Straight Truth, Pull No Punches, Teaching on Submission

Straight Truth, Pull No Punches, Teaching on Submission

Written By Dr. John R. Rice in 1948

Should a wife obey her husband? Should she be in subjection to him? Should she submit to him as if her were God, as a Christian should be toward Christ? Should a husband have authority over his wife as a master does over a servant? Should women even reverence their husbands as good women sometimes have done, obeying them and calling them lord?

The Bible does command a woman to do all of this, as we will show from many Scriptures. But modern women says “No!” The modern feminist movement has insisted on woman’s equality with man in every respect…Even the devout church woman these days does not know that the Bible explicitly commands her to obey her husband, and she does not even pretend to do it. On this subject preachers have either remained silent, or have made it a theme of silly jesting from the pulpit, while they either do not believe it or are afraid to preach the unmistakable command of God’s Word concerning it.

If a wife does not expect to obey her husband, it is also true that her husband does not expect to support his wife…In modern homes, men, not being the head of the home, do not feel responsible to protect and provide for their families.

The modern world has boasted of its wisdom in forsaking the old standards of marriage and the home, yet the modern marriage has failed…Thousands of other homes produce boys and girls who are turned into the world without any discipline, any moral or religious training that would make them even good citizens, much less devout and happy Christians.

God has placed man as the head of the home then, and since that time, no home has ever been successful and happy which has violated God’s plain command.

The first sin for which God rebuked Adam in Genesis 3:17 was “because thou has hearkened unto the voice of thy wife.” Concerning this very matter, Paul was inspired to write Timothy in 1 Timothy 2:11-14:

Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.

For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body (Ephesians 5:23). There could be no more positive or emphatic statement that the husband is the head of the wife, the head of the home…For this reason, the Scripture continues, the woman ought to wear long hair as a covering for her head, symbolizing that she is subject to her husband. 1 Corinthians 11:15 then says that “if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her”…Woman is the glory of the man, and verse 9 says that the woman was created for man…To change this order violates the laws of nature as well as the command of God. That is why modern homes are usually unhappy and cannot have the favor of God.

 Servants should obey their masters even if they are sometimes unkind. Citizens should obey the laws of their country even though they be administered by wicked and corrupt men. Likewise, God expects women to feel their duty to obey their husbands, good or bad, saved or unsaved. Nowhere in the bible is a wife’s duty to her husband conditioned on the kind of character he has or the way he treats her. This divine order in giving commands to men and women could not be an accident, but is evidently meant to leave those who should obey without any excuse for not doing so.

God’s language is so strong that most preachers in their cowardly submission to modern tendencies simply ignore it and do not preach it, or they explain it away as fit only for other times or only under ideal circumstances. Preachers must answer to God for the way they preach His Word. I will give you plainly what he says about a wife’s duty toward her husband. I dare not do otherwise.

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband. (From Ephesians 5)

Wives should submit themselves to their own husband “as unto the Lord.” A woman should obey her husband as if it were the Lord she were obeying, for in truth it is. That means a cheerful obedience which comes from a loving and an obedient heart. To obey her husband should be part of a Christian woman’s religion. She submits to him “as unto the Lord.”

“As the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husband IN EVERYTHING.” It is true that every man, woman, and child, every servant and every citizen should put God first and obey Him first. But here the Scripture seems to take for granted that there will never be a case where God will call upon a wife to disobey her husband. Women are to be subject to their husbands just as the church is subject to Christ, even in everything!

A wife should be subject to her husband in the ways she directs the house, spends the money committed to her, controls the children, in the way she dresses, in the company she keeps – in everything…Sarah is here held up as a great example to wives who would please the Lord and have happy homes…Happy is the woman who feels toward her husband as Sarah did, who can obey her husband with happy reverence. If you, Mrs. Modern Wife, cannot feel so toward your husband, do not be surprised if you never have the love and fellowship which Sarah had with Abraham and the respect and reverence of your children which Sarah had from Isaac.

God’s Word is explicit and plain and women who want to be happy, to have the real love of their husbands lasting down to old age, and the respect of their children and neighbors, which are not accorded to modern, pleasure-mad wives, should take to heart these commands from God’s Word.

The same woman who objects to being under the authority of her husband attends clubs of which she is not president. She works in a church of which she is not pastor. She is a citizen of a government where others rule over her. Even the policeman on the corner can command her to stop or go, turn left or right, or may hail her to court where she is as helpless as a child before the law.

The rebellion of a wife against her husband is exactly the same in spirit as the rebellion of a disobedient child against his father, of an incorrigible pupil against the teacher or a criminal against the government: it is lawlessness pure and simple. In any government, business corporation, or home, there must be those in authority…God has appointed the husband and father in the home as the head, and the wife, the weaker vessel, as his help-meet.

Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear (1 Peter 3:1, 2). You wives who weep over your lost husbands and who plead and pray without success for their salvation, it may be that by your disobedient heart you have blocked the answer to your own prayers and made it so your husband will not listen to your pleading. The kind of religion which will make a wife the modest, unselfish, lovely, and obedient wife which God commands her to be – with that “ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price,” as Sarah had, who obeyed Abraham, calling him lord (1 Peter 3:4-6) – that kind of home religion in a wife will have more to do with the salvation of many a lost man than any amount of public preaching of the Gospel.

People ask foolish, theoretical questions here. “What if a husband should command his wife to get drunk?” etc., etc. That is a supposition for which the Lord made no provision here. We may be sure the reason is that that will not happen to a truly Christian woman who loves and obeys her husband. Husbands respect such wives and respect their religion! That is the reason God says such a course would win the husband when the preaching of the Word fails. Wives should be in subjection to their husband, even unsaved husbands.

32 thoughts on “Straight Truth, Pull No Punches, Teaching on Submission

  1. I don’t understand how anyone can argue with Gods word so plainly spoken.

    As a husband, I so deeply long for the kind of joy, peace and fulfillment that would result from my wife being that kind of Godly woman. Tears are streaming down my face as I allow myself to try and fathom that kind of oneness relationship with the woman that I so desperately love. But it just cannot be with a wife who will not surrender herself completely to Christ by surrendering herself completely to her husband.

    1. The majority of women have never been taught the clear instructions the Lord has given them about being a wife, unfortunately, and when they finally are taught, it’s repulsive to them. Little do they know that they are tearing their homes down with their own hands. God’s ways are perfect for us!

    2. I’m sorry it has been so difficult Trey. Perhaps Ken can give you some advice on how to breakthrough to your wife. My husband (who has always been wonderful and sweet to me) never tolerated or entertained unrighteous behavior on my part. He has also called me out on bad attitudes. I don’t know, perhaps there is a way of doing things that you haven’t tried yet?

      1. TMichelle,

        I agree with you regarding Trey’s comments. I WANT my husband to call me on my wrong, sinful, wicked, errant, foolish ways, attitudes and words. I want him to care so much for my soul that he will point them out to me, speaking the Truth to me in love. I want his actions to speak his love to me, telling me THAT I need to get my heart right and HOW I can get my heart right.

        When I go to a doctor, and he or she sees evidence that I have been mistreating and misfeeding my body, I don’t want him or her to tell me to take this “medicine” and read this pamphlet, “but you can just keep right on eating and treating your body the way you have. Reading the pamphlet will give you some excellent information about your condition, but of course, you won’t have to change anything. You can continue living and eating like you have. And as for your steady diet of whatever it is you like to put in your mouth– or in your mind for that matter– no worries there either. Just take this chemical tablet that a pharmacy has designed for people like you (be sure to read the label for the looooong list of possible side effects…), patients who would rather not change anything they’re doing yet expect improvement or different results. Of course, we all know that is insanity, but hey. That’s what I’m here for: To tell you what you want to hear with those itichy ears on either side of your head. Keep doing what you’re doing and the next time I see you, and you’re not really any better than you are today, I have another pamphlet for you and we can just change your prescription.”

        WHA’?!?! We want a trained physician to care about our health and wellbeing, right? We want him to tell us the truth, right? We want him to guide us, correct us and lead us to better health. We want his advice to be life-giving, life-changing and helpful.

        That’s the kind of husbands wives need: men who watch for our souls, correct us when we’re wrong, step up as the man of the house, wear the pants, has the muscles and the guts and the fearlessness to take us on. I always say it takes a mighty woman to be submitted to her man, but I pray for a revival in our men to step up with a holy boldness and rebuke and exhort with all longsuffering for the very saving of the souls of wives!

        *hugs*
        ~Kelley

        P.S. Lori, this post-WW II piece is amazing. To think it was written about 70 years ago! Remove that little incidental of “1948” and you’d have thought it was composed just last night on a laptop versus pecked out on a piece of typing paper with a manual typewriter. The Bible says there’s not one thing new under the sun– good or ill!

        1. I loved this man’s writings too, Kelley, that was written so long ago and is still completely relevant for today since God’s Word is unchanging. All husbands would love a wife who wanted to be spoken the truth in love and their faults pointed out so they could become more like Christ!

    3. Trey, I am so sorry that your wife does not understand that His plan is more important than her own. 🙁 I’ll be praying for both of you!

  2. Thanks, Lori. You are very faithful in teaching women…I also have been encouraged by S.M. Davis and his preaching on reverence and submission. He has a website where you can purchase his sermons on CD, DVD, or tapes at solvingfamilyproblems.com

  3. Calling our husbands lord…has such a deep meaning to it. Trusting our husband’s in everything. We as women should be covered from cradle to the grave. First from out father’s then our huabands. Calling my husband lord and beliving really has brought a change to my home. My daughter’s can look at me as a example so when they marry they can do the same thing. In reality it’s really a heart/control issue. To really submit is to recognize and call him lord, just as Sarah did.

  4. I really enjoyed reading this today Lori! You are teaching the subject so thoroughly. My husband was won over to the Lord within three months after I began working hard to be a godly, submissive wife. Debi Pearl would describe him as Mr. Steady. It’s one thing to read about it, but it’s beautiful to witness God’s Word unfold in my life by following His design.

    I like this quote and feel this could pertain to godly submission towards our husbands:

    “Pride is a terrible and dangerous thing. It can take so many forms; it can even assume the appearance of humility. Pride can lead not only to self-exaltation, but also to self-abasement. It is a dangerous worm of many disguises. The key to battling pride is not found in struggling against thinking too highly of ourselves or in striving to think of ourselves as lowly. The key is found in simply not thinking about ourselves at all, but setting our minds on Christ and the needs of others.” Paul Washer

  5. I find it poignant and humbling to think of Jesus’ relation to God ” Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. If we as women are so “wonderful” why are we exalting ourselves? If we are the more “righteous” than the “boorish” men then why are our egos bigger than Jesus’ who washed the feet of lowly sinners? Why must we push for our way in everything? If Jesus was a great servant, than why do we not seek to be like Him?

  6. It’s so sad how women treat their husbands today. My husband is the head of my household and I hold him in the highest regard. When we said our vows at our wedding I made a promise to love honor and OBEY and I intend to continue doing so.

    1. We didn’t have “obey” in our wedding vows. We had the word ‘cherish’ instead.
      If we were to get married again we would change our vows to include ‘obey’. But at the time, I had no intention of obeying my husband, I was very young and a feminist.

  7. One of my nine daughters is estranged from me and we haven’t spoken in years. But I know from an update to social media, she is still not married and she even participated in a Woman’s March! I pray to God every not that she will see His plan for her, and stop living her life in rebellion to Him.

  8. This post reminds me of a couple I used to know – long dead now.

    The wife was a godly, Christian woman, who attended church faithfully every week. She was a truly submissive wife, and her husband cherished her. But he hated her going to church. He hated her going so much that he would hide her good clothes and shoes, he would refuse to drive her so she had to walk (she did not drive) the 5km journey, and he threw away her Bibles. She had to hide them to keep them safe.

    Through all this, she remained faithful, joyfully serving her husband. He would comment all the time to his mates at the pub what a lucky man he was that he had such a good wife.

    When she got sick he was devastated, and did everything he could for her. He even started driving her to church because she was too sick to walk, and he started to feel guilty that he had made it so difficult for her for all those years.

    When she died, her church friends all attended her funeral and were friendly to her broken husband, even though they knew how difficult he had made it for her to serve the Lord.

    Less than a year later, this man started attending the church she’d been going to, and became a Christian. He died a faithful man, several years later.

    I love this perfect example of how a faithful, obedient, submissive wife can win her husband.

    I have other examples of women like this, but this is the sweetest, I think.

    Unfortunately, life experience has proven to me that sometimes, ungodly husbands do ask us to do things that are contrary to our faith (such as use illegal drugs) but I found that God gives us the strength to refuse to do these things. If we’re submissive and obedient in every other way, God helps us to continue to live in accordance with his teachings.

  9. Dear Lori, I must say am very blessed to have come across your site here and on Facebook. I am a lecturer in a university in Ghana (Africa), my husband is also a lecturer, in-fact we are working at the same place (both of us are P.hd holders). We started dating in our school day and now are married with a beautiful daughter. For some years now, we started having problems in our marriage, it been too rough i should say that we nearly separated last month. i BEGAN to search all over for solution and i came across your post and others on the internet. In-fact, you have been a blessing on me. its as if God has sent you to speak to specifically to me. Everyday i look forward for reading your post since last month, especially the ones you hand write and post on Facebook.
    I must say, submission is my major problem and i have started trying to do it. I was really destroying my marriage with this attitude of mine. I hope by the grace of God I will be transformed.
    God richly bless you.

  10. God tells us to obey, reverence, submit, and respect our husbands in everything. A lot of it comes down to trusting God to guide our husbands and to correct them when they are going to make a wrong decision. It really truthfully comes down to trusting the Lord to do His part when we do ours. God can take care of any situation and change our husbands hearts if we give Him the chance. Too many women do not trust God enough to allow their husbands to lead, plain and simple. Part of it may be rebellion, but a lot of it is trusting God. When I allow God to work in my husband’s heart, I’ve not had to say a word about how I don’t agree with the way he wants to do something, God just handles it and changes his heart. If my husband ever doesn’t listen to God speaking to him, then he has to stand before God for that. When we as women get to the point where we understand that we are God’s and we need to trust God fully then we will begin to trust our husbands as head of the home, because we will trust God’s order for our home and family.

    1. That works perfectly when our husbands are godly men. But sometimes, husbands reject God totally, and are addicted to drugs, have problems with alcohol and pornography, may be violent, they may turn aside from God completely. They may be criminals and involved in the underworld. In times like that, it’s not a matter of trusting God to change our husbands hearts (because God can only do the work in us that we allow him to do – a man who refuses to have God in his life at all is not going to be listening) but a matter of trusting God to help us in refusing to follow our husband’s wrongful decisions.
      I’m not talking about moving to someplace, or how he spends his time, or things like that – submission and prayer are the best things to do there – but when it is something actually wrong, sinful and illegal. Hurting our children, for example, or hurting us. Wanting us to participate in sexual activities we do not want to do (threesomes, for example). Spending the grocery money on drugs/alcohol/cigarettes. Asking us to steal/commit a crime to fund his habit. In times like this, we MUST stand up and say NO.
      But I guess you already covered that when you said “it comes down to trusting God to do His part when we do ours.” If we do our part in staying faithful to what God has asked us to do – He will do His part in keeping us.

  11. Jennifer,

    Problem is that most women have been taught and believe that females are more spiritual and Godly than their husbands. This allows them the arrogance to decide what, when, and how their husbands are being Godly and correcting their husbands.

    For the women here that said they want their husbands to correct them. I have heard women say this, but I have never ever seen a woman take it with humility. My wife literally screams in tantrum when I make her accountable and later apologizes. Does that count? No, due to the fact that although I forgive her, the rebellion is still very strong in her heart and her first reaction is to be disrespectful, unkind, cruel and divisive.

    I am in a similar situation to many christian men including all of your husbands. Cleansing your wife has become a burden so great that doing so you live hell on earth, but not doing so it is hell on earth and abdicating your role is what Adam did in the garden. He listened to his wife. I barely listen to my wife any more and the bad times are when I do listen.

    To modern women “live with your wife with understanding” means agreeing with her.

    1. Jeff, you are not responsible for cleansing your wife. Only Jesus can cleanse a person. We cannot change another person. We are only responsible for ourselves. The cleansing is beyween the lord and the individual person.

      My wife doesn’t expect me to agree with her on everything, neither do I expect her to agree with me on everything. We try hard to live in an understanding way with each other by always communicating and listening to each other, treating each other with love, honor and respect and doing a lot of praying together.

      1. Oh, and my wife is very open to listening to me with a humble heart. You have to be humble to truly listen to the other person. If I approach her with a concern, she listens, we talk about it and she will fix it or change it. Likewise, if she needs to approach me about something, we talk about it, I listen, and I will fix or change it. I have found that if I focus on humility for myself it will set the tone for the whole family. We have had a blessed 30+ years of marriage and I look forward to 30 more years.

    2. Jeff – ALL of our husbands are living hell on earth? Really?
      I just asked my husband for his opinion on that and he nearly died choking on his coffee. He is certainly NOT living hell on earth!
      His definition of “live with your wife with understanding” is understanding that we have different emotional and physical makeup, and so we may have different needs. He understands that we communicate differently at times, and we need to put in the time and effort necessary to make sure we are both on the same page. And he understands that, sometimes, I just need to be held.

  12. I understand what the words says but it is hard to do sometimes. My husband and I are living in two different state right now. He has taken a job in another state but the income will not support his family 100 percent. I will be forced to work full time now. I am crying so much because I have to give up so much, like living in the country, staying home with our three boys, keeping my home, and homeschooling. I am not ready to give this all up and go to work full time. I feel I am giving up my peace and joy as a woman for a paycheck. I have asked him if we can move when he is making enough income to support the family. He said that could be years.

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