritually quickly enough – when I am feeling impatient. Those are times I need to go off by myself and ask God to help me see my motives and dissect my thoughts and then realign them with His Word by His Spirit’s power before I say another word or think another thought.

        1. April,
          For me, one of the questions to ask myself is, “Is the thing I’m feeling passionate about stirring up anxiety in me?” Anxiety is a red flag that I’m not trusting God.

          Praying privately before discussions with my husband, and turning the outcome over to the Lord beforehand, allows me to still communicate my passionate point of view to my husband, but trust God with the final outcome. I only want what God wants, whatever that is, when I’m walking in obedience to Him.

    2. Lori Alexander,

      I’m really glad you shared this. I have different issues that are hardest – probably because Greg’s personality is different from Ken’s. Greg doesn’t argue. And I have learned to just present my ideas and then let him mull over them and get back with me. So we don’t ever have heated discussions or debates or arguments. Well, he just doesn’t engage. So – if we will have an argument – it is just going to be me by myself arguing.

      I think my biggest issue is that I tend to see things I believe God would want us to do and then just want to rush ahead of Greg and God and go full blast and do those things before Greg is on board. I have to do a LOT of waiting. I hate waiting! But me running ahead of God and Greg just makes a big mess.

      I really appreciate your willingness to share about this!

      1. How interesting, April! I will say something is black and Ken will say it is blue! We both have strong opinions and share them with each other. I have had to learn that just because we don’t agree, it doesn’t mean we aren’t in unity. I used to think that if we disagreed, he didn’t love me like I thought he should and it should always cause conflict.

        I grew up in a home where my parents were always in conflict and showed no love towards each other so I probably took disagreement and no love as being equal. I have since learned that we don’t have to agree on everything but I must always respect his thoughts and opinions and not try to force mine upon him and try to make him agree with me. Awww, what relief!

        We must all study our husbands and learn what makes them get upset with us and cause disunity since all men are different. I appreciate hearing your side also since I thought all couples both argued and fueled the conflict.

        1. Lori Alexander,

          Love this!

          Yes, the dynamics are different in each marriage – that is why I love sharing as many wives'(and husbands’) stories as possible.

          No, Greg wouldn’t argue, even when I tried to get him upset so many times earlier in our marriage. He would completely shut down and ignore me. I would keep upping the volume – and he would say nothing and just look at the TV as if I wasn’t even there. I eventually concluded he had no emotions or feelings. I thought it was impossible to hurt him – but I didn’t realize he did hurt and hurt deeply, he just didn’t tell me about it.

          I think it is so helpful to understand our backgrounds and families of origin to learn how we each grew up so we can better understand what each person’s “normal” looked like. That is our default setting in conflict. So helpful to learn that we can disagree without being unloving and without even having disunity in the marriage. What a blessing!

  5. I find even amongst Christian circles, women shudder at the word submission. And 90% of the women I’ve spoken to think it is passive. Even my husband said he wasn’t sure what the exact definition of biblical submission was in order to explain it to someone else. I had to explain it to him. It’s nice to see it on paper. Would be great to hand out to those who may benefit from it.

    I remember in adult Sunday school we were having a discussion and my husband brought up the passage where Jesus referred to the greek woman as a dog. And that he wasn’t being rude. That was a cultural name that were given to all Greek people’s back then. And boy,if looks could kill!! All the women in the group gave him filthy looks and snapped back an answer. I was shocked.some of these women are regarded as Godly. It was like they thought my husband was justifying calling women a rude name.

    Anyway, great post! Thanks April.

    1. Megan,

      Yes, just the word, “submission” creates a very negative, almost visceral reaction in many women, even in the church. That is why it is SO important that we understand exactly what submission is according to the Bible.

      Please pray that God might empower me to explain this clearly and that He might give His people eyes to see and ears to hear His Word and His truth – that our marriages might draw many to Christ!

  6. I like your comparison of king and adviser. It’s how I normally think of my relationship with my wife.It’s helpful to me to remember that she is a daughter of the Most High God, so that I’m careful to treat her well. Also as a son of God through grace, it reminds me to behave accordingly. My wife is my most trusted adviser, most especially where our children are concerned.

  7. Oh, amen to this post. Submission is actually strength in Christ, it is not “weakness before men,” as some try to present it. It is a gift we give to husbands, a gift of encouragement, support, and gentleness.

  8. Ah, but just to stimulate your thinking, I recall some of your earlier posts way back on your notions of being smarter than your husband, “knowing better” and such.

    Tell me if I’m WAY off, but to put this subject in perspective with the whole picture in mind, many women tend to think of things like higher earning power or higher intelligence or strength (real or imagined) seeming to conflict with the notion of needing to submit.

    Of course, in reality, a woman who applies her intelligence and strength into submission, nurturing and kindness is MOST respectable. πŸ˜‰

    And that’s something to consider about the not-so-decent husbands too–knowing the way some women will get competitive with their strength and intelligence. We live in a culture that glorifies that, and of course, husbands who suffer don’t have avenues of support.

    Hopefully not I’m not way off, but I was just recapping where people (men and women both) are coming from in a confused culture. πŸ˜‰

    1. JC<

      Yes, I was quite prideful and self-righteous. πŸ™ I also made more money than Greg did for many years earlier in our marriage (I don't now) – but that definitely contributed to my feeling that I should be in charge in my mind, as well as my perception of my own intelligence. πŸ™

      YES! Now, I know that I can apply my intelligence, strength, personality, talents, gifts, love, respect, and honor into submission – first to Christ, then to my husband – and that it takes infinitely more spiritual strength to submit to Christ than to try to be in charge on my own – but the results are more than worth it. But I can only do this in the power and strength of God's Spirit working in and through me. On my own, I don't have the power to be a godly wife.

  9. I’ve always liked your outlook on submission, April.

    It’s also such a reminder of how we are active in our submission to God. We’re not lobotomized in our service and submission and trust in God. We’re active in every way with His direction and interest in mind.

    That’s why a woman can be such a great example in her act of energetic submission. πŸ™‚

    1. JC,
      EXACTLY! Our submission to God is not passivity! We willingly, joyfully, intelligently submit to God out of love, respect, thanksgiving, and gratitude for all He has done for us. He is do very good. πŸ™‚

      And I completely agree, a godly wife’s beautiful example of submission is an inspiration to her husband to remind him what God desires of him in his relationship to Christ.

      Thanks so much for sharing!

  10. Hi April…I am from India and recently married.. I thank you very much for all your posts and videos. They have helped me a lot. You are truly Gods blessing to me. Thank you very much. I can’t thank you enough.I want to email you regarding a personal issue but I don’t know your email id . Please help. Waiting ….. Love u lotsο»Ώ

  11. Hi April,

    I just wanted to tell you how thankful I am having found this blog! Our Lord is so wonderful and loving.

    I’ve been married 4 years now. My husband and I are believing Christians. Right after our marriage we were sent by the Church to a city in the UK (we are from Germany). Back then was my husband a missionary.
    I’ve never learned how to deal with men; I didn’t trust them. My Mother raised her children alone and in her family women are very strong bla bla bla.

    But God did have mercy on me and saved me. He gave me new life through His Son Jesus Christ. I met my wonderful husband at Church, he was so beautiful, so strong, so enthusiastic, so devoted. He couldn’t sit in a bus/train/airplane… without standing up to preach the Gospel or he would talk to someone about Jesus.

    But you know what? This man doesn’t exist anymore or at least it does seem like it. Now we are back in Germany and he stopped going to Church…
    I’ve been disrespecting him almost all the time till he became as he is now. I am not giving myself all guilt for that, but I know if I had have done my part in God’s sight some things would be different.

    I pray that our Lord will heal my husband, me and our marriage.
    One other thing is, hubby was diagnosed with schizophrenia last year, which makes everything much more difficult as the devils in his head prevent him to hear God’s Word and he can’t even pray or read the Bible anymore. Still I want to support him, I want my superman back, I want to relinquish control to him, i want him to be the leader God planed him to be; I just want to be a woman. But why is it so difficult?

    1. Estelle,

      We do have an amazing God! πŸ™‚

      Sounds like he has the gift of evangelism. How wonderful! I love hearing about the way your husband was on fire for God and for lost souls.

      I am not sure if you have seen the posts about disrespect, biblical submission, and spiritual authority at the top of my home page – but they may be a blessing to you.

      If he is also dealing with schizophrenia – that is going to complicate things quite a bit. If he is not in his right mind – it may not be wise or safe to submit to him. But perhaps y’all can develop a plan when he is in his right mind about how to handle those times that would honor him? You may need some godly, experienced counsel, as well – because this is a more difficult situation than normal.

      Giving up control and respecting our husbands is very challenging because we are sinners and because most of us never learned this as we were growing up. But – it is also more difficult because of the mental illness in your situation. That is something to pray about. Let’s ask God to provide both of you wisdom and the resources you need to navigate this fiery trial for His greatest glory!

      Much love to you!
      April

  12. What perfect timing! 7 days ago I started studying this and other videos on my role as a Godly Wife and renewed my faith and dedication to God. My husband was always a Christian.

    In the mornings we sit and talk and chat leisurely over coffee. The first day I told him I was following Mrs. April and shared the latter part of Ephesians 5 with him. He read it, listened to me, is familiar with the concept but had no opinions to share with me.

    (He is used to me reading and studying a very wide variety of things.)

    Today,I told him that I was uncomfortable with some of the extreme passivity (silent doormat) things I was finding. And that I knew what attracted him to me was my strong mind, thoughts, beliefs, opinions.

    Today he answered me. He said he did not want a robot. I nodded agreeing and mentioned Stepford wives.

    He then brought up Genesis 2, where man and woman are both created in His image, are equal in His sight and are to become one in marriage.

    I loved it. He has never shared much of his faith or beliefs with me. a man of few words who speaks thro steadfast daily actions.
    That has made it abundantly easy for me to trust and respect him.
    It has just evolved between us that we both submit to one another.

    So I really needed to hear this clarification TODAY!
    I know that my convictions fit us and I can continue my pursuit and growth in Biblical submission.

    We don’t argue or fuss, so I have been seeking to do a couple of small extras each day and have been receiving some of the gifts of it already.

    I continue to be completely excited about this journey and I will know how to conduct myself when issues present themselves.

    All in Jesus’ Glorious Name.

    1. Tena,

      Thank you so much for sharing! If you think you are hearing me promote extreme passivity – total silence or being a doormat – I want to hear about it. That is NEVER what I m trying to teach. I do talk about times when previously very disrespectful, vocal, controlling wives may need to have a period of silence as they learn at God’s feet what is wise to say and what not to say – that is a phase. It is not the goal. Does that make sense?

      I have many, many posts where I talk about how to share our hearts, desires, needs, feelings, ideas, and concerns respectfully and how important it is that we use our godly influence and not throw it away!

      I don’t believe God desires robots for followers. And I know that no healthy husband wants a robot for a wife. If there is any more confusion, please do let me know!

      I am very glad that you had that conversation with your husband and that you talked about it here, as well. πŸ™‚

      Much love!
      April

  13. Sweet Mrs April,

    Absolutely no, it was not from reading anything YOU said.
    First it was in the comments on a couple of topics where I would term the husbands described as being abusive.
    But what really raised my eyebrows was another channel with a woman teaching a class on submission. She began by instructing us to go get our husband’s permission to watch it.
    Trust me, if I had done such a thing, my dear husband would have been shocked, stunned and very worried about me and my welfare.

    My husband’s childhood left a very bad taste in his mouth over the submission thing. His father was quite a monster with it.
    But I told him that I did believe it was valid and that is wasn’t about suppression, rather the greatest responsibility is the husband’s as He is to lead and love as Christ loves the church in submission to God. He understood and agreed. But as with Christ, his yoke is light. He has the wisdom to not sweat the small stuff and wants me to be free in my individual journey.

    I have not been a rebellious wife to him, I am older and was a divorcee and was beyond surprised to meet a man I wanted to know and not let go of. He had never been married and the only women he has lived with has been his mother and sister.
    So, really I cherished him from the start.

    Also in my later years now, I am a very quiet person in general. Speaking, I only talk about things I know, if I listen, I may learn something.

    I am raising the standard gradually on my housekeeping which I do really struggle with.
    I am verbalizing praise and appreciation more.
    Working on smiling as my default, that one is hard to remember.
    and then just some random acts of kindness.

    If I were living with some of the overbearing husbands I have read about, I honestly do not know if I could take it. I am pretty sure I would be very rebellious. I would need mountains of God’s Grace.

    Father,
    I pray that you will wrap your loving arms around those marriages struggling in difficulties, that Your love may infuse them and bring them into harmony and unity for their blessing and glory to you. Let us be Your light to the world.
    In Jesus’ Glorious name

    Thank you for your precious time, Mrs April!

    1. Tena,

      Thank goodness you didn’t think you read that here. I bend over backwards to try to keep women from thinking like that!

      Thank you for sharing the things you are working on. πŸ™‚

      I am thankful that my husband’s “yoke is light” like that of Christ, as well. He is not demanding at all. It would be a much greater challenge to submit to a man who was perfectionistic or micromanaging.

      We do all need mountains of God’s grace! Sometimes in different areas – but we all need it. πŸ™‚

      Thank you for praying for these precious women and men who are hurting here.

      Much love!
      April

  14. I had a philosophical moment today about this, as a programmer. πŸ˜‰

    With programming code the computer does what you tell it to do – it does it too well. You can’t be like “aw come on you know what I meant!” when your program doesn’t do what you intended from a coding mistake.

    My understanding of women is that they take a liking to studying the fine details of people so as to be ready to respond. Submission is not simply a matter of waiting around for orders, but also getting to know her husband, the little details, trained to respond in the way he needs.

    In some cultures a man’s betrothed would be busy learning how to make his favorite dishes. Traditional women would learn those details and apply themselves.

  15. Please pray for me April. We had such a fight with my husband that he said If I don’t change he’ll put in a plane to go back in my country or put me in the street…. You know how much he is attached to him mom. He bought 2 apartments as his mum his our next door neighbor. He takes all the decision for the apartment and if I open the mouth, it end up in a fight. Tonight, I just heard that he will put a door to communicate from one apartment to the other one inside. I know the Lord told me I am selfish and need to let go of all my desires but I feel I am not going to survive this way. As French I love to have some private time and space and him as Brazilian just want to be with people all the time…. especially his mum. The fight was terrible April and I repent so much to have ask the question about this door in the car. Our 8 years old son heard everything and was so sad going to bed. My husband insulted me and my family saying we are like selfish animal and if we divorce he’ll keep our son. This son has just arrive in my life 8 months ago but I love him so much and he is more attached to me now even if my husband raised him partly when he was living in Africa.
    I read again the surrended wife and try to practice the “whatever you want”. I know I can’t say anymore about his mum and the apartment or he might divorce me. April, I have such terrible fears inside of me that God and my husband aren’t trustworthy and this is why I still have some pb of control. But yesterday night I just cried out to the Lord asking him to take away these fears and help me to trust them. I don’t want to be so selfish and self center and ask the Lord for help, he can do whatever he wants on my life but I always end up screwing it up. Please pray for me. I don’t want to divorce and the ministry of my husband is going to open in 2 months. I have only Jesus and my son. He will never cease to put his mum first. She is paying for the apartment and many other things. He is in debt with her for everything. Oh, Lord, help me, I am so desperate.

    1. Sonadewonderful,

      I do think that a lot of this is a cultural thing and a matter of expectations. You are not wrong to want more privacy. Maybe in Brazil things are different? Although, I do think there is biblical support for being more detached from parents. A spouse having too much closeness to parents creates disunity and division in marriage so many times.

      This whole thing just makes me very, very sad for all of you. πŸ™ I want you to be able to say that you do not want a door between the apartments without divorce being threatened – I understand your need for more privacy. I don’t want there to be so much contention. It seems the enemy is very active – I am sure he is pleased. How this family needs a mighty movement of God’s Spirit – or it will be impossible to do anything productive for the kingdom of God.

      I really want you to be able to have godly counseling, my dear sister!

      Praying for God to work in you for His glory and for Him to work in your husband, as well. That there might be His Spirit of love and unity and this awful contention, strife, fighting, division, hatred, fear, bitterness, resentment, and sinful fruit might have to be shoveled out.

      1. It is hard, so hard that some day I wonder if I can make it. These last days, I really got closer to God. Maybe I wanted to please so much my husband and make him an idol. Yes, it is so hard to have to let go of everything, all my desires, all my rights. But I guess this is why the Lord allow me to marry this man. I feel like I have to be the first vase broken and many things are results of my disrespect πŸ™ and bad comments. I decided to close my mouth and go with the “whatever you think”, at least until there is no more divorce threat. But something I think it is not fair that I have to surrender everything and him get all he wants. But this is the way Jesus walked on earth. I have to imitate him even crying. Maybe one day things will be different. I remembered have read that God put us in family (marriage) not to make us happy but holy. I guess I have a lot of lessons that I haven’t heard so far for God put me with such a harsh man. Thanks for your prayer. Pray that I will change and get ride of all of my fears and control. I know for his mum and his relationship, he knows it’s not normal but he doesn’t want to change. I pray God to create in him the desire to cut the umbilical card or create circumstances he will have to do it. Meanwhile, I need to be wise, accept everything in silence even if it makes me scream in the inside

        1. Sonadewonderful,

          We do all have to be broken before God. I really don’t like the thought of you having to say absolutely nothing. That actually concerns me. I know there can be times when God calls us to silence. But if you believe that is what God is calling you to do – I pray for His wisdom for you and His strength to do anything He desires you to do. I pray for Him to reach you and your husband. There is so much healing that needs to happen.

          My heart grieves with you, my dear sister!

          My prayer is not that you will please your husband, per se – but that you will please God in everything – in your motives, your attitude, your desire for Him, your thoughts, your tone of voice, your attitude, and behavior – that He might say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant!” I want to hear God say that for your husband, too.

          I know things are so messed up and broken now – I pray for godly counsel for you and the resources you need. I pray for God’s Spirit most of all, that you will be yielded fully to Him and that He might accomplish His good purposes in your life.

          How might God desire to use you to bless this man and this little boy? I pray for Him to give you His heart, His eyes, His mind, His wisdom, His peace, His strength, and His desires in your life and marriage.

          Sending you the biggest hug!

  16. You know what’s always so striking is how a woman with (obviously) such exceptional intelligence is choosing to take on a submissive manner. The feminist mindset thinks of submissive as kind of a dainty airhead, so that’s such a foil. πŸ™‚

    Of course, you say that used to be a source of feeling like you should be the dominant one, but as it is that’s such a powerful aspect of your presentation!

    I think your situation with being a pharmacist is probably really useful to that end. It’s one of those things that’s not really necessary to “prove” anything (there’s nothing wrong with a housewife, if that’s her husband’s desire), but I think it helps the credibility of this message a lot!

  17. Hi April –

    What if your partner has a wrong idea of what biblical submission and respect means? What if he thinks to respect and submit to him is to be passive and to let him do things? How do you confront this issue?

    1. D,

      That is a tough one. It breaks my heart that there are men who believe this. Is he open to reading something or watching sermons like David Platt’s Secret Church series on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, or John Piper’s resources on his blog http://www.desiringgod.org (search marriage, submission, authority, biblical manhood/womanhood). Or the book Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood – especially chapter 1 – edited by John Piper and Wayne Grudem?

      Also the post Spiritual Authority, A Husband’s and a Wife’s Authority in Marriage, and A Husband Is Never the Absolute Authority on my blog are very helpful. You could read them, and you can pray about asking your husband to read them.

      Also, the post about the dynamics in our marriage may be helpful.

      Are you safe to share concerns and your ideas and feelings?

      Is it possible he may be confusing male domination with male headship?

      Much love to you!

      1. Yes April, it’s safe for me to talk to him about this. I know he is open to it and yes I will make sure to pray about it before approaching him with these.

        Maybe his ideas formed over time without anyone correcting him or any godly model to look to. He’s also practically a new believer so i guess it’s going to take time for his mind to be renewed and conformed to Christ’s.

        Thanks a whole lot for your suggestions!

        1. D,

          We all have a radical transformation to undergo in Christ. Everything we thought we know has to be torn out and thrown away that we got from ourselves or the world. Everything true from God must be built from scratch in our lives. He may not have had a godly model. He may not have read godly resources yet.

          We will pray for God’s wisdom and healing and His resources and Spirit for you both. πŸ™‚

          Much love!

My grandmother is on hospice and won't be with us much longer (11-30-16). I will get to comments when I am able to but I need to be with family right now. Thanks for understanding.

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