Jump directly to the content
What's So Scary About Submission?

What's So Scary About Submission?

Six secrets about what the Bible really teaches
Average Rating:

One summer Saturday, hot and sweaty, I finished mowing the lawn and realized, This is the perfect time to spray Weed & Feed on the grass. I didn't have any Weed & Feed, though, so I walked into the kitchen and told my wife, Karen, "I'm going to the store."

She said, "But the kids and I are waiting for you to go to the pool with us."

"That can wait," I said flatly.

"Honey," she said with emphasis, "we promised the kids we'd all go."

The next thing I knew, we were arguing.

Some time later I thought, She wanted you to go to the nice, cold pool, and you argued for the right to stay and work in the heat? You are terminally dumb. But this argument wasn't about logic. It was about what I wanted, and what she wanted could wait.

Almost every day in marriage, you and I find ourselves in a struggle. Our spouse makes us mad. We can't get what we want. What makes these situations especially difficult is that usually, underneath whatever the argument seems to be about—such as getting Weed & Feed—it's really about power.

The Bible offers tremendous wisdom on what to do in these situations. From its pages we can learn how to move beyond many of the power struggles in marriage.

The disliked word

In Ephesians 5, the apostle Paul explains to Christians how to live the Christian life: "Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ" (verse 21).

The word submit is surely one of the most difficult, disliked, and divisive words in the Bible. But Paul says to these Christians, "Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ." Whatever the word submit means, it's something Paul thinks every Christian can and should do. He then illustrates how to submit by giving three examples from relationships in his day—wives and husbands, children and fathers, and slaves and masters. In each example, one person has more power, and one person has far less power.

Take, for example, wives and husbands. In Paul's day, a wife had no legal rights. Her husband could do whatever he wanted in legal affairs without her consent. But a wife had to get her husband's permission before she could buy or sell property or even make a will. Husbands also had the financial advantages and virtually all the education. They had the support of pagan philosophy, which taught that women are damaged, inferior forms of males.

Whenever there's this kind of imbalance of power, what's the person holding greater power or authority likely to do? Lord it over the other person, control her, use her to make his life easier.

No First PageNo Previous PagePage 1 of 5Next PageLast Page

Sign up for TCW's free Marriage Partnership e-newsletter for weekly updates and encouragement through the joys, trials, and tribulations of marriage.
Related Topics:Marriage; Service; Submission

also in this issue

March Week 4
Be a Yes-Woman

Be a Yes-Woman

What submission to God is about
The Surprising Truth About Submission

The Surprising Truth About Submission

How my marriage mirrors my relationship with God
Romans 12:10

Romans 12:10

Love and honor each other
The Hidden Power of Submission

The Hidden Power of Submission

The secret that can unlock deep intimacy in marriage

ratings & comments

Average User Rating:

Displaying 1–3 of 8 comments


September 01, 2014  11:23pm

Excellent article. I am really tired of hearing wife only submit lessons. I have always wondered how any marriage could truly be happy if it only went one way. Although that is what they teach where I go. How could a husband possibly being putting his wife first if he always thought everything should go his way. Where is that sacrificial love? Where is the honoring and cherishing? Most articles and lessons seem to say the way to have harmony is for the husband to always get his way when there is a disagreement. Wife you must submit? Can a husband who feels this way really be loving his wife as himself?

Report Abuse


March 31, 2014  7:55am

I'm really tired of evangelicals talking about submission. Every wedding seems to have this message. It's time to lay it down. In Paul's day, he never knew another woman as educated as himself. He probably never even considered it possible. "Submit to one another in love" should be the ideal the world sees. If marriage can't be a great partnership with each looking out for the needs of the other then it certainly is not reflecting the love of Christ.

Report Abuse


August 22, 2013  2:50pm

This articleis very helpful, I was thinking of how to help a young couple settle differences in their marriage

Report Abuse

Rate and comment on this article: *



1000 character limit

* Comments may be edited for tone and clarity.

More For Women
Gifted for Leadership

gifted for leadership

The Leadership Journal blog inspires and connects women leaders in church ministry
Her Meneutics


The Christianity Today  women's site provides news and analysis for evangelical women