What Strong Christian Women Need to Know About Submission

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 What Strong Christian Women Need to Know About Submission

Guest post by Mary at Healthychristianhome.com


“You know she has a stubborn streak, right?”

My soon-to-be husband stared at his soon-to-be father-in-law in bewilderment. “Wait, are you talking about my sweet, quiet Mary? Stubborn??”

Not long after our wedding day, my husband discovered the truth in my dad’s warning. Yes, I do have a stubborn streak. And it makes submitting to my husband a daily challenge.

Can you relate?


If submission doesn’t come naturally to you, you can still learn how to submit to your husband — regardless of your personality.

Let’s learn what true submission means, what the Bible says about it, and what real submission looks like in daily life.


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  • How should I navigate relationships with those who think, act, or believe differently than I do?
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We Have the Wrong Idea of Submission


The modern woman’s inner dialogue goes something like this: “Strong women don’t submit to anyone. They forge their own path, fill their own desires, and never apologize.”

Submission is often viewed as a synonym for weakness. Over the years, we’ve bought into the lie that a submissive person is: less than, unimportant, apologetic, a doormat to others.

But this couldn’t be further from the truth. Real submission takes a massive amount of strength.

That’s why a true understanding of the Biblical word “submit” is crucial to your marriage.


What Does it Mean to Submit to Your Husband?


Let’s look at a prime example in Scripture where this word is used in relation to our husbands: “Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.” (Colossians 3:18)


Here’s the original meaning of the word according to Strong’s Greek Concordance:

ὑποτάσσω hypotássō: to subordinate; to obey:—be under obedience (obedient), put under, subdue unto, (be, make) subject (to, unto), be (put) in subjection (to, under), submit self unto.


Yes, it means respecting, listening to, and obeying your husband. It means putting his desires before your own.

Why is this concept so difficult?

I think it’s because somewhere along the line, we started believing the lie that submission means becoming a second-class citizen.

It’s time to think differently.

I’m guessing you have no problem listening to and obeying your boss at work, police personnel, and other authoritative figures. It is understood that certain roles exist that we must be subject to, even when we don’t like it.


If someone has an authoritative role over you, it doesn’t mean you are less important than them. It is simply that they are fulfilling a specific duty.

Does a government official have more value than an ordinary citizen, simply because of the office they hold? Of course not. And the person with greater authority often has greater pressure and responsibility that comes with that.

It boils down to this: Submitting to your husband means recognizing that God has placed him in a role of authority in your home. That’s what the Bible says, no matter how unpopular this concept might be in our 21st-century culture.


Related: How to Encourage Your Husband as a Spiritual Leader


What if My Husband is Making Bad Decisions?


Maybe you’re reading this and thinking:

“Okay, I know God wants me to submit to my husband, but he doesn’t lead my family well and makes really poor decisions. What am I supposed to do now?”

Submission doesn’t mean you never speak up when you disagree with your husband. It’s all about attitude. Ask yourself:

  • Am I showing unconditional love to my husband?
  • Do I seek to serve him throughout the day?
  • Am I respectful in the way that I speak to him?

If the answer to these questions is yes, then speaking up when you disagree and trying to work through problems is part of a healthy marriage.


For more on what to do in these situations, read When Your Husband Makes Decisions You Don’t Agree With.


What Submission Doesn’t Mean


Sadly, the beautiful picture of a loving husband that’s easy to submit to doesn’t always play out in real life. It’s challenging for us as wives to submit when our husbands are unloving.

Because of this reality, it’s worth mentioning that there are a couple of caveats to submission. Here’s what submission doesn’t mean:


  • Going along with sin. As a Christian wife, your responsibility is to Christ first and your husband second. So if he is asking you to do something wrong, you can’t submit to that. There are also times you may need to lovingly confront your man about sin in his life.
  • Downplaying who you are. Submission is a character quality, not a personality trait. Demonstrating submission doesn’t mean you need to ‘tone down’ your unique, God-given personality. The most outspoken, domineering woman is still required to submit to her husband (no matter how passive his personality might be) by showing him respect.
  • Neglecting your unique strengths. Being submissive wife doesn’t mean your husband has to lead in every single area of your home. Sit down with him and discuss where you each have areas of strength, and who should be responsible for different aspects of family life. For example, you might be great at budgeting and paying the bills while he’s a better cook. Communicate openly and embrace your gifts!
  • Ignoring real issues in your marriage. When you disagree strongly with your husband, submission doesn’t mean you should bury your head in the sand and go along with whatever he thinks. There are times when we need to be honest about problems, and as long as you approach them with a loving attitude, you’re still being submissive.


Jesus as Our Model for Submission


Jesus didn’t balk at the idea of submitting to the Father. Hebrews 5:8 states, Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.” He isn’t asking you to do anything He didn’t do himself.

Let that sink in: Jesus, the Son of God, practiced submission. So you can, too.

He begged and pleaded for God to find another way than the cross. But ultimately, it was the only way for sin to be erased, and He submitted in the most difficult way possible.


Think about the personality of Jesus, too. Submission didn’t involve one bit of timidity or weakness.

Let’s look at the full picture of God’s plan for the family based on Christ, as outlined in Ephesians 5.


Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. (Ephesians 5:22-28)


As wives, it’s our responsibility to submit to our husbands in everything — because of Jesus. If Jesus can submit to death for my sin, I can submit to my husband out of reverence for Christ.

The husband’s authoritative role is also modeled after Jesus. He has a clear responsibility (and a tougher one at that) – to love us the way Christ loves the church. That’s a tall order!

God’s ideal plan is for husbands to demonstrate the love of Christ (which makes submission easier) and for wives to respect and submit (which makes love easier). It’s a beautiful circle of relationship and a literal picture of Christ and the church.


And if your husband isn’t a believer, cling to 1 Peter 2:24-3:2, He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct.”

Your submissive and loving behavior might just mean the saving of your husband’s soul!


How to Be a Submissive Wife


Now that we’ve established that God has placed our husbands in a position of leadership and that submitting to him means we are submitting to Christ, we need a game plan. How can we practice our role of Biblical submission in everyday life?


1. Pray for Your Own Heart/Attitude


Ask God to help you develop a heart of submission toward your husband. If your attitude toward him has been “my way or the highway,” ask your husband and God for forgiveness. If there is bitterness in your relationship, it’s going to mess with your ability to have a submissive spirit, so be open with him and God about your struggles.


Related: 12 Marriage Prayers to Invigorate Your Relationship


2. Pray for Your Husband Daily


When you pray for others, it softens your heart toward them. Start praying for your husband every day, even if it’s just a quick one-line prayer of blessing. If you want to get more specific and in-depth, you’ll love 10 Prayers Christian Wives Should Pray for Their Husbands.


3. Anticipate His Needs


Can you think of things your husband would like help with? Remember, our God-given role is to be a helper! Genesis 2:18, “Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”

As a preacher, my husband always needs help ironing his clothes. I’m not great at it, so I usually leave it to him to do. But every time I iron something for him, he is beaming and I can tell it means a lot to him.

Remember Matthew 20:28, “Even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” How can you serve your husband without expecting anything in return?


4. If You Disagree, Respond Respectfully


There are going to be times you disagree wholeheartedly with your husband – that’s life. It’s still possible to submit and disagree. Maybe begin by kindly saying, “I don’t agree with ___________, but I really want to help you. Is there a way we can talk this through or compromise?”

That being said, there are plenty of “little things” couples disagree about that really don’t matter. Is it possible for you to let some of these go for the sake of peace and unity? I love Proverbs 17:14 for this, “The beginning of strife is like letting out water, so abandon the quarrel before it breaks out.”


Related: How Do I Show Respect When My Husband is a Jerk?


5. Do Little Things to Show You Are Thinking of Him


When you do small things to show your husband you care, it goes a long way to solidify your relationship. Whether it’s making him coffee, packing his lunch, sending a special text, or giving him a back rub after a long day — your husband will notice.

When you show love to him, he shows additional love to you, your relationship improves, and submission becomes a whole lot easier!


Ready to Dive Deeper into God’s Transformative Will for Your Life?

Follow God's Will Book and Workbook

Do you want to follow God’s will for your life — but maybe you’re scared it will suffocate your personality and suppress your gifts? I have good news for you — God’s will is an invitation to become more of who you already are! What a gift!

I’d love to show you how to follow God’s will in your unique circumstances, to find freedom, healing, and incredible blessings. Check out my brand new book, Follow God’s Will: Biblical Guidelines for Everyday Life, along with the Follow God’s Will companion workbook.

Practical, encouraging, and full of biblical truth, Follow God’s Will is designed to help you answer questions including:

  • What does God want me to do?
  • How do I apply the Bible’s instructions to my life today?
  • Where is God calling me personally?
  • How can I make a difference right where I am?
  • How should I navigate relationships with those who think, act, or believe differently than I do?
  • And so many more!

Want to start reading for free?

Simply enter your first name and email below, and I’ll send you an exclusive “first-peek” right away, right to your inbox!


Do you struggle to submit to your husband? If so, why do you think you find it so challenging?


Mary HarpMary Harp is mom to the two sweetest boys you’ve ever met and wife to her best friend, Richard, a minister near Birmingham, AL. She runs a blog about wellness and faith called Healthy Christian Home. When she’s not chasing her boys or blogging, you can find her with a stack of books and a cup of hot tea. Grab her free daily self care rituals checklist here or follow on Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest.



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Brittany Ann Equipping Godly Women

About the author

Brittany Ann is an ECPA bestselling author of “Fall in Love with God’s Word” and “Follow God’s Will” and the founder of EquippingGodlyWomen.com, a popular Christian-living website dedicated to helping busy Christian moms find practical ways to go "all in" in faith and family. Her work has been featured on CBN, The Christian Post, Crosswalk, and more.

    1. “Yes, it means respecting, listening to, and obeying your husband. It means putting his desires before your own.”

      But that doesn’t mean you’re a second-class citizen….

      What does “second-class citizen” mean to you?

      What they don’t seem to get about comparing marriage to a boss and employee situation is I submit to my boss, but it sucks. It is something I do to get a frecking paycheck, and I am NOT equal to my boss. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be submitting to her.

      I don’t want that same relationship in my frecking marriage.

  1. Wonderful post!! I admire your courage to address such an important topic, which can be so polarizing in the world today. Society can seem, at times, be dominated by people insisting on the rights of people, regardless of what God has to say on these matters in the Bible. Thank you for being a good example of putting God’s will for your marriage above your own desires!

  2. Overall a deep topic. How do you direct women who feel as though they carry the financial burden and there isn’t proper communication in the marriage. Spiritually that woman knows to submit, yet, what are the practical biblical steps carry it out?

    1. I would say start with improving your communication! Submission doesn’t mean that you always have to do things his way just because he’s the man. It means that you BOTH respect each other and put your own interests aside for the sake of the good of your marriage. But that starts with talking about how you’re feeling and what you both need…

      I have a few posts on communication here:


      Hope that helps!

      1. I thoroughly enjoyed this post and have received a deeper enlightening on the subject. To God be the Glory for leading us to that which we need. Thank you for sharing as God led you too.

  3. That was honestly the greatest post id ever seen on the subject. Being a man, I can tell you, everybody waters down this subject. They are only limiting the amount of blessings that this produces. I don’t know a man in this world that wouldn’t respond enthusiastically to a Godly woman with this much wisdom. Yes it’s scripture, but most women don’t believe this actually takes place. So I’m turn it gets modified into something less powerful. God is good and like John 1010, He wants us to have life abundantly. Most people will never be willing to live in accordance with God’s will. But those that do, (and I’d be willing to wager),the woman who wrote this, is seeing the power of God’s abundant life

  4. I can not wrap my head around a loving God and that God relegating over half the population to be “put under” the other. The Bible gives guidance for proper ownership of slaves and proper behavior for slaves. As a society we have evolved beyond the concept that slavery is acceptable. When can we leave this one behind? Mutual respect, kindness, doing for the other should be the goal. Achieving this by subordination of the wife does not create a healthy foundation.

  5. I am 80 years old and married 57 years. I think the twisting and turning of this subject is comical in the 21st century. Ephesians 5 must have had a true and Godly meaning when it was written and then included in scriptures in the Third Century, But now? Really? When the world existed in early cultures with male-centric dominance, it might have made sense. But not today. Why does the writer have to explain how to "submit?" That is because it is a cruel concept to any women growing up during my lifetime. The go-to meaning of submit is to "give up" or "give in". That is no way to go into a marriage.

    First, I would never, nor have I ever asked my wife to give in (submit) to my wishes…it would diminish her as a person and in so doing make me the kind of person I do not want to be…as I try to live a Christ-like life.

    Second, not only would I not ask her to "submit" but she would not do so on her own accord. We are a team. She is an integral part of that team and we have thrived.

    Third, stubbornness has to be worked on…not given up. If she was a "princess" when she came into a marriage relationship, she better learn how to be a bit more flexible. Marriage is give and take. It is not submission of one over the other.

  6. My fiancé believes that she only needs to submit if I’m first fulfilling my role to love her! Because I am the “leader” I have to be the first one to be an example to her and only then will she act in accordance to her biblical responsibilities as a woman!!

    This allows her to act any way she chooses disrespectful, dishonorable, unsubmissive etc and her excuse is I’m not gonna submit to a bad leader and conveniently for her I’m ALWAYS being a bad leader therefore she never has to submit or be respectful or honor me

    So unless I’m being a perfect leader which obviously is impossible then she does not act as a biblical woman obeying her biblical responsibilities

    1. This is a tough position to be in. Are you going through some pre-marital counseling with the pastor that is marrying you or with a professional counselor? I would recommend bringing this up in a counseling session. Or if you aren’t doing pre-marital counseling, this may be something you want to speak with your pastor about to get some suggestions of how to work together in a marriage.

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