Skip to main content

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 Β – 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. We want to be sure we are truly understanding God’s design and intent by carefully studying this concept and only receiving God’s truth about it, not worldly ideas.)


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.


Ladies – all ladies – are welcome to join me for my firstΒ convention in Branson, MO August 5-6th! Please register ASAP! πŸ™‚


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 EffectΒ – 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. πŸ™‚

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.)

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

  1. I know if my wife did better at acting respectful, she would still think my ways are stupid and that I still lack wisdom. Mostly as a result of my unemployment. There is no way to make up for unemployment. No married woman plans or is able to act appropriately with an unemployed husband. At this point (6 years unemployed) she cannot fathom the situation and assumes as I do that something sinister is wrong with me. The disrespect continues though. With this thought of something wrong with me, I am able to drive, care for kids, write this post, etc. I cannot do enough to make her happy and I don’t blame her. Whatever the Lord is doing here has damaged our long marriage and I see her disloyalty in our marriage and her lack of effort to help. I am the dope here and her contempt for me seems justified. I am sure she is sick of sleeping next to me. I am reminded constantly about how I am doing many things wrong.

    1. Dear Jeff,
      I am going to pray for you and your family. Jesus loves you eternally and has a unique purpose for you. He is at your side everyday.
      God bless you.

    2. Jeff,

      My brother! πŸ™

      Unemployment is quite a challenge, I absolutely do agree with that. I disagree, however, that “no married woman is able to act appropriately with an unemployed husband.” God can give us the power to act in His Spirit in any circumstances – whether we are husbands or wives and regardless of circumstances.

      Your wife’s character and how she treats you is a function of whether her flesh or the Spirit of God is in control. Your character and how you treat your wife is a function of the same thing.

      I pray that you will not measure your worth by your wife’s ability to respect you or by her ability to understand what respect is to a man. Most women in our culture today do not understand what respect means to our husbands. As I have shared, it took me about 3 years of studying and praying about being a godly wife and about respect and biblical submission for 3-4 hours per day before I had ANY clue how to live out any of this stuff. Sometimes a wife’s respect or lack-thereof is not about her husband, but is about her own walk with Christ. That was certainly the case for me – and for countless other wives I have spoken with here. Disrespect for men is mainstream. As Dr. Emerson Eggerichs says, it takes “the scales of disrespect” falling off of wives’ eyes for them to be able to see clearly. That is a God thing.

      I pray you will find your worth completely in Christ alone and that you will allow Him to empower you to be the man He calls you to be for His glory. You are not responsible for your wife’s happiness. You are only responsible for your behavior, your attitudes, your actions, your sin, and your obedience. You can seek to bless your wife. But you cannot make her be happy. Her spiritual state is something that is between her and God. You can influence her, certainly. But it is God who changes people and opens their eyes. What you can do is be filled to overflowing with Christ yourself – which will help to pour healing into the marriage and make it as easy as possible for your wife to hear God’s voice.

      It makes me really sad that you say that God is damaging your marriage. I don’t personally believe that is possible. I am really concerned about the things you are believing about yourself and about God – these things sure sound like lies from the enemy, to me. I know you have tons of Bible knowledge. But I believe that some of these toxic lies may be why you have remained stuck, my dear brother. The enemy can damage your marriage. Sin can damage your marriage. Trials can certainly be difficult and can expose the deepest secrets of our hearts. They can reveal things that God wants to heal.

      I pray for God’s healing for you both individually and as a couple, my brother. I pray you might be able to reach out to a godly brother in Christ who would pray with you and walk beside you on this road toward spiritual healing for you personally in the midst of so many fiery trials.

      Identifying the Lies We Have Embraced
      Healthy VS. Unhealthy Relationships

      1. All,

        We do not have to be held hostage spiritually and emotionally by spouses who do not love or respect us well – or by difficult circumstances. Our ability to be overflowing with the joy, love, power, contentment, peace, and glory of God is dependent only on our own walk with Christ. No one can steal what He has given us! No one can prevent us from drinking deeply of His healing and His Spirit. No one can thwart God’s good purposes in our lives. No human can prevent me from experiencing all that God has for me and all that Jesus has given to me. Satan would love to attack us through those we love who are operating in the flesh. He would love to use their words to accuse us and to ensnare us and to get us to question God and His goodness. How I pray we won’t listen to His lies! He wants to steal, kill, and destroy us all.

        I can put other people’s approval, love, or respect up as idols in my heart. I can put my marriage or other relationships up in my heart as measures of my worth. These things are guaranteed tickets to misery, bitterness, loneliness, and fear. I have certainly been there and done that myself. But how I long for us to not base our worth or value on what other people do, think, or say – but only on the truth of God’s Word and on what Jesus has done on our behalf!

        Much love to each of you!

    3. Dear Jeff,

      I am so sorry to hear about your situation. My husband has been unemployed for almost 3 years now. There are some other things going on (addictions) but God has used this extremely difficult period to change both me and my husband. God is able to change every situation and to give us beauty for ashes.

      If we keep everything into perspective- what is better for us than to be conformed to the image of Christ? And this usually happens when we are convicted of our sins, when we are mistreated, etc. As dark as the current situation seems, don’t forget God’s promises- in all things (even the current situation) God works for the good of those who love Him.

      Something that I am reminding my husband when he feels unworthy for respect and love, is that we are all sinners and we need to repent from our sin, but ultimately, we should concentrate on God and not on our sins and the way others treat us. Focusing on God and serving Him with a joyful heart, even when we are mistreated, even when we feel unworthy to serve Him, is a great way to get closer to God and to receive the peace that surpasses all understanding.

      I will be praying for your family.

    4. Jeff,

      I feel your defeat and depression as you wrote that post. Although you took those holy vows with your wife you still deserve to be happy. Unemployed or not you still deserve to be respected as her husband. She also has vows to uphold “for richer or poor.” Sounds like you need to grab her hand and pray. Open that Bible together and feed your souls with the strength of the word on what to do next. I will be praying for you.

  2. Thank you for this post. Search my heart oh Lord and reveal to me the wrong motivations in my life.
    Dear Jeff, in this age, we are surrounded by the lies of the enemy and all to often we do not guard and protect our thoughts. I am glad that the response included the point that it is not our spouse’s job to make us happy. God is our source, and I know that there are even times when we take a gift from God and then complain about it because it did not meet our expectation. That is time to re-evaluate our our hearts and trust God! Trust that God has not ruined your marriage and that He can take what the enemy has meant for destruction and transform it into a beautiful thing, if you seek Him in all things and persevere. Walk with Him and Be encouraged! God has not left or forsaken you, nor will He ever. He loves you beyond comprehension.

    1. Julie,

      God honors prayers like this. Thank you for seeking to allow God to shine His bright light into the darkest corners of your soul. That is how we allow Him to transform us. Love that!

      Thanks for seeking to encourage our brother.

  3. Hi, April! It’s been quite a long time! I have been busy with school and research work so that’s why I haven’t kept in touch. But I’m promising to keep in touch more often. Great article as usual. Greetings and love from West Africa, sis. God bless.

    1. Mia,

      It’s awesome to hear from you, my sweet sister! Thank you for the update. I am always glad to hear about what is on your heart.

      Much love to you!

  4. I been with my husband for 10 years married for 1 year threw out the relationship he as straight judge me bruge me down lost all my friend never did anything for me but i try to stay and work it out now that we have 4 childrens one is disable and had the never to tell me my baby a crack baby still married him and thats when it went from verable to domestic fighting now i have a 2 years injunction on him……please help im 33……some real woman advice… what will Jesus do….he even till my conceal he wrong sometimes……Help

    1. Sharan Bennett,

      It sounds like you have some VERY serious issues going on. πŸ™ My heart breaks so much for you, your husband, and your children!

      Are you going to a trustworthy counselor at this time?

      How is your walk with Christ?

      Are you safe?

      Much love to you!

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: