Submissive Wives

As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything. For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. -Ephesians 5:24-25

Love your wives….as Christ loved the church.

How did Christ love the church?

He washed the disciples feet.

He defended the prostitute against stone-wielding haters.

He hung on the cross.

Jesus took the punishment that was meant for me.

Jesus took the punishment that was meant for you.

He sacrificed everything so that we might live. So that we might know the fullness of love.

Submit to a husband who will love me like that? A husband who will die for me? A husband who will protect me? A husband who will put my well-fare and my needs before His own?


Let’s Talk: Do you struggle with these verses? Why or why not?

29 thoughts on “Submissive Wives

  1. Sue

    those vesrses ruined my life. Even though I left the source (christianity) because of sexism, the negative thoughts stick around. Because of that fateful day 30 years ago, I have 1) attempted suicide numerous times 2) hated men with a passion 3) hated myself intensively (after all, god wanted me to become a slave) 4)run away from any man that I liked because I thought he wanted to dominate/be my ‘head”/master. I let those words destroy my life. 5) thought of life as something to get over with. I think, that by being middle aged, life is (thank god) almost over with. Why do I keep these negative images, when I have rejected christianity. So those words only brought hate and misery for me-as I’m sure it might bring to others. I know-it is my own fault-I let these words detroy my life. How can I get those words out of my mind? I don’t believe or follow them. Just wanted to show how those words can be hurtful. Thanks for letting me vent. Maybe it’s the first step towards healing.

  2. Sue

    I also think that giving someone such power over you is bound to create a monster. But I’m glad everyone has the secular freedom to live how they want to-even if it means giving up all your freedom (to submit is to yield to the will of another, hence, loosing all your free will, hence, your freedom)

  3. Sue

    I had to leave christianity because of those verses. To me, it means a life of a sort of slavery. the day I heard those verses preached in church was the day I decided never to go back once I was an adult. (I was 17). I also developed a sort of hatred and fear of men-thinking all they wanted to do was dominate me. I decided I would never get married at that moment also. As a middle ager, I am still trying to get over the hate and it’s hard. I never went back to church and I never got married (or even had a long term relationship) all because I was listening that one Sunday many years ago. Thank.

  4. Sue

    Submissiion, to me, is slavery. I had to leave christianity because of those verses. Have never gone back. The bible seems to want to make slaves of women. The way the bible talks about women, you would think that God absolutely hates women. Submission is giving up all freedom, even if you have a nice master. I found these verses to be very insulting.

  5. Love, love, LOVE this topic. (And shall try not to write a comment longer than the original post.) Biblical manhood and womanhood is my heart. I think so often it’s modeled poorly (or not at all) by the church. But if we could truly see it lived out according to God’s design, everyone would see how beautiful it is. We’re created to yearn for it–who DOESN’T want to be protected, provided for, honored, and loved sacrificially?
    It’s also true, that since none of us are ACTUALLY married to Jesus, it’s never going to look perfect. And I loved what Lindsay said about not waiting to give respect (or love) until it’s earned. It’s always been my experience that giving both unconditionally engenders the other.

  6. Katie Ganshert

    LOVED reading all your thoughts! Thanks for sharing!

  7. Tamara

    Hi Katie, thanks for sharing your heart. πŸ™‚

    I commend you for your bravery – submission is such a hot-button issue.

    My husband and I work together as a team, both submitting and sacrificing for one another (that’s really what submission is – sacrifice), making decisions together.

    For too long I’ve heard that submission is a woman’s place (as if it’s a position instead of a heart attitude for both men and women).

    Working together side-by-side the way God intended is so freeing and enjoyable. πŸ™‚

    Thanks again Katie for sharing – I enjoy reading your thoughts. πŸ™‚

    1. Katie Ganshert

      You’re right Tamara! When it comes to God, both men and women need a heart of submission….or trust that He knows what is best and we’ll follow where He leads.

  8. Excellent post, Katie. I don’t really struggle with submission. My sweet hubby makes it easy, taking my needs and desires into account. (Though I do sometimes have to work on not saying “I told you so” when his way is the wrong one! Ha!) I love how the verses in Ephesians make it clear that it’s the same type of relationship we have to develop with the Lord.

  9. Janice Boekhoff

    I have to lay down my life daily because I struggle all the time with submission. For me, it’s dualing issues of trust and pride. Not so much about trusting God, He’s all knowing and perfect-what’s not to trust. Mostly, it’s trusting that God is working through this fallible human I call my husband, who may or may not be listening to Him at any given time. Which then becomes a pride issue because I think I’m either listening better to God or somehow we would make fewer mistakes if I was in control.

    Over time, God has shown me that He’s not trying to keep us from making mistakes. He works through the mistakes to bring my husband and I both closer to Him.

    Great post, Katie!

  10. I do struggle with submission. There. I said it. I struggle with it because in our relationship, I am the dominant, type-A, bossy control-freak (wow, I am making myself sound really good) so I am constantly struggling to submit. And it’s a struggle that the Lord is taking me through in a beautiful way. But thankfully I am married to the kind of man who does love me as Christ loved the church, so spiritual maturity has brought me a lot of wisdom on submission.

  11. Often I think when people have disagreements about this verse, they have two completely different ideas of what “submitting” looks like in a relationship. Instead of looking at another person’s relationship when I read this verse, I’ve learned I need to look at my own and think about how I can I apply this to my marriage. For me, it often comes back to letting go of the control-freak aspect of my personality and trusting my husband to do some really awesome things in our family. He’s the risk taker, and I’m the practical one. If I refused to ever submit to his risk taking side, we would have missed out on some really amazing things in our marriage. God wants to bless our marriages!

  12. Tried all morning to post my thoughts…let’s see if they go through this time.

    I’m a submissive wife by choice. Going into my marriage, I knew my husband was going to be the leader in our home. That’s not to say, though, I’m a doormat or his servant. It’s about respecting his role in our family. We partner in parenting and making decisions together. I love and respect him. In turn, he showers me with unconditional love.

  13. I find myself the *old married* here. 23 years as of last Sunday, and he’s still alive! Gather ’round girls, I have learned a thing or two…

    Submitting is NOT being a doormat!

    When the husband loves his wife as Christ loved the church, any disputes will be solved in a loving manner. That’s not to say there won’t be fireworks, but a healthy marriage will always come back to “what is best” not “I got what I want”.
    When our daughter began to destroy our happy home, John and I said from then on, we HAD to be each other’s Navy SEAL. We are still married, through some of the worst years of our lives. He is my anchor, even though I hate his beard and he hates it when I dye my WHITE eyebrows. We are a team. I know who has the final say, which is good, because I don’t want the pressure.

    When the kids ask John for something, half the time I hear “ask you mother, she’s the boss”. The other half of the time, they can’t find me.

  14. I don’t struggle with the idea of submission, which I realize doesn’t mean being a doormat; but I’ve been guilty more times than I like to admit of not submitting as I should. Even so, I know when I’m not submitting, I’m not in line with God’s plan for my life or marriage.

    I’m thankful for a husband who loves the Lord and loves me too, and who also treats me with respect. If I didn’t have this kind of husband, I wonder how easy it would be to submit, or if my feelings about this verse would be different? As a Christian, God’s instructions for my part in my marriage wouldn’t change, but I imagine being a submissive wife to a man who didn’t love God and didn’t love and respect me would be very difficult.

  15. Katie

    Thanks for straight-shooting this Wednesday morning. Like Ruth Douthitt wrote, our marriage suffered horribly because I didn’t want to submit, because I’d believed the world’s definition of submission, not God’s. The funny thing is, just like Ruth said, when I started to submit, my champion stepped up. He learned to wield his sword, The Word, and he began slaying the dragons that had taken up residence in our kingdom.

    Now, I’m not saying that everyone who obeys will get a happy ending… but there is something that happens when we obey, something changes in US long before (if ever) the other person and we gain discernment and wisdom to make decisions that we couldn’t before.

    Love this post.

  16. I do. *sigh*
    I signed up to get your blog posts in my dashboard but for some reason it’s not happening! Blech.
    Good post!!

    1. I’ve been having that issue too, Jess (with the dashboard). It shows up sometimes, but usually not.

      1. Katie Ganshert

        πŸ™ Not sure what that’s about!

  17. I struggled with submission for the first en years of our marriage…and the first ten years were the worst of all!!

    When I submitted to my husband and the Lord, our marriage changed for the better. I began to pray for my husband that he would do the will of the Lord.

    I urge all wives to submit to their husbands as though submitting to the Lord. You will reap the rewards ten fold!

    That’s what it means to trust and obey.

    Great post!

  18. When I saw the title to your blog post, my interest was immediately piqued. So often I hear different things about women being submissive and then I always end up with that quote from Princess Bride in my head: “I do not think that word means what you think it means.” πŸ™‚ I loved your take on it. Yeah, I’d submit to a husband like that. I think! The really hard thing would be if there was some super-intense issue on which we both believed God was telling us something differently…that’d be so hard. But I’ve seen women I so respect go through that…and submit…and it’s amazing to me. Praying God molds me into someone who submits well.

    1. Katie Ganshert

      Melissa – LOL!!! I LOVE that line from The Princess Bride. And so applicable here.

      I love how submitting to my husband teaches me SO much about what it means to really submit to Christ and trust Him.

  19. Katie Ganshert

    Hey everyone – I’ve received a few emails from people who aren’t able to comment on my blog. When they try, they receive an error message that says JavaScript and Cookies must be enabled, yet they are already enabled on their computers. We’re trying to see if we can get it fixed! Sorry for the inconvenience! Gotta love technology, right?

  20. Have you ever read the book “Love and Respect” by Emerson Eggerichs (sp?)? It’s amazing. Changed our marriage. So often in our society, we’re told to love, love, love. We think “If he loves me, THEN I’ll respect him.” But respect shouldn’t be conditional in our marriages. It should be given whether a husband has earned it or not…because the Bible commands it.

    But I admit, it’s a lot easier for me to comply with these verses because I have a husband who does love me. Very much.

    Great thoughts, Katie.

    1. Katie Ganshert

      Lindsay – our small group did the study together (which included really great videos). And you’re so right – the unconditional respect was a huge epiphany to me (and yet in hindsight, makes SO much sense!!!). I hate to admit it, but I definitely used to treat respect as conditional. As if my husband had to earn it first. How sad would that be if we treated love that way?

      Thanks for bringing this up! Very pertinent to the discussion!

  21. I am in complete agreement with you, Katie. Like Wendy, I often get conflicted with the Bible and need someone else’s insight and perspective to lighten the side of the passage I’m not seeing. Thank you so much for this post. πŸ™‚

    1. Katie Ganshert

      I’m right there with you, Lauren! I love that God has made us a BODY – a community – for this very reason. The Bible is so dimensional and multi-faceted. It’s crazy how a pastor (or anyone, really) can take a passage of scripture – one I either struggle with or read right over – and shed so much wisdom on it!

  22. Oh sure. I wrestle with lots in the Bible. But like Jacob I hold out for the blessing and I love the blessing of this post. I think for too long and too often this half of the equation is left off from this verse. And I also believe if we focus on our own treatment of others we’re in a sweet position to grow and become more Christ-like.

    ~ Wendy

    1. Katie Ganshert

      I’m wrestling right there with you, Wendy.

      As far as this part of the equation being left out of the verse – I’m bobbing my head in agreement. It’s why I wrote this verse. I think sometimes Paul gets slammed for writing about wives being submissive….but man, the guy told men to love their wives as Christ loved the church. And that is a more daunting, amazing, crazy-hard challenge than submission, if ya ask me!


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