Wednesday, October 4, 2017


A Duty of Christian Wives: Submission.
Geoffrey R. Kirkland
Christ Fellowship Bible Church



I suppose there may be no more controversial word in modern times than “submission.” But thankfully we walk by faith, not by sight. Our marching orders come from the clear revelation of God in the Bible and not by men’s opinions that can be located online. If one were to simply scan society today, one would need not look very long before understanding that the wife’s duty to submit in the marriage relationship for God’s glory and for her joy seems to be forgotten. Actually, it’s willfully rejected and arrogantly trashed as nonsense and some even go so far as to suggest that submission is harmful for females. But nothing could be further from the truth.

Submission actually is a wonderful concept that all people are called to. All Christians are commanded to submit to God (James 4:7). All Christians are called to submit to their church leaders and to obey them (Heb 13:17). Christians are all called to submit to authorities in government (Rom 13; 1 Pet 2:13). So submission is not a bad thing in and of itself. It’s not evil. It’s not harmful. It’s not bad. It’s not given by God to make life miserable. Rather, just as there are different role and distinctions that we all understand, submission is a given. For instance, in the workplace, the boss leads and the employees are to follow the instructions of the leadership. Even in the Trinity there is various distinctions in role and function: “Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ” (1 Cor 11:3). The idea of “head” or “headship” signifies authority. It’s not a bad thing. There is authority in the workplace. There is authority in government. There is authority in the local church. So there is authority in the home. This does not mean the wife is less important or to be looked down upon! While remaining equal in person, worth, and dignity, there are still differences in role and function and responsibility that exist. And that’s where submission comes in when dealing with the marriage. In the Bible, God calls the wife to submit to her husband.

God says: "wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord" (Eph 5:22). Elsewhere, God says: "wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord" (Col 3:18). Submission is commanded by God of all Christian wives to their husbands. So how is a Christian wife to submit?

Submit WORSHIPFULLY. The glorious way that God describes a woman’s role to submit is so profound. It’s far deeper than sheer obedience. Submission is not synonymous with obedience or just “getting the job done.” Anyone could force someone to obey, I suppose. But submission, at its very fundamental level, is a heart disposition. One could obey and hate it. But one could never biblically submit while the heart is fuming or bitter inside. That’s called hypocrisy and that’s not what God calls us to. So, Christian women are to submit -- and they are to do it “as to the Lord” (Eph 5:22). Amazingly, this catapults the realm of submission into the realm of worship. The way that a wife submits to her husband is to be the way that she submits to the Lord. She should do so willingly, heartfully, joyfully, happily, patiently, prayerfully, and hopefully. She should submit with a glad heart, a thankful heart, and a trusting heart. Only women who have been saved by God’s grace can do this, however. It’s wrong to assume that God’s standards for a Christian marriage can be expected in a marriage between unbelievers. But when God has transformed the soul, and regenerated the heart, and given His Spirit to reside within the believer, now that woman can -- is able to! -- submit to her husband in a worshipful disposition as if she would be submitting to her Savior and Lord!

Submit UNCONDITIONALLY. “I’ll submit if you only…” No! The Bible knows no conditions! The only exception that the Bible provides for not submitting to government, church leaders, or a husband is if you are demanded to specifically sin against Scripture. In such a case (and only in such a case), the godly wife must choose to obey God rather than men. But preferences, or opinions, or feelings, or emotions don’t constitute as biblical reasons to not submit to one’s husband. Wives, God calls you to submit to your husbands. This is fitting in the Lord. It is well pleasing to Him. There are no exception clauses. First Peter chapter 3 even has biblical counsel for godly wives who are married to unbelieving husbands -- even, very harsh, very unreasonable, very ungodly, very foolish husbands -- and the counsel God gives is for wives to “be submissive” to your own husbands (1 Pet 3:1). This requires daily taking up one’s cross, following after Christ, and doing what He says -- for His glory, trusting in His plan, and relying on His power.

Submit HEARTFULLY. Make it your ambition to submit to your husband with a happy heart that trusts that God’s ways are best. That way, if you relate to your husband and submit to him with this on your heart and mind, you will submit even in the tough and difficult times. And even in those times when you don’t feel as though he deserves it, remember that you submit to your husband with a heart that trusts in God, in His Word, and in the reality that there is great satisfaction found in obeying God rather than doing what seems easy in the moment. To submit heartfully means that our inner man -- our heart, our mind, our thought patterns, our inner person -- must be daily transformed by Scripture so that the way that we think, the way that we respond, the way that we communicate, and the way that we conduct ourselves is guided by, governed by, and guarded by God’s Word. The more that you immerse yourself in Scripture, the more you will do what God calls you to do in the specific role in which He has put upon you -- and you’ll do it with all your heart. Remember the Apostle Paul said that whatever you do in word or deed, do ALL in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father (Col 3:17). And a bit later, Paul also said: “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men” (Col 3:23). True submission is a heart disposition that follows God’s design for you in the marriage context as you ultimately serve your heavenly Lord and Master! This is the path of true and lasting and fulfilling joy.

Submit JOYFULLY. Submit joyfully. It’s easy, a wife may say, to submit to a Godly husband. But remember, there are no perfect husbands in this world and the joy comes not in what seems easiest or what appears to be the most fun or what brings the most immediate gratification, but joy comes in a settled, unshakeable disposition and conviction that God is for my good and that God remains in control in and through all things -- for His glory. That is why you can have joy even when you submit to an imperfect man. God is in control and is sovereignly and providentially working all His preordained plan out according to His purposes in you, through you, and in your marriage! Rejoice in this! After all, God calls us to rejoice always! Don’t be worried and don’t be fearful! Trust in God and believe in Him! Don’t be anxious but be prayerful. Cast yourself entirely and daily upon Him. Joyfully rest in His character as you seek to obey His commands. He will honor that and reward you on that final day! Submit with a satisfied joy!

Biblical submission is a God-graced duty for all Christian women to place themselves under the authority of their husbands. It is a willful, a deliberate, a daily, a trusting, and a joyful following of God’s ways regardless of how one may feel in the moment because we as Christians must live by what we know to be true and never by what we’re feeling in the moment. Emotions are never solid grounds to determine how or what we are to think or do. May God equip and help Christian wives to submit to their husbands with happy hearts and with a worshipful attitude -- for His glory!


This is part of the forthcoming eBook on the Duties of Christian wives.

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