My Thoughts on Submission

Ever since my good friend, GreenGem, posted her Thoughts On Leadership I have been pondering my own thoughts on submission. When someone actually emailed me to ask me whether I believed in Wife Only Submission (WOS) or Mutual Submission (MS) I pondered even harder.  Now I am feeling led to solidify my thoughts.

MS starts with Eph 5:21 which says, “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.”  WOS starts with Eph 5:22-24 which says, “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so [let] the wives [be] to their own husbands in every thing.” (Note that the words in brackets are not in the original Greek but were added by the translators.) Crystal Lutton has very good explanations of what the word, “submit” means, and what the word, “head” means.  You might also  want to read this explanation for more information.  I’m very thankful for theses explanations because I knew that I did not agree with the patriarchy explanation which leads to so much abuse. I have seen many healthy marriages which claim to believe in WOS yet they are really following MS. This is not to say that a WOS marriage cannot be healthy, I just have not met any.

Now, I’d like to note that both those verses are followed by Eph 5:25 which says, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.”  It occurs to me that I have never seen anyone teaching Husband Only Love (HOL.)  It seems obvious to everyone that the wife is still supposed to love her husband.  The fact that this passage tells the man to love  his wife and does not tell the woman to love her husband seems to suggest  if the man is loving his wife, she will naturally love him in return.  So, maybe if the wife is submitting to her husband’s will while he is loving her, his natural reaction is to want to please her and so will naturally submit his will to what she wants.  So, as they love each other and submit to each other, they work together to try to meet each other’s needs.  Which is exactly how I understand MS.

Note, someone commented below that the Bible says that women should love their husbands in Titus 2:4.  I would like to point out that while Eph 5:25 uses the word agape (perfect and sacrificial love), Titus 2:4 uses a variation of phileo (brotherly/family love).  Also, the Bible teaches in many places that we should love everyone.


  1. Jill on January 1, 2012 at 6:38 am


    Just wanted to correct something in this particular sentence: ‘The fact that the Bible tells the man to love his wife and does not tell the woman to love her husband only seems to suggest if the man is loving his wife, she will naturally love him in return.’

    This is actually incorrect. The Bible *does* tell the wife to love her husband. I’m sorry that you left this out:

    Titus 2:4 …’teach the youner women to love their husbands, to love their children….’

    Please be more careful when teaching what the scriptures do or don’t say, o.k.? Christians can be led astray in many ways, using verses out of context, or leaving verses out completely.


    • Hermana Linda on January 1, 2012 at 2:36 pm

      Thank you for pointing that out. I have edited accordingly. I would also like to point out that while the Eph passage is telling men to agape (sacrificial and pure love) their wives, the Titus passage is saying to teach women to phileo (brotherly love/affection) their husbands and children.

    • Jessica on December 15, 2012 at 5:17 pm

      I believe her teaching is perfectly biblical, and she’s very careful. But thanks for the suggestion.

      • Jessica on December 15, 2012 at 5:18 pm

        At least she isn’t using Scripture so obviously out of context as the Pearls, Martha Peace and others do. That stuff is obviously lacking in even a basic understanding of the Bible.

  2. Zooey on November 27, 2010 at 8:22 pm

    Well said, Linda.
    We are called to submit to one another……and we are ALL, male & female, called to submit to One & One alone. And “His yoke is easy, and His burden is light”.

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