Monday, February 7, 2011

Authority and Submission In Marriage

The passion that comes when a man and woman know they are right for one another can only remain strong and continue to grow if they have a proper understanding of what submission and authority are. With the circulation of feminist ideas in the Church and so many abuses of "male dominance," most women, even some of the most zealous believers, flinch at the mention of the word submission.

The Bible is clear that the husband is the head of the home and the wife is to submit to him. Ephesians 5:22 says, "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord." What exactly does this mean? Does it mean that a woman is inferior to her husband? Does it mean that her whole life and uniqueness are to be swallowed up in his life? The popular perception of a husband’s authority as head of the home is one of absolute dictatorship without intelligent reason or compassion attached to it. The result is the "macho man" who can have his cake and eat it, too. But the popular perceptions are not based on God’s Word! The Word of God commands the husband to love his wife aggressively and sacrificially.

Ephesians 5:25 says, "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it." While the husband does have final authority in the home, he serves those he leads. Jesus set the precedent when He washed the disciples’ feet and declared that the highest in command is the one who is the greatest servant.


Although the husband is head of the home, he is not superior to his wife. Although the wife submits to his final word, she is not inferior to her husband. They are equals. God has ordained that the principle of submission and authority works only when both those in authority and those in submission recognize the principle of equality. They stand as equals in God’s sight. Submission without equality is slavery.

I Corinthians 11:8-9 says, "For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man." Because the woman was taken from the man, the husband has authority over the wife. But the part of the woman that was constructed from the man was her body...not her spirit. Her spirit was breathed by God into the body of Adam as a separate entity from Adam’s spirit, and she was complete when she was in him. It was not necessary for Eve to communicate with God through Adam.

A husband is in authority over his wife and is the head of his marriage in all things pertaining to natural matters, but in her spiritual life, a wife is directly responsible to the Lord Jesus Christ. Galatians 3:28 tells us that, "There is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus."

If the wife is to be a strong Christian witness to her husband, whether he has accepted Christ or not, she should make this her attitude: Let your life in God be the foundation for all that you do for your husband, not a conflict. As a wife and mother you should never habitually neglect your responsibilities to your husband and your family in order to read your Bible, listen to tapes, and attend special meetings. This can produce a resentment toward God in your loved ones and can give Satan an entrance into your home and your marriage, thus causing family disunity, marital breakdown, separation, and, in the worst cases, divorce. Your time in study and prayer should bring balance to your activities and increase your desire to serve others. Draw your strength and wisdom from the Holy Spirit and Scripture in order to be the best wife and mother that you can be. By doing this, your family will appreciate and respect your faith.

When the husband and wife understand what it means to be in Christ, their equality in Him is clearly established. They have no insecurity about their importance or uniqueness, which is derived solely from God. They have nothing to prove to anybody. As a result, authority and submission in the natural things of marriage come easily.


There is a false teaching that is commonly taught in many churches today, that submission means that a wife is to obey their husband even to the point of violating God’s Word. Supposedly, her submission will win him to the Lord. God never requires His children to sin to prove their submissive attitude to Him or to any man!
All false definitions of submission can be put away with the scriptural knowledge and understanding that there is a difference between submission and obedience. Submission is an attitude; obedience is a deed. You should always submit to those in authority over you, although you may not always obey them. If someone in authority asks you to do something contrary to the Word of God, you should submissively decline. Whenever obedience to those in authority would violate God’s Word, a believer must respectfully refuse. This is not the right to rebel against authorities, but God declares that in order to avoid sinning against Him, you may submissively refuse to obey them. Acts 5:29 says, "We ought to obey God rather than men."

In essence, submission is humility. Humility, or being humble, is not putting ourselves down, but simply putting others first. If Eve had humbly consulted Adam and the Lord first, she would not have been deceived in the Garden of Eden. Because she acted independently of them, she believed the lies of the devil and all mankind has suffered. Many Christian women today are in the same boat. They run from house to house, meeting to meeting, and church to church and are deceived into believing that they are glorifying God with all of their "spiritual activity." The fact is, they are not obeying the Lord and His Word at all! Scripture is very clear on the role of women. Titus 2:2-5 says that both men and women are to "be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience." It goes on to say that women are to "be in behavior as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not give to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the younger women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, THAT THE WORD OF GOD BE NOT BLASPHEMED."
What kind of witnesses do some of these women make? In running from place to place and, in most cases, running their mouths as well, who suffers? Them? Their husbands? Their children? Their homes? YES! But most of all...the Word of God...Jesus.

I encourage you today...take a look at the position that God has placed you in. As a husband, do you abuse your God given authority? Do you love your wife and give yourself for her, as Christ did the Church? As a wife, do you love your husband? Do you have a submissive attitude toward him? Are you in a position to teach your daughters how to love their husbands and children? Are you discreet? Chaste? A keeper of the home? Let’s not allow the Word of God to be blasphemed on our account. Do not allow yourself to be deceived any longer! Get into the Word! Study to see what God expects from you. His Word is "...the same yesterday, and today, and for ever." (Hebrews 13:8) God instituted the family, and with it, the chain of command. The role of men and women have not changed. No matter what our opinion is, God’s way is always the best way. By operating within the structure that He created and ordered, we can achieve His best for ourselves, our family, and our home.

---by Rebecca Knox © 2001


  1. This was wonderful, thank you.

    Contrary to what those either outside our faith or even some inside our faith, there is much freedom to be had when we operate in accordance to God's will. For one thing, we are free from our selfish desires when we are in submission to our husbands and to the Lord.

    Visiting from Darlene's link up.


    (It's Grace)

  2. I read about half of it, but didn't have time to finish yet because I have to run. But I love it so far. So well said!!

    You said this, "You should always submit to those in authority over you, although you may not always obey them."

    And in Titus 2 it says, to encourage wives to be "obedient" to their husbands. But when I looked up that word the other day, it was the exact same word we see elsewhere used for "submission," which is referring to a chain of command, and humbly esteeming others higher than ourselves.

    All this to say excellent post and well said!


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