Another tirade about the submissive wife message

I am pretty sure that anyone who is still reading my stuff has been enlightened and challenged, enjoys the beatings or is just here to find new reasons to call me an idiot. Here’s the wonderful fact, I don’t really care either way. The abuse and neglect inflicted on our wives and families is a bigger concern than your personal feelings. It’s time to grow up.

I have to confess something. Everything inside me goes into a slight rage whenever I hear a man use the word “submit.” If I find out that their heart is truly in the right place, I will eventually calm down and try to make a friend. If I hear that word used in a way that tells me he thinks his wife is a servant, we are going to have a confrontation.

Sorry. It just happens. I know what my home is like since this became real to me. I remember what it was like before. I also know that without direct confrontation and the trauma of almost losing my family, I would still be there.

Yes, submission is a biblical concept. Yes, the bible say for wives to submit. Yes, there is a certain degree of truth to all that submission stuff. I am not denying all that. I am trying to make you understand that it is simply a twisted and misunderstood idea that has been allowed to ruin our homes. The way it has been taught, has been skewed to benefit the men who want to lead.

I have watched women, including my own wife, humble themselves for years and totally sell out to blind submission. The church has allowed this to go on for as long as I can remember. They teach these women to pray more, submit more, love more, cook more, clean more, coddle your toddler of a husband and do whatever it takes to make that man happy. I am reading a lot of blogs lately where women are still being beaten down with that message.

The saddest part is that it’s all coming from other women!

There are women out there who are utterly miserable and hate their own lives, but keep teaching younger women to live like they do. Another twisted biblical concept. Yes, older women teach younger women to love their husbands. It’s in there. It doesn’t say to make them become doormats for an abusive monster or remain neglected until they die.

Wives are not commanded to love their own husbands, only respect them. What happens when he is absolutely unworthy of any degree of respect? What do we do when he is a selfish toddler who demands his own way? What do we do when he is only willing to be good to them when it benefits him? What do we do when he becomes an abusive tyrant? Do we tell them to risk their lives by staying there? Do we tell them to submit to someone who isn’t willing to love them like Christ loved the church? Where do we draw that line?

All that submission teaching requires a little balance. Since “submit” seems to translate closer to “adapt” than “dominate,” most men don’t go very deep into Ephesians chapter 5. As a formerly abusive husband, I have also noticed that most men don’t submit to any other authority the same way they expect their wives to submit to their own. Most men would abandon any faith that put them in the same position that traditional marriage has placed our wives.

If the tables were turned, most men would walk away from Christianity all together. They wouldn’t allow anyone to treat them the way most churches allow husbands to treat their own wives.

The way I see it… Marriage is a mirror of salvation. Bride and bridegroom. Ephesians 5:25 is our core verse, as husbands. Until I understood and accepted that, I was a joke of a husband and a Christian. She is my mission. She is my purpose. She is my first ministry. The same way Christ did what was best for us, in defiance of his own desires or needs, we are to love them selflessly.

Again, in case you missed it earlier… If this conflicts with what you believe and makes you mad, I don’t care. Really.

Before you get upset and hammer out that list of scriptures to prove me wrong, know this. I will publish them from here on. I have been responding directly by email or just deleting them until now. All those hyperactive people out there who are more concerned with the letter of the law than the spirit… Try me. If that slightly twisted and abusive concept of the bible can’t wrap itself around the heart of Ephesians 5:25, maybe you should reconsider it. If your home and marriage aren’t stronger than mine, don’t bother commenting.

Imagine this scenario.

We all expect to face the judgement one day. We all pretty much believe that, one day, we will be called to give an account for our lives and decisions. Which line of logic is going to sound better, once you are face to face with Christ Himself?

“I lived a selfish life, only doing the things that made me happy. I built my entire world around me. I drug my family through hell to get where I thought I would be happy. I made them miserable in pursuit of what made me happy.”

Or maybe something like this…

“I was a good man. I followed the bible to the best of my ability. The bible said for her to submit, so I demanded it. I led my family and saved thousands of souls for the kingdom. My faith and sacrifice, mixed with theirs, made it possible. Even though they never actually volunteered for the same missions that I did, I still drug them through it.”

Yeah, one more.

“You said to love my wife like You loved the church. I saw that she was the most important person in my world. I saw how You made Your bride the mission of Your life. I saw the example You set and did what was best for her. I saw how You submitted Yourself to the mission of Your life, even when it meant giving up everything for the bride. I learned what selfless and sacrificial love meant and passed it on to my children. Together, we left a legacy within our family that has spread to others. We truly made a difference and changed the world. I was just following Your example.”

That last one, that’s what I want to say. The same way we were commanded to “begin in Jerusalem,” we are to begin at home. Right where we live, where our heart is. Start learning and displaying selfless love right there. Then it is easy to spread it out to other places. Once you learn to love at home, you don’t have to force it or fake it anywhere else.

To become a Christian, you made a public commitment to give your life to Christ and allow Him to save you. You put your trust in Him. To become a husband, you made a public commitment to love, honor and cherish your bride; forsaking all others. You committed to make Christ The Lord of your life when you were saved. You committed to make her the most important person in your world when you were married. Are you doing it? Are you getting bogged down with various interpretations of random scriptures or are you living up to those commitments? Are you loving your bride the way Christ loved His?

Are you loving and serving Christ? Are you loving your wife like Christ loved the church?

As a married, Christian man… If you aren’t doing both, you aren’t doing either.

10 thoughts on “Another tirade about the submissive wife message

  1. Hi Erik. I just wanted to let you know how much I love your blog!

    This year my husband and I will celebrate 20 years of marriage. Before we married, I was explained the concept of submission and it has stuck with me through these 20 years.

    I was told submission is a husband and wife sharing their own thoughts on whatever may be the issue at hand. Both having an equal voice. Once the discussion is over, the husband, considering all that was voiced, makes a decision that will be based on what is best for the family not what is best for himself. It may be what the husband voiced. It may be what the wife voiced. It may even be a combination of the two. At that point the wife’s role is to support the husband’s decision, right or wrong, knowing that his heart is to do what is best for the family. Submission is supporting that decision not nagging, pouting, manipulation or otherwise trying to undermine the husbands decision.

    My husband to be, at the time ,is the one that so lovingly explained that concept to me. It made so much more sense to me than what I had heard in church.

    20 years later my husband still appreciates my input. He says it always gives him a different perspective. This is not to say that I always get my way but I am secure in knowing that my husband’s goal is always what is best for our family.

    My husband treats me like a queen and my heart overflows with love, admiration, respect, support and friendship for him. I am a blessed woman.

    Thank you for your blog. We really enjoy it!

  2. Eric, you are a breath of fresh air on the subject of marriage.
    What you say is what resonates in my heart on the subject, and I am so grateful that you allowed God to break through all of the cockeyed religious tradition that was killing you and your family. If we were truly more objective about what is going on in our lives and our marriages, as God sees it, we would soon see why most of us are either failing or at best just limping through married life, hanging on by a thread usually attached to condemnation.
    Bless you and your precious wife for taking the time to share with others the wisdom that has given you both a real marriage, not a fake it to look good one.

  3. Thanks Erik. You always keep me coming back for more. Another solid post. Particularly

    “Wives are not commanded to love their own husbands, only respect them. What happens when he is absolutely unworthy of any degree of respect?”

    For too many years I wanted respect – but I was not WORTHY of it. I did not love my wife sacrificially, I did not put her FIRST, I NEGLECTED and ABUSED her for YEARS! I say this as my eyes have been open in large part to Joel and Kathy Davisson’s ministry at Godsavemymarriage.com. Like you Erik, once my eyes were open I never wanted to go back to that selfish, manipulative, controlling self – NO MORE!

    I love my wife and share in the purpose you described here. Men, as Erik is saying it is time to step-up and love our wives they way Christ loved the church – don’t stop – love till you have nothing else to give – you, your wife and family will be blessed for it and you will have a deeper relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

  4. Thank you so much for this post. I first want to say I am not in an abusive marriage and my husband is a good man but there are many that are not so lucky. I relate strongly to this post because I was surrounded by poor marriage examples growing up. My own dad was not what he should have been and I still struggle emotionally because of it. I feel badly that I struggle because my husband often feels that it is some kind of reflection on him but it really isn’t, it is just scars that I have not managed to put behind me. I am trying to figure out how to put them behind me. My husband has been so patient with me and I don’t know what I would do without him. He loves me emotional baggage and all.
    Constantly hearing sermons on submit and obey while a child and as a grown woman have not helped me heal. I have always felt that they were presented that if the wife just submits enough and put herself under her husband in importance and dies to having her own wants and desires everything will work out. Why is only the wife called upon to be unselfish? They will throw in an occasional you need to love your wife and buy her some flowers every now and then. As though the act of buying flowers constitutes fulfillment of husband responsibilities. But never have I heard a lesson detailing what sacrificial love would look like. Selfishness is detrimental to marriage but I always wondered why is it only the wife’s selfishness that is a problem. Also, constantly hearing that man was not created for woman but woman for man. Therefore all obligations to serve are on her, that’s what she was created for. This seems to be in direct contradiction to not thinking more highly of oneself. This type of teaching never seemed to reflect the full message that everyone should put others first and the scriptures don’t treat this idea as gender specific. If both husband and wife put the needs of the other first I can see how a balance is achieved but not when the wife does all the sacrificing. I know in the case of my mom it created tremendous resentment and she vented to me constantly about it(I was the oldest of 5 kids). I do feel that she was wrong in dumping on me but I would have seen the problems anyway as they were just too obvious. My mom had 5 kids in less than 7 years yet my dad was often absent. He was not physically abusive just very neglectful and occasionally verbally abusive. He generally spent his days off with his buddies instead of with my mom and us kids. My mom was very resentful and his absence combined with her intense anger and resentment caused some serious problems in my ability to understand proper family dynamics. My dad also spent money carelessly and my mom would hide money from him to ensure that there was enough to pay bills and buy food. I often remember him saying are you going to let me lead? yet, his idea of leading seemed to be more about doing what he wanted not guiding a family. I once overheard my mom threatening to go talk to the church elders about some of the things my dad did but he told her he would stop going if she did. I imagine they would have told her to submit better anyway. I often wondered why the church leaders drum relentlessly on the subject of wife submission but neglect teaching about the type of love a husband should demonstrate towards his wife. I have been married 29 years and have been going to church my whole life but I have never heard a sermon that dealt with what it meant to love your wife like Christ loved the church and sacrificed his life for his bride. I also always wondered why if the husband was suppose to demonstrate sacrificial love why do almost all sermons tell the wife to make the sacrifices? Also, why if they teach the man is suppose to lead why isn’t more emphasis put on him leading to make the relationship what it should be. Leading to fix the problems. Leading by example. Thank you for encouraging men to exemplify what a husband should look like and how he should act. I truly admire the way you are demonstrating such humility. It is something I don’t see from many of the men in our church and definitely not from those lecturing from the pulpit. Leading should not mean dominating but rather leading in love and by Christlike example. Thank you for stepping up and showing what it means to be a man. I have been uplifted by reading your posts. Again, thank you so much!

    1. This is the reason I do this. I write TO men, but it’s probably more for the benefit of the women. It was awful to realize what I had become. It was worse when I understood what she had endured.
      It’s time for a revolution in the church. That time at the judgement seat is going to be a whole lot more pleasant for the wives than it will for most husbands. I guarantee that.

  5. I agree with you Erik, most men don’t go very deep in Ephesians 5. They tend to forget that they are never called to force they’re wife to submit but rather to be willing and ready to sacrifice all they have for her. In the end it’s loving sacrifice that makes for a great marriage.

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