Who submits to whom, and why?

February 23, 2012

in Headship/Submission

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Ten or less. Elven tops.

I’m going to pull back from submission in marriage for a moment and look at Christian submission in general. I think Eph 5:21 is telling us being a follower of Christ means we live a submitted life. Whom we submit to depends on our situation, but we are all called to submit. Peter covers this as well:

Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.  Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust.” [1 Pe 2:13-17 ESV]

That last sentence is really challenging because it gives us an understanding of how our submission is supposed to look. We don’t only submit to the just, but to the unjust as well. We are not called to submit only when we want to, or only when we like how it’s going, we are called to a life of submission that seems foolish to the world. This kind of submission means not going to the ten items or less line with eleven items even though most the people in that line have fifteen or more items. It means not speeding or fudging on our taxes, even though “everyone else is doing it”. It means submitting to authorities as long as we are not asked to sin. This, I am convinced, is the kind of submission our brides are called to with us – the very same kind of submission each of us is called to with a variety of authorities.

As I read it, submission and authority are positional. We submit to the government, slaves submit to their master, wives submit to their husband, and so on. Submission is not about the wisdom or ability of the one to whom we submit, it is only about position. 

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgement.” [Ro 13:1-2 ESV]

That’s a pretty sweeping statement which does not seem to leave any loop holes! God establishes authorities, and those who don’t submit are going against God! Yes, I know some want to run and share this with their wife, but be sure you are living it in your life before you try to get her to do it. Yes, she is supposed to submit to you regardless, but telling her to do it while you are not doing it is really asking for God to come and deal with you!

This is a seven part series: 

Headship? Me? Maybe not … Why men shy away from being the head.
Submit to each other? Wait, how does that work? Does it work?
Submit! But only if you want to? It’s a choice?
Who submits to whom, and why? God has a plan here, really.
Being the head What it means, and how it’s to be done.
Sexual submission New we’re talking … or not.
How we do headship and submission How it works in our message.

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Laughing at you
Laughing at you

Seriously? Submit to husbands? It doesn't say that. It says the only authority is god. PERIOD. I think you're reading too far into that passage. So far in fact that when you came out your heads were [edit]

Dave Smith
Dave Smith

"Yes, I know some want to run and share that with their wife, but be sure you are living it in your life before you try to get her to do it." Do you think scripture teaches that we should instruct our wives in how they should submit to us? I take these passages regarding the submission of wives to be instructions to the wife, and really have nothing to do with the husband. I don't understand scripture to indicate that we as husbands are to ensure or even request that our wives submit to us. That's between the wife and God.

Take Two
Take Two

Great insight on this. The dirty little truth comes out. We are to be submissive and this isn't really a womans issue. One point though. Our submission is not necessarily subject to the conduct of our superiors. We are not given exceptions just because our leaders are bad. We are commanded to submit even in tough circumstances and God will judge us such. Please don't given people (espcially wives) this out. I know the government is particularly submissive to God, but that doesn't change my responsibility.


I agree with both the post and the comment. Men, we cannot expect our wives to follow us to places we are not only not willing to go, but have not created well worn paths there. If we are not submissive to God's direct and indirect authority, then how can we expect our wives, our families, the workers we are responsible for, our church, etc. to be submissive to us.


Another great post. You left out one "submission relationship" which I believe is very relevant and in which many men may be failing. "Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you." (Hebrews 13:17). How often do husbands expect submission from their wives without rendering it to those who care for their souls? Perhaps if she saw him truly opening up his life to those who can best help and encourage him spiritually, she would be more inclined to be submitted to him.

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