Marriage Advice

Relationship Counseling
for Marriages


Husband are Leaders of Their Families*

To many evangelical Christians, the idea of
wives’ submitting to their husband seems
antiquated or even misogynistic. A growing
majority disagree with the above two statements.

The bible says in Ephesians 5:23 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.

Many will say that Paul is not “God’s chosen apostle” but a “male chauvinist pig”. Why do so many women and men react negatively to the concept that wives are to submit to their husbands? An answer; some Christian leaders have twisted Paul’s words about submission to say something the apostle never intended.

Six principles about Submission

1. Submission is mutual. Mutual submission of our rights is the lubricant that ensures a smooth running home. But mutual submission does not strip a husband of his responsibility and authority to lead his family. The husband is to surrender his rights, but never his responsibility to lead.

If you advocate mutual submission in marriage then you have to believe in mutual submission between parents and children, servants and masters (which is wrong). Eph 5:21 does not drive Eph 5:22. Who believes that parents should obey children? So, no, the Bible doesn't teach "mutual submission" between husband and wife.

2. Submission is based on assigned roles, not on inherent worth. The reason wives are commanded to submit to their husbands has nothing to do with inherent worth, but rather with assigned responsibility. Equality (1 Pet 3:7) does not mean sameness. Is hot better than cold? No. One is better suited for coffee and the other for ice cream.

  • Submission is part of God’s created order. How do you submit to someone who is demonstrably inferior to you? Why would God place a man who is intellectually, emotionally, and even spiritually inferior to his wife in authority over her?

    Does scripture read this way?
    For the husband - if he is spiritually and intellectually qualified - is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. No. Yet isn’t this the way it is used?

    This may be a question in a marriage and even in civil government. But submission is due because respect is due to the sovereign wisdom of the God who ordained that relationship of authority and submission. Through the power of Jesus in our lives we can rediscover God’s original plan in which a wife willingly defers to her husband’s leadership, and the husband sacrificially loves and leads his wife.
Adam was created to rule over the earth, cultivate, name the animals. God gave the woman the role of being Adam’s helper. To give assistance to her husband in Adam’s God-given assignment. God has designed women to be a helper for men to compensate for our deficiencies. Unless God has called the man to be single, we are deficient without a woman in our life.

The fact that God’s original plan for marriage included the headship of the husband is also seen in the way God dealt with Adam and Eve’s sin. God spoke with Adam about the couple’s disobedience. God installed him as the leader and with that role came responsibility. Romans 5:6-19

Part of the fallout from the first couple’s sin would be that women would attempt to usurp their husband’s leadership in the home. Gen 3:16. And, how would husbands respond? They would endeavor to rule over their wife. Rule means to “dominate in an oppressive manner”, not “lead in a loving way.”

A wise husband will invite and listen to the advise of his wife since she is a fellow heir. Pilate would have done himself a great service had he heeded his wife’s counsel to leave Jesus alone rather than cave in to the public’s demand for blood. Mt 27:19

4. Submission is voluntary. Every woman chooses whether or not she wants to marry and, consequently, live under the authority of a husband. The only kind of power or authority a husband possesses over his wife is the positional power conferred on him by God. The other four kinds of power are equally available to both husbands and wives. (information, referent, coercive-reward, expert, positional)

In marriage, two people who are equal in worth come together in a union in which the woman voluntarily places herself under the positional authority of her husband. 1 Cor 11:3

5. Submission is limited. Limited in its sphere and scope. The only two areas where a woman is to submit to male leadership is in the marriage home and in the church. Never is a wife obligated to do anything that violates the clear teaching of God’s Word, such as engaging in immorality, forsaking worship with other believers, or allowing herself or her children to be physically abused.
Where is the line between submission to authority figures and obedience to God?

If the husband (or other God ordained leader) misuses their authority then our duty is no longer to submit but to refuse to do so. We are to obey God and obeying human authority that goes against God’s Will is being disobedient to God.

6. Submission is encouraged by example, not coercion. Husbands can never coerce wives to obey them. Even if through manipulation or abuse you can force her to comply with your requests, you will find rebellion and refusal in her heart.

The Bible does not command the wife to obey her husband as it does in the relationship between children and parents, slaves and their masters. A wife is never to be treated as a child or a slave but as an equal partner in the marriage who submits to her husband’s leadership, not because she is inferior, but because she voluntarily accepts God’s design for marriage. Husbands can encourage her submission by example and sacrifice. Wives often have a difficult time placing herself under the husband’s authority because she has not seen him submit to God’s authority.

Submission begins with the husband, not the wife. It is encouraged by the husband’s example and sacrifice. There are two verses to one that speak about the husband’s responsibility to his wife. Being the leader of the family is not a privilege to be exploited, it is a responsibility. Husbands are to place the welfare of your wife above your own.

Being the leader of a family is not a privilege to be exploited; it is a responsibility. The husband is to place the welfare of his wife above his own. If he is not willing to do that, then he has no business getting married. If the wife is not willing to submit to the authority of her husband she has no business getting married.

But if you choose to marry, God through Jesus Christ has issued us a direct order, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church”. More often not, when the husband submits to God’s leadership, his wife gladly submits to his.


*Adapted from Hell? Yes! .. and other
outrageous truths you can still believe by
Dr. Robert Jeffress