Should a Wife Submit To Her Husband?

bride and groom sitting on a wooden bridge by a lake

Thank you for the lively discussion regarding the role of women in the church, on last Monday’s post titled: Can a Woman be an Elder or Pastor?

Today we will discuss the role of women in the home.  If you are joining us mid-series, I encourage you to read through the past posts that correlate with this post, by clicking on the links at the end.

Titus 2:3-5 are verses that are very familiar to most women in the church.  We tend to glide through the list – focusing on the “love your husband and love your children” part.  But at the end of the list, there is one more thing older women are to teach the younger women. So let’s take a look.

Should a Wife Submit to Her Husband?

2 Timothy 3:16 says: All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness. (esv)

As I said last week: “Scripture is sufficient to answer this question. There’s no need for me to make a video explaining it, quote a theologian or write a detailed blog post – we simply need to look at God’s word together and together we will find our answers.”

{I am using the English Standard Version.  If you prefer another version – feel free to open up your Bible and read it for yourself.}

Titus 2

1 But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. 2 Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness.

According to verse 1, what are men to teach?

According to verse 2, how are older men to behave?

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine.

According to verse 3 (above), what character quality should a godly older woman possess?

What behaviors should a godly older woman avoid?

They are to teach what is good, 4 and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

Look at verses 4 & 5 above, there is a list of 7 things older women in the church are teach younger women.  What are those 7 things?

Should a wife submit to her husband?

According to verse 5, why are wives to live out these 7 qualities?

6 Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. 7 Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, 8 and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. 9 Bondservants are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, 10 not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.

Notice a repetition of the words: good works, teach/teaching, doctrine/sound speech and a mention of opponents in both Titus 1 and Titus 2 (and you will see these repeated in Titus 3 next Monday as well).

According to Titus, does sound doctrine, good works and right behavior effect the message of the gospel?

11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

Who is salvation for (v.11)?

How does salvation change our lives (v12)?

What are Christians to be zealous for (v14)?

15 Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.

Should Christians be silent?

Who should we let disregard us or ignore us?

******

Thank you for opening your heart and mind to the reading of God’s word.

May we lift God’s name higher by living out sound doctrine in our lives and may we have the courage to “declare these things…with all authority.”

Walk with the King,

Courtney

The other posts in this series:
Speaking the Truth In Love
The Authority of Scripture and 5 Ways to Defend Truth
The Ultimate Cultural Sin –Intolerance
How to Respond to the Labels – Intolerant, Judgmental, and Hater
What is Sound Doctrine?
Should Christians Simply Unite Around the Gospel?
Can a Woman Be an Elder or Pastor?
Should a Wife Submit To Her Husband?
Can Good Works Save You?
Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing

Comments

  1. Thank you for these thought provoking posts, Courtney. The issue of “if my husband does not follow God’s Word what should I do” might come up. I love Peter’s encouragement in 1 Peter 3:1 – Wives, fit in with your husbands’ plans; for then if they refuse to listen when you talk to them about the Lord, they will be won by your respectful, pure behavior. Your godly lives will speak to them better than any words.

    Keep on keeping on, Courtney! I look forward to all your posts. :)
    Cooking Up Faith
    http://www.cookingupfaith.org

  2. Michaela Fuller says:

    I am loving the study of Titus. So much meat to this smaller book. Thank you for your courage and faith! May God continue to bless your work and your family.

    In Christ

  3. Thank you dear Courtney. Yours is such a refreshing voice in the blogosphere.

  4. stella akinyi says:

    Thank you.I am blessed by today’s teachings and I am going to be a blessing to others.

  5. KellyK(@RNCCRN9706) says:

    Yes, I do believe the Bible tells us that we are to submit to our husbands. The Bible couldn’t be any more clearer in this edict as it also says the same thing in Ephesians Ch 5 V 22. “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.”

  6. Thank you for this, Courtney. I pray that He strengthens you, as you continue this series, and go about your day.

    He does tell us, a few times, to submit to our husbands. Many rebel against this, because the worldly view has penetrated our church body. And yet…doesn’t God call us to look different, and be different than those around us? To not be conformed by the world? Great food for thought, again, thank you!!

    Peggy

  7. Great post, Courtney! You always point women to the Word. The only problem was that I was a Christian my whole life and knew the passages on submission very well. However, I thought I was being submissive by keeping the home clean, taking care of my children, and giving my husband sex. I really had no idea what submission looked like or what it really entailed until an older woman came into my life and told me clearly.

  8. Good Morning, Courtney,

    The pastor at our previous church helped us to understand what this really should look like. He explained the greek root word related to “submit”. It is certainly NOT a husband bossing his wife around and her being forced by God to put up with it. Our pastor explained it more as a sharing between the husband and wife where they come to each other, discuss what is needed and each considers the other’s request and offers back with what they are capable of doing, almost like a business agreement.

    I was in a bible study this past fall where we read a book entitled, “What’s it like being married to me?” It was a study of marriage. Our group realized through this study that our husbands have a much larger responsibility to God when it comes to marriage and family. They need our help.

    So, I see “submitting” as being as helpful as I am capable of. To me, it’s that simple.

    Thanks for blogging! : )

    Joy

    • See, I think the Bible spells out much more clearly what submission is than what most pastors teach. Titus 2:5 states that older women are to teach the young women to be “obedient to their own husbands.” In Eph. 5:24 we are told to be subject to our husbands “in every thing.” Other places we are told that the husband is the head of the wife, we are called to please our husbands, love them, and give them reverence. Sure, we can discuss things with them and share our opinions, but then we have to leave it for our husbands to make the final decision. It is also learning to obey them in the little things like what food he likes to eat, how clean he likes the home, etc. Submission encompasses much, much more than “sharing between the husband and the wife.” Every organization needs a leader and in the home, the husband is the designated leader.

  9. Good morning,
    I always had a problem with this verse because it seemed like the male pastors would shove it down the woman’s throat that they have to do what the husband says. Why did they never compliment the sermon with the verse that says, “And husbands love your wife as Christ loves the church.” If you are going to help a marriage it seems like you would address both parties, so they both can be strengthen.

    When I was in college a professor told us the meaning of submission. He broke the word apart and said that sub means “under”, and mission is a task that one is to fulfill. So when we as wives submit, we are following the mission of our husbands, as he is submitting to God. When I heard that it made it so easy to submit, because I know that my husband is going to follow God’s plan for our lives. I wish pastors and teachers would teach it from this perspective, so it can help women become better wives to their husbands. Many of us have been influenced by the feminist movement, and have been brained washed into thinking that we really don’t need a man. But if we learn our rightful place in the home, then we will have better lives, because we are doing what God ordained us to do.

    Rhea

  10. Thank you for your inspiring posts! I have read this passage of Titus many times before, but as the Bible always does, something new was revealed to me today. Titus 2:5 “To be discreet, keepers at home…” I don’t work outside the home and haven’t since my husband and I married 18 years ago. Many times I have wondered if I should be working outside the home even though it was a decision my husband and I both agreed on. I love being at home for my family, but so many women today have a job or career. Seeing this scripture reaffirmed that me staying at home is what God wants me to do. Thank you for bringing this to light for me!

  11. Lisa Mac says:

    Thank you for this, Courtney! What a great series!
    And Lori, thanks for breaking it down a little further! Good thoughts!

  12. Charity says:

    My husband has been healed from a seizure disorder that had caused him cognitive deficiencies for a number of years. His brain function had suffered greatly from 3 violent grand mal seizures per week and daily petit mal seizures. Then he had brain surgery that caused the seizures to stop and he now takes no medications. As my husband’s brain has healed submission looks different now than it did then. My husband could not make the decisions our family needed him to make. I made them instead. I talked with him and he gave me as much input as he could which at the time was not much. Submission I have discovered is doing my part in a working partnership with my husband. If I work against him then I am not submitting to him. If I am working with him and we agree then we are submitting one to another as Scripture also suggests. When my husband was not able to give much input I did the best I could to honor what things we had agreed to before his seizures started. I did make changes without his consent because changes had to be made and he was unable to give consent. Now however that he is not cognitive deficient we have talked about those changes and he is grateful that I did what had to be done at a time he could not do it. However, during the time he was experiencing cognitive problems I encountered some in the church who said that I should have let the house be foreclosed on, let my children go hungry, and let it all fall apart because I was over stepping my boundaries as a woman. I want to contribute to this conversation to say that submission does not always look the same. I struggled during the years when I led the family because I knew Scripture was clear about a wife’s role. Now though looking back I understand now that I did submit properly by picking up where my husband could not. It was not sin and now I appreciate more all that he does. I have also noticed that he listens to me and respects my viewpoint more than he used to and I think more than if we had not lived through that season. I agree that a woman should submit to her husband. If a wife is plowing down her husband’s leadership then she is sinning. I do however want to interject that submission does not always look like the picture we paint it out to be. Life gets messy sometimes and sometimes things we define don’t always look like they are made out to be. So please do submit to your husband, but be open to what that will look like in your marriage because it will look different during seasons of life. No matter what though God is good and Scripture does need to be followed.

    • What a beautiful life story God has given you, Charity.

      I tried the “1950′s idea of submitting”. I waited and waited for something to submit to. My husband gave no leadership, no mission, no goals. He left all decisions up to me. It left me feeling very alone. We’ve been married 16 years now and looking over the years I can see some possible mental issues. I think ADHD and anxiety may be issues and I have gently brought them to his attention but he insists he’s grown out of those since he was a boy. He can focus on work very well and he is very good at what he does but when he gets home he is always confused, forgetful, frustrated and messy no matter how easy I try to make things for him (calendars, reminders, alarms, etc.). He simply cannot seem to think past work responsibiilities. Not because he doesn’t want to… he does and he tries… but because he can’t. So, my role of submitting to my husband looks different than I had expected. I actually, in a way, have had to train him to take leadership. I started out with simple things, like giving him the head of the table and making the children mind and respect him, letting him choose restaurants and activities for us and going along with that with a cheerful attitude. It is a slow process and it is almost like the marriage itself, it continues to grow and I learn to listen to his opinions (he is beginning to have more and more) and encourage him to share and discuss and we pray and I am learning where to back off. This takes much patience… patience I didn’t have as a young wife. I was so frustrated. But when our son was diagnosed with ADHD and other things the lightbulb went on! Those types of things are very genetic.

      I agree with you that submitting doesn’t look the same for everyone. : )

      God understands each person’s heart and as long as we’re putting the other first in loving, thoughtful ways (even if that means subbing for them in their roles from time to time) we’re doing right. Two are better than one… for if the one falls the other may lift him up.

  13. Yes wives are to submit to their husbands, Ephesians 5:22 and 26 husbands are to love their wives as Christ loves the church

    First we can Only put into practice in our lives any biblical submission when we are led and controlled by God’s Holy Spirit.
    We can do nothing of ourselves. Before we are born again christians we have no power over the flesh at all.

    We can ask. Doesn’t that mean if I am submissive to anyone then I’ll be taken advantage of?
    A person who is truly abiding ,submitted to God and walking in the spirit, wouldn’t even think about taking advantage of anyone – christian or not!

    As believers we want to serve fellow christians, because we love God.

    When we have the gift of discernment we can quite quickly recognize when people are trying to use and control us for selfish gain. We can address this to them their ungodly behavior, if they aren’t prepared to listen or change, we must then act accordingly. We see this in all circles of life.

  14. Courtney, I really like the way you are presenting the scripture and asking us questions so that we can determine what it means to us. Thank you!

  15. Hi Courtney!
    I was just wondering if you take the words “working at home” literally, because I know you’re a SAHM, or do you think it simply means that we need to take care of our households – keeping them clean and welcoming, etc. I don’t mean this question to be inflammatory or starting any sort of conflict, just wondering what your interpretation of those words are!
    Thanks!

    • Good question!

      I wonder what God would include in the “keeping” of the home.

      I have been taught that it isn’t a sin for a woman to work outside of the home, however, her priority needs to be her family/home. If the job is making it difficult or impossible for her to do that she needs to make some adjustments. Of course, there are single moms too who have to work full time and then some just to keep food on the table. I think God is compassionate to ladies in this situation.

    • I think the passage means what it says – that we need older women to teach us how “to work at home”. I think as young women we can be tempted to be lazy or pursue endeavors outside the home because they seem more fulfilling. While God never forbids women to work outside the home (we see the Proverbs 31 woman was very industrious outside the home), he does put a priority toward work in the home for women. So, we must pursue living this out well in our homes for God’s glory “that the word of God may not be reviled.”

      :)
      Lots of Love,
      Courtney

  16. Kathleen says:

    OK like some I have a problem with the word submit. I’m still trying to figure this all out. I like how some say that submission looks different in each home. For my house my husband is like another women’s where he has ADD and leaves a lot of the decision up to me. Now I have a question about the passages here. In verse 9 it talks about bond servants which when I looked up means slaves. If we are to follow this word for word then we should have bond servants also? I’m not OK with. I wonder what others thoughts are on this?

  17. Kathleen, look at it in this manner… Do you consider yourself to be a slave of Christ? Is your sole allegiance to Him? Do you find Him to be a just and kind Master who has your best interests at heart? Do you serve and obey Him because you have no choice and simply can’t live without Him? Being a slave of Christ equals true freedom.

    While your husband isn’t Christ, you can think of him in a similar manner… you submit to his leadership because you trust him to do what is best for your family. Submission should be a natural response to a husband who is loving his wife as Christ loves the church.

    We need to stop looking at these verses in terms of what modern-day slavery means. Christian submission is based on serving willingly out of love for God and others (without expecting anything in return).

  18. Submitting…has anyone considered the courage, trust, faith, and strength of character it takes to submit? It is easy to take charge and make our own decisions, (we believe we know what we need) rather than take the hard road and have faith in the decisions God has made for us. He says, “Submit.” We say, “Yes, but….” There is no “but” in God’s will. I fight the devil’s playground (the world) every day as it tries to tell me “Strong women dominate their lives.” or “You are less of a woman if you don’t do your own thing.” I want to submit completely to Christ. How can I do that, if I can’t even submit to my husband? The faith, peace and strength of our marriage, from my willing submission, has shown a light through the darkness and brought some young women to our home seeking the stability of this Christ-filled home. I try to live the motto, “Respecting my husband is more important than being right.” Submitting is one of the toughest things I have experienced in my life, and one of the most fulfilling. Thank you, Courtney for being courageous enough to bring the hard lessons to the light.

  19. I have to say that for the first year of our marriage I found this VERY hard to do and had never had guidance of an older woman in my life, a godly woman that is. Even when we had a home church and were attending it almost daily (now we are church ‘shopping’ idk what its really called but visiting other churches in search of a home church) anyways, I had a very low point in my life about 2 weeks ago, you can read about some of it on my blog, most of it in relation to how I was addicted to social media, fake online relationships, and the praise and acknowledgement I was geting from people online. I had taken my walk with the Lord away, I wasnt even reading my bible any longer, or attending church, and I sure wasnt providing for my husbands needs. I bought your book and started reading it, because i am a person that likes to read such things slowly and highlight, pray, dig into each section I am just now onto the second chapter, about marriage. BUT I have been submitting to my husband the past two weeks and it does NOT mean doing everything he says. lol to me it means simply this: if he says something that I dont agree with, I dont HAVE to respond negatively, I dont have to start a fight, I dont have to say anything, and if i do say something I think about it and say something uplifting like ‘i understand where you are coming from and why you feel that way, im sorry if ive done anything to cause this, can we talk about it later after ive had some time to reflect on your feelings please”? in JUST THE PAST 2 WEEKS of doing things such as this i have to say our marriage has went from barely existing to the best its been in years! He sees my respect for him and he is RESPECTING me! I am so thankful for your ministry courtney and bringing these verses to me to ponder and learn from!

  20. Jeanette says:

    Hi I have just read your article for the first timeand have found it very interesting. The area of submission is one that needs to be taught more as I know I need to learn that lesson particularly in the area of attitudes and respect. If I am grumpy and grumble or don’t listen to my husbands opinion then I disrespect God. It’s not easy but I know for any marriage to work it’s the only way. I look forward to going over the other lessons Thank you to all the other comments as well gives you GIVES YOU SOMETHING TO THIMK ABOUT

  21. Thank you for posting these in this type of format. It encourages me to read-reread-and THINK about the words. It’s not just another post about what we should do, but instead opens our eyes and hearts to the prompting of the Holy Spirit.

I love hearing what is on your heart.

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