Submission: a confusing and polarizing word. Many people see submission in many different ways: some good, and some bad. Let’s dispel some of those misconceptions and discuss what submission means in marriage and what submission doesn’t mean in marriage.
Submission Doesn’t Mean You are a Doormat
Usually when people think about submission they think that women are virtually slaves to their husbands. That wives have to keep their mouths shut and do everything their husbands say to do. This is absolutely false. Marriage is first of all a partnership. Husband and wife do life together as a unit. Therefore, the wife is not a slave, but a partner. Your opinion as a wife matters. The husband, as your life partner, will (or should) consider your opinions.
See, when you have a good man, its easy to submit to him because you know he has your best interests at heart. Its also easy when you know he won’t lead you down the wrong path. There shouldn’t be any question that your opinion matters, because he will consider it.
Submission Doesn’t Mean You Follow Your Husband Down a Wrong Path
It’s so important before you get married to consider where your future husband is going: does he have goals for the future? What are they? Will he take care of you and your future kids (if you want any)? I once heard a pastor says, “Submission is getting under the mission of your husband.”
That couldn’t be more true. In marriage, we wives are helpmates for our husbands- partnering with them as they lead us and our family through life. This can be hard for some women who are natural leaders. But when we as wives respect our husbands as the leaders of the marriage, things will go well because we’re honoring how God wants marriage to be. Actually, submission is what God calls everyone to do. As you’ll see below.
Submission Doesn’t Mean Only the Wife Submits
Wives are not the only ones called to submit in marriage. Most people quote this verse when talking about wives’ submission to their husbands,
“Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands,” Ephesians 5:24 (ESV).
But they overlook the next verse which says,
“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,” Ephesians 5:25 (ESV).
God designed marriage to be set up as an mirror of the relationship of Christ to the church. The church submits to Christ, and Christ submits to God. In the same way, the wife submits to the husband and the husband submits to Christ.
“For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, His body, of which He is the Savior,” Ephesians 5:24.
But Christ was the ultimate example of submission. He submitted to God’s will even to the point of death (see Matthew 26:36-56). God expects us to submit as well.
Husbands are to submit to their wives by loving them and giving their lives for them. Husbands have a heavy responsibility as the heads of the home.
Submission Ultimately Means Respect
Submission can be hard. Especially if you’ve never had it modeled to you in childhood. But ultimately, submission means respect. Respecting your husband as the head of the home, provider and leader. Usually that means considering his opinion on critical decisions or situations in the relationship (usually about money decisions) and not making big decisions without his input.
I respect my husband as the head of our home, I don’t undermine his authority, or belittle him. Before making any big decisions (ie. School plans, financial decisions, work changes) I ask him for his input. He submits to me as well. Mostly about things around the house or the dog.
Really we all submit to somebody-whether its a boss, a parent, an older sibling. Submission is designed to keep us accountable.