3 Important Characteristics of a Wife’s Submission to Her Husband

It has become customary in our culture to view the wife as the “frustrated adult” and the husband as the “childish dummy”.  For example, the very popular TV show “Everybody loves Raymond”, usually involved the husband (Raymond) avoiding responsibility and frustrating his wife (Debra).  Sadly, this scenario is not only played out on TV but in real life.  Countless husbands act like nothing more than overgrown boys who only want to have fun while wives treat their husbands as if they are the oldest child in the house.

While this may be presented as comedy on TV, it is not very amusing when it comes to real life.  Should we be surprised that marriages in our country are suffering and collapsing?  Too many husbands want out so that they can re-live their teenage years; while wives want out because they have no respect for their husbands.  Is there not a better way?  Yes, there is a better way: there is God’s way.

Marriage is God’s plan and is defined as “the union of one man and one woman who make a covenant with one another and with God”.  Marriage, being defined by God, is therefore designed by God in a certain way to benefit both husband and wife.  According to God’s design, the husband is the head and the wife is the helper.  Both roles are essential; both roles are important.  We learned a few weeks ago that husbands are designated by God as the head of the household.  God’s intention in making husbands the head of the wife/family is not one of privilege but one of responsibility and accountability.  Today we turn our attention to what the Bible says to wives.  God’s plan for wives is that, as the helper, they “be subject to their husband” (1 Peter 3:1) and “submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord” (Eph 5:22).

It All Starts With Eve

Why are husbands the head and wives the helper?  It all starts with Adam and Eve, the first humans.  Adam was formed first and was given dominion over all the earth.  Eve was created next for the purpose of being “a helper fit for him” (Gen 2:20).  Pay close attention to what God intentionally designed: the woman/wife is created purposefully in order to be a helper for her husband.  Fundamentally, she does this through submitting to his headship/leadership.  Her role is not to lead the family, but to help her husband lead the family.  How does a wife biblically submit to her husband?  Consider three primary ways:

  1. A Wife’s Submission is Based on Love. (Eph 5:22-24).
    As a Christian woman your first love is Jesus Christ.  He is your Lord and Savior and it is to Him you wholeheartedly obey.  It is your love for Jesus that is the model for your love for your husband.  In response to this, wives, you may be thinking: “But I’m not married to Jesus, I’m married to Joe!”  It is easy to love Jesus, but you know that your husband is not Jesus and no doubt falls woefully short of imitating Jesus.  But this does not mean he is unworthy of your love.  On the contrary, his inadequacy and failure is an indication of how much he desperately needs your love.
  1. A Wife’s submission is Based on Respect (Eph 5:33).
    Wives, do you know what your husband desires more than anything else from you?  He desires your respect.  This does not mean he wants you bowing before him and being his servant; rather he wants to believe that you believe in him.  Have you ever wondered why the world treats husbands with so little respect?  It is precisely because God has created husbands to need it in order to be healthy and strong leaders in the home.  If a husband does not get respect, he will either sinfully demand it or selfishly “check out” in the home.  Wives, Paul, in Ephesians 5:33 says, “Let the wife see that she respects her husband.”  How does a wife respect her husband?  She does so through respectful thoughts, words, and actions.
  1. A Wife’s Submission is Based on Redemption (1 Peter 3:1-6).
    As we saw earlier, the role of a wife is essential and important.  Everything you do in your role as a wife is to help your husband become a mature Christian.  If you are the wife of a godly Christian man, your passion must be to help him grow in maturity.  If you are the wife of a worldly and godless man, your passion must be to help him know Jesus as Savior and Lord.  Let’s look at how a wife can do this.  First, she can help bring redemption through her adorning.  To adorn means to enhance the appearance of an object with something beautiful.  Wives, the Bible says that you are to be adorned internally.  This internal adorning is “the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious” (1 Peter 3:4).  Second, she can help bring redemption through her conduct.  Even if a husband is not a believer, the Bible says, “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” (1 Peter 3:1-2).  Third, she can help bring redemption through her prayers.  Never cease to pray for your husband and strive for peace with him as long as he wishes to live with you (1 Cor 7:13).  Pray for your husband.

Wives, my God bless you as your help you husband lead the family.  If you husband is not a Christian, pray that God would open his eyes to see his need for a Savior.