Welcome to part three of my series on submitting in everything. This series is written with Ephesians 5:24 in the spotlight. If you missed part one and two and would like to start reading from the beginning, please follow these links.
Part One: Are Wives Really to Submit in Everything?
Part Two: What Does it Mean to Submit in Everything?
In this post, I am going to present some possible areas and situations in which submission could occur under the umbrella of “everything.” This is more about the application or the action of submission than the internal heart condition of a wife that out of obedience to God and His word consistently acknowledges her husband’s God-given leadership. However, that heart condition is a big part of submitting in everything because it is the foundation for the action. It sets up a consistent readiness to submit.
I am presenting the following lists because specific examples can help clarify what submitting in everything can entail. It can also help reveal any areas we have not yet submitted to our husbands’ leadership. Of course, we can’t really cover everything that might come up in marriage, so the following areas and situations will be representative of what might happen. Through them we will see that everything could extend to every area of a wife’s life.
I know, that can sound intimidating. I pray that this series helps in some way to make that less so as it is studied in light of God’s word. If need be, please revisit Part One and Two and read and reread the verses regarding submission. Pray for God’s help in understanding His will in this. Our desire to obey HIM in everything should be a great help. He should be our main focus and motivation in these matters. Love for our husbands can also be a great motivator. Let’s give them our best!
And remember, each marriage will experience “everything” differently. What shapes it practically speaking are the unique interactions that you and your husband have in each situation that comes up. Hopefully good communication and mutual respect and consideration are a big part of those interactions.
For some of us, “everything” could in practice be a small amount. For others, it could be a lot more. Regardless of how far everything extends in your marriage, all Christian wives should be ready to respond to the biblical, God given authority found in their own husbands and yield to their direction out of obedience to God.
Three Major Categories
I am going to divide everything into three categories: big, medium, and small issues. Below I have examples for each. The arrangement is not in stone. For example, what one wife thinks is a small issue, another wife might think is a medium one and vice versa. The main thing is that we see submission applied in everything.
It can be really hard to submit in the big issues. They can be life changing and therefore come with strong opinions and feelings. Fear can play a part too. We can imagine all sorts of negative outcomes if a different path is chosen from the one we would take. It takes a lot of faith to submit when you’re worried or scared. It takes a lot of humility to submit when you think you’re right. I have seen our Lord’s provision for both of these things. Trusting Him brings strength and courage to move forward, and His convicting word deflates pride. We can also find great comfort in the fact that the Creator of the universe cares for us. (1 Peter 5:7) In all of life’s situations, He causes all things to work together for good for us. (Romans 8:28) We can trust Him as we submit in the big issues.
Here are some situations that might come up in this category.
When to start a family
Whether to send your children to public school
or private school or to homeschool
To rent or buy a home
Whether or not to use daycare
When to call the doctor
What medical treatments to try
Where to worship
To move to a new city or not
When to retire
Resolving these matters is not always easy. Couples do not always agree on what to do. In all these cases, a wife’s submission can manifest by yielding to the will of her husband or simply by being willing to follow his leadership even if there is no disagreement. In the process of resolving issues, there may be varying degrees of discussion.
Handling discussions well can be a real challenge sometimes, but it is so important. I hope to look at that more closely at a later time. For now, I would just like to mention the need to be respectful. (Ephesians 5:33) That includes not harboring resentment or bringing up the matter again and again after your husband has made a decision or made it clear that the discussion portion is done.
For a long time, I thought this was the only category that existed for submission. Having only learned about submission shortly before I was married through reading the Bible, but not having really studied it or received any instruction in it, I thought that submission only came into play if my husband and I ever came head to head over something really big. Since then, I have learned that everything means much more than that.
It is in the medium and small issues that submitting in everything really starts to show. Submitting in these things demonstrates that a wife is not exempting her husband’s leadership from any area of her life. While the medium category may contain lesser issues, it can still be difficult to submit. We can still have strong opinions and feelings about these things. As in the first category, when working through issues in this category, our faith can play a big part in how we behave. Submitting in everything is greatly aided by prayer and trust in God. He is trustworthy and sovereign and filled with lovingkindness. Thankfully, we do not submit to our husbands in a vacuum. God is there.
Here are some possible areas of submission and situations for this category.
What Christian authors you read or speakers you listen to
Bible reading and study time
Negative emotions and thoughts
Tone of voice and demeanor
Which day care to use
Which car to buy
Where to go on vacation
Hair style and length
How much money to spend on Christmas gifts
Whether or not to get a pet
When to have sex
What to do in the bedroom
Housework and other chore management
Giving time and attention when it is requested
How to handle issues with minor and adult children
A Commentary on the Epistle to the Ephesians by Charles Hodge
I am hopeful that as a wife expands her submission into more areas, she will see that her husband is capable of leading well and that she can trust him. She may even find joy and contentment in submission. I believe most husbands can and would lead with compassion if given the chance.
OK, this is the category were some of my readers might recoil and think, surely not THAT!! Though I imagine that could have already happened. But, here’s the biting truth: I put the things on the following list for the same reason I included the things on the other two lists. We are to be subject to our own husbands as to the Lord and as the church is subject to Christ, in everything. That must include small things. Jesus is in authority over us and the church in all matters, not just over what we would call “big” ones. Though we may find it a lot easier to obey Him when it comes to not murdering someone verses not gossiping, we are still subject to Him in both. We shouldn’t qualify issues with Him or our husbands. (Ephesians 5:22-24)
This does not mean we should forget about what I covered in my first post in this series, namely the all-important exception to submission. Before submitting, we must always make sure that it is not contrary to God’s word. And as I have said before, the Bible does not teach that wives must submit to domestic abuse.
I could say that small issues are the easiest things to submit in since they are – small, but that is also the exact same reason why some wives might find submission in these things hard or even ridiculous. A wife might think that since they are small they don’t need to be under her husband’s headship. But they do, if he cares about them. A wife who is subjected in everything is non-contentious even in the small things.
Here’s a short list of small issues.
How much to tip the waitress or waiter
How home renovations will be handled
When to have discussions about problems/heavy issues
If Christmas cards will be sent out
What to watch on TV
Where to sit in the movie theater
I hope these lists have successfully demonstrated just how comprehensive submitting in everything can be. Please remember, what’s on these lists are just examples. Each couple would have their own unique list that could change with time. What’s important is to be ready to submit in everything that matters to your husband.
The Heart of the Matter
Being willing to even consider submitting in everything doesn’t come easy. So if you’ve read this far, praise God! This submission that we are called to can be hard to accept, especially in this day and age. I would never minimize that. Growing into it was hard for me, and I still struggle with it. Just ask my husband! But I always come back to the same thing. It is a command of God. It is His will for me. I may not always like this command, but I am His. (1 Corinthians 3:23, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20) Therefore, because of who He is and what He has done, my heart is drawn strongly towards His will. I must not fail to mention that living this way has transformed my marriage and my walk for the better. It is not for naught. God knows what He’s doing, and I trust Him far more than I trust myself. If He says this way is best, I believe Him. Furthermore, I love my husband and want to give him the best, to the glory of God.
If you find all this to be incredibly gut wrenching, I really do understand. I am not oblivious to the fact that real disappointment and problems can sometimes develop in marriages when the verses about headship and submission are misunderstood or misused. I’m not insensitive to that and plan on addressing those things in time. I also know that there can be many other obstacles too. There is pressure from our culture, family, friends, and a whole bunch of personal reasons why we might run from this.
If you are a not a Christian wife, I imagine you might be passed out by now. I understand, but please don’t let this interfere with learning about Jesus. I assure you, when you are His, He provides what you need to follow Him. He not only gives strength but also a desire to please Him, and there is joy in that far beyond anything you seem to lose by being submissive.
If you are a Christian wife and are having difficulties with submission, I can encourage you that God can help you grow in this area and come to peace with it. One of the greatest helps is remembering that ultimately it is God we are called to obey. We submit to our husbands because of our relationship with the Lord. And through that, we get the honor of picturing the relationship of Christ and the church. Remember Ephesians 23-24.
“For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.” (Ephesians 5:23-24)
And that’s the heart of the matter. Will we obey our Lord in this? May our desire to please Him and a correct view of His holiness and proper fear of His wrath and the enjoyment of everything about Him that we love motivate us to humbly kneel before Him and say, “Yes, Lord. I will follow you. I will obey You. I will submit in everything by the help that You give me. (John 15:5, Philippians 2:13) Please forgive me and please help me.” I pray this for you; I pray it for me every day.
Posts in this Series
Part One: Are Wives Really to Submit in Everything?
Part Two: What Does it Mean to Submit in Everything?
Part Three: Real Life Situations For Submitting in Everything (This post)
Part Four: How to Begin Submitting in Everything
See Also: Submission Verses: Quick Reference
Additional Resource: Domestic Abuse in Marriage
Excerpt: “Though I have consistently affirmed submission in my ministry work, I have also repeatedly stressed that wives should not submit to anything that is contrary to God’s word. The Bible does not teach that wives should submit to domestic abuse. I do not believe that wives default settings should be to suffer in silence even in small things, never mind serious abuse.”
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Yes, a very hard subject indeed. A gut-wrenching one like you say. But, once again, you have given us good, Biblical advice. And it is a needed topic. Sometimes I feel like I have the “submission thing going”; other times, I wonder where the control freak with my face came from…”please forgive me and help me, Lord”. He is the ONE who will mold us to obedience if we let go and follow Him.
I’ve just found this series on submission and have been thoroughly enjoying it! This practical post is particularly helpful.
Submitting in the small and medium things is definitely something I need to work on.
Hi! I am so glad it is helpful. Yes, those small and medium things can be harder than the big ones sometimes. Submission can take time to grow in. I’m still growing too. Life often presents new situations and opportunities. I thank God for His help. :)
Great post! You broke it down so well, God bless sister.
Thank you, Kevin
What about when to speak? Would you count telling a wife when to speak in the small category? I know some families where the husband might want silence at dinner or when he gets home so the wife isn’t permitted to speak during those times. Also has your submission journey been better since making this post years ago? Has it gotten easier to submit in everything? It just seems like submission is so watered down these days especially in the church teachings. Just glad there are older women like you still teaching younger women biblical truth.
Hi Kevin, I would place remaining quiet in the small category, though I can fully understand why it could be seen to be a bigger issue for some. There are times when my husband wants me to remain quiet for a while. It is not a regular time of day like at dinner. It is more in evening moments when he is extra tired. So if there is something I want to discuss, it must wait. He may also ask me to be quiet for a while if my tone is not as he likes. Being asked to not speak came into our marriage in later years, so there was an adjustment time for me. I can see how it can be a kindness to be quiet, and it helps with tranquility. I’m also getting better at noticing when would be a good time to be silent even before he says something.
As to submission in general, it has gotten easier for me. It is more a part of me. But I do struggle still, mostly because I’m going through the change of life. Those hormones are not always easy to stay on top of. It’s not an excuse. It’s a real part of the equation now. My heart is not rebellious, nor do I hold any doubt that submission is biblical and proper. There is just this influence that I must prayerfully deal with. I look forward to when that is done!
I pray for the next generation, I believe that as long as there are women who love the Lord and love His word, we will see wives who love and respect their husbands and submit to them to the glory of God.
Isn’t that awesome how now you’ve gotten to the point where he doesn’t have to tell you every time to be silent you can pretty much read him? Amazing. Also the curse will always make it somewhat a battle to submit especially in everything. Articles like these are so needed in a world where the church has gone with the world and seems like no one is fearing God any more. I’ve sent some sisters in Christ towards your page I hope they read it. All your posts are biblical. Not sure if you write about marriage anymore but the ones you have up are much needed.
Just seems like so many people gloss over the submit in everything part, yes don’t submit to sin/abuse but in all areas a wife should be in subjection. Have to look at the bigger picture. Women hearing they should submit when to have sex and what to do sexually is so barbaric to most but submission applies in all areas even in the bedroom. Hair length? What to wear? Etc Most christian women are saying this is crazy they are not slaves. BUT we must remember we are all slaves to Christ and we were bought at a price. We live for Him and His ways not our own. The more you dive deep into the word you see the beauty in it.
Thank you for sending some ladies over. It is much appreciated. I do have plans to write about marriage again. Lord willing, I will return to it. Biblical submission for wives is not slavery, but it is sacrificial and the opposite of what our society says is correct behavior for women. No small challenges to overcome. But in the Lord and for the Lord, it is doable, desirable, and yes – even beautiful! Not to mention the blessings it can bring to the family.
Amen! Do you have any articles on what this looks like practically? Like a typical day? I know you’ve talked about it what it entails but what about on a daily basis what this looks like? I know as well submission looks different in every home just think it would be a good idea for younger ladies to see what this looks like exactly on a normal basis :).
Not yet. Maybe down the road. There are other writing projects slated, so it’s hard to say what will follow and when. But I can see the value of posting specifics. My hope is that women study submission from the Bible and when possible learn how it is lived in practice from other wives. However, I do want them to avoid thinking that their submission must look like Mrs. X’s or Mrs. Y’s submission (which I’ve seen). A wife’s submission is best shaped by what matters to her husband.
Amen sister, I see where you’re coming from and agree every husband is different and they need to see what matters to their own husband. I just pray my sisters stay in the word and have godly women like you to learn from. God bless.
Me too and thank you. God bless :)
There seems to be a movement going on where when a wife feels “convicted” or feels uncomfortable she doesn’t have to submit? I don’t see this in scripture, your thoughts?
I have not come across this. Without knowing more details, my first thought is that feelings are not the way to make a decision about submission. Feelings are subjective. The standard is the objective word of God. If a wife wants to know when not to submit, it would be to anything contrary to God’s word. If her feelings have to do with the fact that she thinks abuse is occurring, then I would recommend getting help to decide for sure and then take action if need be. Sometimes, when you are experiencing it, you cannot see it for what it is.
For example a wife feels like not wearing skirts, headcoverings, or some sexual acts are sins but her husband has different views on the matter. Her convictions override his authority.
Feelings about personal preferences and convictions about sin that are stirred up from knowing the Bible are two different things. Hopefully a couple can sort it out together with good communication, prayer, and guidance from the Scriptures. Some sexual acts are obviously sinful, some are obviously not. There are things that people might have a different opinion about, but hopefully they can become of the same mind over time on any dividing issues. Romans 14 might be helpful too.
Hello, I have read your 4-part series on submission, your in-depth “study burst” on the meaning of kephale/head, and your warnings that submitting “in everything” does not include submitting to sin. I believe you are missing something extremely important. You have not talked about the directives to the husband to LOVE his wife as Christ loved the church, giving himself up for her. You may say “I am writing to and for women, and that is the husband’s part, so I did not cover it” — but you DID write an extensive article about the husband’s role when you wrote on the meaning of kephale/head (it was very well researched). What about the husband’s absolute, unclear, repeated-several-times directive to LOVE his wife? You never mentioned it. This is such a crucial piece of the whole picture! It is intricately intertwined with submission. It MUST be included in any conversation about the wife’s submission to the husband. It could be very discouraging to a women who comes across your blog and never hears you even commenting briefly on the husband’s explicit call to LOVE his wife. I would like to see you include this part of the picture in EVERY article you have here. Since “love your wife” is a call to action, you could offer many scenarios and examples of how this might play out in a marriage, as you have done with example of how submission might play out. The love the husband is commanded to show his wife is VAST in its implications. And it is to be a self-sacrificial love! No small thing! It is HUGE!
As a few starter examples, (I got the first two ideas that follow, from Tim Challies, https://www.challies.com/articles/how-to-love-your-wife-as-christ-loved-the-church/), I will note that the husband is called to think about how he can give up some of his time to invest in his wife — because the wife is called to give glory to God by doing good to others, just as the husband is. The husband is called to let go of some of his dreams so he can help his wife achieve hers. The husband, in love, will OFTEN cede his preferences, to hers — because he loves her, and loves making her happy!
Hi, Thank you for your comments. I understand your concern. Yes, I am writing to women. Oftentimes my focus is on the Christian wife’s responsibilities before God, not her husband’s. I take the cue of how to approach my ministry writing from Titus 2:3-5. Also, there are pitfalls that some women fall into if they do not have or maintain this same focus in their marriage. I work to help them avoid those pitfalls.
Additionally, I encourage women to take the whole counsel of Scripture into account when learning about marriage and seeking to live it well, not just the Scriptures that speak specifically about marriage. That is far from limiting things.
There are articles on my site that mention the command for husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her; however, it is not actually necessary to mention this every time one writes about submission. Women can focus on and learn about their own responsibilities before God apart from hearing about their husbands’. (In some marriages, the husband is not a Christian or the Christ professing husband is not living his part well.) And focusing on one topic at a time does not mean others have been forgotten.
Furthermore, most women have had ample opportunity to hear about the husband’s call to love his wife as Christ loved the church. This is great and necessary. They are taught about it in their churches and in books. It is easy to find all over the internet. It is focused on so often that in many areas there is an imbalance with what is taught about submission. That is not great.
Since submission is deemed a hot topic, it is often avoided or full out denied. When it is taught, the husband’s call to love is often taught at length first and then peppered throughout any teaching about submission. What is taught about submission then is often superficial.
One of my main goals here on Chapter 3 Ministries is to help offset that imbalance. Women need to hear more about their own role and responsibilities before God. They need in-depth teaching about submission. Many want to learn so they can get in line with the Scriptures and be obedient to God. It my hope and prayer that these articles help them.
Lets make it simple. Submission means wife should die in everything. Just follow your husband blindly even if he is making the most stupid decisions. don’t worry wives’, your husband is Jesus so he will never take a decision that will destroy you life.Even if it does, you are already dead (remember). what I don’t understand is if the wife is already dead, what does it mean that the husband will die for her?. Or Is it just that when you tell her that he loves her and he will die for her, she will die willingly?
Hi Hala, what you are describing is far from a proper understanding of biblical submission. Perhaps you might find it helpful to read this series from the beginning or reread it if you have already read it. Hopefully it will help clear up your misconceptions about submission.
A great read and it gives me things to ponder.