Supporting Member – Does biblical submission mean my husband has final say in all decisions?
I would not frame the question that way. It’s too narrow and misses the beauty and practicality of what a biblical marriage should be. Framing the issue as you have sounded more like a dictatorship than a one-flesh covenant. Who has the “final say in all discussions” is a behavioral talking point that reveals the heart of a marriage that is not right.
Marriage is a collaboration within a humble, coequal hierarchy. I’m the head of our family, but I do not discount my wife’s views because she is coequal with me. Coequality and headship do not compete. Or, they should not.
A husband should never make his wife feel insignificant, unimportant, or a nuisance. Those kinds of “relational negatives” speak to the ineffectiveness of his leadership. Biblical husbands create an environment that invites the “submitted” to speak, ask questions, present other opinions, and humbly disagree.
I welcome my wife’s opinions because she has perspectives I don’t have. I would be a fool not to confer with my wife. Does my desire for her wisdom weaken my headship? Does my reliance on her opinions negate the necessity of my leadership? Absolutely not on both counts.
I’m not competing with my wife, neither am I insecure when she offers an alternate opinion. She’s not competing with me either. She does not want to lead, and she does not want relegation to the role of the eldest child in our home. Competition and relegation are non-arguments.
If they become “arguments” in your home, your marriage is not a biblical one. If your marriage is negotiating over headship, submission, and coequality, I appeal to you to find help from your church.
I assume you have made your appeals to your husband following the Matthew 18:15-17 template. You do this to restore your husband to Christ, and then to you (Galatians 6:1-2). This may mean you must press your church to confront him. Until this happens, you guys will forever disagree on the “submission issues” that occur, and, as you know, there is no end to these kinds of disagreements.
Sometimes wives are so confused about the submission thing that they believe they are disobeying God when they think differently from their husbands. This kind of murkiness typically happens because the husband equates total submission to him as total obedience to the Lord. “If you disagree with me about anything, you are disobeying God.”
His opinion of you is not the main opinion you want to control your life. Does the Lord see you as a submissive wife? That is the opinion you want governing your mind.
The more important questions are:
Don’t equate lack of submission to disagreeing with your husband. Lucia can disagree with me, but that does not mean she’s an unsubmissive person. This is where coequality and hierarchy come into play
Rick launched the Life Over Coffee global training network in 2008 to bring hope and help for you and others by creating resources that spark conversations for transformation. His primary responsibilities are resource creation and leadership development, which he does through speaking, writing, podcasting, and educating.
In 1990 he earned a BA in Theology and, in 1991, a BS in Education. In 1993, he received his ordination into Christian ministry, and in 2000 he graduated with an MA in Counseling from The Master’s University. In 2006 he was recognized as a Fellow of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC).