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What Does It Mean or Not Mean for a Wife to Submit to Her Husband

Updated on February 15, 2019

Submission in the Bible is not only for marriages or just for women. It is for everybody, single or married. God wants order in every area of life, government, church, home, school and workplace. Everyone is placed under some sort of submission to different authorities in their lives. But all Christians are required to submit to God's authority.

The principle of submission in marriages has brought confusion in the body of Christ. It has been misinterpreted, misunderstood by many good-hearted Christians and ministers. Here are few bible verses where submission is marriage is discussed.

Ephesians 5:21-24

21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. 24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing

Colossians 3:18

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.


Christ is the head of the church, and the ultimate example of how husbands should submit to God. Let’s take a look at how Jesus submitted himself to the Father. He became a servant to God in humility and obedience. As Christ laid down his life for all, husbands have to lay down his life for their wives and serve in the same attitude and heart. We can see this in Phillippians 2:3-8.

Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

Christlike authority is not domineering, it is being a servant. Of course, some men have to guard themselves from women who seem to be controlling, nagging and manipulative.


When it comes to marriage, submission does not mean doing everything the way the military does things. This does not reflect God's way of doing things.

  • It does not mean control, whatever the husbands say goes - God did not make us as robots, he gave us a free will.

For everyday living, it does not mean Couples eat wherever the husbands wants to eat, only his hobbies and activities are to be pursued, only want he wants to do on weekends goes, we go where he wants to go on holidays, - that’s very selfish.

  • It is not a tool to get the wife to do whatever the husbands want.
  • It does not mean a woman cannot state her opinion or do not have a voice in serious matters.
  • It does not mean a woman must be treated as a doormat
  • It does not mean men are more superior than women , more smart or godly than women and men are called to lord over and rule over his wife.

Being the leader of the home should be a serious responsibility, privilege and honor from the Lord. Husbands should fear God in this area and trust God for wisdom and be sensitive to when their wives gifts and strength are needed.

  • It does not mean a wife allows her husband make every decision in the marriage and in the home.
  • it does not mean the husband, one in authority is always right.
  • It does not give husbands the right to abuse their wives physically, verbally and emotionally, belittle, manipulate them.

Submission doesn't mean you go along when you're being asked to do something that violates Scripture, your conscience, or common sense. (Kevin A. Miller, Writer at Today's Christian Woman)

Pastor Jimmy Evans explains the God's role for men in relation to marriages.


Does it mean whatever the husband’s says goes, and the wife does not have a say? It depends, most times there is confusion on roles of the husband and wife in the marriage. In most marriages, the wife is the one making decisions financially and in parenting because the husband is passive and is not taken the initiative. Some wives long for their husbands to be an active participant with these issues. Husbands need to turn to God for help in all areas of their lives and in the home. They should not lean on their understanding.

Others times, a wife does not believe that her husband is capable or smart in making decisions in these areas so she takes up the responsibility. In this case, the wife needs to relinquish her control, trust God, pray for her husband weaknesses and allow him to make decisions biblically, and take up God’s responsibility in the home. If he makes a mistake, don’t condemn and say I told you so, but be a helpmate.

Does this mean the woman need to go along if he brings friends over unexpectedly or let me know 20 minutes before they arrive? There should be some respect for each other and the freedom to work out things such as these.

Does it mean the woman must forsake her career and submit to her husband because he wants a traditional wife who is a homemaker? This is something that should be discussed before or early in the marriage. A true Godly husband must be seeking God's will and plan for his wife and helping her fulfill God's calling for her life. It is not only about doing what the husband wants or meeting his needs, but both connecting to God and knowing what God wants for their marriage.


According to Jim Daly from Focus on the Family,

“Only If a husband wants his wife to do something that is clearly immoral or unethical, the wife can echo the words of Peter in Acts 5:29 when he said, “We must obey God rather than men.”


Immoral and unethical can mean a husband:

  • who is gambling, doing drugs, drinking excessively, doing pornography, multiple affairs
  • Stealing, robbing, being dishonest,
  • sowing discord
  • Judging others, harsh critical remarks of another person
  • Bringing physical harm to anyone
  • Any behavior that goes against Scripture

A Wife does not submit to such behavior from her husband.

If a husband is not genuinely walking with God and following biblical principles, and just saying to a wife, you are supposed to submit to me, but not submitting to God first, then there is no godly order.


Wives are called to submit to God and to follow their husbands lead only if he submits to God, if he is a faithful man of God, a praying man, follows God wholeheartedly, demonstrate sacrificial love to his wife and others and trust God for important matters of the family.

A wife needs to see that as she submits to a leadership style as this, she is actually being like Christ in his submission to God. Wives also need to help husbands fulfill God's role for them as a leader in the home and not try to control or manipulate husbands to do what they think is best. But lift them up in prayer daily and Trust God to do the rest.


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    • Janellegems profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Africa

      I absolutely agree with this RonElFran. This is so true. Thank you for your input and wisdom. I appreciate your comment.

    • RonElFran profile image

      Ronald E Franklin 

      5 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

      One key aspect of biblical submission in the family is that it's not at all about a husband getting his own way. Rather, he is called on to exercise leadership in reaching wise decisions for the family as a whole. And any man who thinks he can make wise family decisions without the input and support of his wife is already demonstrating a serious deficit in wisdom!

    • Janellegems profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Africa

      Thank you MsDora. Submission is definitely what you have described. Sadly, most wives I have come across, do question the meaning of submission and the role of husbands because of faulty teaching in the church. Scripture has often been misinterpreted to use submission as a means of control another person. Thank you for your comment. I appreciate you stopping by.

    • Janellegems profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Africa

      Absolutely true DDE. Your comment is appreciated. Thanks for stopping by.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      5 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Everything in a marriage requires two people to work their hardest and when there is no team work all can fall apart. Interesting points mentioned here.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      5 years ago from The Caribbean

      You mostly question what it means. May I respond? "Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God" is a common sense principle. Each one respects the other's position as an equal in the relationship and God as the Head of both. The husband is the representative head to the outside world, representing the decisions agreed upon by the couple.


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