Want to Know the Secret to Nurturing An Enjoyable, Purposeful, Lasting Marriage?
Don’t write me off just yet. I know you come to my blog for sound biblical advice and trust me, you’re going to get that in this post too. Even though the title may lead you to believe differently.
Let me start by saying, I wholeheartedly believe in honoring my husband. I believe that’s a biblical mandate and it’s one I’m committed to following. What I will not commit to is the blind obedience aspect of honor that we seem to view as a parallel to biblical submission. You know, the husband says and the wife follows without even contemplating what God has to say about the matter. Would you believe me if I said that idea of submission is NOT biblically sound? Not in the slightest.
But Isn’t There Scripture On This?
“Wives submit to your husbands…” This is often the phrase wives are directed to when they’re taught the biblical views of how marriage works. What seems to go unmentioned is that “wives submit to your husband,” is not the entirety of the verse or instruction given to us in the Bible. In fact, when you paraphrase that portion of scripture and dilute it down to those five words you distort everything about how God intended marriage between His followers to work.
- It elevates men to the position of “God.”
- It offers zero accountability to the husband as the leader of the marriage or household.
- It suppresses wives, instead of allowing them to be a source of wisdom.
- It distorts God’s character as our Bridegroom.
- It distorts the calling of the church (since marriage is supposed to be a reflection of the relationship between God and the church).
Now, there is such a thing as biblical submission, but this is not it.
So what does the Bible REALLY Have to Say About Submitting to Your Husband?
Let’s look at this verse in entirety AND in context. Ephesians 5:22,
“Wives, submit to your husbands, as to the Lord.”
Notice anything different in comparison to the paraphrase noted above? In just this one verse God has already put boundaries on the husband’s authority. He has made it clear that man’s agenda and authority are never to supersede His. God sets this boundary as protection for BOTH marriage partners. It opens the door to accountability for husbands. It keeps husbands and wives working in partnership with each other and dependent on one another. It encourages husbands to seek counsel from their wives and encourages wives to speak up when they feel that something is moving in opposition to God.
God never intended for wives to be silent partners. We were created with the ability to bring value and insight to the table (our home) and the community. A wife after God will use her influence to do just that. And a husband after God will recognize and honor this calling.
Where’s the Scripture to Back this Up?
Recommended books on Christian Marriage:
King Solomon outlines these truths in Proverbs 31 when he writes: “Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies. The heart of her husband safely trusts her; so he will have no lack of gain.” (verse 10)
And “She opens her mouth with wisdom, and on her tongue is the law of kindness.” (verse 26)
This one is a favorite of mine! “Her children rise up and call her blessed, her husband does also, and he praises her.” (verse 28)
When a husband and wife are united in their commitment to honor God, submission is less likely to be a problem. You’ve got two people with a heart for God, seeking God, yielding to His spirit, and letting Him lead. They work together to bring God’s will into their lives and home. The trouble arises when a husband, who is called to be a spiritual leader in the home, starts chasing a vision outside of Christ.
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When Husbands Refuse to Let God Lead
It seriously breaks my heart how many women are turned off by God’s design for marriage because this one scripture, “Wives submit to your husbands, as unto the Lord” is so greatly misused.
I’ve heard it used in support of abusive husbands.
I’ve heard it used to condone men in their selfish ambitions.
I’ve seen it used to dominate households, churches, and communities. And Y’all, that is so not God’s heart.
Unfortunately, as long as there is sin in the world we’re going to have to deal with people who use the Bible to create their own gospel. So what do you do when your husband is leading your family down a road that you know God is saying no to? There are so many situations that come to mind, many of them that don’t have a textbook answer.
Ultimately, when you know your husband is choosing sin over God – you are by no means obligated to support his behavior. Your ultimate allegiance is to Christ first. I love what Sheila Gregoire had to say about this.
“The Bible is clear that we should confront when someone is in sin, and we should deal with that. Loyalty is not actually a Christian virtue; the truth is.”
God doesn’t expect you to go along with sin but He does expect you to call it out. He expects you to stand for the truth even when it’s uncomfortable. Which means when you KNOW your husband is walking outside of what God approves and calls good and just and tries to subject you or your family to the same; in this case, no you don’t submit to your husband’s will (on THAT matter).
When You Can’t Submit What Else Is There to Do?
You still treat him with respect even if you can’t respect what He is doing.
You honor him by being honest with him.
You love him unconditionally because that’s how we are instructed to love. And keep praying for him. Never stop praying You’re still called to be the light that lights up the darkness surrounding him.
Just as your husband will have to one day give an account for how he leads, it’s important that you remember you will also be held accountable for who you decided to follow.
So before anyone else, you submit yourself to God.
And friend, **if you’re in an abusive marriage or relationship please seek help. Don’t allow this scripture (and the way the world interprets it) to be the reason that you don’t. Reach out to a trusted friend, mentor, pastor, or community center to find the help you need. Prioritize your safety!
TO learn more about biblical womanhood including the truth about marriage by God’s design join us in our Facebook Community! Marriage is a topic I’m so passionate about and I’m excited to teach on it in our group. Come give us a visit!