Where is the line between biblical submission and being a doormat?

Jay Dee

Where is the line between biblical submission and being a doormat?

Jul 02, 2013

My wife and I talk about sex a fair bit.  Why?  Well, probably a few reasons: I have a fascination with sexuality, particularly in marriage.  The hormones and neuro-chemicals involved, physiological and psychological responses, how it impacts marriage and the rest of life.  Why we do the things we

Submissive or slave - What is Biblical Submission?My wife and I talk about sex a fair bit.  Why?  Well, probably a few reasons:

  1. I have a fascination with sexuality, particularly in marriage.  The hormones and neuro-chemicals involved, physiological and psychological responses, how it impacts marriage and the rest of life.  Why we do the things we do, why we don’t do the things we don’t.  Why are there stigmas about certain activities, why aren’t there about others?  So many questions, and only a few places that are open to discussing them.
  2. Sometimes I’m processing something I want to write here, but I need some more thought to flesh it out.  My wife offers many perspectives I cannot: a wife’s perspective, a woman’s perspective, a low-drive perspective, a wise perspective, and so on.
  3. Sex has been an issue in our marriage, and we’re still working on it.  While it’s not perfect, it is pretty good, and we’ve come a long way, but there’s always more improvement to be had.

The other night, we were talking, and this question came up: Where is the line between being submissive and being a doormat?  If the high-drive spouse desires sex, and the low-drive doesn’t, should there be sex?  I’ve answered this question before, indirectly, but I think it needs to be framed a bit.  What about the next night? And the next? And the next? How many days in a row constitutes submission/self-less love, and where is point where it becomes being a sex-slave, a doormat, just an object to have sex with?

Biblical submission must be voluntary

I think the answer lies in attitude, as it does with most things, in who is the driving force behind the behavior.

For example, the oft quoted verses in regards to submission:

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. – Ephesians 5:22-24

Now, this is a call for wives to submit to the authority God gave husbands over them, and the household.  In fact, in Hebrew, the word father literally means “tent pole” or “strength of the house”.  He is the one that holds up the household.  There are links to that of power, authority, strength, protection over the house (tent), household, family.  Now, I believe God gave this authority to husbands over their wives, but I do not believe He gave the authority to enforce it against their will.  Otherwise the above verse would read more like this:

Husbands, make sure your wives submit… Now as Christ forces the church to submit, so also husbands should force their wives to submit in everything.

Now, obviously that is ridiculous.  Christ does not force us to submit, if He did, the entire concept of freewill would fall apart.  This is made even clearer in first Peter:

Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct.  – 1 Peter 3:1-2

Now, how would these husbands be won if they were forcing their wives to submit.  It has to be voluntary, or this verse has no meaning.  I think this also points to one of the reasons that God set up this hierarchy of submission/headship within the family.  It reflects our relationship with God.  By wives submitting, we learn what it is like to submit to God (as written in Peter), likewise, by being responsible as the head of the family, we glimpse a little of what it is like to be in Christ’s shoes and we can learn from that as well.  God knew what he was doing when he set these things up.

Lastly, and I’ll admit, these two aren’t about marriage specifically:

So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” – 1 Peter 5:1-5

Obviously, this is not talking about marriage, but it is talking about submission to those in authority over you, I want to pay particular attention to that phrase of “not domineering over those in your charge”, in case there is any doubt that Biblical submission must be voluntary.

Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. – Hebrews 13:17

And yet again, Paul relates how fighting submission to authority will gain you nothing.  In fact, the opposite, you will lose out on something.  Here’s the thing that people have trouble believing:  Every woman I have talked to who has submitted voluntarily to her husband has seen improvements in their marriage, in their life together, and in her own personal life separately.    They are happier, they are closer to their husband, their children, and to God.

When biblical submission isn’t followed

So, what happens when a wife refuses to submit, or submits begrudgingly?

It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife. – Proverbs 21:9

A continual dripping on a rainy day and a quarrelsome wife are alike – Proverbs 27:15

It is better to live in a desert land than with a quarrelsome and fretful woman. – Proverbs 21:19

An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who brings shame is like rottenness in his bones. – Proverbs 12:4

And then there are the wives who go beyond not submitting and try to dominate their husbands or go behind their backs, which always ends in disaster:

  • Adam and Eve  – 1 Timothy 2:13-14 – Eve was deceived, but Adam knew better and followed his wife.
  • Abraham, Sarah, Hagar – Genesis 16 – Sarah didn’t believe God’s promise, so she told Abraham to take Hagar to have children with.  Abraham obeyed.
  • Solomon and his wives – 1 Kings 11 – Solomon’s wives led him astray.
  • Samson and Delilah (I know, not married, still good example) – Judges 16 – Samson caves and tells her his secret, and she has his eyed gouged out and him enslaved

That’s just off the top of my head, I’d be willing to bet there are twice that many at least.  Likewise, I’ve seen it in marriages around me, and in the beginning of my own marriage.  I have seen marriage which are doing well (though with serious struggles) with no one in charge, an egalitarian marriage, but most marriages I see, where the wife is in charge, or she grudgingly submits, she disrespects her husband whenever he is mentioned, damaging the relationship daily.

So, I think the line is all in the attitude, the willingness to submit.  This does not mean you have to be silent, this does not mean you are not respected, loved, cherished.  I could not do what I do, personally or professionally to anywhere near the capacity I do now without her there helping, advising and supporting me.  But, likewise, I could not be as effective as I am if I needed to constantly fight her on every decision.  We discuss things, we bring opinions, advice, evidence, and then I make a decision.  I don’t do it in a vacuum, but it is my responsibility, and frankly, my wife likes it that way.

Your turn

So, those are my thoughts.  What are yours?

Looking for help?

62 thoughts on “Where is the line between biblical submission and being a doormat?”

  1. LatterDay Marriage says:

    I do not want my wife to be a doormat, I don’t think I could love her so deeply if she were like that because I wouldn’t have as much respect for her. I value my wife’s intelligence and perspective and if she feels the need to try and convince me to change my mind on something, I want her to let me know her concerns. Then I have the blessing of her input and she has the confidence that she truly is my partner.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      I agree, a wife’s input is very valuable, I would not be without it. I sort of equate this to being on a church board:
      Having many perspectives and ideas during discussion is of great value, then, once the vote is passed, everyone agrees to submit to the will of the board, regardless of their original opinion. Anything else results in anarchy and fracturing of the church.

      Likewise in a marriage, but with two people, you need someone with a stronger vote, to settle ties, and God, in His word, has given that vote, and the resulting responsibility, to husbands.

      And that’s the only way, I believe, it really can work. Otherwise there will be an issue to which you do not see eye to eye on, and either you will stalemate and not be able to move forward, or you will do it, and one or the other will be reminding you of that choice for the rest of your marriage because they disagreed; suddenly the valuable perspective becomes a liability, and I would never want to think of my wife in such ways.

    2. Rebecca Cooks says:

      Submission is a passive thought, it is also selective depending upon your spouses capability to interact. If one spouse (male) isn’t able to lead then who makes the decisions. As his wife I want my husband to make decisions and be the head and not the feet. Because he was abandoned by his mother at the age of 5 and raised by various family members until abandoned by them and placed into a group home of severe mental retardation patients (he was not) this abity to make decisions on his own was stunted. My husband is African American while I am Caucasian. In the early 50’s abandoned black male children were put into institutions because there weren’t foster homes or children’s homes.
      With this being said, I find ways to help him to be the head of our family. Being able to see when he is able to make decisions then it can be creative to give him credit on ideas even if the idea is mine…..when we dated he took control of deciding where we went or what we would do, respectfully asking me my opinion. To me that was attractive. With budgets and time management I have to be in the lead. Because of his failure to follow through with them has caused me to jump in and do it. The same in our sex life, he isn’t able to follow through. We have not had a chance to make live. He can on his own but not follow through including me. So, there you have it…….I love him so much and and we just have this disconnection. We have seen doctors, it has to start in the mind, yes, and that’s where the problem is.

      1. Jay Dee says:

        I don’t think submission is passive at all.
        I think someone who is truly submissive will not just blindly accept that they are told to do, but rather ask questions, challenge them and even look for ways to fulfill the one who leads in ways they aren’t explicitly told.

        For example, if our relationship with God, we all submit. That doesn’t mean we just sit back and wait for revelation. We live our lives, looking for opportunities to serve, to please Him. That’s not passive, or at least shouldn’t be.

  2. Robyn Gibson says:

    You can group me in with those wives who have voluntarily submitted. The example that cleared it up for me was how Christ embraced what God wanted Him to do – even though Jesus makes it clear in the garden prayer when He asks God to do it another way – He still was obedient to God.

    It is in fighting submission that the word ‘doormat’ crops up in the female mind/heart. It is meant to be a negative word to describe something distasteful – and completely revealing about where my heart was at the time. It presupposed being taken advantage of (assuming the worse in a person and not the best) and showed lack of respect for my husband’s abilities. But mostly, lack of faith in God – as He’s the One who’s told wives to submit.

    Christ wasn’t a doormat for submitting His power God’s plan of the cross – which brought about the tremendous work of salvation.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      That is an awesome example, thank you.

  3. libl says:

    I submit to hubby and joyfully so, but it took me over a decade to lay boundaries and not let him doormat me. I have a right to say no to sin and hurt in our marriage. I have a voice and I have needs that he is supposed to meet according to God’s Word. A wife’s submission also requires that a husband leads. His fearful or lazyindecision, leaving the family hanging, is not at all good. I can go without a lot, but I have our children to consider and sometimes I have to go over hubby’s head because he gave up his role and duty. And, men, a wife isn’t a nag if she presses you for a decision. She is a nag if she continues about it after your decision .is made!

    1. Jay Dee says:

      I agree, we are all submissive to God first.
      I also agree that protection of the family is of vital importance as well, and yes, it is hard to follow when no one is leading.

      But, I think it is possible for a wife to nag if she’s pressing you for a decision. Sometime, decisions don’t need to be made, but that doesn’t sound like what you’re talking about. Just not willing to give a black & white rule on that one. But sometimes being quick to decide is a danger, and we would have been better off delaying decision making. This is the other side of the pendulum from procrastination. Striking a balance in the middle is the key.

      1. libl says:

        You are right about nagging to push a decision before its time. I am talking about when a husband won’t even attempt to make a decision and just sweeps it under the rug. My dh does take longer than I would like to make decisions, and I have learned to wait patiently. I also had to help hubby get to a point where he could trust me to submit joyfully and not throw his decision back in his face. He is very wary due to the broken household he grew up in. It can be hard for him to trust women and not see them as unhappy no matter what usurpers.

      2. ButterflyWings says:

        like libl, I struggle with a husband who is indecisive out of fear. Fear of what? I honestly have no idea. He’s been like this his entire life according to those close to him.

        I know my situation is a little awkward – my exhusband would use the same thing to abuse me – refuse to make decisions that had to made, or simply insisted I make them, and then when I did make them, he’d tear me to shreds and abuse me terribly because whatever I chose, according to him was wrong. And while my second husband isn’t an abuser, when I’m forced to make a decision because it’s a genuine necessity and even when it’s a correct one, he gets resentful. He doesn’t mean to show it (he thinks he’s hiding it and that I don’t see it), but I do. I don’t want to make decisions – I hate making decisions with a passion. Ever since I was small child, abused by my parents no matter what I did, abused by my first husband no matter what I did – it hurts me to be forced to make decisions.

        It’s big things and it’s even seemingly small things. Like simply going shopping with my husband can be a nightmare. If I say to him “Are we finished now” he’ll answer with “I don’t know”, I’ll say “I’m finished, are you” and he’ll stand there for five or ten minutes in silence, literally just standing there, so I’ll say “Can we go now please” very gently, to wish he’ll answer “I don’t know” and then just keep standing there. I’ve stood there for up to an hour waiting for him, every 15 minutes or so (so it’s not nagging) asking him if we can leave, and will get “I don’t know”. Even when we’re running late and my daughter needs picking up somewhere where it could be dangerous if not picked up from on time, he’ll just stand there stuck in indecision. When it finally reaches the point where it will be dangerous neglect to my daughter if we don’t leave and get her, and I’ll finally say “honey we need to go now, let’s go”, no matter how gently I put it, he’ll get upset that I’m “telling him what to do”.

        I’m at a total loss as to what to do. If it were just me, I’d stand there 10 or 20 hours til the shop closed and we got kicked out (or til my legs gave way which would probably happen first), but I can’t endanger my daughter because he can’t decide if he’s finished at the shops or not – because sadly there are many times he will not make a decision at all until someone or something makes it for him. And little indecisions are having major consequences for us.

        I know I can never force him to become the person who is happy to make decisions and make them in the time frame required when there is a time frame – that is something he has to learn to do when he is ready.

        But I just wish he wouldn’t get resentful when I am forced to make a decision because he is too paralysed to. It’s crushingly painful enough for me to have to make decisions for us as a couple, but I can’t cope anymore with him getting upset by it.

        1. LatterDay Marriage says:

          I’ve struggled with being decisive in the past, for me it was also about fear. Fear of being wrong, and because of being wrong looking foolish or weak, losing respect and love, feeling shame, being judged and criticized by others and myself.

          If that is the case with your husband, assure him that you trust his judgement, and will support and honor him no matter what. Give him the freedom to fail, and fail big, then he’ll have the confidence to try to win big.

          1. Jay Dee says:

            I had the same fears. I made some decisions early in our marriage that turned out to be bad ones (like a car purchase). During our bad years, my wife reminded me of that every month or two, every time we had an argument that could be linked to decision making in the slightest way.

            Because of that, I refused to make a decision for many years. It took a lot of work to get past that for both of us.

        2. Jay Dee says:

          In your case, we can take a pretty good guess at what the fears are. He has aspergers, which means he’s living in a word that is governed by rules he doesn’t understand. So much of interaction in society is run by these unstated “common sense”, intuitive behaviours which are completely non-native to someone with aspergers, quite simply, the part of their brain that is supposed to handle this never developed.

          Typically other parts of the brain develop instead to compensate, particularly the logic center as instead of intuitively understanding/reading people and situation, complex rules must be made up to govern social interaction, which takes a fair bit a processing to avoid too much of a lag time in responding. Even so, it can often be noticed that something is a bit “off” with their response times in social situations.

          But, put them in a math problem, science, programming, computers, anything that doesn’t involve people and these rules that make no sense, and all of a sudden, they out-perform “neuro-typical” people.

          So, no wonder he has fear of making decisions, he’s basically doing it blind, playing a game he doesn’t know the rules to, and the outcome is life and death. How quickly would you be able to make a decision?

          1. ButterflyWings says:

            I do understand unfortunately. While not quite meeting the criteria for aspergers, I have “asperger tendencies” which is probably at least a decent sized part of my fear of making decisions (not just a life time of being told my decisions were wrong no matter what I decided). In many ways, at least for me, life or death situations are far easier to decide on. Because of my training (I’m a nurse and have three degrees in various healthcare fields) but more so because in life and death situations, the decision matrix is usually obvious eg. I see a burning car, if I leave someone in their, they will die, if I take them, out they could have a spinal injury and could be left with a severed spinal cord, so it’s obvious you save their life and deal with the spinal injury second. But pork or beef for dinner? who cares right?
            So I guess deep down I do understand why he feels indecisive, but I get frustrated because I was raised that a decision has to be made, and as an adult, my first husband didn’t leave me a choice. and having a child made a difference. Having my daughter made a huge difference to me – it comes with a responsibility that you have to make a decision, even if you have to flip a coin to do it.
            Maybe my husband will be different after the baby gets here. I hope and pray that he finds the strength to make decisions by then. I guess I just scared thinking “what if I come home from work and the baby hasn’t been fed or changed because he couldn’t decide what bottle or nappy to use”.
            I guess my frustration stems also from the fact that we both know he is supposed to be the leader of the house and that he knows how stressful it is for me to have to be forced to make decisions and that he resents me for making decisions even when he forced me to have to.
            I’m a firm believer a man doesn’t have to make all the decisions – that it’s ok to delegate certain decisions to his wife or kids or to other relevant others – just as long as it’s the man who has had the final say on how the decision gets made (if you know what I’m trying to say) eg letting his kids choose which high school they want to go to if money isn’t an issue and he doesn’t have a preference, or letting his wife choose the family car if he has no interest in what car they drive etc. But if a man gets stuck and is torn equally between two decisions, he need to at least ask for help deciding, and if he does choose to delegate the decision making, that he not resent the person who makes the decision eg in the above example, if he says to the kids “ok kids, you choose which school” then not getting mad at the kids later for their choice of schools, or if he lets the wife choose the family car, not getting mad at her if he then decides it’s not quite what he wanted.
            But yes… I do understand his underlying issue most of the time. I don’t understand people. Social situations are a nightmare (actually he does a lot better than me – he follows his own mental script and people love him whereas I constantly seem to walk around with my foot firmly planted in my mouth), I just don’t know how to encourage to take the lead beyond what I’ve already tried. He knows I back all of his decisions and he actually makes very very few wrong decisions. But beyond encouraging him and praying for him, I’m not sure what else is left.

    2. Anonymous says:

      Thank you! This is so helpful.

      1. Jay Dee says:

        You’re very welcome!

  4. M says:

    Not trying to be an “editor” for you, but in one of your examples, you mixed up Moses and Abraham. Good points though.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      It was fixed in the copy right after I posted (thanks to my wife’s editing), but I’m afraid if you subscribe via email or RSS, you would have gotten the original publication. Thank you for reading with a critical eye though!

  5. ButterflyWings says:

    Just wanted to add one other thing.

    “Here’s the thing that people have trouble believing: Every woman I have talked to who has submitted voluntarily to her husband has seen improvements in their marriage, in their life together, and in her own personal life separately. They are happier, they are closer to their husband, their children, and to God.Here’s the thing that people have trouble believing: Every woman I have talked to who has submitted voluntarily to her husband has seen improvements in their marriage, in their life together, and in her own personal life separately. They are happier, they are closer to their husband, their children, and to God.”

    I just want to point out there are sadly many exceptions to this. I’m guessing you don’t keep many abusers in your circle of friends and colleagues (who would???). Unfortunately I have come across way too many, and having been in an abusive relationship, no matter what I did for my first husband, it wasn’t enough.

    The only thing I wouldn’t submit to was becoming an illicit drug addict with him, and having threesomes with him and allowing him to have an open relationship with him seeing tranvestites and transexuals for sex. Because I would not do those things, to him I wasn’t submissive and he despised me for it. The more I submitted to him on everything else though, the less he respected, and the worse he treated me, the more depressed I felt and the more I felt God had abandoned me. My personal life, my relationship with my husband, and my relationship with God all went downhill. The only thing that wasn’t effected directly was my relationship with my daughter, but even that was effected indirectly.

    Submission can only do so much. If you are married to an abuser, no matter what you do, to them it will never be enough.

    Don’t get me wrong – I love your article, really love it actually – it gives one of the best descriptions of why submission is good and healthy – but disagree that it will always leads to benefits. If you’re married to an abuser, sometimes submission just won’t work and it eventually reaches the stage where you have to leave to protect yourself.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      You are right, it will not work in every situation. I’m sorry if I made it sound as if it will. But, I believe it will work in the vast majority.

      I believe you were right in your choices not to do those things. Submission to God comes first, always, regardless of context.

      And I agree, submission can only do so much.

      I’m glad you still liked the post, despite it not fitting your situation.

  6. LatterDay Marriage says:

    Sounds more like he was dominating you rather than you were submitting to him, I am so sorry you had to go through that. In my book, if it can wind up causing a woman to go to hell or to jail, she is perfectly within her rights to refuse. Men must submit too, to God.

  7. Kevin says:

    I just recently discovered your blog and I am really enjoying it. I agree with the main point of your post, but I question some of your exegesis.

    First, where did you get that בא (av), the Hebrew word for “Father” means “tent pole?” I checked several Hebrew lexicons and couldn’t find that meaning. Besides, it is a bit of a non sequitor to give the definition of a Hebrew word for father to support you quoting a verse from the NT dealing with husbands.

    Secondly, we shouldn’t under emphasize that wives are commanded to submit to their husbands. True, submission should be given with joy — for that is how Jesus submitted to the Father — but it isn’t voluntary or optional.

    Paul’s point in Ephesians 5 is that marriage is a picture of relationship between Christ and the church. Jesus never once submits to the church. The church always submits to Christ. That isn’t optional. A marriage where the wife ursurps the leadership role is a distorted picture of the church’s relationship to Christ. Likewise, a marriage with a harsh, domineering husband beating (either literally/physically or figuartively/emotionally) his wife into submission is a distorted picture of Christ’s relationship with the church.

    You said “Christ does not force us to submit, if He did, the entire concept of freewill would fall apart.” This is only true if you hold to a libertarian view of freewill. Because God is Sovereign, all of our actions are predestined or “forced” (in a libertarian sense). Yet our actions are also “free” because we do what our heart and nature wants to do. God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility and freedom are not contradictory. This relates to marriage in that God must change a woman’s heart so that it becomes her desire to submit to her husband. Just as we would never come to Christ on our own unless the Holy Spirit draws us.

    Lastly, you said regarding the verse in 1 Peter, “Now, how would these husbands be won if they were forcing their wives to submit. It has to be voluntary, or this verse has no meaning.” In context, Peter is talking about suffering for Christ. He begins 3:1 with “Likewise” referring back to 2:18-25 which talks about slaves being subject to unjust masters. Peter gives the example of Christ who “when he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly” (2:23). Likewise, wives are to submit even to an unsaved husband. This is very hard, but what a picture of Christ for a wife to submit to a unsaved man. What a wonderful picture of Christ loving us and dying for us “while we were yet sinners” (Rom 5:8). Peter’s point, then is for wives to joyfully submit even when forced to do so by an unsaved husband in obedience to Christ and that God may use that testimony to draw their husband to Christ.

    The church has lost a lot of the biblical teaching on submission and headship. And the gospel has suffered for it. And our marriages have suffered for it as well. A husband’s headship when he exercises it by not looking to his own interests but that of his wife’s is a beautiful picture of Christ laying down his life for the church. And a wife joyfully submitting to her husband is a beautiful picture of the church obeying her Lord in everything. We desperately need more marriages to display this picture to our lost world.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Wow, lots of stuff in that comment, I’ll do my best to address the whole thing. I should point out though, I have no formal training in exegetical studies, I’m not a pastor, haven’t been to seminary. I’ve said this many times before, but if you’re new, you may not have seen it yet. I have no problems being corrected, but I do like to understand things fully before changing my opinion, so if I push back a bit, it is not out of pride, but for the purpose of gaining a better understanding so I can make an informed decision.

      So, first, the word Father. As you said, the word in Hebrew script is אב (you got your backwards, it’s right-to-left) using modern day script. If you go back farther, closer to the beginnings of the language, you get a ox-head followed by a tent. Now, this script (some call it paleo-Hebrew others call something else paleo-Hebrew, so it’s hard to reference the name of it) was ideographic as well as phonographic, which means each symbol had a concept or concepts as well as a sound. So, the ox-head (Aleph) means strength, and the tent (Bet) means, well, tent, or household, family by implication. At this time, the Hebrews were living in tents, literally, the “one who holds up the tent” is the tent-pole, while figuratively, this is the father.

      Note: I’ve also seen it in lexicons as בא (ba) as you wrote it.

      Sources include the Ancient Hebrew Lexicon of the Bible by Jeff A. Benner, for a simple source click here: The Mechanics Of Ancient Hebrew Vocabulary: Hebrew Nouns by the same author. This is the most recent time I have seen this, but was not the first or only. It has come up in my personal studies fairly frequently.

      As for it being a non sequitur, I myself see a link between a father and a husband. Arguably, Hebrew is either the first language, or very close to it, the Jewish people would argue it was created by God Himself. So, I do feel there is a foundation there that is cross cultural, almost everyone is familiar with the term “abba” as father, which comes from the same root. But it really doesn’t need to be cross cultural when you consider that the author was Paul, a Jewish Pharisee (possibly a rabbi) whose primary language would have been Hebrew, and so this concept would definitely be in his mind. But, if it bothers you, ignore the paragraph, I don’t think the post hinges on it, I just thought it was a cool factoid that helped the post.

      Next, I didn’t feel I under emphasized that wives are commanded to submit. I thought that was clear by the verse I quoted. I’m not sure I needed to brow-beat it into anyone. But I would argue it is voluntary and optional. If it was not, why would Satan have tried to tempt Jesus? If He had no free-will, what’s the point? Of course Jesus’ submission to God was voluntary, I’d argue that without it, it would have no meaning.

      I agree, Jesus always submits to the church, but history has proven that the church doesn’t always submit to Christ. The church has a long bloody history of killing people who didn’t submit to its authority, but I don’t see that as being in line with Christ’s teachings. Likewise, there are still many churches today doing horrible things (not to detract from those doing wonderful things), and not submitting to God’s will. So, the argument that it’s not voluntary is…well…startling, perhaps I misunderstand your point. If we had no choice, this would be paradise, albeit, a very slave-like paradise.

      I’m not sure I hold a libertarian view of freewill, I’ve never heard the term before. The discussion between freewill and predestination is one that has plagued the churches for eons, but I think it all falls away when you recognize that God exists outside of time. Now, that’s a much larger discussion that I could probably write pages about. I’ll summarize by stating that I don’t believe there is any contradiction between freewill and predestination when you view the world from outside of the construct of space-time.

      And yes, I agree, we would never come to Christ on our own unless the Holy Spirit draws us, but I’d argue that the Holy Spirit draws all of us, we need to make the choice to follow/accept. Likewise, yes, God must change her heart, but she must be willing to have it changed.

      Now your point that wives must submit joyfully I don’t see a contention with in the post. I thought my entire point was that the only difference between slavery and submission was the choice of the person submitting. The viewpoint of the dominant one has no bearing on that decision. So, from my point of view, you framed it as a point of contention, but it seems we agree. Perhaps I misunderstood.

      And I have no problems with your last paragraph what-so-ever. Amen!

      That was fun, thank you for the discussion, I hope to hear your thoughts in return.

  8. Kevin says:


    Thanks for the response. I don’t think we are in disagreement on the main thrust of your post. I’m just questioning some of the ways you got there.

    Regarding paleo-Hebrew. I’ve read some things on the ideographic meaning of words before but I don’t think it is usually valid to argue the meaning of a word on this basis. Although it is a cool factoid, this is not the way language really works. We wouldn’t do the same thing in English. For example a “butterfly” is not “butter” + “fly.”

    Even if אב (sorry for typing it backwards before — iPad’s don’t do right-to-left well) once meant “tent pole” it doesn’t mean that it carried that meaning when the Bible was written. This is called a etymological fallacy. For example, “Nice” originally meant “foolish, stupid, senseless” (from the Old French). But to say it is an insult to call someone “nice” today is senseless.

    I would suggest you consult the regular Hebrew lexicons such as BDB, HALOT, or NIDOTTE in the future.

    And I do maintain that it is a non sequitor to support Paul’s statement that the “husband is the head of the wife” (Greek: ἀνήρ ⸉ἐστιν κεφαλὴ⸊ τῆς γυναικὸς) by the Hebrew word אב. True, Paul was a Rabbi and very fluent in Hebrew and he thought in Jewish terms. But he was writting to Gentiles in Greek. And he was writing to husbands — which is not the same thing a writting to fathers. Paul will mention fathers in 6:2 and there he will use πατήρ and not ἁνήρ. So the correct meaning of the word ἁνηρ (“husbands”) is the one Paul’s orginial readers would have understood. And it is quite a stretch to say that a 1st century Gentile reading “husband” would think of the Hebrew word for “father” as defined thousands of years before.

    As you said, the main point of your argument doesn’t hinge on this paragraph. So this is just a minor quibble of mine and I apologize if I come off as being pedantic.

    Again, I agree with the main point of your post. You are to be commended for speaking the truth about headship and submission in a culture where such things are far from popular. I would like to respond (briefly) to your comments on freewill and then explore the voluntary nature of submission, but this is already a long comment and it’s time for lunch. I will try to write later.

    This is fun. Thank you for allowing me to comment.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      I agree, it doesn’t work that way in English, but the way English was constructed and the way Hebrew was constructed are completely different. They aren’t even on the same playing field. English is an amalgamation of how many languages? Hebrew on the other hand is either the first, or very close to the first language, as evidenced by the way the words were created.

      And I love that you use the word pedantic, I have the same tendencies. And my argument was not that the readers would see it, but the writer would have thought it. And I’m more considered with the writers intent than the readers interpretation. Likewise, in the culture Paul grew up in, there wasn’t much difference between a husband and a father, except a few years generally. It was a religious obligation to have children and have a family. In fact, the wife was not allowed to obstruct her husband from meeting his religious obligation to have children. Having children was such a strong part of the obligation of a husband. You see this even in the requirement of deacons and elders. They had to have a family, a childless husband need not apply (regardless of reason).

      Anyways, looking forward to further discussion.

  9. TMJ says:

    I will admit I didn’t take time to read all of the comments. I do understand the need for closeness, communication and discussion in marriage and the need to NOT act independently. A husband and wife are after all suppose to function as one. However, I often hear men state that they discuss things with their wives and strive to reach an agreement together but then they go on to say that when an agreement can’t be reached someone must decide. I find this type of thinking problematic and unscriptural. Where do we get the idea that leadership means that we ultimately get to have everything our way? I would be interested in hearing of an example where an agreement or suitable compromise can’t be reached. I have been married for 29 years and cannot think of even one example of such an event. Let me try to explain, if it is a matter of personal choice and not a matter of right or wrong this is simply a way of stating that what the husband wants will always prevail. Is this not an abuse of power? How does this demonstrate love? Telling oneself that this is God’s design could tend to make one feel better about acting in such a way but is it an example we can find in Ephesians? How hard did we work to come to an agreeable compromise? As a husband, maybe there is a need to look again at the commandments dealing with how one is to treat their wife. I don’t see any place for selfishly desiring one’s own way while justifying such behavior. Yes, it is nice, when we can convince ourselves that our ideas are better. A good leader, is one who makes those they lead feel valued, not diminished and powerless. If a wife must always feel that things are always going to go her husbands way when she doesn’t agree with him she will definitely feel diminished and powerless. Hmmmm how many husbands can say that is the way they want to be treated? Again, married for 29 years and never encountered anything that could not be worked out so that both feel valued. It does take work and sometimes a little bit of time but the alternative is not loving. Leading is work, always having things our way is selfish even when one tries to convince oneself it is leading.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Husbands are called to lead as Christ leads the church.
      So then, by your argument, should Christ compromise for the church? If God decides something, do we have the right to say to Him “You’re being selfish! You can’t always have your way, I don’t feel valued” Shall we insist that God compromise Himself, to tell Him “it make take some time, but the alternative is not loving”?

      1. JR says:

        Check your assumptions. “Head” does not equal “Lead”. You are jumping to unsubstantiated conclusions about the meaning of “kephale”.

        1. Jay Dee says:

          Alright, I checked my assumptions. I agree, the scholars seem to disagree about this word. The ones that seem to be pushing for egalitarianism also seem to be pushing to remove Jesus as the authority in the church it seems. But see Ephesians 5:22 (the prior verse). This time Paul uses the word ὑποτάσσω to describe the same relationship from the other angle. That one word seems to clearly indicate a subordinate role for the wife, one who needs to obey. It gets used in Romans 13:1,5 (soul’s being under authority to God) and Luke 2:51 (Jesus under authority to his parents).

          Now the Luke 2:51 verse is particularly interesting. Now, obviously, Christ is not of lesser value that his earthly parents, but, at that time, in that role, He was their child, and He was subject to their authority. This is the same word Paul uses in regards to a wife and her husband. Not that she is as a child, but that she is subject and the authority is with the husband.

  10. TMJ says:

    Jay Dee, Husband are commanded to LOVE their wife as Christ loved the church. They are never told to lead them as Christ leads the church. That would be impossible. Christ is our savior, can forgive our sins, was the perfect sacrifice for us, something that a husband can never be to his wife. Christ was perfect, sinless, and self sacrificing. A husband is not perfect and does in fact make many mistakes one of which is often selfishness. “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” I think it is sinful to equate oneself with Christ.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Hi TMJ,

      Ephesians 5:22-24 says that wives are subject to their husbands. If they are subject, then the husband has to lead. It also equates the role of husbands to the role of Christ four times in those 3 verses. 1 Peter 3:1 enforces this by saying wives must submit to the authority of their husband. Again, this shows that the husbands must lead.

      As for not being called to be perfect, The Bible often calls us to be perfect. See 1 Kings 8:61, Matthew 5:48, Philippians 2:14-16, Proverbs 2:21, 2 Samuel 22:26, 1 Thessalonians 5:23, Genesis 17:1, Titus 1:7, 1 Timothy 3:2 for example. There are many more, but I think that’s enough to establish a trend. We are called to be perfect, even if we cannot achieve it.

      And as for it being sinful to equate oneself with Christ. See 1 John 4:17, which says “In this world we are like Jesus”. Again, Romans 8:17 says we are coheirs with Christ, sharing in his sufferings that we might share in his glory. And how many times does the Bible compare marriage to the relationship between Christ and the church? I don’t know, more than I can quickly count. The entire book of Hosea is based on this. Many of Christ’s parables as well. Now, if Christ thought it was OK to compare his role with the role of the husband…well, how can it be sinful for us to follow His lead in this?

      1. JR says:

        Check Titus 2:5. The purpose of submission was to avoid unnecessary conflict with the surrounding Greco-Roman culture, which was VERY male-dominated. This is the same as Paul’s discussion of slavery. He is not saying that slavery is God’s intention, but that slaves should submit for the sake of the gospel. We no longer apply Ephesians 5-6 in support of slavery, nor should it be used to force a hierarchy on marriage.

        1. Jay Dee says:

          It does not say that this is the only reason, only A reason. I would argue that Ephesians 5:22-23 tells us that submission of a wife to a husband is to remind us of the submission of the Church to Christ. To me this fits a patterns. We are to rest on Sabbath to remember creation (notice most churches are no longer doing this, and the belief in creation is fading), we are to tithe to remember who we owe everything to (again, fading), we are to give in order that we can learn to be grateful. Marriage itself is an analogy of Christ’s relationship with the Church. To me, this is a far stronger purpose. Even removing Ephesians 5-6, we still have a dozen other passages enforcing those same roles.

  11. TMJ says:

    The main commands given to a husband concerning his wife are to Love her as Christ loved the Church. To love as Christ loved, he would have to demonstrate a sacrificial type of love. He is commanded to care for her and provide for her as he does his own body. To honor cherish and love her as a joint an equal heir of salvation. Since he is commanded to love her it would be wise to see what the bible tell us about love. See 1 Corinthians verse 4, Love is PATIENT and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It DOES NOT INSIST ON ITS OWN WAY.
    It is not a bad thing for a husband to try to pattern his leadership style after Christ but he is never commanded to lead his wife as Christ led the church. It isn’t possible, he is not perfect as Christ was and cannot save her from her sins. Christ was the perfect, sinless redeemer for all who choose to follow him.
    Consider the following concerning Christ leadership from christianity.com: “Jesus always interacted with people from a position of strength. Yet he exercised that strength not by dominating but by serving. How did Jesus lead? He didn’t seek honor-he extended it. He didn’t crave respect-he gave it. The disciples tried to lead by fighting for honor and refusing to serve. They hadn’t yet learned how to find their identity in Christ. Jesus didn’t fight for a position of honor because his Father had already showered him with honor. Now he honored his disciples. By washing the disciples’ feet, Jesus lifted the disciples above himself. Without a doubt, knowing that Jesus loved and respected them fueled their ability and desire to dedicate their lives to carrying out their mission.” Jesus is definitely worth imitating and looking up to as an example of a servant leader.
    I would encourage you to think very carefully about an attitude that says I am the boss and I have final say and then to try to imply that if it is any other way it is the same as expecting compromise from our perfect savior. There is a humility problem with that type of attitude from a sinner which we all are. If you love your wife, as you say you do, your love should be as defined by God and not by man.

  12. TMJ says:

    I just noticed your comment. So above comment is not in reference to your latest although some comments may apply. The following is in response to your comments that posted on Dec. 7th at 7:39 p.m.
    Yes, it does say wives are subject (defer to ) to their husband. Also please note the husband is never commanded to coerce submission from the wife. The command to the wife is tempered by the servant love the husband is to give. Once again, look at God’s definition of love. 1 Corinthians 13:4. The christian wives submission to a Christian husband should not occur in a vacuum. In other words, they are both responsible for living according to the words of God. The christian husband cannot rightfully say you are to submit to me because God says so without considering what the commands directed at him are concerning his relationship towards his wife. Anymore than the wife should act in an unloving, disrespectful manner and demand that her husband cherish and love her sacrificially. That is not to say that a christian wife striving to please God won’t find herself submitting to a selfish tyrant just as a christian husband may find himself under obligation to love an angry, disrespectful, hateful wife. After all, Christ loved us when we were unlovable. Also, consider what your leadership in the home should be patterned after and remember we are all called to strive for perfection but ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23
    Also, you mentioned that the role of the husband is equated to the role of Christ to the Church and that is not so. It says “AS” the church is subject to Christ be subject to your own husband. This pattern follows throughout the other verses. It never equates the husband with Christ. It equates the submission to the husband to be like that given to Christ. How else could a Christian wife submit when she finds herself married to an ungodly man. How can she do this? by reminding herself that she is doing it for God. She might ask? “How can he expect me to submit to this awful ungodly man?” Well, he expected his son Christ to submit to death on the cross for the salvation of ungodly sinners. This is a how a wife can submit “as” unto Christ by reminding herself that it is not because this man deserves it but because she is serving God and placing her trust in him.
    As to your reference to evaluating oneself with Christ you referenced 1 John 4:17, I would encourage to look at verse 16 also. 16 We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17 By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world.” This is speaking of the love which God has for us. It tells us God is love and tells us that if we abide in love God will dwell in us. It is meant to give us confidence in the day of judgement. It tells us that as he is in this world so are we. It never says we are LIKE Jesus, it says “as he is in this world so are we.” Also this verse is not directed at husbands only. In fact this is not about the marriage relationship or the husbands position at all.
    I found the following ideas to be quite helpful.
    Worldly headship: “I am your head, so you take your orders from me and must do whatever I want.”
    Godly headship: “I am your head, so I must care for you and serve you.”
    Worldly submission: “You must submit to me, so here are the things I want you to do for me.”
    Godly submission: “You must submit to me, so I am accountable before God for you. I must care for you and serve you.”

    1. Jay Dee says:

      It sounds like you’re just rewording all the things I’m saying. I think we’re in agreement here, but it sounds like you are arguing. Perhaps I misunderstand.
      So, to sum up what I believe our points are:

      God is the ultimate authority.
      Man is subject to God (so is woman).
      Woman is subject to her husband (after God), but not subject to other men.
      The husband needs to work towards being a sacrificial leader. Willing to sacrifice himself for the well being of family (including his wife), but not their wants. And he cannot sacrifice his integrity, or his relationship with God. As per the above points, God comes first.
      Husband cannot get the wife to submit any more than the wife can force the husband to lead. So, I tell the husbands “Lead!”, and the wives “Submit!” and both, “Love!”. Because telling the husbands that their wives need to submit and telling wives that their husbands need to lead is giving the message to the wrong party.
      Husbands cannot abdicate leading just because their wife won’t submit (or submit the way they want). Likewise, wives cannot decide not to submit just because their husbands aren’t leading (or leading the way they want). Again, exception if the husband is leading away from God. Then follow in everything you can that does not violate God’s will.

      Is that clear?

      1. ButterflyWings says:

        As long as it’s understood that delegating is not the same as abdicating…

        There is nothing wrong with anyone in a position of leadership to delegate some decisions/actions as long as at the end of the day they take responsibility for that decision/action.

        1. Jay Dee says:

          And responsibility for following up to make sure it’s done.

          You can’t delegate something and then wipe your hands of it, I agree.

  13. TMJ says:

    Jay Dee, I forgot to comment on the verse you mentioned Romans 8:17. I also looked at verse 16. The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs-heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him….. Being a fellow heir, receiving the same reward, does not mean we are equal to him. It merely means we will receive the same reward as him if we persevere. Consider: Phillipians 2: 5 -7 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.” Jesus existed in the form of God but didn’t consider himself equal to God. How then can a husband or any human for that matter consider their self equal to Christ?
    You also commented “As for not being called to be perfect,” I never said that we weren’t called to be perfect merely that we aren’t. Again, I will quote Romans 3:23.All have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God. Also Ecclesiastes 7:20 Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins. It would be a foolish husband indeed who believes he is perfect. However, it would be even more foolish not to strive for perfection in God.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      By no means did I mean to say we can be perfect. You said we are not told to lead like Christ because He was perfect and we cannot be. I was merely establishing that the Bible tells us to be things we cannot be all the time. The point is not that we can do it, but that we strive to do it.

  14. TMJ says:

    Jay Dee, some comments in reference to 1 Peter 3:1. This verse is directed at wives with unbelieving husbands. Notice that chapter 3 verse 1 starts with the words “wives likewise” (meaning in the same way) In order to gain proper context you would need to read verses preceding this. This is how the preceding verses read, 1 Peter 2: 21- 25 “You were called to this kind of endurance, because Christ suffered on your behalf. He left you an example so that you might follow in his footsteps. He committed no sin, nor did he ever speak in ways meant to deceive. When he was insulted, he did not reply with insults. When he suffered, he did not threaten revenge. Instead, he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly. He carried in his own body on the cross the sins we committed. He did this so that we might live in righteousness, having nothing to do with sin. By his wounds you were healed. Though you were like straying sheep, you have now returned to the shepherd and guardian of your lives.” Clearly these verses are talking about how Christ did not retaliate when he was mistreated. He “submitted” to mistreatment for the better good, for our salvation. When he was insulted he did not insult back, when he suffered he did not seek revenge, etc. He carried our sins to the cross for our redemption, so we might live in righteousness. We are told he was able to endure this because he trusted God, the one who judges justly. Then in 1 Peter chapter 3 verse 1 God says “likewise wives” he is actually encouraging the wife to imitate Christ behavior and to follow His example. The wife is encouraged to look at how Christ dealt with adverse situations. The adverse situation the wife finds herself in, is a marriage to an unbelieving husband. He is not a christian. This husband may very well be cruel and harsh, after all he would not be following God’s plan for marriage. We are told he is one who refuses to believe the word. God is telling the wife how she can lead her husband to Christ through her submission. She has Christ example to follow and if she looks to HIM and trust she is told that even though her husband refuses to believe she may be able to win him over by her behavior without a word. These passages further illustrate the type of love Christ had for us and what he endured for us. He did not look for revenge or justice he trusted in God the just judge. In 1 Peter 3:1 God is encouraging the wife to endure for the good of her husband. That she might be able to win her husband over to Christ through her behavior without a word.
    Thank you for hearing me out.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      That’s my point, this is the guideline for wives to submit. Do you think it matters if the husband is a believer or not on how she should act? You think the way they are to submit changes? I doubt you meant to say that if the husband is a believer then the wife can stop reflecting Christ’s attributes.

      1. ButterflyWings says:

        Jay Dee that’s a pretty loaded question. A wife is commanded to submit but not to things that go against Godly. By very definition a Godly man and an ungodly man will ask different things of his wife, with ungodly one much more likely to ask ungodly things of his wife, thereby it being very highly likely she will have to choose to ignore her husband’s wishes instead to obey God’s commands. So in an indirect way, it’s very highly likely that it does matter if her husband is a believer having an impact on how she acts.

        That’s why the bible commands people not to deliberately get unequally yoked. Not to tie oneself to someone who is more likely to put you in conflict with God’s commands.

        1. Jay Dee says:

          I think I’ve been pretty clear on the site that you must always submit to God first.

          Yes, it does matter that the husband is a believer or not. But what is written in 1 Peter 3 is that if the husband is an unbeliever, the wife STILL has to submit (of course following God first). But, we’re seeing a growing trend in Christianity of “I’ll submit when he becomes a godly man” when talking about Christian husbands. This is contrary to the Word.

          I agree, it is never wise to marry someone of a different faith. I’d go so far as to say different denominations can be dangerous ground.

          1. ButterflyWings says:

            I wouldn’t say different “denominations” as people’s faith is not necessarily the church they attend. I am baptist, hubby is church of christ and yet we both now attend a presbyterian church. We find our current church best meets our needs as a Godly church full of great people to fellowship with and full of Godly teaching. There are a few issues (such as we believe in adult baptism not infant baptism) but we find it great otherwise. I know from having spent 30 years of my life attending baptist churches, just because someone is from the same denomination as you, doesn’t mean they have “correct” beliefs about certain issues (some of which may even be important).

            I would more say it’s more important to search for someone as close to “equal” in faith as possible. Someone who shares all the christian beliefs you know to be important, and as many as the unimportant ones as realistically possible (considering no two people are like, no one will find a perfect match on unimportant beliefs). And to find someone whose faith plays a similar role in their life. It’s no good being a passionate believer if your spouse doesn’t consider their faith as very important.

            I feel very blessed that my husband is nearly identical in both what we believe and in what our faith means to us.

            1. Jay Dee says:

              Like I said, it can be. It would depend on the denomination and the person. The difference between Baptist and Presbyterian is not so large, others have a larger gap to jump.

              Let me say instead (echoing your statement), that I think it is important to find someone who matches your fundamental beliefs. For some that’s as simple as “God exists” or others, it’s a lot more specific.

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  17. Beryl says:

    The word “doormat” may have been used to convey the disdain that most women feel because, so many men tend to abuse the words, “submit” , “authority”, and “leader”. We can see that men can get excited and make fun of women when such topics are written in articles to women. It gets to be unfair when writers and therapists use the internet to lambast wives all the time. It is not right and is very disrespectful to women to do this. These writers comstantly use Scripture that tells wives to submit, but don’t use Scripture that in turn tells men to give their lives for their wives, to honor their wives, to not be harsh with the wives, and to submit to one another. Men are given the role of servant leader. Never see those articles or comments, from you all. Do you all remember the Scripture that told Abraham to listen to his wife? This shows that even though a man is the leader in the marriage, that he still needs to listen to her sometimes. Don’t you all get offended, but it is reality that men can be rather immature and selfish with their wives. They make some serious mistakes in their marriages and in some other areas as well. Need I cite examples? I thought this was a marriage site, not just a site telling wives what to do. I came here thinking that I could find some helpful info that tells couples what is good, right, and balanced. I did not expect to see article after article, page after page, lecturing wives. I hesitated to comment and write at first, then could nor resist writing.

    This may be some of the reason so many women feel the need to rebel and to argue with you all’s articles about wives’ roles. I do firmly believe that if the shoe were on the other foot, and the articles scolded only husbands, that that men would rebel. I am also curious about whether you all think God approves of the solding of wives, without scolding husbands as well? Husbands are no better than wives, just given different roles, kind of like the school principal leading the teachers, but they are all the same outside of school. The principal cannot come to the teacher’s house, walk in and eat her food. The principal cannot sexually harrass the teacher while on the job as principal. The principal cannot cut in front of the teacher in the grocery check out line. The principal is only a leader in the sense of their positions in the school. Outside of and everywhere else, the principal may be on the same level as the teacher.

    Also, consider when a woman is about to give birth, married or not, she is the one who decides who can come into her hospital room while she is the patient. So in a marriage, the rule still holds true. So look at this scenario. When a wife is pregnant and about to give birth, she is the patient. So, the husband tells the wife that he wants his parents to come into her delivery room, to witness the baby’s birth and see the baby as it comes comes into the world. The wife is shocked by her husbands’s unbelievable request . The wife then tells the husband that she is the patient, naked, and givng birth and that his parents absolutely cannot come in there. She tells him that this is a time when he cannot make the decision.

    Do you see my point of view? This explains what I wrote earlier about how husbands can sometimes commit some immature and selfish acts and have some unrealistic expectations of their wives. This is how men abuse their positions as husband leaders. How could he even think along those lines? Therefore, we must instruct husbands to be good and right and strive to be good “servant leaders”. And if they do their jobs the way they are supposed to, then wives would have no hesitation. But, keep in mind that she is not an animal, but is an individual who deserves, respect and honor

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Wow, I’m a little surprised. I thought I was pretty balanced. Perhaps the problem is that my writing that depicts the other side seems to be in other places more, and less on this blog. I’m afraid from my point of view, I’m even, but sometimes I don’t think about what weight I’m giving to what venue on what topic, across twitter, comments, comments on other blogs, guest posts, posts here, emails with individuals and in person comments. It all depends on what I’m seeing and how I respond. If I see a marriage that has an issue with leadership/submission (which I’ve seen seeing a lot of lately), then I tend to write more on that topic. It’s pretty rare I see one that has an issue with the husband needing to love more (I mean, we all do, but it’s not a critical area that’s going to lead to divorce, or has the marriage stuck), so I tend to write about it less. Now, that could be because I’ve type-cast myself: I write about headship/submissions, so I get more people contacting me about that topic. Hopefully I can remedy that if it’s the case.

      Do I remember the scriptures where Abraham is told to listen to his wife? Yes, I do. I can do you one better, I wrote this today in a discussion on another blog where a husband was arguing that he should not bother to discuss things with his wife.

      Now, I would argue a couple of your points, because they are directly against scripture:
      1) You say it’s not about getting both ideas, but if you don’t seek her advice, you are unwise (Proverbs 12:15)
      2) I don’t know what you have against praying about it. (Phil 4:6)
      3) I don’t know what you have against discussing it, turning it over, tossing it around (Prov 27:17)

      Unless your point is the purpose of that who scenario. Yes, this should not be done to “prove your point”, it should be done to seek wise counsel, from God and your wife, whom God has appointed as your helper. Careful, they can look similar to the outsider of the situation. Only the husband and wife know the truth.

      The scenario above (me trying to convince my wife so we can make a decision) does not happen in my marriage. I ask for advice, because I chose a wise wife who often sees things I do not. We pray, because i believe in prayer. I’m not praying that God will convince my wife. I’m praying for both of us to have wisdom so that we (with me as the leader) may follow God’s will.

      But, you are mistaken, I believe, if you think your wife is a dog to be led by the collar because you are it’s master and that you are created as a higher being. The Bible is clear that we are of equal value (though not equal role), and I believe you are mismanaging the resources you are to steward if you are not leveraging your wife in your decision making process.
      – See more at: http://www.the-generous-husband.com/2014/02/11/the-manosphere/#sthash.ooIpLwhK.dpuf

      I’m actually working on a post for husbands, how to love, die to self and such. I hope you’ll stick around long enough to read it so you can get a “more balanced” view of my thinking.

      I’m curious if you read the post What does household leadership mean for the husband, because it seems to address a lot of the complaints you raised, a long with a fair bit of scripture. I’d be interested to know your thoughts on it.

      I’ve said innumerable times “husbands and wives are of equal value, but not equal role”, so I agree with you there.

      I don’t recall ever saying women should be scolded at all, let alone that husbands shouldn’t be, so I don’t know how to respond to this. And a marriage is very different than a principle/teacher relationship. I don’t even know how to draw a comparison there.

      As for the policies regarding birth…honestly, I think that whole topic is a disaster. The fact is, in today’s world, the husband has no rights to his children until they are born, and that’s a lamentable shame. I don’t think either should be making decisions without consulting each other. In your scenario, which I hope is fictitious, but I’m afraid is probably not, frankly, I think both acted shamefully and pridefully.

      And I don’t understand how you got the impression that I don’t respect, honour and cherish my wife. Please point out where you think it says otherwise, and I will attempt to correct it post-haste as apparently I was extremely unclear.

      I’m not sure where all this hostility is coming from, I’m guessing it’s coming from your marriage, in which case, I am profoundly sorry you are hurting. I think you may be projecting a lot of your animosity at your situation onto me and misconstruing my writing. Little of what you have said shows any resemblance to my mindset regarding husbands and wives and marriage, so I’m quite confused.

      I hope this clears up my views. God bless.

  18. Lonely and broken says:

    I want to be a submissive wife, but afraid my husband isn’t a very sturdy “tent pole”. After 8 months of marriage, he still has no job & I pay most of the bills. What little he does contribute to the household is from scheming & he is very wasteful with what little we have. He stays up all night & sleeps all day, then just sits most of the time watching tv or playing video games. I’ve tried being a gentle voice of reason, to which he always responds by screaming, which makes me cry, which makes him even madder. Also, our bedroom life is horrible. It’s as if he learned about the birds & bees by watching porn. And it’s very mechanical and unromantic. He has also talked to other women on dating sites, which he claims he was only talking to as friends but I saw the messages I’m not stupid. There are good things about him, such as he’s completely given up alcohol and drugs for me, he tells me I’m beautiful & complements me on my housework. But despite having a 164 iq, if I give an opinion in front of company, he treats me like a silly, irrational woman. I feel I’m not at all respected when he does this & I feel the husband should respect the wife just as much as she respects him. It’s a two way street! We’re starting to argue a lot, and he’s talked about leaving several times. I don’t want him to leave, I just want him to grow up and be a man!

    1. Jay Dee says:

      I would suggest checking out April’s blog: http://peacefulwife.com/
      She has a lot of articles dealing with situations very much like yours, and can probably offer you more help than I can in this area.

    2. Kevin says:


      If you are attending a church, ask to speak to the pastor immediately. If not, find a good church this week. Even better if your husband will go with you. You two need solid biblical counseling right away.

      I will pray for you today.

  19. Holding to faith says:

    Jay, I found your words encouraging and comforting. I was saddened to see women hurting, men too for that matter. Many of us enter our marriages hoping that we’ve found the right person and have God’s blessing. Sometimes we haven’t realized that we’ve made hasty decisions based on our emotions and like a rollercoaster, it comes to an end! We begin to see things we hadn’t seen in the beginning or swept under the rug. When I first met my husband, I was very passive because I came out of a failed marriage. I was vulnerable and shouldn’t have rushed into another relationship. He was my best friend, very understanding and knowledgeable of the word of God. But, he had an anger problem, was controlling, believes he makes the best decisions more than I, resents my son’s living here who is now in his twenties (he was five when we got married), and is very critical. This makes for a terrible living environment at times. He is an elder of our church, I am a minister. It is difficult for me to submit at times because of his behavior. I have a problem with lateness, overspending and he says I’m not tough enough on our son. Perhaps that’s true because his paternal father passed away ten years ago and I was the one who ended the marriage so I felt conflicted. Our son works, but he didn’t attend college like my husband wanted. Nothing my son did was quite good enough for my husband who is a perfectionist. I am holding on to faith, faith like Abraham had in Romans 4:20…He staggered not at the promises of God. God promised that He’d answer when I call on Him…Jer 33:3. I know submission can only be done through the Holy Spirit, my Enabler. Praying for you all and thanks for sharing.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      I’m glad we could bring some comfort and encouragement.

      Blended family dynamics are very difficult. I have no experience with them I’m afraid, so I’m not sure what to suggest.

  20. Janine says:

    Stumbled into this rabbit hole. All I can say is I’m glad I’m not a christian if this madness is what it leads to. To the women here who have described abusive marriages get out now while you can. Women are more likely to be killed in the home by their husbands/male partners then in the street by a stranger. If your husband treats you with disrespect he does not love you. To the submissives I suggest you grow a backbone, start behaving like an adult and stop all the simpering servile BS, you are nearly as pathetic as the inadequate controlling men you married.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Being submissive doesn’t mean you don’t have a backbone. I’m not sure where you got that idea from. We all agree that abuse is wrong, that disrespect is wrong and that control is wrong.

  21. Humbled husband says:

    I stumbled across this site and I’m thankful I did! I’m 6 years into active recovery from sex and porn addiction and I’ve been working hard to regain my amazing wife’s trust and we are working hard to create an environment where intimacy thrives.

    Seeing some theological discussion is also a nice surprise! I was raised in a loving Christian home (conservative evangelical) but through recovery, I quickly realized my unhealthy understanding of God contributed to very deep rooted shame and fear of intimacy. I was fortunate to have the space to rediscover God as all loving, non retributive, and willing to “give up” His authority to show us His desire is for reconciliation and relationship. This might be more so the Eastern Orthodox way of seeing it. So I admit I’ve become somewhat cynical toward more “conservative” western theology, especially when I see so much “us vs them” mentality and a lot of focus on authority as we’ve come to understand it. Jay Dee, I want to say I appreciate what you’re doing here. An open dialogue about sex and God, free of shame would have helped me a lot as a young guy. There’s no doubt in my mind that you’re helping many people walk away from the pitfalls I walked into. I also want to note that your thoughtful and clear style of communication is helping me appreciate the more western Protestant way of thinking about God and the bible too. Please continue to let love be the focus of your theology, whether or not there’s agreement on the details.

    Proud of this online community

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Well, to be fair, my beliefs don’t quite fit within the western protestant theology framework much of the time either 🙂 I have no idea how close it is to Easter Orthodoxy though as I’ve never studied with them. But, I’m glad to be of service!

  22. Terry Vest says:

    I’m not trying to be negative, but I don’t feel it is wise to claim that EVERY marriage is made better by submission. It is not. Yes it is God’s design but we as humans can warp plans made by God.

    Even a man who has a good relationship with God can abd will use his authority in wrong ways. Some have learned that they deserve it and are owed it. Sone forget that being a good leader is not a place where you use that to gain for yourself. Men by nature can want dominate.

    There is a balance if BOTH spouses do the work it can be beautiful, if one doesn’t then it can be devastating to the whole family. Honestly men have slightly the upper hand on this because of their position. ( not because they are more evil, because they aren’t).

    Research shows that spousal abuse is very common in the church. Coming from the side of being a woman who was submissive and got steamed rolled, who is now dealing with an unwanted divorce, an ex who stopped paying child support, wounded children who can’t understand just why I let their father make horrible decisions that horribly wounded them and me.. for example my credit rating was at 480. It was difficult to find a place to live after i was forced to sell our house at a loss. and 10 years later dealing with panic attacks and ptsd.

    All because of a Bible verse that I did my best to obey. The bad thing is my pastor at the time said in a sermon, it must have been my fault because if I was obedient to God and my husband he would not have done this. I researched this subject and the main thing that always pops up women submit and your marriage will be ok.

    As BEAUTIFUL and respectful as your article is and I agree there is TRUTH in it, you are missing a detail that isolates more women than you can ever know- sometimes it makes things worse. Sometimes submission is permission for mental and other abuse forms. Sometimes even GOOD men who mean well get blinded by pride and power.

    Sometimes we marry before we are saved, sometimes out home lives were so bad we didn’t see red flags this man looked like gold, sometimes some people are so deceiving pastors fall for the fake smiles and faces. In my case all of these were true. Sometimes it isn’t just poor decisions and not caring. I thought I married a goid man, until the day after we were married then he gleeful told me all his secrets.

    Yes what you say is true, and please believe me that I am not bitter or hate my ex. After 10 years I still have not dated , I still pray for him, I truly HOPE he gets saved. Yes I struggle am I’m not the only one.

    I feel these teachings need to be balanced. We can’t give women the impression that submission is the key to a successful marriage.
    We also can’t give the men an impression that if they are good Godly leaders their marriage will be great. Its just not true and there are wounded hurt men and women out there who are being told its THEIR fault if they had just believed, prayed, done more.

    Yes you article is beautiful, yes its biblical and I’m not here to tear it down. I’m just asking don’t forget about the ones who have done their best and have been wounded so deeply by these verses. I ask for compassion because its not easy being a divorced Christian woman working 60 hour weeks, struggling with their value in Father God, one that has their faith in marriage so shaken that she doesn’t know if she could ever trust another human being again. Because when you marry you give that other person the power to destroy you. Knowing that God CAN change a person, but the other person has to agree. A woman who goes to bed slowly healing everyday but still has a wounded heart , mind and soul. My life is better, yet I can only go so far. I struggle with the remarriage, I don’t believe in divorce yet here I am the leader , the one in charge, the one who was granted authority decided alcohol, other women and himself was more important and the Bible says I have to be ok with it . Its sad, I did my part. God WANTED to heal my marriage, I wanted to heal my marriage. I would LOVE to see my ex saved , I WANT him to mend the relationship with his children but as if now I can’t go back. I would be happy for his soul, but I could never go back to a plavlce where I hand him another necular bomb. Its sad I would have done ANYTHING for him, and he could set off that bomb. I have no trouble being faithful to my vows but it would take him YEARS to prove himself enough for me to even consider giving him another chance. .

    Submission is not a secret weapon to make a marriage work, we can’t pretend that it is. It CAN BE BEAUTIFUL ive seen it done but it CAN BE the worst thing people have to go through.

    Two cooperative people can go very far.. two people who truly love each other and God is practically unstoppable. ( if two or more agree).

    Unfortunately it takes only 1 to mess things up, it only takes 1 to choose not to. Sadly that’s when the beauty ends.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Thank you, I think you make a really good point. One of the things I left out in the post (which I wrote about years ago, so I’m going to have to plead some ignorance because I didn’t know what I didn’t know) is that submission to God comes first, and husband is second. I think if that order is followed, then the post still is valid.

      Because if you’re submitting to God first, then you’ll have to create healthy boundaries that your husband can’t violate without you moving to protect yourself. And so then you can submit to things that aren’t dangerous/sinful/damaging/etc. and refuse those that are because they violate your primary submission to God.

      And yes, sometimes that means you have to separate from that person because it wouldn’t be loving to “hand them a nuclear bomb” as you put it because they can’t handle it. That, again, I think is a submission to God over man situation.

      Let me know if you feel that sorts out the post or not.

      Thanks for sharing your perspective.

  23. Not important says:

    Hello, this webside may not be intended for me as I am not yet married, and seeing the dates of publishing, you- the author- will never see this comment but I needed some place to share my thoughts nevertheless. I am also sorry about my grammar, English is not my first language.
    From the start I want to make clear that I belive your intetions to be good, and any of my thoughts are not meant to be blaming you for anything.
    That said, this article along with the similars from other internetsides and comments make me sick. It’s not an expression. Reading such implications as a woman makes my whole being disstressed in body and soul. I am physically unwell. I have never felt so disgusted in my own body like I am after reading this. There is this deep feeling inside of me, that makes me want to claw my eyes out. I have had such moment in my life before but then I started meditating on the issue and come to the conslussion that in Eden the Perfect Place women and men were equal in power and roles. Also ”
    There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” Both Eden and mention quote seem to be refering to what we should aspire to as society as we all should aspire to making “this” world as close to what Christ represents as we can. Knowing that I finally felt happy. Truly happy, in who I am knowing that what really mattared is my soul, not body. I had this joyus feeling of having potential. I belive it came from God. It was peaceful. I am no less capable to lead and make decisions than men are. Even in some perfect scenarios in which my husband would be a fairytale prince that would love and respect me, thought of giving up this part of my freedom/rights is filling me with overwelming sense of dread. I belive this feeling also comes from God. Please, note that I had many good experiences with both male and female leaders in my life so my reactions are not coused by some past trauma with abusive men. This probably sounds dramatic to whomever reads this, but I feel this when I meditane on the Bible, and I feel this in my body and soul. It with along many other problems is thing that greatly troubles me about my faith. Mandatory sex in marriage, stricking to gener roles not minding ones internal potential, and science denielism? Forgive my directness, but it’s crazy if I am being mild, and evil if I am being honest. Everything feels so distopian, and fake and I am very lost and very scared. I am scared of church. Is this what being Christian nowadays means? Pretending, poseing and living in same rules based on ones chromosones? It’s all wrong. There’s this voice in my head that tells me to run from the corrupt church and worship idepedently. I don’t think it’s the Oponent. It’s way to scared and way to sincer.
    I don’t know what I’m counting on. Surely, not pity, I rather be burned on the pyre, like I would be not so long ago, for saying what I said.

    Maybe I just want an answer. Either from readers, author or God.

    May God bless you all.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      I’m curious about the “science denialism”. Can you expand on this?

      Also, I think it’s interesting that you quoted Galatians 3:28 (neither Jew nor Greek) which has nothing to do with the household, but rather our individual relationship with Christ, but you want to ignore Ephesians 5:23, 1 Corinthians 11:3 and Colossians 3:18, which were all written by the same author (Paul). How do you manage to justify that?

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