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I realize submission is a hot and debatable topic within Christianity. But civil discussions can move forward if you refrain from engaging the two extreme camps that participate in the debate.
Between those two groups is an ongoing, unending charitable discussion about how much a wife should submit, which always includes two talking points, not one: (1) a wife’s responsibility to submit and (2) a husband’s requirement to lead well.
If a couple is genuinely interested in working through a wife’s “lack of submission problem” in a marriage, they must flip the coin over and talk about the husband’s responsibility in their one-flesh covenant.
A wife’s submission and a husband’s leadership cannot be divided and isolated as though one does not affect the other. It is dangerous to only talk about a wife’s lack of submission while not giving equal time to the husband’s leadership role. If the goal is to get to the bottom of this submission problem with humility and courage, you have to talk about the entire issue, not half of it.
Ironically, this “struggle with submitting narrative” is acted out in our country every day through politics. The government is making laws that are contrary to the Bible, and the Christians are rightfully struggling with submitting to the government’s lack of biblical adherence.
If some of these authoritarian husbands followed their advice, they would stand up, keep quiet, and salute the flag regardless of what their beloved government did.
I don’t necessarily disagree with the Christian’s political apologetic or their lack of absolute submission, but I do think it’s hypocritical to be so, well, hypocritical when “authoritarian men” don’t apply the same logic or biblical scrutiny to their marriages.
The sword some of these authority types have sharpened to cut away political authoritarianism needs to be turned on themselves to cut away the scales that have blinded their eyes from addressing just one side of the leadership-submission conundrum.
Another instructive observation about the biblical submission issue is the lack of discussion about root causes. A disproportionate amount of conversation is about the wife’s outward behavioral job of submitting to her husband.
This shallow approach to the problem is unfortunate because it leads to spiritual, psychological, and emotional bondage at best and irreparable physical harm at worst. No Christian discipler worth his salt would hang out at the surface of any problem, especially this one.
It should be evident that if a woman is not submitting to her husband, there is something under the surface of her life, her marriage, and probably her husband’s life that is hindering her. Here are ten possible reasons.
This short list about the woman does not get into a comparable list about what a husband brings into the marriage that would inhibit her from submitting. Without question, he has his own baggage that is attached to the marriage. We all do (Romans 3:23).
If a wife is not submitting, the problem is a lot bigger than her lack of submission. If your only answer is to submit, you have not honored God or served the wife you just “cliche-ed her.” If you force her to submit without helping her and her husband, you might as well tie a millstone around the marriage and toss them both into the ocean.
If your first impulse is to talk about her lack of submission, it begs the question, do you want to find out why she is not submitting, or is your goal just to get her to submit?
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).