Are Husbands Commanded to Submit to Their Wives?

Are Husbands Commanded to Submit to Their Wives?

Whenever I teach about wives submitting to their husbands, I inevitably have women bringing up Ephesians 5:21, “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God” as if this teaches husbands that they must submit to their wives, too. But what does the very next verse state? “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.” There is no addition here that states, “and husbands submit yourselves unto your own wives” as much as many women would love there to be.

The next verse reads, “For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body.” There is no addition that the wife is the head of the husband. Sorry, ladies. After this, we are told, “Therefore, as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.” Nope, there’s NO verse that tells husband to submit to their own wives in everything. Many women just hate this so they try to pervert the Word of God and say something that it does not.

I looked up what the commentaries of old had to say about Ephesians 5:21 to see if any of them thought this verse meant that husbands are to submit to their wives. Ellicot’s Commentary said, “In grammatical construction this clause is connected with the preceding verses; in point of idea it leads on to the next section, which treats of the three-fold submission of wives to husbands, children to parents, slaves to masters.”

Barnes’ Note reads, “Maintaining due subordination in the various relations of life. This general principle of religion, the apostle proceeds now to illustrate in reference to wives Ephesians 5:22-24; to children Ephesians 6:1-3; and to servants, Ephesians 6:5-8.”

Gill’s Exposition: “Which may be understood either in a political sense, of giving honour, obedience, and tribute, to civil magistrates, since they are set up by God for the good of men, and it is for the credit of religion for the saints to submit to them; or in an economical sense; thus the wife should be subject to the husband, children to their parents, and servants to their masters.”

There wasn’t one that I could find that commands that husbands submit to their wives. I have heard pastors distort the meaning of submit and use the word serve instead. Yes, husbands ought to love and serve their wives. Yes, parents ought to love and serve their children. Yes, masters ought to love and serve their servants. Loving and serving others is weaved all throughout the Word of God and should define believers in Jesus Christ but serve isn’t the same as submit.

The definition of submit: “to yield, resign or surrender to the power, will or authority of another.” Yes, a wife is to obey her husband as Sarah obeyed Abraham. “Even as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement” (1 Peter 3:6). I won’t teach what a husband’s responsibility is in marriage since I am not commanded to do this. In fact, I am forbidden from teaching men (1 Timothy 2:12). I only teach women and women aren’t responsible for their husbands’ behavior. They are only responsible to God for their own obedience or disobedience.

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.
Colossians 3:18

24 thoughts on “Are Husbands Commanded to Submit to Their Wives?

  1. Husbands are there to lead and provide for wives and children, who should obey his leadership. The feminist movement caused much discord and unhappiness in families now in a perpetual power struggle between husband and wife…

  2. I’ve seen women try to use that scripture to tell me that husbands are to submit to their wives. I think pastors need to stop joking from the pulpit about wives being the boss of their husbands.

  3. Actually, it was sin that brought this power struggle between husbands and wives. “…and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee” (Gen. 3:16). The desire she has for her husband is to rule over him but God has ordained husbands to be the ones in authority over their wives. Women still fight this today and will until the end of time.

  4. my dad gives in to my mom constantly. he says he has learned that it is easier than fighting w/her. she will throw tantrums and nag until she gets her way and always has. now he just lets her have her way sooner. she has become more rude and demanding than ever. her grown children avoid her as much as we can. she has nothing but criticism and demands for all of us. dad understands that we can only take her in small doses. when we tried to address this she screams and says we are all against her. this is were wives not submitting and husbands not requiring submission leads. so sad that she is pushing all of us away because she refuses to live by the scriptures.

  5. Lori, pastors are afraid to preach the truth about wives submitting to their own husbands because of a number of reasons which all boil down to putting the fear of (wo)man before the fear of God. Some of these pastors have rebellious wives who are not in submission to their husbands and the last thing they want to do is to annoy their wives lest they threaten them with divorce and render the men disqualified for ministry for the rest of their lives.

    Also, many churches nowadays are feminized to the hilt. Majority of the members are women, most ministries are led by women etc and these women hold sway in the church to the extent of initiating an express ejection of any pastor who finds himself on the wrong side of the argument (the Biblical side)

    Feminism has not just influenced the church today, it has taken over. We simply cannot handle the truth, we bristle and chafe at it. If a young man grows up watching his father walking on eggshells around his mother, what sort of man will he grow into?

    And it wouldn’t all be said if I didn’t wag my finger at the “what-if-ists” you know, the ones that seek to strike terror in the hearts of women by pulling out extreme examples like, “what if you submit to him and he………” (fill in blank). As if that negates God’s Word, as if God forgot somehow that we are sinners. I have learned not to argue with this kind because they are fear mongers who are not after truth.

  6. Great post, Lori!

    Since hindsight is 20/20, it’s incredible how many problems I’ve come across that would have been averted by this idea being accepted.

    And when it is, there is peace, in the home, town, state, nation, and world.

    It’s sad, because so many women want love, and to be loved by a husband, but they don’t understand the most powerful weapon in their arsenal to get that love, is obedience to God’s order.

  7. When I saw the title of today’s post, my immediate reaction was, “Whaaaaat?”

    Like most feminist arguments, these discussions always go straight to the worst case scenario. “I’m not giving any guy the right to boss me around or abuse me.”

    I always think of my grandma. I never once heard her disagree with my grandpa publicly. She was always quiet. I saw that everything she did was to help him or please him. But I never saw her get bossed around or abused. On the contrary. My mom later told me that my Grandma was always the first woman on the block to get the latest appliance! My grandpa delivered appliances on Saturday mornings in exchange for the floor model washer at the Maytag store. My mom said my grandpa treated her like a queen because she treated him like a king. (I did ask why he never got her a dryer and my mom said my grandma thought they were a waste of money, especially in Southern Cal.)

  8. I love stories like this!
    Quiet, gentle submission, leading to such lovely rewards.

  9. Eph 5:21 is a huge stumbling block for the feminist mindset. So long as a wife sees this verse from her human perspective, it will continue to feed her flesh the oxymoron of ‘mutual submission.’

    It’s not until she really wants the truth and seeks Him about it, regardless of what it means, that God will show her. I remember being stuck under that mindset. It is almost glued onto your thinking, and is impossible to peel off without God’s intervention.

    But now it seems SO clear to me! The one flesh of marriage is unlike every other relationship within the body/congregation/fellowship that require peer submission. You know, you could almost call it ‘reciprocal’ submission when referring to other relationships/friendships. But with marriage … it is just not ordered that way. I’m guessing that’s why Paul lumped all relationships into verse 21 and then proceeded to make a separate delineation especially for spouses.

  10. My husband would never submit to me! We will be married 34 years on Saturday. And have worked as a team from the very start. It’s very important that this happens, particularly when children are very young. The worst thing is not agreeing and arguing in front of them.

  11. Eph 5:22-24 is one of my favorite passages in the bible. During our wedding ceremony 23 years ago the pastor read the entire passage Eph 5:22-31. Of course, Verse 31 is often read in marriage ceremonies (a man shall leave his father and mother, etc.,) but we requested the entire passage be read aloud to everyone (this was actually my idea as it was part of my parent’s marriage vows as well! )

    You are exactly right Lori, feminism today has pushed and bullied its way into our churches and pastors are afraid to teach the true word, but rather water it down with “mutual submission” and “serving.” To serve and to submit are indeed two completely different words and actions. Wives are told to submit to their husbands in EVERYTHING, and husband are told to love their wives as Christ loved the church. The husband is the head of the wife, nowhere does it state or even imply that husbands are to “mutually submit” to their wives. My husband loves me, respects me, takes care of me, spoils me, teaches me and leads me. But in no way does he “submit” to me. I simply can’t imagine that! I willingly submit to my husband and obey him in everything I say and do and with all of my heart and soul. I have done this since before we were married and always will.

  12. I lived with a domineering, angry stepfather as a teenager and this left me with a chip on my shoulder about submission. Early in our marriage, I pushed back when I felt that my husband was trying to take over in our relationship. Over the years, I mellowed and learned that a harsh retort was not a good way to have a happy husband and a peaceful home. As we have grown older together our marriage has grown stronger and richer. We don’t always say or do the right thing at the right time, but we have learned to give each other grace and forgiveness.

  13. Thanks for writing this, Lori.

    The intentional misapplication of Ephesians 5:21 is destructive to marriages. And it is near impossible to find a pastor who doesn’t make that one intentional error the basis for all his counsel.

    Brothers in Christ should submit to each other, but the rest of the chapter deals specifically with the relationship between husband and wife, being like the relationship between Christ and His church. The husband being the image of Christ and the wife being the image of the church.

  14. There is another way to view this.

    Simply by getting married, men are already “submitting” to women. Marriage is a system by which men “give” and women “take”. That’s what marriage IS. An institution that gets men to agree to give up their freedom and give their income and protection to women. It’s God’s way of ensuring the human race prospers.

    Men don’t have to do this. They can stay single and enjoy all the extra luxury of that lifestyle.

    Since marriage already demands submission of men, then it’s not necessary for those pastors to insist that men submit. Men are already submitting.

    Only wives need to be submissive, in order to make it a fair and equal marriage.

    This was well understood by people historically. In most cultures, women pampered their men because they wanted the men to stick around.

    Only in modern times have twisted Feminists managed to trick women into seeing marriage as a trap, when in fact, marriage was created specifically to benefit women. Once more example of the utter lie factory that is modern Feminism. It’s collapsing as we speak.

  15. Mother Dearest says:
    March 5, 2019 at 11:28 am

    Yup. You nailed it. You could also have added that since nearly all pastors are dependent upon the contents of the collection plate for their sustenance and that it is mostly WOMEN (or their husbands under threat point) who fill those collection plates, they are not about to say bite the hands that feed them. Completely and utterly lacking in faith in God and fearing (wo)man over Him.

  16. Dear Lori,
    I have been (at first just out of curiosity, and now out of a true desire to be confirmed in what my heart already had told me!) following your site for a few months. I became aware of your site due to another “Christian” marriage blog (very famous one) that was horrified by you for your “tatoo/college/marriageable woman” post! 🙂 Her attacks made me curious so I went over to you only to see…then I saw you were speaking what I was hungry to hear for years! I’ve been married over 11 years with six children now! Though American, I am in an international marriage living abroad. Interestingly enough I followed the other lady’s blog for over 6 of my married years!!! She was insistent about equal submission and her crumbling argument about no patriarchy (though God made this line of authority and every successful organization has a head!) drove me nuts! She criticized the “umbrella form of authority” last year and I scratched by head. Why is this so bad?

    Of course we women answer to God and are called to a direct relationship with Him but we are called in marriage to SUBMIT to our husbands. God rewards us for our obedience! And of course no reasonable man will nag his wife and tell her her every move! Anyway, I now look fwd to your posts, which also encourage large families as blessings…when I crossed her birth control blogs this past year and said “why not talk about the BLESSINGS of many children?” –she kicked me down! So thank you for what you do. It takes humility when you are used to being a proud woman who likes to be heard, to realize maybe you haven’t been doing things so great! I want to give my four daughters (so far ! And two sons!) the best example I can of the valiant woman! And yes, peace and happiness flow from right order in the marriage! I never realized that my mom (who really did her best coming from her era of feminism) was not modeling correct wifely behaviour in the home althouh she stayed home and raised us! I am doing my best! But your voice is kind yet truthful and I thank you, and the other “Christian” blogger who unknowingly led me to you! 🙂

  17. This is absolutely the correct interpretation. I personally find this passage to be a testing point on whether the pastor of a congregation is merely good, or great.

    A woman’s natural (earthly = sinful) tendency will be to ‘fix’ ‘tame’ ‘correct’ ‘put him in his place’ (aka ‘rule over’) her husband. It is the mark of PRIDE.

    A man’s natural tendency will be to ‘retreat’ ‘go along to get along’ ‘happy wife, happy life’ (aka shirking responsibility of ‘ruling over’) his wife. It is the mark of COWARDICE.

    A woman must learn how to serve her husband not with words but works (1 Pet 3:4, 1 Pet 3:1). A man must learn how to rule over his wife with grace not harshness (1 Pet 3:7, Col 3:19).

    She must SUBMIT to combat her PRIDE. He must RULE to combat his COWARDICE.

  18. Bill, this is a great viewpoint. In the passages in 1 Pet or Cor or Eph, the instructions given stem somewhat ‘from silence’ (a possible logical fallacy) on what is a given to the audience of the passage.

    A woman does not need to be told to nurture. She does not need to be instructed to be caring. These are the fiber of her being. She needs reminding to submit, because it is foreign.

    Likewise, the man does not need to be told to care for himself. He needs no guidance on speaking. He does need a class on how to be firm, but gentle- subtlety is not his suit. He needs affirmation his role is to lead- to the death if need-be!

    The instructions given are to be considered equally with the instructions that were not given. This is where many who do not understand and attribute ‘false equivalency’ (logical fallacy) between the sexes.

    ‘But women are told to do A, so men should also have to do A!’

    No, no. We are different, made differently, and intended for different roles.

    ‘The task of a woman to do A, finds its equivalence in the task of man to do B.’

    Understanding this concept is key to growing from drinking the Word as milk, to consuming It as meat. (ref: 1 Cor 3:2)

  19. There is no confusion here. Those that read V5:21 as applying husband to wife don’t want [her] to submit. “The best lies are the ones you want to believe.” My observation has been that most women want to believe this verse applies to marriage.

    With that logic, parents would submit to children. V5:21 simply applies brethren to brethren. It is impossible for the head not to be the head, or have the chaos of two heads [hey …that’s what we have today!]. These people are simply “itching ears, and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” of the church, “for this they willingly are ignorant.”

    PS: Lori, I know you are a fan of Debi Pearl. I came across her quote “Becoming heirs together starts with the wife.” Note the important “together” …the husband may continue on without her. Interestingly, this parallels what I have thought for a few years now: “The healing of the church starts with women taking their rightful place.”

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