“Women just don’t want to submit!” Is this usually true? Or is it that they do not want to submit under someone else’s terms, but want things God’s way? What does submit even mean? In religious circles, it is commonly propagated by both men and women that women just don’t want their man to be a leader. Women are accused of not wanting to yield to their husband’s loving leadership.
The word submit means to yield to. It is a position of strength. It is a position of receptivity and cooperation. Although a godly husband is called to love selflessly and sacrificially, he may or may not come to the same conclusion as his wife. Yet, he knows that God is holding him responsible for what transpires. A submissive wife will yield to her husband’s leadership.
This includes yielding to his love, his provision, and to his difference of opinion when he feels he must make a decision she is not in agreement with. A godly couple most likely will be on the same page in most areas.
If it is not a matter of right or wrong, both people clearly ought to be selfless and esteem the other as better than themselves (Phillipians 2: 3). There is no room for selfishness. It is a shame submission has been used out of context to imply slavery, abuse, being controlled, a doormat, weak, or inferior.
Submission is powerful. It has nothing to do with being weak.
It takes both strength and humility to submit to the will of another. God intended for a wife to submit to; to accept or receive her husband’s love, sacrifice, and other provision. His design is for a wife to honor the responsibility that God has given to her husband.
Nowhere does God imply she is inferior. Nowhere does God command the husband to control or dominate his wife. God always commands husbands to LOVE their wives. Guess what? The wife is to be receptive to his love, to submit to his love. The religious chauvinist is often so preoccupied with trying to force his wife to submit that he forgets to do what God commands him to do, which is to love selflessly and sacrificially. To love her is an action he must take.
A man preoccupied with what his wife is supposed to do becomes distracted from loving her, cherishing her, washing her with the Word, living an example of righteousness before her. This is because he is preoccupied with God’s command to her to submit. It is not the husband or wife’s place to try to force the other to obey God.
Have we forgotten Ephesians 5: 21? Some people are so fixated on Ephesians 5: 22-24, they seem to have missed the prior verse.
“Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.”
Did we also miss out on 1 Peter 5: 5?
“Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, ALL OF YOU BE SUBJECT ONE TO ANOTHER, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.” 1 Peter 5: 5.
It shows me we are all to be selfless, humble and others-oriented. The command for wives to submit in everything shows me the level of responsibility God has given the husband. When husband and wife do not agree, I understand the husband is called to do whatever God is leading him to do regardless, and he is held responsible.
God’s commands to the wife are for the wife to comply with, using her free will. God’s commands to the husband are for the husband to comply with, using his free will.
The accusation of some against women is that their husbands are doing what they are supposed to be doing, partnering with, and being loving, sacrificial servant leaders, but for some reason, their wives are resistant. They just don’t want to comply.
Really? What I have personally observed is something different. I have observed misogynist religious men who call themselves Christians rebelling against God’s word and being unloving toward their wives, being cruel, controlling, dictatorial, while throwing 1 Peter 3: 1-6 in their wife’s face.
In some cases, when a woman has a bad response to her husband’s rebellion against God, he reminds her that she is to do what’s right, even when he doesn’t do what’s right. This is the scenario I have seen often.
Women are designed to respond. They tend to reflect back what is being dealt to them.
• Several men have been honest enough to admit that all they need to do is to love her and do what God commanded them to do and she naturally is submissive. To love her also includes respecting her, of course.
• A woman is naturally submissive and tends to submit in response to love.
• Although there are going to always be exceptions, I have observed that what these men said is often true.
Unfortunately, a fleshy desire in some men is to dominate, and they have this fantasy about dominating a woman and her submitting to their domination. This seems to turn them on. This is instead of loving her selflessly and sacrificially as God calls them to, with her submitting to their love. Being loving and selfless does not appeal to the flesh of these types.
Women generally respond very well to love. Some people do not want to love. They don’t seem to enjoy it, but prefer to be tyrants, selfish dictators and demand submission to their dictatorship. Then they say women have a problem with God’s design for the husband and wife!
I have even heard some non-religious women say they desire a leader. They want to be the lady of the relationship. However, they desire a leader, not a dominator.
According to some, the women have a problem with the husband selflessly and sacrificially loving her and cherishing her, while taking responsibility as he is commanded. Somehow, I do not think this is the case for many women.
In some cases, I believe the women rightfully have a problem with the man highjacking the process so that it appeals to his lust for domination, tyranny and power.
However, nowadays, with so much abuse and Bible twisting, some women do have a problem with Bible commands. I do wonder if the problem is more with the twisted interpretations and abuse, or if the problem is with God’s actual commands. In many cases, I believe it is the former and not the latter.
Often, it is the chauvinist who really has a problem with God’s design. God’s command to him is to love his wife in a self-sacrificing, cherishing way.
God’s command in the right context does not appeal to flesh, so the command has been twisted, manipulated, to suit flesh.
I think the reality is that plenty women rightfully have a problem with the adversary’s design, and not God’s design. Many Christian women have a problem with men’s rebellion against God. Some women have moments of weakness. They falter and stumble when their husband is setting bad examples.
Some men constantly remind their wife that she is not to stumble and that she is to do what is right and submit perfectly anyway, according to 1 Peter 3: 1-6. However, women are not perfect. Can’t a woman safely be the lady of her marriage without fear of being walked on and taken advantage of? Apparently not, in some cases.
God never intended for a wife to be taken advantage of. He commanded her husband to take on the responsibility of selflessly loving his wife as Christ loved the church, being a righteous example, washing her in the Word of God. His command to the wife is to respect and cooperate with her husband.
Some people claim women don’t like God’s design and are just non-compliant. While this is true for some women, the facts have often shown me otherwise.
• Even girls and women who are not religious can be very docile, passive, agreeable and wanting to please a man. I have been that way in unhealthy relationships before I got saved, and have observed other women to be the same.
• Many ladies are abused in their relationships and family or friends cannot even persuade them to leave.
• Sometimes, some women go back repeatedly to dangerous men. Women who sell their bodies often allow a man to take control of their finances and lifestyle. It is not uncommon for the man to be dangerous and abusive. In all of these cases the women are showing submission.
• A lot of men have gotten away with doing a lot of things to their women and against their women, and the women stay with them. Why? Because generally, women are wired for love. They desire love and relationship so intensely, they sometimes feel it is worth it to keep giving the man a chance.
With so many women being cooperative even while being mistreated, how will a woman respond if a man truly loved her selflessly as God called him to?
Do people really believe a woman has a problem with righteous, loving leadership? Again, the real problem is often the leader’s failure to do what is right. That said, there are some very strong and domineering women who are disrespectful and not cooperative with their husbands, or are feisty in their romantic relationships.
This is by no means an excuse, but often, women have been abused by their fathers, other relatives, or have been in controlling and abusive relationships before they become fearful and dominating themselves.
Other women have some kind of other issue where they might be hostile and controlling, even when treated kindly by a man. However, a vast majority of women have been very tolerant and have submitted themselves to men who mistreat them. This has been a common scenario.
It’s just not natural for a woman not to be love-oriented and not to respond well to love. Notice, the Bible does not warn a man how to handle his wife if he loves her like Christ loves the church and she still responds by not being submissive. I don’t think such a situation is likely to play out.
Retaliation may be a natural temptation for a wife…
However, the Bible does tell the wife how to conduct herself when her husband won’t obey the word. This is the likely and common scenario that takes place. In the King James Version of 1 Peter 3: 1-6, it even goes on to say the husband may be won by her good behavior. It did not say he will be won. This is because some are so stiff-necked and callous, that even a loving woman may not be able to help them change. It is not guaranteed he will change. Regardless, the godly woman should make sure she is right before God.
Some people are not trained well when they are children. Sometimes, they date, and their partners in life also don’t require much of them. They become spoiled, doing what they want and getting their way. Many are hardened, untrained, because their fathers or both parents raised them in a very hard way.
Or, the streets raised them. Also, some boys have not felt affirmed. They often develop into men who are obsessed with power, and are very, very ego fragile. These types of men are likely to be on a power trip and very difficult for a woman to deal with.
I believe that God, knowing this, led Apostle Peter in 1 Peter 3: 1-6 to address the difficult situation of a wife whose husband does not obey the word. Some people may assume that the husband described in this passage is an unbeliever.
However, plenty men who profess to be Christians are giving their wives a very hard time. I know this for a fact, based on personal observation. To this day, misogyny is rampant in some churches. Especially, in isolationist churches and cults.
God can empower a wife to remain godly, even when her husband is not.
Apostle Peter notifies the woman that she should submit anyway to her husband when he is not doing right. However, He did not tell her to put herself in danger. Still, she is not to retaliate, due to her husband’s bad example. This principle is not a foreign concept. In Romans 12: 2, it tells us, “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.”
No one should retaliate, and this principle is repeated to the wife, concerning her husband who is not obeying the word. It goes both ways, because if we look at the whole Bible in context, this is a continuing principle.
1 Peter 4: 1-2 says, “Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin; That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.”
Notice, it did not state that only wives or women should be willing to suffer. Cult leaders tend to like to put the pressure mainly on women.
In addition, the Bible commands a husband to love his wife like Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it (Ephesians 5: 25-27).
• Jesus Christ died a slow, terrible, gruesome, extremely painful death. He was spit on. There was great shame.
• He went through this for the church. He did not wait for the church to submit to Him first.
• This is something that the religious misogynists would not elaborate on in sermons I heard as a young girl.
Yet, some of their favorite Bible verses were Ephesians 5: 22- 24 and 1 Peter 3: 1-6. They repeated these frequently and emphasized them a lot more than verses that dealt with the duty of husbands.
Plenty people grow up this way, with an imbalanced approach to God’s word and they apply that imbalance in their lives. Some girls grow up and retain such teachings. Therefore, they do not know what to require when they begin dating. If their husband-to-be is one-sided, they may think it is normal, since they grew up with one-sided, manipulative teachings.
Sometimes, because of ignorance, women marry a man they shouldn’t be marrying. When a woman gets into an unhealthy marriage, religious chauvinists are often concerned with her staying with her husband no matter what, and reminding her about 1 Peter 3: 1-6. Yet, they don’t seem to have real compassion, show real love, or be willing to hold her husband accountable.
With so much confusion, varying interpretations, personal opinions, and false doctrine, I understand that I must refer to God’s word for truth.
This is also why I am sharing God’s truth. I realize other women may have received partial truth and twisted teachings. Bible literacy is crucial.
It is very important to be Bible literate and to ask God for understanding of His Word. The word of God is literally the weapon against satan. The infallible word of God is the great weapon against the lies of the enemy.
God is holy, fair, and God is love. His word is balanced. I love the fact that He commands the wife to submit; yield to and respect her husband. I love the fact that He commands the husband to sacrificially and selflessly love and cherish his wife. It is all good, it is all beautiful.
Used with permission from Petrina Ferguson.