For in this manner, in former times,the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror (I Peter 3:5-6).
Few subjects are so fraught with danger as the teaching that wives should submit to their husbands. There are numerous reasons for this. First, the church has played the whore with the world on this particular subject. Thus Christian women have been taught that Ephesians 5:22, Colossians 3:18, and I Peter 3:1- 6 are irrelevant to their lives as Christians. Second, too many Christian men treat their wives like dirt in the name of submission. Third, too many Christian wives really don’t want to submit, though they want desperately to look like they are. Thus hypocrisy reigns. Therefore Ephesians 5:22-33 and passages like it are often torn to shreds or ignored. What our Christian fathers took as obvious, has become the subject of scholarly debate, which often means the plain teaching of Scripture is obscured by various academic studies showing that the text does not really mean what it says. Scholars, and eventually pastors, throw just enough mud in the water so we cannot see what is plainly there. That way we can continue compromising with a clean conscience.
Here are some exhortations on submission I gave to my congregation in a sermon several years ago.
First, here is my definition of submission for a wife. A wife submits when she honors and obeys her husband with a respectful attitude and cheerfulness out of her love for Christ and trust in God. Submission does not mean a wife never speaks up. Submission does not mean a wife allows sin, such as abuse, porn, etc. to go on. Submission does not mean a woman never suggests to her husband a different option than the one he has recommended. But it does mean that a wife have an attitude of following, submitting, and obeying her husband which shows itself in the concrete action of you know, following him. He is her head, her lord (I Peter 3:6).
Your submission is ultimately to Christ and His Word. To submit to your husband is to submit to Christ and trust God. You cannot reject your husband’s leadership and claim to be under Christ. Ladies, Satan loves to drive a wedge between love for Christ and practical obedience. He tells you that you can love Jesus, but not submit to your husband. He is a liar. Love for Christ always shows itself in concrete obedience to the Word of God. For a wife part of her obedience to Christ is submission to her husband.
In general, the only time you should not submit to your husband is if he is asking you to do something unbiblical. Just because he says it rudely, you think he is not loving you enough, you mother or girlfriends think it is a bad idea, or you don’t want to do it does not mean submission is optional (I Peter 3). A submissive heart is proven at those moments where you don’t feel like obeying.
Submission should be willing and cheerful. Grumbling obedience is not obedience. A wife who follows, but with a nagging, complaining attitude is not really submitting.
Submission should be sincere, that is from the heart. There are many women who submit publicly when all are watching, but privately they pull all the right levers to get their way. This is hypocrisy and the Lord hates it. A husband who is kind to his wife in public, but berates her in private is an abomination. So too, a wife is an abomination who pretends submission, but really functions as the head.
Practice submitting when you don’t have to. When you know you could get your way, don’t. Learn to follow.
Submit when he is not around. What does he want you to do? View yourself as under his authority. When he leaves for work or you are out with your friends you are not free to do as you please. Can he trust you while he sits in the gates (Proverbs 31:11)?
Ask him for his opinion. Bring him questions. How you are doing with the house, the meals, and the children? Be ready to receive his answer. Be active in your submission, not just responding to his suggestions, but seeking out his input.
Submission is good for you. God knows what is best. Submission is not God’s cruel trick to keep you in your place. Submission is God’s perfect will for you. Do not buy the lie that submission is a grievous burden laid on you by a patriarchal society.
Expect the world to hate you for submitting to your husband. The world loves independent women who don’t need a man. A wife cheerfully submitting to her husband is one of the most mocked characters in our cultural landscape. Even many Christians believe a woman like this is weak. But you are not. Sarah trusted God, obeyed Abraham, and called him lord. She is your mother in the faith. Be a daughter of Sarah by submitting to your husband.