Who, Me? Be Submissive?

marriage submission Christianity

My friend, Chris, gave a talk last night on submission taken from Ephesians 5. She’s a brave soul!

If you’ve ever struggled with submission (and who hasn’t—whether to a husband, boss, or someone else), you’ll find her words worth reading and thinking about. Please understand her presentation in no way endorses abuse of any kind.

Let me encourage you to:

  • Leave aside your emotional reactions and reflect.
  • Ask to hear what God might be saying to you.
  • Listen and respond.

That’s what I did, and God showed me some negative attitudes

I need to change. Maybe He’ll speak to you, too.

Here’s what Chris said:

Submission—the hated word

It seems the word submission is hated, feared and badly misunderstood but I think it is refreshing to be able to talk about it from God’s perspective. We hear so much from the world about the role of a woman that it is easy to subconsciously start believing it. Even in Christian circles the word has been misconstrued and misrepresented.

I would like to make a disclaimer before I start.

  • I don’t have it all together. I have been married for 45 years and I am learning and growing but I am not coming to you as one who has it figured out. I have made most mistakes common to man. I am probably the least likely one to be standing here, so it is with His strength and power that I am speaking to you. Life isn’t easy, relationships aren’t easy. It doesn’t matter if you are married or single. God is faithful to complete the work he has started in us.

Let’s talk about this word…Submission.

Why does the mere mention of the word submission make the hair stand up on the back of our necks? I can understand the misuse of the word creating anxiety but we have become hyper- sensitive about any use of the word submission. Yes, it has been misused, misrepresented and often abused. Submission is a bad word in our culture.

My objective is to look at the word submission and let God speak his truth to us.

Some things to think about are…..

  • Are there appropriate uses of the word?
  • What is it that God wants us to understand?
  • If the word itself strikes terror into you, don’t run from it but allow yourself to think about why.

Just to put us a little at ease….Ephesians really has much more to say to the men than to the women….. Men actually have more responsibility. There are more verses dedicated toward their role.  However, Ephesians 5:22 says

Wives submit to your own husbands as to the Lord.

marriage submission ChristianityWhy does it seem like an unreasonable request that we are to submit to our husbands just as we do to the Lord? I’m wondering if maybe some of our struggle with the word is that it has been taken out of context.  Our culture has made it into a degrading, derogatory command.

But is that the spirit in which it’s stated? The verse actually says to submit to our husbands as to God.

So let’s ask ourselves some questions….

Do we get upset about submitting to God? Well if we are honest about it, sometimes maybe yes when God is asking us to do something we are unwilling to do,

I’m wondering if the problem is deeper than submission

I’m wondering if the problem is really pride. 

Our self-centeredness exposes our pride, and when we are self-centered we are on the throne…we are first… 

Maybe instead of being a command, submission is the result of an attitude. An attitude of humility and respect, coming from our hearts rather than an attitude of pride and entitlement, or equality or demands. 

 Humility versus pride

  • What do we do when things aren’t fair? How do we handle it?

Often we wait for the other person to make the first move and then base our actions and responses on theirs.

  • In many relationships fairness becomes the unspoken rule. Henry Cloud says, “Fair is giving good things to others as long as they give good things to us.”   

If they fail us in some way we respond “fairly”.  We give it right back to them either at the moment or soon after.  Either our words or our actions say, “That’s not fair” therefore I am not going to do good to you anymore. In fact I’m going to give you exactly what you are giving me. Then you can see how it feels.

The problem with playing fair is that all it takes for any relationship to go sour is for one person not to perform, then the other one will do the same.  There is an interlocking dependency:  the other person must be good so I can be good to them—otherwise I won’t be.

marriage submission ChristianityWhen this happens and we perceive we haven’t been treated fairly or things aren’t fair we harbor those hurts or the injustice.  We tuck it away down in our hearts and put the next hurt beside it and it grows into bitterness.

Beth Moore says that bitterness is a spiritual cancer, a rapidly growing malignancy that can consume your life.  After it consumes the soul, it begins to eat away at the body.  It is so contagious that we can pass it to our children who are often oblivious to the source of their bitterness. Hebrews 12:15 warns: Watch out that no bitterness takes root among you, for as it springs up it causes deep trouble, hurting many in their spiritual lives.

Love and Respect

  • We don’t have a marriage crisis in the Christian community; we have a crisis of living out our faith. My spouse doesn’t cause me to be the way I am, he reveals the way I am. When my reactions are unloving it reveals that I still have unresolved issues.

We have to realize that the only real healing and comfort we are going to get is by looking to the Lord and trusting Him with your situation, as painful as it is. Then we can begin to grow spiritually when we take responsibility for our part and quit the victim role, and the fairness game

Think of a speck of sand. If the sand gets in the human eye, it causes irritation then infection and if not cared for eventually loss of vision. But put that same speck of sand in an oyster. It causes irritation, then secretion and eventually the oyster forms a pearl. Was the sand the primary cause of the results in the eye? Was the sand the primary cause of the results in the oyster? No. If it were, the results would be the same. The sand was an agent that revealed the inner properties of the eye and of the oyster.

In a real sense when life with your spouse causes irritation you can let it develop into an infection or you can allow it to become a pearl.

We all have irritations. How are we reacting to them? Are we letting those irritations become infections, infecting us with bitterness or are we allowing God to use those irritations?

Do we respond the same way we did 5 years ago or are we allowing God to teach us a new way?

I encourage and exhort you to forgive. Forgive your husband. Unforgiveness puts our souls in prison and gives the devil the key. When you are hurt, before you move on, say even in your mind…I forgive you…I forgive you for……name it……..don’t let the hurt take root and grow…

Don’t cause the Holy Spirit sorrow by the way you live or by the way you talk to your husband.

Stop being mean, bad tempered and angry. Quarreling, harsh words and dislike of others should have no place in your lives.  Instead be kind to each other tender-hearted forgiving one another just as God has forgiven you, because you belong to God. (Eph. 4)

  • You see it isn’t about our husbands. It’s really about our relationship to God.
  • Are we willing to trust him to work in our heart and character?
  • Are we willing to learn a new way, a different way of relating?
  • Are we willing to let go of bitterness?
  • Are we willing to let go of our agenda and say Jesus I want you?
  • I want you …..more than I want to be right or have my way
  • I want to be like you….I want to reflect you
  • I need you Jesus…


Qu.  I’d love to hear your comments—and how God might be speaking to you about this topic.

Choose to grow more like Jesus, my friends. Let’s strengthen each other on our journey.

Love in Christ Jesus,


Join me for my interview on The 5-Success Secrets for Reaching Your God-Given Goals on Marnie’s Friends. http://ow.ly/3rKC30aSc4X

Carol Graham of Battered Hope recently interviewed me on The Secret to a Better Marriage. Check it out! http://ow.ly/nhv830a5zR1 

For more on marriage, check out my book, Why Can’t He Be More Like Me? Using Scripture, humor, and colorful illustrations from my own struggles, I offer hope in this upbeat, personal, practical, biblically grounded, and empathetic book. It will help women analyze areas of marital conflict by reviewing their backgrounds, parenting personalities, expectations, needs, and reactions. Each chapter provides practical tools to help women learn to accept and enjoy their mate, resulting in a strengthened relationship, better communication, and deeper understanding of each other.

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    As an international speaker, multi-published author, Bible teacher, mentor, and spiritual coach, it's my goal to encourage women to thrive in their relationship with Christ and in life.

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    3 thoughts on “Who, Me? Be Submissive?

    1. Forgiveness and submission are necessary attitudes, as Scripture states, to curtail bitterness and not disrupt my walk with God. However, I don’t think trust is automatically to be given especially for long standing patterns of wrong doing. I am learning the value of letting the sower reap his own harvest in these situations. Proper boundaries are needed to protect myself and let consequences occur.

      • I agree, Jennie. Trust takes a long time to be rebuilt and your way of handling the situation is wise and necessary. Thank you for your input. Poppy

    2. Poppy, thank you for sharing what your friend, Chris shared about submission!! There is still much to be learned even after almost 49 yrs of marriage!!! I especially loved the questions ! “It’s not about my relationship w/my husband but rather my relationship w/God!!!”” WOW!!!
      The questions that really “grabbed” me were: Am I willing to let go of my agenda & say I want You, Jesus”!!!! “I want You more than I want to be right or have my own way! I want to reflect You, Jesus!!! Lots to think about – meditate on & act on!!!
      Thank you for sharing!!! No, submission is really not a “bad” word!!!

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