What does it mean to submit to your husband?

Have you ever wondered, “What does it mean to submit to your husband?”

Or do you just kind of skim over those verses in the Bible, like I used to do, back in the dark ages, when we were first married?

I’ve written on this topic a number of times, and I know it often sets the keyboard on fire dealing with email and comments here and on Facebook. I’ll be honest, I don’t like writing about it – the stance I take is neither egalitarian or complementarian, but what I term, “wholetarian.” In other words, unlike many in Christiandom, I don’t do what our ministry has referred to for a decade as a popular Western cultural habit of thinking we’ve termed, “the pendulum swing,” which we define as buying into the “extremes” or “black and white thinking.” 

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So you may have more questions than answers after reading this. Please note that I boldly state in Daughters of Sarah that wives don’t have to blindly obey their husbands. I did name the course, “Daughters of SARAH.” So I got a few questions about that. I answered a few of them here, too.

Here’s a bit of a break down:

I don’t take the position that neither husband nor wife is held accountable to God (denying the Genesis 3 account where God holds the man accountable for the family – by asking him first, and dealing with him last, and ignores the many verses on headship) – wives, we are also held accountable by God, but He starts with the husband. We are ALL called to obey God.

I also don’t take the position that a wife is to 100% of the time obey or submit to her husband, this position ignores the examples of Sarah, Abigail, and Sapphira, plus the behavior of the apostles, who did not submit to the authorities and quit teaching (to the point of martyrdom, I might add).

I’m hoping that today’s post will answer a number of questions dealing with the questions. I’ll give some practicals and lots of links for you to peruse as you wrestle with the idea.

And you’ll need to wrestle with it, because it’s an important issue in marriage.

And it’s Biblical. There are two verses in the Bible that specifically state a woman is to submit to her husband. Ephesians 5:21-33Colossians 3:18-19, to name them. Ephesians 5:24 specifically says a wife should submit to her husband “in everything.”

The problem is this – when we take the entire Bible and boil it down to just a few verses as the end word on everything, we end up in crazy space. We miss the entire picture. 

We miss the whole truth.

That’s why it is REALLY important to read the Bible daily, and learn the entire text – because 2000 years after it was written, we’re STILL finding scientific evidence that what is says historically, relationally, emotionally, psychologically, etc., is actually true. 

Sheila Wray-Gregoire discusses the “submission” concept in a concise and clear way in her newest book, Nine Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage (Waterbrook Press, 2015).

I thought it was funny we both wrote “Change Your Marriage” books at roughly the same time.

But I really appreciate Sheila because she’s an actual writer, brilliant, even. I love her simple thought that captures my heart of submission: “This is my husband, and I love him, and I want to please him.” She also says this: “It’s often been used in Christian circles in a way that seems to suggest that husbands should be sergeant majors and wives should be lowly privates ready and eager to obey. That doesn’t sound like an intimate marriage; that sounds like a power trip.” (pg 95)

She’s right.

The other day, my husband’s car stopped working on his way to work. He called me, told me what was going on, and I dropped everything to go help. I would have done the same for a good friend. Actually, I have. There was no “obedience” or “submission” crossing my mind or his, however.  Does that make sense? He would have done the same for me. He wouldn’t have “commanded” me to help, either. He asked. And I jumped to it – not out of fear or anything else negative, but because I could help and I wanted to because I love him. If he had “lorded over me”and made a command instead of a request, I might have still done it, I might not have. I would have asked God what He wanted me to do. 

When my husband is kind to me, I don’t always ask God… maybe I should, but I ascribe good will easily, so I naturally just want to do what I can.

If I wasn’t able to help him, say he had called when I was just about to run carpool for kids to get them to school, I would have communicated that. He would have made a decision about whether to call someone else, or we would have talked options and worked out a different solution. I wouldn’t have fussed about “hierarchy in marriage” and “submission” and “obedience” but had an adult-to-adult conversation.

The problem with “blind obedience” for wives is that it isn’t Biblical.  God doesn’t even demand it of us – He says we WILL obey Him if we love Him, however, in John 14:23. But the word, “obey” is for children to obey parents.

The other problem with obedience is that parental relationships between spouses are super unhealthy.  

How could “the two become one” mean that an adult man needs a child woman to fulfill something lacking in himself? Not to devalue children in anyway, as they should be treated with respect and honor and not as property or they will despise us as parents (remember we’re not to exasperate or “arouse them to anger”) but how could a parent-child relationship even function as a marriage? Does that make sense?

It doesn’t. 

The best way I’ve found to look at the entire submission concept coincides with something else Sheila says on page 99: “Treating marriage like a hierarchical relationship makes it sound as though wives and husbands are constantly at odds and someone needs to have the final say. It indicates that we’re in competition, not in unity.”

Here’s why that makes sense – “headship” does mean “source” (read her section on that – it’s really well done) but it also means “leader with authority” as there are no instances in the Bible of “head” being used without authority. The problem is how we look at the word, “authority.” It’s viewed as negative, with a connotation of opposing sides, like Sheila talks about. Management-versus-labor-style.

When marriages “work” you have a husband who follows the verses directed at him – he doesn’t treat his wife like she is his maid, slave, or servant, but rather his equal heir (1 Peter 3:1-7).  He doesn’t dismiss or discount her opinions. He thinks about how his choices or desires effect her. He is concerned about her when she isn’t feeling good. He doesn’t increase her work load, but pitches in as a life-participant. He isn’t a taker, he’s a giver, also, in the marriage. He treats her as an equal heir to the throne of grace, he loves her well, putting effort into his relationship with her and the kids. A guy like that is certainly more easy to “follow.” But like he can’t “make you follow him” – you can’t “make him love you or lead well.”

So many women are in marriages where the husband acts like a dictator of sorts, ruling with fear and anger, refusing to be Christ-like. I have had several friends whose husbands behaved this way. It’s really hard for their wives not to hate them and at the very least, the marriages end in isolation – the opposite of one-ness. It makes submission difficult, but it doesn’t let us off the hook – we still have to be open to our husband, even if we are closed to his sin, if that makes sense.

1 Peter 3:1-6…the verses that refer to an “unsaved or un-following man” are those that start with “therefore” linking back to slaves and masters – implying that a wife married to a non-believer or a man who isn’t following is going to be dealing with someone behaving like Abraham did, putting Sarah at risk, where she was going to have to be BRAVE, and did what he wanted her to do, and didn’t sell him out – probably because she believed God and saw her situation as less important than Abraham’s protection, given what God had said to him. What is interesting is when her story is told, Genesis 21:12 is often left out, where God tells Abraham to do what Sarah has told him! 🙂 That’s a whole long discussion, btw, but we should also note that the first time Sarah didn’t rat out her husband when he lied and she ended up in a harem, she didn’t know for sure she’d be the mom of the coming nations. The second time, God had clearly told her she would be. So maybe the first time, she was being brave, and the second time she was wildly trusting God with the outcome.

But mutual submission existed in the Old Testament – and God was the one telling Abraham to do what Sarah told him to do. 🙂 It doesn’t negate the other verses, however.

There’s also another example that we need to be aware of, one in which a wife completely “disobeys” her husband’s wishes. It’s found in 1 Samuel 25.

The Bible describes the pair of Abigail and Nabal this way: The woman was discerning and beautiful, but the man was harsh and badly behaved; and we should also note that “Nabal” means “fool.” In a nutshell, David spends a bunch of time protecting Nabal’s property, and as is the custom of that day, he asked for provisions. Nabal has a rant and says, “NO.” David’s more than ticked off about this. One of the servants tells Abigail what happened, and she goes out with provisions herself, apologizes, and David decides not to destroy everyone in her home and calls her blessed. She also calls David to a higher level as a man, motivating him to do the right thing. He does and decides not to kill everyone. When she gets back, Nabal is drunk, so she doesn’t tell him what happened until the next day, and Nabal’s heart has issues (was it from the awareness that he just about got him and his household killed?) and then he dies.

So here’s a Biblical example of a wife who is strong, discerning, but doesn’t allow her husband to destroy himself or her family. She clearly doesn’t “obey” her husband – but God punishes him, not her!

Acts 5 begins with a story about how a man and wife lie and God strikes them both dead. The wife had the opportunity to tell the truth, but she went along with the lie, even though she knew the truth – and it’s interesting that it is Peter, the writer of the “gentle quiet spirit” verses in 1 Peter 1-6, is the one who verbally clobbers her for doing so, right before God takes her life as well. It’s also interesting that the chapter also contains a story about Peter and the apostles refusing to obey the leaders of the church and he says in verse 29, “We must obey God rather than men.”

I might be wrong here, but I think we can interpret God striking people dead as His not approving of their behavior. 

At the risk of making you discouraged about what your husband is or is not doing, let’s talk about this practically. I admire Sheila’s stance on what to do if our husband is making poor choices. Common Christian thought is to go along with it, obey. But that thinking flies in the face of the above. As she so eloquently puts it, “Peter would have been the last person to say we should ever put a human authoirty in God’s place!” (pg 102).

For those of us who want to use the word “helper” as a second-class citizen status, we need to understand that in the original language, it’s used to represent God and the Holy Spirit, and if you really study, you’ll see that “helper” pretty much equates to “warrior” – but not as a warrior against, but one with – in other words, ON THE SAME SIDE. 

I also love it that she talks about how “deferring to your husband is not the answer to every marriage problem.” Sheila says on page 109, “… I think that submission – ‘putting ourselves under’ our husbands and willingly pursuing our husband’s best – is the primary tool to attain this oneness. In humility, we become willing to think of his needs, his wants, his interests, his desires, before we think of our own. We pursue his best before we pursue our best.”

The problem comes in when he’s not leading like Christ loves the church, or when he isn’t a believer. If he’s lording over you by taking authority instead of receiving responsibility, he’s probably harsh and domineering. No one has an easy time following a “leader” like that. Dr. Larry Crabb deals with this beautifully, encouraging a wife to “be submissive” by being agreeable to her husband, but not to his bad behaviors.

This can be hard to do, but if you know who you are in Christ, if you are a woman of Strength & Dignity, it’s easier than you think, although your husband will not be a person who will be capable of building you up. Living with him can destroy your sense of worth to the point where you feel like dying – that’s why we have the Strength and Dignity eCourse (it’s free!) – you can sign up here and here’s more info about it.

So how does this play out daily? Here’s an example:

He doesn’t teach the kids the Bible or grow his own faith. Am I being unsubmissive if I do it? NO. We’re all called to disciple. You’re NOT being submissive if you demean, berate, dismiss, or treat him like a second class citizen because you know more about it than he does, however. Submission is like respect on steroids. Treat your husband well, regardless of whether or not he is right.

Bottom line: Above all, obey God. Stop being afraid of your husband (that’s Dare 2 this week!) and fear God instead – it’s the beginning of wisdom, so goes the Proverb. 

RD_dare-2

Here’s a few more links for those who are itching for even more…

From Sheila Wray-Gregoire (Here’s her book on Amazon): (and when you check the post below, you should totally subscribe to her blog, To Love Honor & Vacuum!)

10 Pat Answers (or 10 Typical Bad Pieces of Marriage Advice)

Why you shouldn’t define yourself by your marriage

Why marriage advice is often wrong – and how submission doesn’t allow sin

From me:

What submissive wives are not

The secret of submission (my favorite post I’ve written)

Will submission save your marriage?

If you feel taken advantage of and worthless in your marriage

Common Questions and a few answers about submission

From Family Life & Me: 

A Dare to see how respectful and submissive you may or may not be…

If your husband wants to grow with you – FAMILY LIFE CONFERENCE use “BOGO” to get the 2-4-1 deal.

I tried to get to the questions submitted – and I’m sending this to you knowing I’ll hear from someone – the last time I wrote on the topic, I left out a verse that said nearly the same thing as two others and got a very long email from a “sister in Christ” who needed to “in love” “chastise” me for “maligning the Word.”

Sigh.

I’m not going to nail this topic perfectly – and I’m open to hearing where I’ve missed the mark and really want your thoughts about the subject. I look forward to discussion today – just be respectful! Majoring in a minor non-truth is also known as “nit picking” and it’s disrespectful, so treat me the way you’d like to be treated, okay?

I’m really thankful that warning is for less than 1% of my audience – just having a rough week and don’t have the bandwidth for a bunch of aggression, so be gentle and kind while we talk this, okay?

SO. What about you? How does all this play into what you’ve been taught?  What do YOU think are some of the common “submission myths” out there?

Love to you,

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titus 2 women leadership

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

30 thoughts on “What does it mean to submit to your husband?

  1. For me, when we were first married, I witnessed an amazing change in my husband. Somehow, he went from partner to my husband, my life partner and I felt this shift in him and now see it when I’m taking photos of folks getting married. Often the wife is captured in the moment at that time, the wedding, the vows and the husband is staring at his new bride with a sense of pride and admiration. It’s hard to capture in words but there is a photo of my husband that i often look at and i see it.

    What I realized is this, I like to submit to my husband. I actually enjoy it. I feel like we’re working as ONE unit when it occurs. And you’re right, it’s not a matter of obedience, like i obeyed my parents, but a matter of respect. And when I find I am not willing to submit to him, or give him that respect, it’s often something lacking in me. Funny how the golden rule comes back to me often in life, how I treat others, I often am treated.

    I’ve also found that even when submitting, it’s crucial for me to not lose my sense of self. I’ve written before and found the advice so honest and true, I often place my self worth into the eyes of others. For example, if I submit in a way that is respectful and pure, then I’m not doing it for a reaction or response, rather I am doing it because it is what God wants me to do.

    I also appreciate addressing what to do when a husband is not per say, of Christ or of God. My other half believes, yes, but we are different in our practice. I feel that I am actively seeking God. Actively tuning in, and again, with the right intention- for God’s purpose for me, not for other’s to pat me on the back. The blessing comes when it spills over and creates an environment in our home where God starts to touch my husband in ways I never dreamed and that is without a single word from me or prayer of “God make him like me.” That is wrong and again, I am stepping out of bounds.

    I also believe this topic is crucial in marriage. Respect is vital to any relationship and one as intimate as a husband and wife, required. I have discussed my feelings that I believe it is the right thing for me to do- my Husband is the head of the house, and i prefer to be the neck (reference, My Big Fat Greek Wedding). When I discuss this, some folks get it, and others are shocked. It’s almost taboo. But to me, maybe submission isn’t defined the same by general society as I define it. I define it as something I do out of respect, love and above all, love for God.

    I also need to add, I have to watch, for there are ways I don’t respect him, and notice they are subtle and riddled with sarcasm, eye rolling, etc… That is why I truly value the 101 ways to respect your husband post. It helps! Respect is simple, respect is love and respect is for me, not losing my self worth, rather it’s honoring mine and others. I like the verse about a husband loving a wife like he loves the Church, Christ and himself. I really believe that sums up a person’s sense of self. We must love God and ourselves before we can love others. Thank you for this post!

    • Meg,
      That is beautiful. . . especially “. . . .I’m not doing it for a reaction or response, rather I am doing it because it is what God wants me to do.” Awesome! Healthy*** people are really marvelous responders when they get an environment of sincere, ongoing affection, caring, protection, nurture, thoughtfulness. . . .The Kingdom of Heaven is not for the well-meaning, it is for the absolutely desperate to find God. The more we are grateful for what we have, the more we can live fully in the present.

      ***(sans —interpersonally exploitative, psychotic, emotionally unavailable, devoid of empathy, etc.)

      • Rebecca,

        Your reply is appreciated, greatly appreciated. I find comfort in knowing that there is encouragement here as well. I too agree there is great joy in being present and acknowledging all of the amazing blessings surrounding me each day, each moment of life.

        Thank you!

        Meg

  2. “. . . .I am just having a rough week. . . . . , so be gentle and kind while we talk this, okay?”

    . . . . Oh my! Then lets do no specific Bible texts, specific manuscripts or specific periods of Christianity then. . . . after all, our identity rests in God’s relentless tenderness for us revealed in Jesus Christ. It is as simple as that.

    “SO. What about you? How does all this play into what you’ve been taught? What do YOU think are some of the common “submission myths” out there?”

    —Oh my, they are everywhere and totally detailed in books like “Submission: Impossible” “The Myth of the Submissive Christian Woman” “Power and Submission: the Book of Esther”, etc. Marital Submission; Mutual Submission; Reluctant Submission; Pouty-Face Submission; Doormat Submission; Deceitful Submission; Let’s Make a Deal Submission; et.al., et.al., et.al. everyone probably knows them. . . . . However, it can be a useful exercise to just look at how our beliefs are functioning. I think it can be very helpful. What are our beliefs about submission keeping us from confronting? Beliefs are often used to cover over our serious anxieties and to prevent head-on encounters. In grace (—the experience of actually accepting that you are accepted), we can admit to who we are without excuses, or even trying to change. For in grace we accept that we are accepted as we are and don’t have to change anything. The power of grace really comes to light when we realize that it is only as we are able to find this acceptance and admit to our submission issues that our submission issues begin to dissipate and our basic operating code (—our submission DNA) changes in Christ. Drenched in freedom, we have a passionate, life-giving love affair in Christ. . . .So, to me, the real sin of marriage today is not adultery or lack of “adjustment” or “mental cruelty.” It is the idolization of the family itself, the refusal to understand marriage as directed toward the Kingdom of God. This is expressed in the sentiment that one would “do anything” for her family, even steal. The family has then ceased to be for the glory of God; it has ceased to be a sacramental entrance into His presence. It is not the lack of respect for the family, it is the idolization of the family that breaks the modern family so easily, making divorce its almost natural shadow. Anyways. . . . . .Nina, thank you for working so hard on this for us, awesome content!

    • Rebecca –

      I think I’m short on bandwidth in my brain today. 🙂

      What a “chewy” response! 🙂 I’ve read it a few times – and there’s enough meat in that to feed me for a week. 🙂 I’m always eager to read what you write!

      And you’ll forgive the reminder to us all to behave well – I’ve been down this road before and often some of the “truth in love” comments are neither… bottom line, in dealing with “family” both by blood physically and Blood (The Blood) spiritually, we need to be gentle, don’t you think. 🙂

      And I agree with the comment about idolatry. When anything else (including self or family) is on the Throne, it disrupts the soul.

      Love to you!

      • Nina,
        You say: “And you’ll forgive the reminder to us all to behave well – I’ve been down this road before and often some of the “truth in love” comments are neither…” Absolutely! We need to be kind, everyone we meet could be fighting a battle way harder than we are.

        “We need to be gentle, don’t you think?” . . . . Absolutely and please forgive me anyone who felt I was not. And more importantly, thank you for bringing it up and —anyone, if you have suggestions for helping me go deeper with Christ (—suggestions for personal improvements, etc.) that would be very helpful too! My e-mail is in my Gravatar or just put it out here and we can learn together.

        “When anything else (including self or family) is on the Throne, it disrupts the soul.” . . . . yes, and I forgot self. . . . .And speaking of self, I was sitting in church last week and we were praying for the children in the coca fields in Somalia. . . . . Nina, you know what I was thinking about? I lent my crock-pot to Susie and she never returned it!!! I have like seven of them, it simply does not matter. I need to face the fact that I simply don’t care about those children and pretending does not make it so. I tell my counselor every time I see her, “I want to bring this ridiculous idealized “Facebook” version of myself in line with the material reality of me. I don’t want to play hide and seek with myself. I tell myself I am this nice person so I don’t have to face the fact that I deny the resurrection of Christ each day in so, so many ways.” I deny the resurrection of Christ each day when I turn my back on the poor and it seems like every day there are more poor. I can’t believe it. I have learned to just walk by them faster and faster. . . . .I deny the resurrection of Christ when I close my ears to the cries of those exploited by and lend my support to, unjust and corrupt systems. I sit in Starbucks talking about the evils of major corporations and Starbucks is a major multi-national private investment corp. with many violations of foreign corrupt services practices acts. —Anyways, I have a lot to work on.

        • re: “chewy” response!

          I am NOT a clear thinker but here is what I was thinking about: It could easily be that a very important relationship exists between Guilt, the Law, and Repression. Grace is the only mechanism for lasting change. Grace doesn’t ask or demand that you change anything (nothing!) but only God can operate like that because He is God. A husband saying “I won’t_________ or _________ or _________” leads only to dealing with symptoms, rather than the real crux of the issues. Shaming, blaming, shoulding only fuels addictions. How do we create an atmosphere of love, grace and acceptance where people are not told what to do? I don’t think we can, only God can do that work. The difficulty of living in a life of “love, grace, and acceptance” is that those things are impossibly hard. This is why it is much easier to externalize our faith into ethical principles (—like you see me do!), biblical knowledge (—like you see me do!), or coat our language in so much biblical jargon (—like you see me do!). Love drives people toward Christ. Guilt drives them away from Him. In other words, while there are destructive things my husband does (—and I am sure other things I don’t even know about because I do that too, and do NOT tell him!), they can only be brought to the true healing light without fear of condemnation. That is God’s work totally! Everything else just sends the whole thing underground. It just morphs. You think your husband is not _________ or _________ or _________? Okay, what *really* replaced it? I mean really, really now, —totally honest, no hedges. A state of grace cannot co-exist with judgement. God’s work totally! . . . . . Nina, the prohibition generates the desire. I believe that is what Paul is always crowing about in all 13 of those Epistles. μετάνοια (change) is only sustainable without any hint of guilt or judgement (—not possible for us humans). . . . What fuels the whole thing is the law, I won’t_________ or _________ or ________. We can only change when we realize we can’t change anything AND we give up all trying, that is where grace can take over; otherwise the whole thing is forced and goes underground. You can easily get results with force, that is why everyone uses cloaked/ masked/ “kind” force, except God. . . . I will fully embrace my brokenness because if I don’t, it will always seep out in other ways (—through frenetic activity, self-hatred, hatred of others, etc.) I can generally maintain my inner facebook profile (—the idealized image I have of myself) but only at great expense. Way too expensive. Jesus wants us to be truly free. The things we are told we must/ cannot speak of are the very things about which we must never stop speaking. That’s the good news of Christianity for me. It’s not that you can be happy and whole, but rather that life is way, way harder than you even think it is AND we don’t get the “answers” in this life. It’s good news to be freed from the oppression that there’s something that’s going to make it all better (—a “new” church progam, because the last one didn’t really work; a “new” way to pray; etc.) —Anyway, that is what I see the Christian community who were living out at the Dead Sea right after Jesus died teaching, doing and living. They were f-u-l-l-y, as completely as possible, utterly embracing their pain and brokenness. It is the only way (maybe?) to be free from that (—the Grand Illusion) and –maybe- as we begin to work through our brokenness and suffering we encounter our humanity and I think we become more loving, more beautiful, more grace-filled people in Christ??? Maybe not, who knows???. . . I know, I know, now it is “chewy”-squared with glue on it. . . . ha, ha, ha. I got nothin’ . . . ha, ha, ha.

          • “Grace is the only mechanism for lasting change. Grace doesn’t ask or demand that you change anything (nothing!) but only God can operate like that because He is God”

            I think I’m following you, but can I clarify what I think you’re saying? Grace (God’s unmerited favor) is what empowers us to change?

            I think I agree that Grace doesn’t ask or demand. I do think God asks us to change and He gives us the power to do it through the Holy Spirit.

            The way I’m seeing it is that the Holy Spirit is the only mechanism for lasting change, but Grace is what allows us to have access to the Holy Spirit through accepting Jesus as LORD and Savior. Is that what you’re saying?

            This has been a fascinating discussion and it’s maybe a little too deep for me, but I’m trying to follow so I’d welcome more explanation. Just remember you have to “dumb it down” (for lack of a better way to put it) for me, LOL.

            Blessings,
            Sandi

            • Sandi!

              re: Submission vs. just giving in —with the difference being in the communication and respect. —What I am calling an attitude of submission, i.e. lining ourselves up under Holy Spirit’s authority where we clearly state our opinions and listen to our husband’s as well. . . . . .My point is that we take back our mental sovereignty. Ask lots of questions. Then ask ourself: What is consistent with real love, with Christ’s love?

              “I think I’m following you, but can I clarify what I think you’re saying? Grace (God’s unmerited favor) is what empowers us to change?” . . . . YES

              “I think I agree that Grace doesn’t ask or demand. I do think God asks us to change and He gives us the power to do it through the Holy Spirit.” . . . . YES, I agree!!!

              “The way I’m seeing it is that the Holy Spirit is the only mechanism for lasting change, but Grace is what allows us to have access to the Holy Spirit through accepting Jesus as LORD and Savior. Is that what you’re saying?” . . . . . YES, I agree again!!!

              “This has been a fascinating discussion and it’s maybe a little too deep for me, but I’m trying to follow so I’d welcome more explanation. Just remember you have to “dumb it down” (for lack of a better way to put it) for me, LOL.” . . . . ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. . . . You must be kidding, I am the one pushing on the door clearly marked: PULL. Notice how much clearer your statements are than mine!

              The other thing I am driving at is the environment that will cause husbands to change even if it means separation for a time. No one should tolerate abuse. . . .But with generally healthy people (bracket off various mental disorders —interpersonally exploitative, psychotic, emotionally unavailable, devoid of empathy, etc.) the safest course is to always, constantly engage the Holy Spirit and then listen to the Holy Spirit. . . . .We only see beauty, meaning, and sacredness in the world when we give up the quest to find it, and embrace (in the act of believing Christ) the profane and see its beauty through the lens of love. Salvation takes place within our unknowing and dissatisfaction, we have to break our idols of addiction to certainty and satisfaction, i.e. you will be dead, so long as you refuse to die.

              * God as an idol (placing God in the same category as marriage, money, homes, family, success, etc.) with the hopes of eventually not feeling suffering any longer.
              * All idols rob us of the type of pleasure that we could have if only we were able to free ourselves from the false promise that something will render us complete (marriage, money, mojo, etc.)
              * The Good News of Christianity: You can’t be fulfilled; you can’t be made whole; you can’t find satisfaction. Not in this world.
              * Instead of God being that which fills the gap at the core of our being, the God testified to in Scriptures exposes the gap for what it is, obliterates it, and invites us to participate in an utterly different form of life, one that brings us beyond slavery to idols.

              Our culture of consumerism has turned God into a product to be marketed, something that will satisfy, rather than God as one who cannot be marketed, and has come not to satisfy us, but to free us from our need for satisfaction.

              • Rebecca,
                You’ve given me some interesting things to “chew” on today.

                “the safest course is to always, constantly engage the Holy Spirit and then listen to the Holy Spirit.”
                I so agree with this!

                “We only see beauty, meaning, and sacredness in the world when we give up the quest to find it, and embrace (in the act of believing Christ) the profane and see its beauty through the lens of love.”

                I guess I don’t really agree that we only see beauty, meaning and sacredness when we stop trying to see it. I agree that we can see the beauty in broken people and unsaved (the profane, at least I think that’s what you meant by profane) people as well as all of God’s creation. I am reminded of the powerful lesson I learned in Respect Dare 11: What we pay attention to grows. The verse for that dare was Philippians 4:8. (My favorite verse in the bible). I think if we’re looking for the beauty and meaning we will find them. I love it that the LORD changes my standard of beauty. The longer I’m walking with him, the more He changes my desires and my ideas of what is beautiful and meaningful.

                “* God as an idol (placing God in the same category as marriage, money, homes, family, success, etc.) with the hopes of eventually not feeling suffering any longer.
                * All idols rob us of the type of pleasure that we could have if only we were able to free ourselves from the false promise that something will render us complete (marriage, money, mojo, etc.)
                * The Good News of Christianity: You can’t be fulfilled; you can’t be made whole; you can’t find satisfaction. Not in this world.”

                That first sentence really threw me because I can’t see how God could ever be an idol. My understanding of an idol is something that we worship instead of God, the Most High. I do agree that we shouldn’t treat God like some giant vending machine in the sky or something. I also agree that idols promise, but don’t deliver. If we have believed the false promise that anything but God will render us complete, then it seems we don’t have a good understanding of who He is and who we are. I understand we can’t cure our brokenness, but He brings healing and we can choose to be satisfied in this world, while also understanding that this is not our forever home.

                Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. Psalm 90:14

                I hope others will chime in. This is such a thought provoking comment thread!

                • Sandi,

                  Below is *maybe* a “cleaner” version of what I was trying to say:

                  . . . .So, I am using this technique with both prayer and Bible reading to listen more for God. I pray some of my prayer requests (for all of you, for example), then do 5 to 10 minutes of silence (listening for God), more prayers, 5 to 10 minutes of silence (listening for God), etc., etc. I do the same with praying the Bible. I read say ten verses, do 5 to 10 minutes of silence (listening for God), etc. —Maybe, you don’t need to do this but I use the timer on my phone during the listening part in case I fall asleep. I just reset it each time (—I get all that silence and peace and sometimes I drift off, even with caffeine.) So for the first ~10 min. when I am still, I hear a thousand voices calling for me to do other things but then I listen more closely and I can hear “God’s voice” softly in my ear. I don’t know how to say it. It is like a songbird in a canyon (—if you have ever been in a canyon) that is how it just echoes in my mind. Mostly Bible verses and sometimes I have a “—just reach out and take God’s hand moment,” —so I do. I am not getting too much major direction right now but I sure feel God’s love. Sometimes it is just overwhelming. . . . . But as I pray God’s words, I ask Him what He wants me to pay attention to. This is what I got from yesterday morning:

                  . . . . .We only see beauty, meaning, and sacredness in the world when we give up the quest to find it, and embrace (—in the act of believing and dying with Christ) the profane (—the really hard stuff in life) and see its beauty through the lens of love. Salvation takes place within our unknowing and dissatisfaction, we have to break our idols of addiction to certainty and satisfaction, i.e. you will be dead, so long as you refuse to die (—that is be really crucified in Christ). Christ wants us to crucify our selfish, me-first identities and die with Him outside the city walls, —nasty, nasty stuff (rejected by the religious, the culture, et. al.) On the Cross, Jesus lost it all. It is beyond our comfort-laden, abundance-filled, self-improvement-addicted culture to understand that, and we (I) am immersed inside that culture —big time.

                  * All idols rob us of the type of pleasure that we could have if only we were able to free ourselves from the false promise that something will render us complete (—marriage, money, mojo, etc.)
                  * You can easily make an idol out of God Himself (placing God in the same category as marriage, money, homes, family, success, etc.) with the hopes of eventually not feeling suffering any longer (—just using God instead of money, position, marriage, power —to get stuff.).
                  * The Good News of Christianity: You can’t be fulfilled; you can’t be made whole; you can’t find satisfaction. Not in this world.
                  * Instead of God being that which fills the gap at the core of our being, the God testified to in the Scriptures exposes the gap for what it is, —obliterates it, and invites us to participate in an utterly different form of life, one that brings us beyond slavery to ALL idols.

                  Our culture of consumerism has turned God into a product to be marketed, something that will satisfy, rather than God as one who cannot be marketed, and has come not to satisfy us, but to free us from our need for satisfaction. Do I really, r-e-a-l-l-y love and want Christ or do I just want Eternal Life and Happiness? (—yes, the later for me —lots of times, —what good is lying to God???. . . . .He already knows!!!)

                  Rebecca, you have made God an idol just to get the stuff you could not get from your other idols. Again, on the Cross, Jesus lost it all. It is beyond our comfort-laden, abundance-filled, self-improvement-addicted culture to understand that, and we (I) am immersed inside that culture, Again—big time.

                  Much love,
                  Rebecca

                  • Sandi,
                    I forgot this comment too. . . .re: “. . . . I love it that the LORD changes my standard of beauty. The longer I’m walking with him, the more He changes my desires and my ideas of what is beautiful and meaningful.” —Oh my, WOW, that is so beautiful, —I really love that!!! The things I now really value: A really clean heart, real love, real forgiveness, real compassion and real tenderness. . . .I once did not. That is why real life only happens if we confront our sin and are broken by it! . . . . . I am surely broken by mine. . . .I say this trembling because I do know what it means: My goal is God Himself —not joy, —not peace, —not even blessing, —just God! Here is a question for both of us at all times: Are the things we are living for worth Christ dying for?

  3. Hi Nina. I became aware of how I had become yet another victim to the “feminist movement” after my marriage fell apart. God in His infinite, loving, wisdom began to show me how I failed my husband. One of the areas He revealed to me was how I did not respect OR submit to him because I was too busy being rebellious! I realized this had crept in during childhood by watching how my dad treated my mother, how other adults treated my brothers and sisters and I and I unconsciously decided I wasn’t going to put up with that. The rest is history! So I completely identify with what you’re talking about. I realize this is an area that needs correction. I am excited to learn how to do it right! Thank you!

    • So glad you are here, Yvette! I admire your brave humble spirit and your vulnerable transparent shared truth. 🙂 The greatest of strength comes from humble hearts. 🙂
      Love to you!

  4. Good Morning Nina,

    Todays post was gold, thank you.

    What you are trying to explain is a very difficult concept as people are so hell bent on recognition (selfishness) that i found while reading many times that there is a little voice that keeps on interrupting (but what about me).

    I have a difficult husband but have learned so much from you about respect and even if I do not get positive feedback I have found that I have more peace, which to me, is a great treasure.

    I hope you have a wonderful day and just remember that people will always find a way to critisize, and lots of people will only be nice when you agree with them. So just please God, His opinion is the ONLY one that matters.

    Blessings

    • Annelle –
      Any good you saw was from God, Annelle. I’m just trying to stay out of His way! 🙂
      I am familiar with your interrupting voice. It lives in my head, too. 🙂 I hate that. Sometimes His voice is louder, clearer, and I’m also then on task. 🙂 That’s the best.
      Peace is often the only benefit, unfortunately, but if we cannot facilitate intimacy, we can enjoy the peace. And we are called to be peacemakers, as it is up to us, so it really is more than “enough.” 🙂
      You are a wise sweet soul, and I’m so so glad you are here. 🙂
      Love to you, baby!

  5. My thought on submitting “in everything” is that submission is an attitude, not an action. Having the attitude that we want to honor our husbands, while also honoring the LORD first, is what submission means in my opinion.

    When we are Spirit-filled and walking with the LORD we really don’t need the labels or the rules do we?

    • Sandi.
      Can you just write my blog please? Because you just said in three sentences what I took 2 days and 2000+ words to say. 🙂
      LOL
      You are beautiful.
      Love to you!

      • Oh Nina, I could never do what you do in your blog. God did provide me with excellent teachers and I believe I learned well from you, Debbie and Bonnie!

        Love you ladies!!

  6. Thank you for this, I needed to read it today, I love Gods timing 🙂

    I have seen some teaching on submission that is appalling, one book in particular I read said a woman should obey her husband no matter what while “trusting” God to work it out (what about walking in obedience despite persecution trusting God with the consequences, 1 Peter 2:23 comes to mind) one example cited in this book was a man who wanted his wife to get an abortion and according to the author the woman should schedule it and all that and pray……um, no. I don’t think a woman signs up for another persons intentional murder because her husband wants her to…..

    I lived under a cloud of fear (of my husband and other things) and that is not how marriage is supposed to be. I occasionally struggle with falling back into that (just this morning a bosom friend told me I sounded as if I was going there again….she may have been right) this was a great confirming word.

    This is a much needed clarification and I am so thankful you are willing to go to the tough spots and address them, I know I need this. I was recently thinking about how most (if not all) people who go all out for Jesus often end up persecuted by those we expect would back us up, people in church, people who are saying they are loving us (while speaking to us with undeniable harshness), just bless them back! In Christ no weapon formed against us will stand.

    Keep it up Nina! You are a real blessing in my life.

    • Tara, any good you see is our Lord – glad I’m out of the way. And for what it is worth, I’m in agreement with you about the abortion. Jesus was JEWISH. And if we study His life, His customs, He followed the Jewish hierarchy of the law. For example, if someone’s ox fell in a hole and could break its leg, the law would allow for helping the ox, even on the Sabbath, because their view of life was that it was of greater priority than the law of not working on the Sabbath – so even if you had to work to save your ox, do so. The Lord practiced this hierarchy by healing on the Sabbath. He also saved the adulterous woman, and He knew Who He was/is – He received the perfume instead of donating proceeds to the poor. Study grows us all.

      So glad you are here!
      Love to you!

  7. Nina, I’ve never commented on a blog before, but with the prompting of your last question “How does all this play into what you’ve been taught?” here I go:) For the last 1-2 years since I discovered your ministry, there have been many ahha moments—particularly with respecting a husband who’s very strong on “obey me”. You’re ministry has truly, truly, truly been a God-send to me –You need to know that!

    I have been heavily influenced by a dear friend whom I met on another internet marriage restoration ministry. I won’t say her name, out of respect, and I am so grateful to her for getting me out of the pit of depression and hopelessness Even though my marriage is not changed, I am.

    I took the narrow path she taught on submission, “in everything”, with the highly recommended book, “Me? Obey Him?”, by Elizabeth Rice Handford. In 2003, I began a local ladies fellowship small group using her materials to encourage others in struggling marriages. My husband was, at the time separated from me, but after he returned home, he became aware of the teaching on “total submission”, which he still uses against me.

    The more I read your posts on submission and am seeking God, the more unsettled I am on my previous position. ( a long time, coming) I don’t want to be stubborn and too proud to admit that I was wrong in my view, nor do I want to change my view just because the fire is too hot, or worse, be looking for a loophole to not “obey”. I’m not. But, if I am to teach, It matters greatly that I teach truth.

    My mentor/friend also taught on Abigail, but in a negative light! Saying she was disrespectful to call her husband a fool and what she (Abigail) did, caused the death of her husband! oh dear… But It also seems that Abigail acted nobly and virtuously, which your post implies. I’m seeking the truth here.

    Keep up the teaching, I believe you’re right on! From the blog “If You’re feeling worthless… I’m glad that you see this “topic is not discussed enough and that more women will relate than you think.” —particularly with the 3 “signs” you gave. Wow,I’m not alone! I’m so excited to be taking your “strength & dignity” course, You must have written it just for me! Thank you for sending it free! I have so much to learn about respect. One day, I’ll get it (at the end of this race on earth, lol!)

    • That’s the book I referred to above….I also fell for it for a time, and my husband lost respect for me and became very demanding…..Ninas teaching (and God also brought another woman friend into my life to speak this) has been like a breathe of fresh air.

      Interesting about Abigail, I don’t see anything in Scripture that would paint her as anything other that a hero 🙂

      May YHWH guide us both in these thing that we may be the princess warriors, help meets, wives, mothers, sisters, etc that we are called to be.

      Blessings!

      Tara

    • Mary June – we are walking on sacred ground as teachers, don’t you think? I don’t know about you, but I literally tremble sometimes when I think about it. To malign the Word would be the worst offense.

      And I’ve done it. (not in this post, I don’t think, but if you’ve been here for a while, you’ll see me make a mistake now and again that I have to correct – I count 2 mis-interpretations, but maybe my memory is short!) So I’m thankful (OH SO VERY THANKFUL) for teacher who interact with me, advisors who oversee, and an audience full of WISE women like Sheila (although I think I’m more HER audience, LOL!).

      Can I challenge your thoughts on the “wrong in my view” comment – and can I just suggest this… oh so very gently, lovingly, from a battle bruised warrior with skinned knees and a tear stained battle weary face covered with dust that is still settling?

      A girl who has believed as you have – because it was the “hardest of truths” so of course it must be true…

      “in everything…”

      At the core of who I am, I believe the Bible is a living document. I believe we grow in wisdom and stature with God and men just like Jesus did (okay, not with the whole diety biz… 🙂 ) But if God is omniscient, He knows what I need and when I need it.

      And girlfriend, I’m as stubborn, prideful, strong-willed, etc., as they come – so I think I NEEDED to be humbled that far. I’m also a westerner – so I’ve done my share (or more) of pendulum swinging.

      And I’m thankful for all of it – because few things could have pruned off those unproductive branches more than that.

      And later, when I knew more, I came to this place I’ve been in for a long time. I have been to the Family Life Ministry conferences. They are awesome. We’ve gone about 5 times – and they do a great job of teaching ALL this truth – I literally don’t remember anything contradicting what I wrote in the post above – but early on, I believed and lived a different truth.

      I’m praying for you, sister. Pray for me too, K? 🙂

      Love to you! SO VERY GLAD YOU ARE HERE!!!

      • Thank yout Sandi, Tara and Nina!! Your comments strengthen me. Grace and peace to you all. Nina, humility is a strong testimony and you’ve challenged me thank you!! Keep pressing on. – love and prayers

  8. As always Nina. Spot On!! Thanks for sharing Shelia’s links with us.. Yes, submitting to a non believer is hard! I do it all the time.. while my husband does belive in God, he is not a follower in his daily life..

    • Sheila is absolutely brilliant, Tiffanie. Anointed. Worth following. 🙂
      I’m praying for you, baby. Tough stuff indeed.
      I wish I followed Christ (speaking of following) in every moment of every day, don’t you? Some of the bigger things are just hard, though. So glad you are here!!
      Love to you!

  9. Wow, Nina, what a GREAT roundup! I love it. And thank you so much for the parts of my chapter on submission that you wove in. You did that beautifully.

    I want to expand on something you quoted of me, that’s really at the heart of what I think the problem is with the way we look at submission.

    So many women define it as “when we disagree, he makes the final decision.” Again, that insinuates that God told us to submit because the norm would be that couples disagree.

    Where else in the Bible is this assumed? It’s quite clear from Scripture that we should be praying and fasting so that we find “complete unity in thought and purpose” (1 Corinthians 1:10). If God thought that was possible in all relationships but marriage, that would be awfully strange, wouldn’t it?

    I think submission means seeking his best, and his best may mean that we confront him on sin and even get others involved if necessary if he’s going down the road to destruction. It doesn’t mean following him down that road. And when you look at the whole Bible, as you have done beautifully here, that’s ever so obvious.

    • Sheila –

      I’m so glad you stopped by to add that! 🙂 VERY TRUE! Disagreements occur in every human relationship. Christ even communicated His desire for something other than The Plan He and His Father agreed upon, when it came down to those last moments. But He conferred with the Lord, and He chose to agree – and like the “litmus test” for us, God gave direction, the direction was Biblical (in the Scriptures), and so Christ submitted His will to the Father’s.

      AND THERE WAS DIALOGUE.

      For years I heard from Titus 2 women that wives had “1 appeal” they could make when they disagreed with their husband… utter nonsense, but I didn’t know the Bible well enough to know that wasn’t the case.

      And a good husband who leads like Christ leads the church, will take the time to discuss, listen, and will with his wife, make decisions that they both can support. I love the story where the disciples were out in the storm and Christ was intending to pass right by them – but they called out, and He changed what He was planning to do to help them.

      I love the way you talk about “seeking his best” – and it applies in all things – we can do this well if we first seek God, know His voice, listen and obey Him (God) and He will give us the courage to do what is right, not give way to fear, just like Sarah. 1 Peter 3:1-6 style.

      Thanks so much for stopping by today! I LOVE your new book, and my favorite is still “Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex!”

      Love to you, beautiful!

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