Submission: The Biblical Call For Wives To Make Sandwiches for Their Husbands

Submission.submission graphic


It’s a very dirty word within some Christian circles. I know many Christians who will try to explain away or ignore the many passages throughout the Bible which instruct wives to submit to their husbands. Allow me to point to some of these passages:
1 Corinthians 11:9 states, “Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.” Other examples of scripture supporting wives submitting to husbands can be found in Genesis with the relationship between Adam and Eve, as well as in Colossians 3.
1 Peter 3:1-7 agrees with Paul that wives should submit to their husbands, and Sarah even called Abraham, “lord.”
Paul teaches us in Ephesians 5:22-24, “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.”
The Bible is clearly comparing our submission to Christ as how wives should submit to husbands. Are we not to submit to Christ in all things? Yes! Therefore, the wife should submit to her husband in all things as well.

That’s right. Wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Everything! That means if a husband tells his wife to make him a sandwich, she’d better do it, and it had better be good! What do you think the SUB in SUBmission stands for, anyway? Clearly, it is a reminder to women that they should make sandwiches for their husbands, especially of the submarine variety. Their MISSION is to make SUBS.

If I were to end my blog post here, I think many would be left with the notion that submission is not a very nice thing. How could the Bible advocate such an outdated and misogynist doctrine? Indeed, I would have a hard time reconciling these passages as well if this was all there was, but it’s not. In fact, I’ve only described one half of the doctrine of submission as taught in the Bible, and yet, this is where the understanding of many Christians seems to stop as well. No wonder so many are opposed to it!

When you take the Bible out of context, things start getting confusing.

I don’t believe those Christians who try to explain away or ignore these passages are intentionally trying to twist or manipulate scripture to fit their lifestyle or beliefs. I think it’s because they genuinely don’t understand what it was intended to be, and the beauty of God’s intent behind it. Now, I certainly am no expert on this topic and have no personal experience in this area, though I still think it’s important to understand this concept before you have to try and put it into practice. This is my understanding from reading the Bible.
I believe the bad rep Submission receives is because the passages in the Bible that refer to it are often taken out of context. Submission isn’t a loophole allowing for the oppression of women; it’s actually for the benefit of the wife and her husband.
Let’s look at that passage from Ephesians again, but this time, let’s keep reading:

“Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”

 –
 There are two halves to this passage: the wife submitting to and respecting her husband, and the husband loving his wife. You can’t just take one half and leave the other; in fact, the passage goes into far more detail about how husbands love their wives than wives submitting to their husbands. In order for us to understand the concept of submission, we have to consider both sides of this passage. Only taking half is like trying to fly an air plane with only one wing. It just doesn’t work.
This passage is telling husbands to love their wives in the same way Christ loved all of us. How did Christ love us? Did he order people to make sandwiches for Him? No, he fed others. Did He act superior to his disciples and others? No, He served them, and even washed their feet. When the disciples asked Him who was the greatest among them, He said the one who makes himself a servant is the greatest. (Luke 22:26-27)  This is a concept some of the disciples never seemed to grasp, as we see in the book of Acts they thought their ministry was too important to be interrupted by the serving of others. (Acts 6:2-4)

A husband loves his wife by getting up in the middle of the night to make an emergency pickles and ice cream run if his wife is having a craving.

A husband loves his wife by washing the dishes, and cleaning up the kitchen if she has had a difficult day.

A husband can love his wife by making dinner, or at the very least, by making a salad.
A husband should serve his wife, and see to her needs, just as Christ serves us and takes care of our needs. This is how husbands are called to love their wives.
Therefore, just as we enter into the Kingdom of Heaven by obeying God, likewise, a wife should be entering into the best marital life she can have by submitting to her husband who loves her. Just as we can thwart the good plan God has for our life by choosing to disobey and do evil, so too the wife can thwart her husband’s ability to do her good by not submitting.  How can a husband properly love and sacrifice for his wife if she does not submit to him?
Does this mean we should cease loving or respecting our spouse because they do not love or respect us? As Paul would say, “By no means!”  Think if Jesus had behaved this way with us. While we were yet sinners, He died for us. We were the disrespectful, unsubmissive wife, and yet He still loved us. Indeed, we were much much worse! We had completely rejected Him, and sentenced Him to death on a cross, and yet still He suffered and died so that we could live! This is a perfect example of how husbands should love their wives.

Marriage is meant to be a microcosm of the relationship between Christ and the church.

Christ loves us by serving and willing our good, but we can only fully receive His love and sacrifice by submitting to Him, and obeying His commandments. A husband should love his wife in this same way, by serving and sacrificing, but a wife cannot fully receive his love if she rebels against his position. Just as we miss out and hurt God by disobedience, so too does a wife miss out and hurt her husband by not submitting to him.
This is the perfect system that God has created, and it correlates with how God created women and men. The only problem is we are not perfect.
Husbands will not be perfect, and they will fail at times to love their wives as Christ loves the church. This does not mean that a wife’s obedience should be conditional, or that she should only submit when her husband loves her.
Likewise, wives will not be perfect either, and will not show their husbands proper respect at all times. This does not mean that a husband should stop loving her. Just as Christ showed us unconditional love and died for us while we were yet sinners, so too should husbands and wives show each other proper love and respect unconditionally. With time, practice, and sanctification, these lapses should decrease in frequency, and lead to the kind of marriage God intended.
Disclaimer:
I am assuming marriages where the husband and wife both generally want to do the other good. A wife should not submit to a husband who is telling her to do something blatantly sinful, nor should she stay with a husband who is abusing her. She should separate and seek help.  

9 Comments

  1. Thank you for explaining submission so clearly and Biblically. It is refreshing to know that there is a young man with the discernment, humility, and courage to post something about this. And thank you, also for the disclaimer. Beautifully written, Reagan!

  2. Thanks for reading and the encouraging comment! It’s refreshing to know that there are young women out there who can read this and not be offended. Glad you enjoyed it!

  3. Lovely post! I’m delighted to make sandwiches for my Husband!

    I think it’s only fair that when he’s working so many hours, and I am at home, he should come home to a nice, relaxing meal. (I married late, and I know what it is like to work outside the home – so I appreciate how hard my husband works for the family) But, even if he were lazy, I’d still want to do what I could to love & serve him!

    The Bible tells Husbands to love their Wives as Christ loved the Church. And, we know that Christ COOKED for His Church! (John 21) (as you mentioned, He fed people)
    My Husband is also a GREAT cook! : )

  4. This is a great post. 🙂

  5. I am glad to be submitting to a godly husband. He’s such a great leader and he makes submission easier for me. =)

  6. Great post, Reagan! It is sad that so many Christians have bought into the lie that wives submitting to husbands is a terrible thing (we can thank feminism for that). God’s way is always the best way!

  7. That’s fantastic!

    And exactly! A man should definitely be able to cook and clean too, and I’m trying to work on these skills. Still have a ways to go. Haha!

  8. Yeah, Feminism has done a lot to destroy the relationship between men and women, and has convinced a lot of people that a wife submitting to a husband is sexist and oppressive, when it’s just the opposite.

    Thanks for the comment!

  9. Lovely post:) Which is the reason we need help, and God teaches more established women to prepare more youthful women to love their husband and kids, to act naturally controlled and unadulterated, to be occupied at home, to be caring, and to be liable to their husbands, so that nobody will insult the expression of God.4the Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands is an incredible asset for taking in these vital qualities and aptitudes. Thanks all!!
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    Livinghappyonline.com

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