“Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives” is commanded in 1 Peter 3:1. The same command is found in Ephesians 5:22 and 24: “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord…Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.” Colossians 3:18 also commands, “Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.”
“Submission” is frowned on in the world’s eyes, but it’s a clear command to wives in Scripture. What does it look (and not look) like for wives to submit to their husbands as the church does to Christ? Also, how can husbands make it easier to submit to them?
- This is the third message I deliver at Marriage God’s Way Conferences.
- Receive a FREE copy of my book, Seven Biblical Insights for Healthy, Joyful, Christ-Centered Marriages.
- View all my books on my Amazon author page.
- Visit my speaking page for conference and speaking information, including testimonies, endorsements, and contact info.
- Have a Marriage God’s Way Conference in the privacy of your own home. Download and print the handout that’s given to attendees.
Table of Contents
- Lessons for Wives in the Same Way Submit Yourselves to Your Husbands
- Discussion Questions for Wives in the Same Way Submit Yourselves to Your Husbands
- Message Notes for Wives in the Same Way Submit Yourselves to Your Husbands
- Lesson 1: submission is (part 1) necessary.
- Lesson 1: submission is (part 2) not a matter of superiority.
- Lesson 1: submission is (part 3) for when a wife disagrees.
- Lesson 2: submission means a wife (part 1) puts her husband in a position to lead.
- Lesson 2: submission means a wife (part 2) trusts god.
- Lesson 2: submission means a wife (part 3) keeps her strength under control.
- Lesson 3: a husband should make his wife’s submission easier.
Lessons for Wives in the Same Way Submit Yourselves to Your Husbands
- Lesson 1: Submission is:
- (Part I) __________________ (Eph 5:22, 24; Col 3:18; 1 Pet 3:1; Titus 2:5).
- (Part II) Not a matter of ______________________ (John 6:38; Matt 26:39).
- (Part III) For when a wife __________________.
- Lesson 2: Submission means a wife:
- (Part I) Puts her husband in a ________________ to ________.
- (Part II) ____________ God (1 Pet 3:5-6).
- (Part III) Keeps her strength __________ ______________.
- Lesson 3: A husband should make his wife’s ___________________ ___________ (Eph 5:27; 1 Pet 3:7; Gal 6:7).
Discussion Questions for Wives in the Same Way Submit Yourselves to Your Husbands
- Husband asks wife:
- How do I make it hard for you to submit to me?
- How do I make it easier for you to submit to me?
- Do you feel like I listen to your thoughts when it comes to making decisions?
- Do you feel like I admit when I’m wrong, or do I make excuses and shift blame?
- Wife asks husband:
- Do you feel like I submit “kicking and screaming”?
- Do you feel like I put you in a position to lead?
- Do you feel like I take control of situations or decisions that should be left to you?
- Do you feel like I say, “I told you so!”?
Message Notes for Wives in the Same Way Submit Yourselves to Your Husbands
“Is Submission a Bad Word?” is the title of my message. First thing I’d like you to do is raise your hand if you think submission is a bad word. I see lots:
- Lots of women’s hands raised…
- No men’s hands raised…
Second, I’d like to continue w/ a lesson…
Lesson 1: submission is (part 1) necessary.
If you think about the structure of teams, businesses, schools – or really – any organization, there are individuals in leadership:
- In businesses there are CEOs.
- In sports there are coaches.
- In organizations there are presidents.
- In schools there are principals.
But you never see:
- Two head coaches.
- Two presidents.
- Two principals.
- Two head pilots
- Two head surgeons
Instead we always see:
- A head coach and an assistant coach.
- A president and a vice-president.
- A pilot and a co-pilot.
- A principal and an assistant principal.
This is b/c submission is needed, and this is why – in God’s wisdom – He created submission in marriage too.
Five times in the New Testament – in Ephesians 5:22, 5:24, Colossians 3:18, 1 Peter 3:1, and Titus 2:5 – wives are commanded to submit to their husbands. This makes it one of the most common commands in the New Testament:
- This command is not vague or nebulas
- There is no way around it
- This is not something I made up
Just as husbands are commanded to love their wives as Christ loves the church, wives are commanded to submit to their husbands as the church is to submit to Christ.
Now let me make a brief point before we go any further…
I’ve been a pastor for almost 15 years, and I know unbelievers criticize Christianity b/c of the command for wives to submit to their husbands. But it’s important to keep in mind nothing has ever done more for the treatment of woman than Christianity.
In some parts of the world – think of the Middle East – women are treated as little more than objects – and it’s only when the Gospel is introduced that women are elevated to a level of treatment they wouldn’t otherwise know. It’s the Gospel that takes abusive, cruel men and brings them to repentance and causes them to cherish women and give them the honor they should receive.
The next thing to understand about submission…
Lesson 1: submission is (part 2) not a matter of superiority.
Here’s the main criticism of submission…
If wives are supposed to submit to their husbands, then that means wives are inferior to their husbands.
There’s an inconsistency w/ this thinking though, b/c these same people don’t think submission makes people inferior in other areas of life. For example:
- When we submit to government…
- When employees submit to employers…
- When students submit to teachers…
- When children submit to parents…
It doesn’t mean that the individuals submitting are inferior to those they’re submitting to.
If you’re a Christian there’s an even bigger reason to recognize submission is not an issue of inferiority…
If I said, “Who is the most submissive Person (capital P) who has ever lived?”
Nobody has ever been more submissive than Jesus:
- John 6:38 I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.
- Here’s the most beautiful instance of submission in history: Matthew 26:39 [Jesus] went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”
That is submission:
- It’s not my will. It’s your will.
- I will make your will my own!
To be consistent, if people think wives are inferior when they submit to their husbands, then they also have to also acknowledge that God the Son was inferior to God the Father.
Here’s the truth…
There are few things that are more Christ-like than submission, whether it’s…
- Congregations to elders
- Employees to employers
- Children to parents
- Or Wives to husbands…
A submissive heart is a heart like Christ’s. To submit is to be like Christ.
If you want to talk about the opposite of submission the devil comes to mind:
- He wouldn’t submit to God.
- He wasn’t content w/ his position.
- He wanted the headship or authority God had.
I’d say it like this…
- If Jesus is the perfect picture of submission to authority, Satan is the perfect picture of insubmissiveness and rebellion.
- To be submissive is to be like Christ. To be insubmissive is to be like Satan.
Next part of Lesson 1…
Lesson 1: submission is (part 3) for when a wife disagrees.
When a wife says, “I would submit to my husband if I agreed w/ him,” she’s really saying, “I would submit to my husband if I didn’t have to submit.”
Submission is in place entirely for when a wife DOESN’T agree w/ her husband. If she agreed w/ her husband, she wouldn’t have to submit…that would be agreement.
In my mind, the three greatest resources God has given husbands on this side of heaven are:
- The Word of God
- The Holy Spirit,
- And our wives.
The husband who doesn’t listen to his wife is silencing one of the greatest resources God has given him.
But let’s say a husband and wife have discussed things together, presented their ideas, tried to come to an agreement…but they can’t.
At this point, what do they do? How do they decide?
- Do they flip a coin?
- Do they do paper-rock-scissors?
God has decided for the marriage and family to move forward, the husband will make the decision and the wife will submit.
Ladies, please listen to me when I say this…
- Your responsibility ends at submitting to your husband and supporting him.
- You’re not responsible w/ making sure the right decision is made.
If you were responsible w/ making sure the right decision was made, then you wouldn’t submit. You’d keep arguing.
A good way for wives to think about submission is that it’s not supporting the idea. It’s supporting the man behind the idea.
Submission is saying, “I love my husband. I respect him. I want to support him. So even though I disagree, I am going to go along w/ his decision.”
Let’s continue w/ Lesson 2…
Lesson 2: submission means a wife (part 1) puts her husband in a position to lead.
Share story from Hoosiers???
Since submission receives so much criticism, you’d think the biggest complaint I’d hear from women would be:
- My husband wants me to submit and I hate it.
- I can’t handle this whole submission thing.
But that’s not the complaint I hear most often. The complaint I hear most often is actually the opposite: “My husband won’t lead.”
But if I can be honest w/ the ladies here, some men don’t lead b/c their wives don’t let them:
- You want him to lead, but you also want to keep your hands on the steering wheel.
- You want to sit behind him in the saddle, but you want to keep your hands on the reigns.
So if you want your husband to lead, let me tell you what NOT to do:
- Don’t complain about the decisions he makes.
- Don’t get upset when he doesn’t do things the way you would do them.
Do your best to support him!
There are some husbands who don’t feel the weight of leadership on their shoulders b/c their wives don’t let that weight rest on their shoulders. Some wives are too busy trying to lift the weight off their husbands’ shoulders and put it on themselves.
Ladies, if you want your husband to lead,
- Put that weight of responsibility on him.
- Put yourself behind him and make him feel like he has to lead b/c you won’t.
If you do this, it will increase the likelihood that he will:
- Cast vision for your family.
- Read the Word
- Seek God.
- Take his relationship w/ the Lord more seriously
But if he thinks it doesn’t really matter what he does anway because…
- You’re not really going to support him…
- Or you’re going to fight the decisions he makes…
Then don’t be surprised if he doesn’t take his role seriously.
Helen Andelin said, “Let [your husband] have full reign and do not stand back with anxiety wondering if things will turn out all right. If he makes mistakes, gets into difficulty, let him suffer the consequences. It is the only way he will LEARN TO LEAD.”
I think we all recognize that in any area of life if people are given real leadership or authority, there has to be potential to fail. It’s the only way we learn!
And it’s the same in marriage!
Now picture this situation…
A wife hands her husband the keys. She says, “I want you to drive.” She races to the other side of the car to get in the passenger seat to make sure he doesn’t take it. She wants it to be as clear as possible that he’s in charge.
So he starts driving, but then she says:
- Turn here.
- Are you gonna get over?
- Aren’t you going too fast?
- Aren’t you going too slow?
- Why do you always choose this lane?
- Aren’t you gonna stop?
- Haven’t you been stopped long enough?
- And the classic one, “Looks like we’re getting pretty low on gas.”
She keeps giving him orders. It’s more like a driver’s ed class. He’ll never learn to lead this way.
Now there’s an important reason wives submit to their husbands, and it actually has nothing to do w/ the wife’s relationship to her husband. It has to do w/ her relationship w/ the Lord…and this brings us to the next part of Lesson 2…
Lesson 2: submission means a wife (part 2) trusts god.
I’ve heard women say, and I completely understand them feeling this way:
- I have trouble submitting to my husband, b/c I don’t trust him.
- It would be easier for me to submit to my husband if I could trust him more.
But according to God’s Word, a wife’s submission isn’t about her trusting her husband. It’s about her trusting God!
If you have a Bible w/ you, please look at 1 Peter 3:5…
1 Peter 3:5 For in this manner, in former times, the holy women WHO TRUSTED IN GOD also adorned themselves, BEING SUBMISSIVE TO THEIR OWN HUSBANDS,
Why were these holy women submissive to their husbands?
- Because they trusted their husbands? No.
- Because their husbands were perfect? No.
No, b/c they trusted God.
A wife’s submission doesn’t have so much to do w/ whether she trusts her husband, it has to do w/ whether she trusts God:
- A woman’s submission is a reflection of her trust in God.
- A woman’s trust in God combats the fear she feels when submitting to her husband.
Briefly look at 1 Peter 3:6…
1 Peter 3:6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose daughters you are if you do good and are NOT AFRAID WITH ANY TERROR.
Sarah is brought forth from the OT and set down as the example for women in the NT.
And I know what you’re saying ladies. You’re saying…
- Oh yeah, I’d have no trouble submitting to my husband if he was Abraham.
- I’d have no problem w/ submission if I was married to the father of faith.
Being married to Abraham was TERRIBLY difficult:
- How many places did they live?
- How many times did they move?
- How many times did he say, “I’m afraid. Say you’re my sister so I don’t get killed.”
Being married to Abraham was VERY difficult…but Sarah combatted that fear by trusting God.
Also, notice the words not afraid with any terror.
Now in my mind:
- Terror is what you feel when you’re on a plane that’s about to crash.
- Terror is what you feel when the doctor says you have cancer.
- Terror is what you feel when you get a call that one of your children has been in an accident.
Apparently terror is also what wives feel when they have to submit to their husbands!
I hope these words might be an encouragement to you ladies, b/c this reveals God knows how you feel! God knows that when you’re called to submit to your husband it can be a terrifying experience!
- What happens if my husband makes the wrong decision?
- What happens if he ruins our family?
- What happens if we’re not able to eat?
- What happens if we’re not supposed to does this…or move here…or go to this church…or buy this?
God knows you feel this way, and He still calls you to submit to your husband…b/c you can trust the Lord who gave you the command in the first place.
And since submission involves overcoming fear, this teaches us something about submission…
Lesson 2: submission means a wife (part 3) keeps her strength under control.
Since submitting is such a terrifying thing, what does this tell us about women who submit?
It says they’re brave. It says they have a lot of courage:
- There are plenty of women who are too afraid to submit.
- There are plenty of women who don’t trust God enough to submit.
- There are plenty of women who don’t have the strength to submit.
So please understand ladies:
- When you submit to your husband, it’s not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength.
- It’s not a sign of faithlessness, it’s a sign of faithFULLness.
- Submission is not for weak, wimpy, doormats.
- Submission is for strong, godly, faith-filled women.
I want to briefly share a personal story w/ you that I hope helps illustrate what we’re discussing…
The summer after my 8th grade year I flew to upstate New York to work on my uncle’s dairy farm. It’s when I realized I never wanted to work on a dairy farm. No offense to any dairy farmers.
Being 13 years old and not having any friends there I had to find things to entertain myself. One of the many activities I engaged in was…messing w/ the bull that was chained up at the end of the barn. He just stood there all day staring straight ahead, so like any mature, 13 year old would do, I would harass him, try to get him to move, things like that.
One time when I guess the bull wasn’t enjoying playing w/ me as much as I was enjoying playing w/ him, he brought his head up behind me and threw me into the air. I remember being airborne then crashing on the ground. I looked like I got thrown off a bull in a rodeo.
One of the guys who worked on the farm saw it happen. He yelled at me, told me to stay away from the bull, and told me how lucky I was I hadn’t gotten myself killed.
Now here’s the whole reason I’m telling you this…
He said, “Do you see that little chain around his neck? That’s all that’s holding him. He could break that chain any second.”
Basically my cousin told me that bull wasn’t held there for any other reason than it allowed itself to be under the control of that chain.
At that moment I thought two things:
- First, I thought, “Why don’t they put a bigger chain around his neck?”
- Second, I thought, “That bull has a lot of strength, but it’s allowing its strength to be subdued by that little chain.”
I’d like to encourage you to think of submission this way: it’s strength – or power – that’s restrained and under control.
Submission is a choice. It’s deliberate and willful. If it’s forced it’s not submission.
Last lesson is for the men…
Lesson 3: a husband should make his wife’s submission easier.
After college I served as an officer in the army, and I learned that every soldier has the same fear…
“What if I have someone in authority over me who doesn’t have his act together?”
I’ve learned that many women have this same fear in marriage!
- Is my husband going to lead our family well?
- Can I trust him to make the right decisions?
- Is he really looking to God for direction and wisdom?
Gentlemen, please give me your attention, I’ve been talking to your wives about submitting to you, and let me be very clear…
You can make your wife’s submission much easier, or much harder!
Let me give you two straightforward ways to make your wife’s submission easier…
First, be a spiritual man!
A wife is going to have a much easier time submitting to a man who:
- Reads the Word
- Faithfully attends – and serves in – a local church.
Wives will have a much easier time to submitting to a spiritual man. One of the best ways for husbands to treat their wives well is by being spiritual men.
Second, live a holy life!
If you have habitual sin in your life, you are making it very difficult for your wife to submit to you!
Gentlemen, I want to be honest w/ you…
A few of your wives have been sitting here listening to this message, and they’re saying:
- I want to respect my husband…
- I want to look up to him…
- I want to submit to his leadership in our home…
But there’s this sin in his life…
- I see the way he treats our children…
- I hear the way he talks to me…
- I know some of the things he looks at…
- He doesn’t work hard to take care of our family.
When a wife says these things, a husband is making it very difficult for her to submit to him!
So Gentlemen, yes, your wife is commanded to submit to you, but you can definitely make that easier for or harder for her! Part of loving your wife as Christ loves the church is making her submission easier!
My wife and I will be available at my booth, and we plan to stay as long as anyone wants to talk to us. If you need prayer, or have any questions, please let us know. Share book and workbook.