A submissive wife. Are you kidding me? You want me to be my husband’s slave? You want me to do everything he tells me to do and bow to him? I hear it all the time from women in online groups and forums. Whether it is assumed that the wife is to be a passive participant while her husband bosses her around or that she is to wait on him hand and foot while he does nothing and barks orders at her, it’s a common misconception. Being a submissive wife does NOT mean that you are your husband’s slave. To better understand what it means to be a submissive wife, let’s take a closer look at the definition of the word. The word submissive is defined as:submit or to put oneself under authority of another.
Bible.org says The Greek word Paul uses here is a military term meaning to put oneself in rank under another. God has ordained the principle of authority and submission in a number of different spheres: Citizens are to be subject to civil authorities (Rom. 13:1; Titus 3:1); slaves to their masters (Col. 3:22; Titus 2:9); church members to their leaders (1 Cor. 16:16; Titus 2:15; Heb. 13:17); children to their parents (Col. 3:20); and wives to their husbands (Eph. 5:22, 24; Col. 3:18; Titus 2:5; 1 Pet. 3:1). Every time the New Testament speaks to the role of wives, the command is the same: “Be subject to your husband.”
Notice that describes submit as to be subject to. It does not say to be a slave to. To be submissive means to put yourself under the authority of your husband. In Ephesians 5:25, husbands are instructed to, “Love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her.” and in Ephesians 5:22, wife are told to, “Be subject to your own husbands as to the Lord.” When a husband loves his wife as he loves the church and when women focus on their role to love and be subject to their husbands, according to scripture, marriage is loving, kind and harmonious, not abusive or a slave to master relationship.
Submission is a voluntary action by the wife. It is a God-driven desire to please your husband and act under his authority just as Christians are to act under the authority of the church.
While the husbands are to be the head of the household, the wife is not commanded to keep her mouth shut and never give her opinion on matters. She “speaks with wisdom and faithful instruction is on her tongue” (Proverbs 31:26) The wife can and should share her thoughts on important family and household topics with her husband but she should do so in a way that is pleasing to God. How? Choose your words carefully. Don’t argue or try to prove your point just to be right. In a biblical marriage, the wife is the helpmeet of her husband. She should support him and give counsel. Ultimately, he is to make decisions based on sound biblical knowledge AND his wife’s wisdom and faithful instruction. The wife is to support her husband and back his decisions even when she doesn’t agree.
While the Bible instructs women to confront their husbands regarding their sin :
1 Peter 3:1 NIV
3 Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won overwithout words by the behavior of their wives,
it does not say that women should be quiet and use only their actions. The key is HOW women use their words. True submission is demonstrated in both words and actions. Wives are to submit to their husbands as husbands are to submit to God.
Often, I hear women lamenting that being submissive doesn’t work in today’s world or that the Bible was written thousands of years ago and that those same principles don’t make sense today. I say “nonsense”! While division of labor in the home has changed drastically throughout history and varies from home to home and marriage to marriage, the Bible, and God, are unchanging. Husbands are still to be the authority in the home and act as the spiritual leader.
Submissiveness is not timidity, it is not servility, it is not subservience, it is not docility, it is not degrading, it is not a sign of weakness.
Submission is a sign of strength, not of weakness and a greater degree of submission requires a greater degree of strength of personal character.
Submitting to your husband means:
Supporting his decisions even when you don’t agree
Following his spiritual lead
Having a heart toward satisfying your husband
Being a submissive wife does not mean:
Being physically or emotionally abused
Being forced to do things that are illegal or immoral just because your husband told you to
Going against God’s wishes over that of your husband (For example, if a non-believing husband tells his wife that she cannot attend church)
Do you agree or disagree with the above about being a submissive wife? Do you consider yourself a submissive wife? In the comments below, share what that means to you in the context of biblical instruction. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!
In His perfect love and my imperfect love,
To read about what it means to be a Proverbs 31 woman in today’s world, check out the post HERE