Oh this is one of my favorite topics! When I mention the “S” word in teaching women anything the eyes roll, the lips tighten, and the arms go across the chest. What is the “S” word? It is not “sex”, it is submission.

Now, before you check out I ask you to stick around and actually read and think about this. This is coming from a modern woman, living in the suburbs of a major metropolitan city. I did not grow up in a Born Again Christian home, so this was not taught. I also grew up at the tail end of the whole burn your bra thing, and my sisters are quite liberal and “liberated.”

Submission curls the lip of so many women because it is poorly understood. Our goal is always to look at things from a strictly biblical perspective, so let’s begin there:

Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her,
Ephesians 5:22-25 (NASB)

Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Colossians 3:18 (NASB)

But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ. 1 Corinthians 11:3 (NASB)

As unpopular as the thought may be in today’s society God’s instructions are pretty clear, aren’t they? There are women who simply grit their teeth and “submit.” I do not believe God considers that submission at all! There is quite a difference between a woman who desires to glorify God by submitting to her husband than there is in a woman who does so through clenched teeth.

I have counseled women who had no intention of submitting yet complained their husband did not lead them. May I ask, are you in the way of his leadership? Before we even get to 1 Pe. 3:1 where it says wives be submissive to your husbands, there is a broader command for servants to be submissive to their masters and not just the nice ones either. The obvious point is that Christians are to be characterized by submissiveness and this just does not apply wife to husband, as if it were something that stands alone. Before we can even get to the discussion of submission in marriage, we have to understand some basics:

hupotassoô (hoop-ot-as’-so) 1) to arrange under, to subordinate 2) to subject, put in subjection 3) to subject one’s self, obey 4) to submit to one’s control 5) to yield to one’s admonition or advice 6) to obey, be subject The term hoop-ot-as-so is a Greco-Roman military term. It has to do with standing in ranked order, being submissive to or subject to the higher ranks one is required to obey. Too often in the conservative church where male headship is taken seriously the focus falls on 1 Pet. 3:1: Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives,1 Peter 3:1 (NKJV)

The reminder here of hoop-ot-as-so , given to wives, is obviously a reminder that they are in a ranked order, like a soldier, obedient to the rank ahead of them. Too often the expectation is for the wife to be submissive to the husband’s authority where he himself is submissive to no one, thus gutting the passage of its primary application. This male spirit of individualism, or independence, or defiance is thinly disguised rebellion against the commander in chief-Christ. It’s the attitude of “others (especially the wife) need to obey me, but I myself am subject to no one, even Christ, or especially Christ.) There is an expectation of submissive obedience with no thought given to their own submission, or their style of leadership.

(This material is drawn in part from RGCM training on the Roles of Men and Women by Bruce Roeder and Julie Ganschow.)