Do I Have to Submit to My Husband?

Question: My husband constantly tells me I have to submit to him. There are times I seriously disagree with his decisions. What do I do? Joyce in Illinois

Answer: It isn't easy but submission is an important discipline in the spiritual life. It teaches us that we don’t have to have our own way and that some things are more important than our rights (like unity and the good of another person (Ephesians 4:2-3; 1 Corinthians 10). However, biblical submission isn’t only for woman and wives. All believers are called to submit to one another (Ephesians 5:1), to authority (1 Peter 2:13) and to God (James 4:7).

Like the command to love our enemies, submission is difficult. Therefore it's always good to check your own heart attitude and ask yourself whether you are thinking too highly of yourself (Romans 12:3) and/or believing you’re always right or have to have your own way. Do you need to learn to submit as a part of yielding more fully to God?

But please understand this important point. Being the head in a marriage doesn’t give your husband the right to make all the decisions or always get his own way. That’s not biblical headship, the bible calls it selfishness and a misuse of his authority.

One final point, biblical submission is something only the one doing the submitting can chose to do. It can’t be forced anymore than love can be forced. Your husband can’t demand you submit or force you to do it. That isn’t submission, it’s coercion or worse.

Husband’s are equally commanded to sacrificially love their wives and do them good (Ephesians 5). When both partners in a marriage sacrificially give up their own way for the good of the other person, the marriage thrives and it a beautiful picture of Christ and the church. When only one person obeys God in this regard, the relationship can become unbalanced and unhealthy.

To download a free article on Biblical Submission, Headship and the Misuse of Authority visit Leslie’s home page at


  1. Anonymous on April 3, 2012 at 3:43 am

    By saying a man abuses his authority when he always gets his way, you're implying that men should have authority in marriage over women. As a woman and mother, I find this both reprehensible and idiotic, especially for a women who seems to give such well constructed, intelligent blog posts. The Lord knows God gave you a brain, so use it: If man and woman need each other to achieve salvation and happiness, they should have equal responsibilities and freedom.

    Connecting to the "God gave you a brain" point, it is important to look at the bible in historical and moral context: Yes, the Bible refers to women as "the weaker vessel" (Proverbs 26:3), but if you read sections like Deuteronomy 22:13-21, the bible also justifies taking a daughter's virginity if her purity comes into question. And I hope that everyone, including you, finds this as morally repugnant as I do. The Bible is a complicated book, covered with the dirty handprints of those who wrote it. You have to sift carefully to determine what is the Word of God, and what is the sinful word of man.

  2. Aleea on November 7, 2015 at 8:12 pm


    You say: “The Bible is a complicated book, covered with the dirty handprints of those who wrote it.” Are you saying it is a human book? A human Bible?

    You also say: “God gave you a brain. . . You have to sift carefully to determine what is the Word of God, and what is the sinful word of man.” . . . . But that approach just deconstructs the entire Bible. The Jesus Seminar’s 250 Ph.D. scholars spent over 25 years sifting and voting on what the Jesus of history most likely said, ruling out about 80 percent of words attributed to him in the gospels (See THE FIVE GOSPELS, The Search for the Authentic Words of Jesus). All those scholars voted down virtually all of Jesus’s words in the Gospel of John including 3:16.

    Anonymous, that approach just leaves us with nothing. Maybe, think of it this way, you are looking at a picture of an orange and saying it is not being described accurately instead of tasting and seeing that the Lord is good. . . . And I fully understand what you are saying and I can make that point too: No doctrine of inerrancy can survive. If God couldn’t protect His Book from such meddling, then he hardly counts as a God, but in any case such inability entails he can’t have ensured the rest of the received text of the Bible is inerrant (since if he couldn’t in this case, he couldn’t in any), which leaves no rational basis for maintaining the inerrancy of the Bible, as then even God could not have produced such a thing. . . . But, that is just logic. I didn’t always understand this point but only about 30% of coming to Christ is logic. Compromising the authority of Scripture eventually affects what it means to be a Christian theologically and how we live in the full spectrum of human life.

    It is your choice but you can taste and see that the Lord is good! I’ve found nothing in this world that is so sweet as seeing the Holy Spirit’s presence in a life laid at Christ’s feet. To me, there’s not one thing in life worth having outside Jesus Christ but it is going to take serious faith (—I didn’t always realize that either).

    Love in Christ,


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