Is Biblical Submission Really Just Selfish Manipulation on a Wife’s Part?

There are some who say that if I seek to honor my husband’s leadership and seek to treat him with genuine respect – it must be just so that I can get what I want. It must really be about manipulating and controlling my husband.

The truth is, we humans can always take a good command from God and obey it with wrong motives and thereby try to turn it into manipulation. If I do good things outwardly with selfish motives inwardly, that is sin in God’s eyes and it repulses Him. Here is how God thinks:

  • Doing the wrong thing for the wrong reason is sin.
  • Doing the wrong thing for the right reason is sin.
  • Doing the right thing for the wrong reason is sin.

This includes any command of God. If I pray with the wrong motives, go to church with the wrong motives, give to the poor with the wrong motives – God is grieved.

The only thing that is not sin is when we do the right thing for the right reason!

Of course, we can only do this through the power of God’s Spirit flooding our souls as we abide in Him and as we yield completely to Him as LORD of all.

Can wives try to respect and submit to their husbands with wrong motives in order to try to get their husbands to do what they want them to do?

YES! That is possible.

But is that going to fly with God or our husbands?

No. It won’t – just like it won’t work if our husbands really just pretend to love us, but they actually don’t.

God – and even our husbands – are able to see through manipulative tactics and wrong motives. They can tell when our respect is feigned. They know when we have a wrong attitude and are really just trying to get them to do what we want them to do.

Lack of genuine respect and honor shows up in our eyes, our facial expressions, our tone of voice, and in our words when we are frustrated.

There are wives who attempt biblical submission and respecting their husbands for selfish reasons  – I think most of us eventually realize in the beginning that this is what we are trying to do. I know I had to face that realization many times.

When we don’t get what we want, then we have to do a lot of soul searching. “Why am I doing this? Is it to get what I want from God and my husband, or am I doing it simply to love and please God and to bless my husband no matter what he does or doesn’t do?”

God wants to purify our motives and He wants us to walk in obedience to Him just because we love Him and want to bring joy to His heart in every area of our lives.

(Also, please keep in mind that there are a lot of toxic, destructive definitions of “submission” in the world that we must be wary of, as well. It has nothing to do with CDD, BDSM, abuse, or slavery.)


Those who don’t know the power of God’s Spirit to radically change our thinking and our hearts and who don’t know anything other than living in the power of the sinful flesh cannot fathom living in the power of God’s Spirit and having our motives refined and purified. They have to assume that we have sinful motives because that is all they know themselves. This has happened to me many times. Those who truly do seek to follow Christ will always be misunderstood. They will have their motives questioned. They will be accused of evil – because that is what Satan, also known as the accuser – does. He did the same thing to Jesus, Himself, and to all of His disciples.

If you are seeking to obey God and to love Him by honoring and respecting your husband, please don’t allow others to discourage you with negative comments and accusations. The enemy loves to attack us through the mouths of those who are yielded to him and ensnared by him. These people need freedom from bondage to Satan and to sin. They need our prayers. They need Jesus desperately just like we do.


Biblical Submission

Husbands Share What Is Disrespectful to Them

25 Ways to Show Real Respect for Your Husband

25 Ways to Respect Myself

The Pendulum Effect – avoiding passivity and control/disrespect

Also, you are welcome to search my home page for:

  • biblical submission
  • passivity
  • respect
  • disrespect
  • control
  • doormat
  • contentment
  • lordship of Christ
  • conflict


Wives aren’t 100% responsible for all of the issues in marriage. We are only responsible for ourselves, our sin, and our obedience to God.

Our husbands are responsible to God for themselves, their sin, and their obedience to God. We can’t change our husbands or control them. We can influence them.

If you are experiencing severe issues in your marriage, please seek godly, experienced, appropriate help one-on-one. 🙂

Healthy VS Unhealthy Relationships

If you need a resource for wives in an emotionally abusive marriage, please check out (Some of my readers suggest not reading the comments there, only the posts.)