Choosing Headship and Submission

I see many choices in our lives – even where we think we have no choice. (No, I am not a hard-line Calvinist!) 

“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live…” [Deut 30:19]

Prior to this God tells the Israelites they can do one of two things, and He tells them what will happen based on what they choose. God tells us what is right and what we should choose, but He gives us total freedom to choose. 

Choose Life! © artur84 |

What does this have to do with headship and submission? Each man must decide if he’s going to be the head of his wife as God tells him to be. Each woman must decide if she is going to follow her husband as God tells her to do.

I bring this up because I’ve heard a number of men complain their church doesn’t push women to submit to them. I even had one man say the church should “force” his wife to submit! I certainly think churches should teach the truth about headship and submission, but push or force!? In the passage above God told the Israelites their choices, told them which they should choose and why, then He left them to choose. God did not push, force, manipulate, or shame them into doing what was right, so why would it be okay for the church to do those things?

Some say not submitting is a sin and the church should excommunicate such women. Okay, but gossip and porn use are sins committed by the majority of the church, and I don’t see a mass removal of those people. There is a place for church discipline but it’s not the first resort for anyone who feels their spouse doing things wrong.

I wrote seven posts about headship and submission two years ago – you can check those if you want to read more:

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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Great tweet of the week:

What if you simply forgave all past injuries? @ForBetterOrWhat

Links to blog posts that stood out to me this last week:

Featured Post – A must read article I saw this week:
Richard of Leading Men Only posted We are To Live Until You Die ◄ Every man over 40 needs to read this post at least once a year for the rest of his life!


Assume Love

Requests vs. Expectations ◄ Interesting – but is it possible? Is it biblical?

Black and Married with Kids

3 Simple Rules to Giving Her the Romance She Desires ◄ Well done!

Engaged Marriage

Great Sex and Your Marriage: What You Must Know… ◄ A little secret.

Fight for Marriage

Are You Intimately Communicating With Your Spouse? ◄ Are you vulnerable to your spouse? You should be.

The Generous Wife

More Dreams for Your Bucket ◄ Make a point to dream with your spouse.
Taking Defensiveness Out of the Conversation ◄ Sure makes life easier!

Hot, Holy and Humorous

When I Don’t Like Writing about Sex ◄ When life gets in the way of sex…

Intimacy in Marriage

5 Reasons the Church Won’t Talk Authentically About Sex ◄ An excellent post with a lot of truth.

Journey to Surrender

The Other 364 Days ◄ A reminder to be loving all year, and some pointers for the romantically challenged.

Leading Men Only

The Longest Way To Success Is Often A ShortCut ◄ A thought provoking article I wish I had seen when I was 20!

Safe at home

Is Debt Slowly Stealing Your Family’s Health and Wealth? ◄ Say no to debt!!

Sex Within Marriage

Is Non-procreative sex OK for Christians? ◄ OK? I think God expects it!

9 Comments on “Choosing Headship and Submission

  1. Sadly, submission has been a word that has been bent and twisted. As I understand it is a willful surrender to what is best for each party. Submission is of our will to God’s will first. Too bad some forget God’s primary part. In truth, considering the state and attitude of some men, they do not deserve such submission by their wives. God created men to lead by example – by serving. If men submitted fully to God more wives would submit as the Bible speaks. If Jesus is LORD (and He is) and men profess to follow Him then they must submit to Him first. He doesn’t force or push us. He opens the door and shows the way. More men need to remove the plank from their own eye. In truth, I have submitted to my wife and she to me so we can help each other with our lumber.

  2. Years
    ago, when I was told I am to submit to my husband, those were
    fighting words. I was not about to submit to anyone! I am a strong,
    independent Christian woman, and it just was NOT going to happen.

    I met David, a strong God-fearing Christian man and was taught the
    rest of the verse. Today, I joyfully submit to him. Since David was
    willing to die for me, the least I should do is submit to him.

    husbands part of this verse if too often left out. All we hear is
    “Woman, submit!” The part where our husbands are to love us as
    Christ loved the church, is almost always not said. Christ loved the
    church (which is us) so much, He died for us.

  3. LadyJac  I think the vast majority of women are like you – willing to do their part when they find a man willing to do his part. When a man complains his wife is not submitting, the first thing I wonder is what he is not doing, or failed to do in the past. That is not the only reason a woman refuses to submit, but it is part of the reason more often than it is not part of the reason.

  4. UBAwesome LadyJac Careful with this teaching.  Nowhere in the Bible does it say submission is contingent on having a godly husband.  I find some wives use this as an excuse: “My husband is not Christ-like, so I don’t have to submit.”  Sorry ladies, your husband is never going to be Christ-like, only become more Christ-like (one hopes).

    Of course, I’m in favor of teaching the men they have to die to self.  We are called to be sacrificial leaders.

  5. UBAwesome Sorry “…some men, they do not deserve such submission by their wives”?  I think this is part of the issue in our Christian culture regarding this topic.  We see headship and submission as something the husband GETS and the wife has to GIVE, but this is a two way street.
    Husbands leading is a responsibility, it’s a role, no less than husbands being told to provide and protect and to be the spiritual head.  It’s not a “perk”, but a solemn duty. 
    Wives are to submit to their husbands, but it’s not because the husband is worthy, it’s because God is worthy, and He set the roles.  Submitting to their husband is submitting to God ultimately.  To say the husband doesn’t deserve it is to say that God screwed up and doesn’t know what He is talking about.

  6. As with many things in Christianity, living and modeling sacrificial leadership is like walking a knife edge.
    Too far on the side of leadership, and you become a jerk/dominating.  Too far on the side of sacrificial and you become a slave to your wife, a figurehead (if that).
    Same goes for the wives in support and submission.  Too much support and no submission, and they take over the household.  Too much submission and no support, they become a doormat or a robot.
    Truth is in the balance.  We must teach husbands to be strong leaders, but to be sacrificial in that leadership.  We must teach wives to be supportive and resourceful, but to be submissive in their role.

    But to say we need to excommunicate or punish women for not being submissive…well, we’d have to do the same for the men, call them all out for not being sacrificial or leading.  Instead, we need to recognize that we are all accepted where we are (John 6:37), and our churches need to have the same attitude.  As they say “God loves us enough to accept us how we are, and too much to keep us that way.”  If people are serious about following God, if they are reading and studying HIs word, they will learn to follow His guidance (John 14:15).  So, as a church body, I think we should be encouraging personal relationships with Christ, including personal prayer and scripture reading.  And teach people about the guidelines, but let them grow at their own pace.  We all have our own walk with God to live out.  It can’t be rushed or forced.

  7. UBAwesome LadyJac  While you are right, it does not work out well in real life. The Bible tells us we love Him because He first loved us. He is God, we should love and serve Him no matter what, but being human we needed Him to show the way.

    No man can be even know how to be head if he is not himself submitted. Yes he wife should still submit, but odds are she will do so poorly at best.

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