Submission is not a dirty word. It’s a beautiful word; it’s a biblical word.
In a culture where feminism is rising both outside and inside the church, submission is falling on hard times. And those who criticize the church and the Bible for teaching wives to be submissive to their husbands (Ephesians 5:22-24; I Peter 3:1) are getting louder. And one of the reasons for this is because we don’t understand biblical submission. When we misunderstand biblical submission, we might conclude all men are dictatorially driven and determine God sees men are superior. When we truly understand biblical submission, we will celebrate it, teach it, and honor it.
So, what is NOT submission?
Submission does not mean that a wife must agree with her husband on everything he says, does or thinks. This applies to when husbands are living or thinking sinfully; the wife should not submit to his sinful demands of her (Acts 5:29). Nor should a wife have to share the same preferences or non-biblical ideas in order to be submissive. For example, a wife can cheer for the Seattle Mariners when her husband cheers for the San Francisco Giants and still be submissive. She doesn’t have to like everything he likes in order to be submissive. Opinions outside of Scripture can be diverse when submission is still present.
Submission does not mean that a wife should not try to persuade her husband. It’s permissible for a wife to desire change of her husband. In fact, one of the goals of submission, according to I Peter 3:1, is to convince the husband to be different.
Submission does not mean that every wife must submit to every husband. Men – in general – are not husbands – in general – to every wife. The Bile directs women to submit only to their own husbands (Ephesians 5:22).
Submission does not mean that you a wife can’t think for herself. Women are not called to follow blindly the thoughts of their husbands and never process the same decisions (Philippians 3:15; II Timothy 2:70. And this means that men must listen to their wives (I Peter 3:7). They must value the thoughts of the women they are married to; they must convince their wives that they are worth listening to. Submission is not silence.
Submission is not synonymous with weakness. Wives are not doormats for husbands to walk over. There must be authority and leadership in the home, and God chose the husband to fill that role. It doesn’t mean she is totally weak and couldn’t handle that role. It simply means that God had to choose someone to lead, and the man was His choice.
Submission should not produce fear. The wife should not feel intimidated with her husband’s persona or be afraid to approach him for counsel. The husband should be a regular open-door for any and all communication. He must not domineer or ruthlessly rule her.
Tomorrow, on this blog, I will explain what biblical submission IS.