What does the BIBLE say about Submission in Marriage
Reverence & Honor
Writer: Betty Miller | bibleresources.org/submission-in-marriage/
Submitting to God First
What is the definition of submission? It is yielding to another's desires without resistance. Submission to another's wishes is an attitude of the heart done willingly, while surrender is yielding by being forced to do so. Our first submission should be unto the Lord.
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. Matthew 22:37
God never forces someone to follow Him nor does He want us to be forced to follow or yield to another human being. He wants us to lovingly submit to Him and to each other. However, because of the evil in some men's hearts a person under their authority can be abusive and a submissive person can be asked to do things that they do not believe is right. That is why the Bible also gives perimeters to submission. There are Scriptures that give us a guideline as to how far any human being is to submit to another. We need to understand the proper role of submission in marriage so that our homes will be harmonious and free of contention.
The Bible teaches that, in the Spirit, women are equal with men, and each must submit unto Jesus as their spiritual head. In the flesh, in the marriage relationship, women are to be subject to their husband's headship. The Lord ordained that the man be the one that would make final decisions in the home because in any relationship involving two people one must be the final authority. In the marriage, or fleshly relationship, the man is the head and should guide his home and family. In the spirit, Jesus Christ is the head of His family and He guides each member according to His headship. Men are to love their wives like Jesus loves the church. He laid His life down for her. Men that are demanding that their wives submit to them have not learned the right way to win them and that is to love them with the love of the Lord.
Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and He is the saviour of the body.
Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.
For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband. Ephesians 5:21-33
Submission to a husband does not mean a woman is to be a slave in bondage to that man, but rather it is to be a mutual submission in love. The above scripture says we are to submit unto each other. Submission means to yield or "to set yourself under." From this definition we see we are to yield to one another instead of demanding our own way. Love should be the rule in our homes, and we should "prefer one another." Not only should this be especially true in our homes, but in our church family as well.
Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another. Romans 12:10
Both husband and wife should be submissive and loving. The love of Christ should be the rule in the home. When wifely submission is over-stressed we find it can lead to many problems that cause the husband-wife relationship to be thrown out of balance. Some even stress it to the degree that a wife must obey every command her husband dictates to her. They arrive at this conclusion because of the Scripture,
Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Ephesians 5:24
The word "everything" here is not inclusive of evil things. Women are to submit to their husbands as the church is to submit unto Christ. Christ would never ask anything of the church that was not according to God's Word. Women are never to submit unto things that do not line up with God's Word.
A perfect example of this is the New Testament account of Ananias and Sapphira. Chapter 5 of Acts records the story of how this couple conspired to hold back what they had agreed to give unto the church. The church had not asked them for anything; it was their own decision to contribute the money from the sale of their land. When the land sold, they conspired to keep back a portion of the money. However, when Ananias gave the money to the apostles, he lied and told them it was the full amount. The Holy Spirit revealed this evil lie to Peter and showed him that Satan had entered Ananias' heart. Because he lied to God, he instantly fell dead at the apostle's feet. Sapphira, Ananias' wife, later came along and upon telling the same lie, also fell dead. If she had not submitted to her husband and agreed to this evil, her life would have been spared. However, she followed in her husband's evil; thus she suffered the same fate. This should show us clearly that to submit to the evil in a husband's life will only bring destruction upon the woman.
If any man, husband or otherwise, would ask us to do something that Jesus would not sanction, then we must refuse to do it. We should also do and apply those things that the Holy Spirit would speak to us to do. We must obey Him over what man would say to us. If it is truly the Lord speaking to us, He will deal with the one who is wrong.
And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard. Acts 4:18-20