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What does God mean when He asks women to submit to their husband?

Updated on July 12, 2011

American society has a strong sense of independence built into it. Women in our society have opportunities that were not available to them in the past. Because of that the verses in Ephesians particularly "Wives be subject to your own husbands" seem more problematic for today's women. What could God have meant?

I suppose this is an issue that every Christian woman struggles with at some time. For myself, when I became engaged I struggled with this idea for a long time. I finally came to the conclusion that it was really a matter of trusting God.

After all God also asks that we obey our rulers (unless, of course, what they are asking is unbiblical). We trust that God is in control of who our rulers are and that He is working out His plan through their choices. However, it becomes more difficult to trust when that leadership is more personal.

Another thing we should remember is that the letter doesn't stop with "Wives be subject to your own husbands". Paul is telling us about God's plan for the perfect marriage and God doesn't just require the wife's obedience. Husbands have instructions as well. "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave himself up for her". Men are instructed to love their wives even to the point of sacrificing their own lives.

So what does this look like in practical terms? It would mean a wife who is looking out for her husband's plans. What does he want to achieve for himself and his family and how can she aid these goals? Meanwhile the husband will be planning for that which is best for his wife. What would make her a better person? A happier person?

If you look at the whole picture, what God wants to achieve is a beautiful image of marriage. So again it comes down to trust. We don't trust that our husbands can do as God asks (probably because we have trouble doing it ourselves). Moreover, we don't trust God.

Try to remember Romans 8:28. "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." Even if our husbands are resistant to God's working upon their hearts God has a plan for our good. And, while our husbands may not love us as God commanded, God loves us more than any human being could. Hold that thought to your heart.

If you would still like more information on this subject I heard a sermon on this topic "Submission in time". I hope this has provided a little help.

Ephesians Sermon Part 1

Ephesians Sermon Part 2

The Beautiful Faith of Fearless Submission


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    • Joy M profile image

      Joy M 5 years ago from Sumner, Washington

      I'm sorry. I published this awhile ago and I don't remember.

    • profile image

      Paula 5 years ago

      What is the sermon titles do the Ephesians part 1 &2 above. My daughters have to hear this. Thanks.

    • Joy M profile image

      Joy M 8 years ago from Sumner, Washington

      I would say that it is impossible to love someone too much. The problem would be in your priorities. Is God first? If you are praying and reading your Bibles together it makes it that much easier to keep God in the center of your marriage and your life.

    • profile image

      MrsAsuzu 8 years ago

      Can a woman love her husband too much? What about God's jealousy. I know that my husband is a man and not God. There are things that only God can fulfill. Yet, my love for my husband grows daily. Yes, we are newlyweds! My friends say to be careful that I don't love him more than God. I don't want to do that and I ask God to modify my love so that I don't get into trouble with my Creator.

    • Kebennett1 profile image

      Kebennett1 8 years ago from San Bernardino County, California

      Very good article! I have never taken submission to my husband as a bad thing because under God's instruction he has never abused that authority over me. He is the head of our household and what he say's goes. He does not go against what God's Word teaches, so why would I not follow him? We communicate and discuss everything but I leave the final decision always to him. I respect my husband very much and in turn he respects me. I am very blessed to have found and married him. 23 years married and counting :)

    • Joy M profile image

      Joy M 8 years ago from Sumner, Washington

      Yes, people often point out God's command for women in marriage and forget that the men have a command to follow as well.

    • RGraf profile image

      Rebecca Graf 8 years ago from Wisconsin

      I'm glad that you put in the second half of that verse. I believe everyone leaves that out and it has caused many hardships and heartaches in marriages.

    • Joy M profile image

      Joy M 8 years ago from Sumner, Washington

      Yes, I think a lot of people have the misconception that submitting would mean becoming a doormat. Really it is choosing to follow your husband's leadership. Unfortunately it is not a choice you make just once. However, I think I'm getting better at daily choosing to follow his leadership. :)

    • Eyes2YourSoul profile image

      Eyes2YourSoul 8 years ago from World Wide

      Great blog.

      I truly believe that when a man fashions his heart after God and applies kingdom principles to his life there should be no problem of submitting. Submitting simply means "yielding the rightful authority to" and being a man is the head of the household, as you said, loving his wife and sacrificing for her...Submitting to him should not be an issue.

      I teach women this as well. The key thing is people realizing that submission doesn't mean controlling and taking the free will from a person. Even God doesn't do that! Keep up the good teaching!

    • Joy M profile image

      Joy M 8 years ago from Sumner, Washington

      Thank you all.

      I found this issue to be like so many in that understanding does not necessarily lead to application. But I think it makes it a little easier. Sometimes. :)

    • Rose Gold profile image

      Rose Gold 8 years ago from Hayward, CA

      Great Hub! I was planning on doing a Hub like this, but I couldn't have put it better myself.

      Keep up the good work.

      God Bless,


    • profile image

      Eddie Perkins 8 years ago

      This is a subject that a man better be very careful about how he responds. :) I do agree with you and this is a good article.  Thank you. ~ eddie

    • AEvans profile image

      Julianna 8 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

      Now that was clearly explained and God placed it on your heart to write and explain, as so many do not understand what the actually meaning is.:)