"I took a long time to realize I'd developed some distorted perceptions about biblical submission," admits Brenda Waggoner, author of The Myth of the Submissive Christian Woman (Tyndale). Because the issue of submission is so emotionally charged and hotly debated, I interviewed Brenda, a licensed Christian counselor and prolific author, to address what the Bible says about submission in marriage. Brenda shares not only her personal experiences but also her hard-won insights.
What do Christian wives think when they hear the word submission?
Many cringe when they hear it. Submission triggers negative thoughts—abuse, subservient treatment, or an overemphasis on the wife's duty to submit that downplays the husband's duty to love.
Are these negatives what you mean by "myth"?
I'm referring to distorted perceptions prevalent in the evangelical subculture, such as: I must always put others first, even if doing so means compromising myself and my needs, or I must follow precise role descriptions for relationships, even if doing so means ignoring my instincts about safety and emotional well-being.
Why do these myths mislead so many women?
They contain elements of truth, but take Bible verses out of context or use them as stand-alone proofs, which ignore the whole of Scripture. The Bible's teaching on submission doesn't change—but a woman's perception of that teaching can become distorted.
How can wives best separate myth from biblical truth?
Your experiences, role models, pastor and other authority figures, and emotional makeup can color your perception of submission. So prayerfully inquire about what's going on in your heart, since this is God's primary concern. Is self-condemnation, self-rejection, self-destructive thinking or behavior present? God disciplines his children, but he doesn't devalue or demean us.