Submission – the modern call to unbiblical doormatism.
Does the Bible call us to be doormats as modern christianity (even “biblical” counselors) suggests?
The exegetical work of 2 verses…One adressing an unbelieving spouse and one addressing believers.
1 Peter 3:1 states that wives are to submit to their husbands even if they are unbelievers but lets exegete the passage and see exactly what Paul is talking about and in what context.
1 Peter 3:1
In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives”
This exposition will break down sections and go over words to better understand what the passage says and doesn’t say.
That, if any of them are disobedient to the word – The word of God= the gospel. That is, if any wives have husbands who are not believers/Christians. This would be likely to happen when the gospel was first preached, as it does now, by the fact that wives might be converted, though their husbands were not. It cannot be inferred from this, that after they themselves had become Christians they had married unbelieving husbands.
The term “word” (Logos in greek) here refers particularly to the gospel as preached; and the idea is, that if they were regardless of that gospel when preached – unaffected by it, or if they openly rejected it, there might be hope still that they would be converted by the Christian influence of a wife at home. Not by preaching to him but by the way she lives her life. Paying close attention to her integrity, meekness, seeing to it that she respects him and that she maintains him in the position of leader in the home. A wife has no right to usurp the authority of her husband just because he is unsaved. He is to make all important final decisions after carefully considering her opinion on the matter.
They may be won without a word – In some other way than by preaching. This does not mean that they would be converted independently of the influence of truth – for truth is always the instrument of conversion, James 1:18; John 17:17; but that it was to be by another influence than preaching. A wife is never called to beat her husband over he head with a bible, no man wants to live with a woman who preaches to him daily. What this does not say is that she is to remain silent on all matters. That is where we go wrong in our christian culture. We are so biblically illiterate, such lack of sound teaching on exegesis and hermeneutics in the church it is frightening what we are telling women to do. This passage is used in the modern church to abuse women into being nothing more than a door mat (What sharia law does by the way!)
This passage is clearly stating that a woman is not go around preaching to her husband in an attempt to “get him saved” and usurp the role as leader he holds before God, it never states to roll over and play dead. That is not Christ honoring as you can see the rest of the scriptures that deal with the husband and how he is to treat his beloved wife, his greatest treasure. Even as an unbeliever God still holds him accountable for the leadership of the home and God will use her life to impact his, hopefully to His saving Grace. With that said, she have a voice, she IS important. She is never not commanded to roll over and play dead to all his demands. Dear friend, even in a marriage where both are unbelievers, two people must compromise. It is never one-sided. Why would it be with a believer-unbeliever marriage? From a secular perspective…if they both were not saved, wouldn’t they have to compromise in marriage? Wouldn’t they have to care about what the other cares about to make the marriage work? Can a marriage work with two people being self-seeking and selfish about their time, money and talents? It can’t. The husband needs to understand what is important to his wife and respect it as he is supposed to love her.. (nevermind the high standard God has for him). Even an unbelieving husband should have such respect and love for his wife to allow her to be her. To seek after her interests, to pursue interests that make her happy so long as they are reasonable. A wife should always be able to speak to him in a loving manner, yet do not compromise her convictions and NEVER violate her conscience!
Marriage is about compromise, it is about BOTH parties making sacrifices for the other (christians or not!). See, today churches want to hold wives to the perfect biblical standard and let men off the hook as if the Bible doesn’t deal with how they are to conduct themselves. It is unfair to hold wives to a standard of perfection while never addressing the husbands. It is equally unfair to take scripture out of context to make women door mats. God warned solomon not to marry pagan women…why? Because a wife is the greatest influence in a man’s life. For good or for evil. How does a wife influence her husband? Have you ever seen a door mat influence anyone? No. A wife that is courageous, active in her husband’s life, seeking his best interest…loving him yet acting as a conscience him at times is what the Proverbs 31 woman was about. She was no door mat. She was strong, dedicated, loyal and most importantly made decisions in the household. She didn’t sit in the corner cooking supper waiting for her husband’s permission to LIVE…her priorities were set. God, her husband and her children first.
By the behavior of the wives – By the conduct of their wives. The meaning here is, that the habitual conduct of the wife was to be such as to show the reality and power of her relationship with Christ; to show that it had such influence on her temper, her words, her whole demeanor, to demonstrate that it is the power of God, real and active in her life. Her life will be a testimony of God’s grace and power to an unbelieving husband without her having to preach to him.
Ephesians 5:24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.
Also the wives ought to be (subject) to their own husbands – subject ( hupotasso- Strong’s 5293) to place under. Speaking of an order in rank. The husband is to be the head of the wife, as Christ is his head and the wife is to place herself under her husband in rank in her home. Never usurp the leadership role.
This never speaks of a wife being a doormat, without opinions or value making her inferior but to avoid chaos it was so since the beginning of creation. Adam was the head, the wife was placed under him as his help meet. Not inferior, but holding a different role.
In everything – Pas- strong’s 3956- all, the whole, in every area…in context a wife is to place herself under the headship of her husband in all matters. A wife is never to usurp leadership of the home in any area of their lives. The husband is to be the head and she is to be the helper, never trying to exchange their roles as God told Eve her tendency would be…to rule over her husband (Gen 3:16).
This passage because it has been taken out of context with surrounding passages and has not been exegeted properly is used to tell christian women that they need to keep their mouth shuts in every area of life and that is nothing short of what Sharia teaches.
Christ would have never taught that knowing the value He places on his children and the amazing responsibility He relayed to husbands everywhere in scripture to care, nurture and cherish their precious wives.
Godly conduct should always be a wife’s number one priority, being a doormat is never in the bible. Submission is always spoken of in the context of headship, never making a woman LESS (inferior) than her husband. Christ loves his bride (the church) enough to give his own life for her. He didn’t hold anything back. Is the church in relationship to Christ a doormat without a voice, opinion, needs, desires etc? No. He didn’t ask of us to be doormats, he loved us unconditionally and such love leads us to repentance and to desire to obey Him. Even when the church is to submit to Christ as Lord, he desires a dialogue, a relationship. A relationship goes both ways…it is never a monologue. If he wanted robots without a will (door mats), he would have forced us all to love Him. He had all the power to do so. Yet He didn’t! He wants to be loved by us because we want to love Him after what He did for us. He cares about what we think, how we feel, our fears, our needs, our emotions…He wants to hear all of it. If Christ’s relationship with the church is supposed to be represented by a christian marriage then why on God’s green earth are we encouraging women to want anything less than what God created them to have?
A man who loves his wife, cares about her as an individual, respects her uniqueness and dwells with her in an understanding manner will hardly have an issue with his wife in this area.
Ephesians 5: 22Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord.23For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body.24But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her,26so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,27that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.28So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself;29for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church,30because we are members of His body.31FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND SHALL BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH.32This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.33Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.
We need to understand that equality of men and women in value, does not mean sameness between the them in roles, as the three persons of the TRINITY are equal in deity, but different in role. Moreover , in case of TRINITY, THE SON submits to THE Father and HIS (SON’s) submission is HIS (FATHER’s) GLORY. Christ’s submission to God the father was out of His love for Him. God doesn’t “rule” over Christ, Christ submits His will to the fathers on His own to bring Glory to the father. Christ could have refused to submit to God the father as He is equal in deity, but He chose not to as it would be against His word and character. Submission does not mean rule over. It is a hierarchy that is intended to bring order.
How is a husband to love his wife?
“Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them.” (Col. 3:19, NKJV)
When God says, “Husbands, love your wives,” he speaks of the woman as a complex being. He calls every man to love his whole wife just as every man loves his whole self (Eph. 5:29). This means that a husband must do all he can to understand his wife’s world. What follows are eight admonitions to love our wives with respect to their various facets.
1. Love Her Heart—Emotional Love
The Bible uses the word “love” over 350 times. Almost 10% of these times are in the Song of Solomon (which comprises less than 0.5 percent of Scripture). One thing we learn from this is that a husband should use words to express his love for his wife. “Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away! O my dove…let me see your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely” (Song 2:10). I know of no woman who wouldn’t love to hear her husband speak to her like that.
2. Love Her Mind—Intellectual Love
A loving husband graciously convinces his wife that, to him, she is the most important person in the world. By this I don’t mean that he persuades her that he will never leave her. That’s not good enough, of course. Does your wife know that you value her above all else? Intellectual love also means engaging your wife’s mind. Many men win the hand of their future wife by thoughtful, engaging, conversation. Too many men fail to take this habit into marriage.
3. Love Her Body—Physical Love
At the most basic level, by physical love a husband strives to meet his wife’s physical needs. An able man who consistently chooses not to provide for the physical needs of his wife does not love her. At the same time, men must help their wives steward God’s provisions in order to maximize their earnings.
Physical love is also complimentary. Your wife needn’t be a supermodel to receive regular, sincere, compliments. Physical love must be exclusive. Taking second looks at other women or carrying on about their beauty is destructive. Each man must strive to please his own wife (1 Cor. 7:3,33)
4. Love Her Soul—Spiritual Love
Men tend to be task-oriented. But often we neglect one of our greatest responsibilities; the cultivation of godliness in our wives. We need to become comfortable with the phrase, “as for me and my house” (Josh. 24:14-15). Joshua understood that as a covenant head, his choices had a profound impact of those under his care. He must always think of the spiritual good of his dependents.
This means making thoughtful, prayerful, decisions, even if they are unpopular. “We are going to church today even though that woman verbally hurt you last week. We must have family worship even with our busy schedule.” These are expressions of love.
5. Love Her Relationships—Relational Love
For couples with children, relational love may require a husband to protect his wife from her “closest relatives.” Be swift and firm to discipline children for disrespecting mom. Resist contradicting her in front of the children. Give her “time off” when necessary. Outside of the home, develop an interest in her friends. Help her to focus on friends that are best for her.
6. Love Her Humanity—Realistic Love
Be tender in your wife’s failures. She needs to know that you love her even if you are saddened by her sin. Be grateful that she is different than you. A loving husband sees his wife as God’s gift to him even if she is not perfect.
7. Love Her Calling—Supportive Love
If a wife’s greatest calling is to be submissive to her husband (Col. 3:18), a loving husband helps his wife to be submissive. Some wives never learn biblical submission because their husbands rarely set a positive example. They fight against the council of the church. They speak blasphemously of civil authorities. They complain about their employer’s policies. Yet they demand full submission from their wives. God says, all men must submit to proper authority (Rom. 13:1). You can hardly help your wife do this if you aren’t doing it yourself.
8. Love Her Maker—Theological Love
Ultimately, we are loveless because we love ourselves more than we love God and are dissatisfied with God’s provision. This means that the more you love God the better equipped you will be to truly love your wife.
By his matchless grace, God draws us to love him and empowers us to love others. Matthew Henry notes that the epistles which focus most on the glory of divine grace, and the majesty of the Lord Jesus, “are the most particular…in pressing the duties of the several relations.” The gospel is the good news that the Son of God “loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2:20). Christ loves the whole Christian–heart, mind, body, soul–and every other part. Only as we come to terms with what that means will we be able to obey God’s word. “Husbands, love your wives and do not be bitter toward them.”