In November, a woman emailed about our Daughters of Sarah course and essentially said, “In Daughters, you say there’s a difference between ‘obeying’ my husband and ‘submitting’ to him – that I don’t have to obey him. Doesn’t God tell us in 1 Peter 3:1-6 to obey our husbands like Sarah did?”
I did name the course, “Daughters of SARAH,” right? It’s a great question. I feel badly that I’ve not been able to answer it til now. Ministry and health struggles, excuses aside, this requires gentle handling. I want to do it well. Given that Bible teachers are held to a higher standard and we’re in big trouble if we malign the Word, this isn’t a question that can be answered in a sentence or three after thinking about it for ten minutes.
It’s a sticky topic, one I’ve written about before and one we deal with in 12 Truths to Change Your Marriage. I’m wondering what questions you have, however. Feel free to ask them in the comment section, or send them through the sidebar.
One of the questions we need to talk about is how submission fits with self respect – and if respecting oneself is even Biblical in the first place.
Why does that matter?
Because much of the Bible deals with interacting when the other person is sinning against us, behaving in an angry way, acting like a fool, being unloving, etc. So unless you believe that the only thing wives are to do is submit and follow the verses only addressed specifically to wives (and yes, there are people out there who literally say the rest of the Bible doesn’t apply to a wife’s behavior in marriage…) if you believe that, none of what we talk about next week will be relevant.
But I think that’s a small minority of our sisters here.
I think the majority of us believe the whole Bible applies to us – that God created women with a purpose, too. That we are equal heirs, not second-class citizens – even in marriage.
I want to make sure you get your questions answered. I hope to have it up early next week. One of the questions we will address is dealing with is the one above about Sarah – it’s a common one,
“If Sarah ‘obeyed Abraham and called him Lord,’ aren’t we supposed to ‘obey’ our husbands?”
Given that the Bible tells wives to “submit to their husbands in everything,” you can see why it takes a bit of time to respond.
Pray for me! 🙂
In the meantime, I hope you will take a look at these –
Reader Thoughts about Submission (check the comment section)
I fully believe that we misunderstand this concept both in and out of the church. I’m excited about addressing it in a way that really deals with what your concerns are, however, and answers your questions. One of the things we fail to do well is teach what it means to “submit in everything” – especially when dealing with a man who is abusive or angry most of the time. Our Strength & Dignity eCourse (in beta – free, too) is going to address that. We’ll learn that the concept of “boundaries” and “submission” are NOT mutually exclusive ideas and a Biblical wife can have BOTH. I hope you’ll join us. We had over 45 women sign up in the first few hours it was available this week. I hope you’ll join us. Just click on the course in the sidebar and the enrollment form will open. Your course will show up in your email.
As a part of doing Dare 1 on expectations this week, we need to address an expectation about submission.
A good chunk of the Christian culture encourages us to expect that if we submit, our marriage will be perfect. Women around the world practice submission from a place of deep hope that it will change their marriage and “make him love me.”
I’m going to share the truth that cost Sapphira her life – “in everything” doesn’t mean what you might think it does, regardless of what some on the internet will teach you. We’ll also talk about other Biblical examples of submission – and a few are NOT what you would think!
And yet, submission is super-important and is an amazing blessing – but only if understood and done well. Submission done well has the power to transform a marriage into something beautiful. Done poorly, submission can destroy a family by enabling and growing abusive behavior.
May God strike me dead if I’m wrong about these things – know we’re not coming at it from a “secular humanism” approach, but rather a Biblical one. Yes, scholars fight about it, yes there are many discussions to be had, but after studying this concept for well over 20 years, we’ve landed on what we believe is true and we want to share that with you.
So anyway, chime in today with your questions about submission, what you’d like to see covered next week.
And I hope to see you in the Strength & Dignity class or in the Respect Dare eCourse – the winter run starts MONDAY.
Love to you!
Reader Thoughts about Submission (check the comment section)
My husband grew up in a home with an abusive father. He finds it downright disturbing when I ask his opinion on even the simplest of things. He talks in circles and tries ridiculously hard to be diplomatic even over something as easy as whether to have hamburgers or chicken for dinner. He will ask my opinion of a movie or a restaurant first because he believes I will be offended if his feelings don’t gel with mine. No, I do not get offended or argue to change his mind.
Likewise, he gets offended if he has an idea and I ask a question or make a suggestion. It seems that sometimes all he wants to hear is, “Yes, Dear” even when I already tell him I am willing to go along with him.
I have spoken to him more than once about respecting his decisions for us and believing he is capable of making right choices. The only time he speaks up is when he is vehemently opposed to something I want to do. Unfortunately, I find, most of those things have to do with spending time with my adult children from another marriage. They, love him. But, I find whenever I am being the mother to my children he wishes he had it causes major upheavals in our home. How can I bring out more adult behavior? How do I remain submissive when my husband doesn’t know how to take charge?
Karen – I’m so sorry you are dealing with this!
You can’t bring out more adult behavior, however, you can do the right thing, empathizing with him, but not promoting unhealthy behaviors. Setting up circumstances where your husband can teach you something (like joining him in his hobby where you can learn from him) is a great place to make it safe for him to get comfortable. Do this for a few years, work on yourself, setting boundaries, respecting, loving well, and letting God lead you both. 🙂 Encouraging him and respecting his feelings regardless of what they are is a great place to start, too. You may be doing all those things, but by building him up, being strong yourself, praying for him, and growing in your own relationship with God, you’ll be doing all you can. 🙂
Love to you!
The verse in 1 Cor 14:34 – 35 has always bothered me. It says that women should remain silent in church and that they shouldn’t speak but only ask their husbands. That just strikes me as wrong, but it is in the Bible. I often lead in worship in our church. Is that wrong?
Or the part in 1 Cor 11:7 that talks about wives covering their head. To be honest, I’ve just ignored that verse as a cultural thing, but is that ok?
I don’t mean to answer this out of turn but here is my (Rebecca’s 2 cents) on those questions: In 1 Corinthians 11 Paul urges women who pray and prophesy in church to do so only with veils on their heads. If they were allowed to speak in chapter 11, how could they be told not to speak in chapter 14? It is a really long story which you can easily check yourself (See books like: The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture: The Effect of Early Christological Controversies on the Text of the New Testament, Oxford University Press; July 2011, etc.) but later scribes added those verses to win theological disputes happening in the early church to affect control over women. They made the passages say what these scribes/ copyists wanted them to say rather than allowing Paul to say what he meant to say. We can’t be blind to things like this! In the oldest extant manuscripts, the verses just intrude into the passage in which they are found. They were, to me, clearly added to the passage later (to gain control), added after the letter had been placed in circulation. Look carefully at it (1 Corinthians 14:34–35 —look at it in the interlinear Bible Greek/English). Immediately before these verses Paul is talking about prophecy in the church; immediately afterwards he is talking about prophecy. But this passage on women interrupts the flow of the argument. Take it out, and it flows, clean. We could fill this blog with reasons but you get the idea. See also: The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration (4th Edition) 2005 by Bruce M. Metzger. These are very technical points (i.e. that don’t really belong on a blog about practical application) BUT very important points. Feel free to e-mail me if you have further questions on these types of text issues but it is all in the research too, just see books like those above: Rebecca.Srixon@gmail.com . . . .Women should be encouraged to do serious research but far too few of us do. A wife’s role is not to capitulate but to love well, help and think, think, think, think, and think some more. We can’t have enough erudite, thoughtful women. . . . Just like we can’t have enough people completely surrendered to Christ.
Re: From Nina’s message above: “May God strike me dead if I’m wrong about these things” . . . . . No Lord, please don’t strike Nina or me down even if we are wrong. . . . Lord God the last thing this godless world needs is less people trying to live for You!
I see what you see in the way that verse is positioned, seemingly out of place. And yet, the Bible has been around for hundreds of years this way. He could have prevented that verse from making it into the Bible, but He didn’t. That makes me wonder why? What might He want us to know from allowing it.
My ESV study bible suggests that verse applies to women judging the prophecy that was discussed in the previous verses. I think that’s a plausible meaning. I also think it may mean something we don’t yet understand. I would caution that we think very carefully before dismissing any verse in the Bible because we have evidence to suggest it was added by someone other than the original “author”.
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,”
2 Timothy 3:16
I know you know this verse very well, but for the sake of all reading here, I quoted it. 😉
I think this is yet another reason that discernment is so very critical.
Love your comments, BTW. They’re full of wisdom. 🙂
Thank you so much for the comments, very much appreciated. . . . .I want to say frist off that none of this matters if we don’t love and do our best to follow Christ. . . . . He knows I am *hopelessly* in love with Him and only want to please Him. More than this, deeply loving other believers is far more important than text purity because if we don’t deeply love each other these issues are meaningless. . . . i.e. I would rather be your friend in Christ than “win” some argument. In fact, I’ll be completely honest, I could have been more mature about it and just written “I need Christian friends to encourage me in my walk with Christ so I don’t act out.”
“He could have prevented that verse from making it into the Bible, but He didn’t. That makes me wonder why? What might He want us to know from allowing it.”
That is a very good point but some verses were added centuries later by scribes to win arguments and have caused many deaths and needless control of women. Maybe God wanted us to study very hard and figure that out so we would learn to be like the Bereans in Acts who “. . . .were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” . . . . .For example, in Mark Chapter 16 “. . . .And these signs will accompany those who believe: 18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; . . . . .this lead to snake-handling churches of the ardent Pentecostals believers (until the states shut them down) because the passage in Mark 16 clearly says poisonous snakebites will not harm believers. I’ve always thought that someone in the ambulance on the way to the hospital ought to tell one of those snake handlers, “You know, those verses were not originally in the Bible.” (They are missing in our oldest and best manuscripts; they contain numerous words not found elsewhere in Mark’s Gospel; the writing style is VERY different; and there is an impossibly rough grammatical transition between vv. 8 and 9). They are *certainly* not in any original, as every textual scholar on the planet agrees. See: (The Pre-Nicene New Testament: all books from the first three centuries of Christianity, November 15, 2006)
Sandi, . . .Here is my position: There’s not one thing in life worth having outside Jesus Christ. If you can really sing, “Christ is all I want,” you’ve got it made! I just don’t want precious people handeling snakes, wrongly “shutting up” and submitting to men for sport if that was not in God’s Word in the first 300 years of Chrsitianity. We need our heroes and she-roes!
. . . . Anyways, five minutes inside eternity and I will wish that I had sacrificed more, loved more, prayed more, given more. . . .I could be wrong but I believe that what Jesus wants most from you and I, is relationship and friendship. He wants to be involved in the big and small moments of our lives. So, how do we go deeper with our Lord, how do you accomplish this! How do we access the limitlessness Love and the very Life of Christ?
I’m going to chime in with an un-researched quick response… 🙂 I am cool with everything that is currently in the Bible and here’s why: God’s used it all ALL all even the verses mentioned, to grow my faith. I won’t go into detail, but regardless of where we land on the history of it, and the bottom line is I fully agree with your position: JESUS CHRIST is everything. 🙂 I have talked with a handful of people whose testimonies include heinous criminal acts of abuse within marriage – and felt led by God to “be martyred” in their own homes.
Did I just say that? Yes, I did. I certainly am not going to teach it because I believe otherwise in my core, and thankfully, He hasn’t asked me to ever suffer like that – but who am I to challenge their relationship with God? Who am I to tell them they were wrong when He encouraged, confirmed, brought His Word in “coincidental” ways – especially when TODAY men and women are being martyred for their faith in other countries. I don’t understand enough of Him to understand THIS, that’s for sure, but we have such a limited understanding in western world of what true suffering is. We habituate and forget what our brothers and sisters are going through, thinking we have it hardest of all, which in most cases, simply isn’t true.
Hope that makes sense. 🙂 Hope I didn’t ruffle feathers – I’m not actually disagreeing with you, I’m saying God’s big enough to handle it no matter what is true. 🙂
Thanks for the grace!
Love to you!
I’m sorry I did not see this until now. . . . .First, I don’t like to have my feathers ruffled or my wings clipped BUT it is important and I know you do it in real love and I very much appreciate the feedback even if I don’t like it. When we don’t care how accurate the Bible is, something is going on but I don’t know exactly what it is. . . . .How are our beliefs functioning? What are they keeping us from confronting? Beliefs are often used to cover over our serious anxieties and prevent a head-on encounter with this disturbing fact: lots and lots of precious women are abused. To me, we must prevent the Bible from being structurally used as a defense mechanism that provides psychological cover for all forms of abuse, even spiritual.
I don’t know what to make of this, it stops me in my tracks: “I have talked with a handful of people whose testimonies include heinous criminal acts of abuse within marriage – and felt led by God to “be martyred” in their own homes.” . . . . . .That just makes me cry and I don’t know what to say to that.
Much love, even if you ruffle all my feathers!
I’m stopped in my tracks standing next to you. Honestly, I wouldn’t give the advice to stay, but who am I to question their relationship with God when the apostles did dangerous things? I will say I’m seriously stinkin’ happy He doesn’t ask me to do that. There are times when I wonder if I’m just not hearing… and then I hope that’s not true. 🙂
Are you doing what God has led you to do? Did He gift you musically?
Check the verses Rebecca gave you for yourself, ask Dad to confirm to you what He’s asked you to do, and then boldly step forward into obedience, regardless of what some might say.
When you lead, no matter how prayerfully, no matter how carefully, no matter how wisely, no matter how guided by God – YOU WILL OFFEND SOMEONE. It comes with the territory. But those who criticize do not have the right to do so because they are not in the arena with you. Obey God and not man. ALWAYS. AND recognize God will lead you through His people – but He always confirms in His Word, too. 🙂
There’s no difference between a woman leading worship who is not called and a woman serving food as ministry if she isn’t called. It’s about what He’s called you to do.
Love to you!
Blessings upon you dear sister as you navigate this and seek to bring Biblical counsel to us. As someone who has recently been set free from major, major stuff, I am so, so, so, thankful for you (you and a couple other women were used by the LORD in a huge was in my life). This is a much needed teaching and I am going to make earnest effort to keep you in prayer as you study this out. Love in Christ!
THANKS. I appreciate the prayers. 🙂
Love to you, baby!
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