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Christian Wife Submission: Should wives submit no matter what?

Should Christian Wives Submit to Husbands No Matter What?

What do you think the Bible means when it tells Christian wives to “submit” to their husbands? Do you think submission was just for that culture?” Flying Free Reader

First let’s look at what Scripture says about the wife’s submission, and I’m including some of the context of these verses because so often we throw around single verses without understanding their context.

Bible Verses About Wife’s Submission

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart,  giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,  submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.  Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,  that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word,  so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.  For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church,  because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”  This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.  However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” (Ephesians 5:15-33)

And this:

“What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?  You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask.  You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.  You adulterous people! Do  you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.  Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”?  But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”  Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.  Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.  Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” (James 4:1-10)

And this:

“Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.” (1 Peter 2:13-17)

And this:

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth. And, fathers, do not provoke your children to anger; but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ; not by way of eye service, as men-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free. And, masters, do the same things to them, and give up threatening, knowing that both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him.” (Ephesians 6:1-9)

Christian Wife Submission: Should wives submit no matter what?

Does the Bible Only Call For Submission of Wives?

I think this is a good sampling. We see that the Bible tells us to submit to God, submit to human institutions, submit to one’s own husband, submit to parents, submit to masters, and submit to one another. This is not cultural. This is really about relationships, love, and what makes the world-go-round with the least amount of chaos as possible. All cultures like those things and pursue them.

Let’s look at this list a super simple way:

  1. God
  2. Husband
  3. Parents
  4. Masters
  5. Human Institutions
  6. One another

Is submission just for Christian wives as so many seem to think and focus on?

I guess not. According to Scripture.

Is submission something everyone is called to do?

We just read a few verses that tell us YES. It is.

You see, back in the day, the idea of wives submitting to husbands or slaves submitting to masters was a no-brainer. Wives and slaves didn’t need instructions to do that. It was a cultural given. So Paul isn’t telling the Christian wives and slaves to submit to their husbands and masters because that would be pretty dorky of him. (Like, duh, Paul? Anything else you need to say?)

They already do that because their power-over philosophy of culture required it.

This means Paul is introducing a new idea to Christian wives and slaves who were powered-over in the culture they lived in. He is telling them this:

“Now that you are Christians (followers of Christ), when you do your expected cultural submitting duty, you now do it AS UNTO CHRIST.”


The New Testament and Biblical Submission

The New Testament leaders (including Jesus) did not overturn the power-over cultural norms overnight. They introduced brand new Christian concepts that would act like leaven, slowly spreading a truly Christ-like way of life (which is decidedly NOT power-grabbing and controlling) over time.

When modern day Pharisees demand submission of half the human race rather than lifting up Christ’s Way of living in submission to one another, they continue the humanistic culture of power-over.

It’s easy to do. Rules that control part of the human race make things simple. Walking by faith in the living, breathing Spirit of Christ and respecting the boundaries of other human lives is more complex and requires maturity, discernment, and a vibrant walk with Jesus. It’s not so black and white.

The Genesis judgment that men would power-over women is exactly that. A judgment. It is not a blessing.

Praise God – Jesus Christ overturned the judgments in the garden, and where you see the Holy Spirit at work, you will see the judgments being overturned. Where you see the spirit of the anti-Christ, you will see the promotion and carrying out of those judgments on the people of the earth.

Satan brings people into bondage. Jesus sets them free. It’s as simple as that even if religious, power-hungry folks try to gaslight you into believing otherwise.

Should Christian Wives Submit to Husbands No Matter What?

Well, what is submission, anyway?

Submission is a voluntary attitude of respect and cooperation. Sort of important when it comes to quality relationships. Without it we have anarchy and chaos inside, outside, and upside down. Whenever you see peace and harmony, you’ll see submission in action SOMEWHERE.

Side note: When one human being forces “submission” upon another, it is no longer submission. Catch that? It’s not submission. It’s control, manipulation, despotism, coercion, and a number of other bad things. Things that don’t make for peace, harmony, or quality relationships.

Look at the list above again. Who is the most important one on it? You need to have the answer super clear in your head, because we’re in a real conundrum if our parent tells us to kill our unborn child. Or if our employer tells us to change up the numbers. Or if our husband tells us to make porn with him. Or if the person in the pew to the right tells us not to tell anyone what we saw him do to our friend the other night.

Why, no matter which way we turn, we’ll have to disobey God’s word, right?


This is where a little common sense (wisdom?) comes in handy. There is a hierarchy to these things. And there’s a bottom line.

The bottom line, remember, is love. It’s always love. (Matt. 22:36-40)

“Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” (Romans 13:8-10)

Submission, whether you are a wife, a husband, a child, a friend, or an employee is an attitude of love, respect, and cooperation. God will never tell you to do something hateful or destructive or unloving (although humans may manipulate you to believe it is so they can get what they want). You are safe to love, respect, and cooperate with Him under any and every circumstance.

But humans are a whole ‘nother story. And thankfully, the Bible gives us some examples of people who didn’t submit to their parents, husbands, masters, government, and fellow human beings because to do so would have meant not submitting to God.

And God (along with REAL love) trumps everyone else. Let’s look at a few examples:

A Wife Doesn’t Submit to Her Husband and is (gasp!) Rewarded by God.

1 Sam. 25 – Abigail didn’t submit to Nabal (I’m pretty sure he didn’t want her to interfere in his refusal to help David, and I’m pretty sure she knew that too—conversations with her fool went nowhere), and God rewarded her willingness to do what was right by killing her husband a few days later and setting her free to marry David. (Seems almost scandalous, doesn’t it?)

(Do you see the love there?)

A Wife Submits to Her Husband and is Killed Instantly by God (DOUBLE GASP!)

Acts 5 – Ananias wanted to get the credit for giving all his worldly goods to The Church without actually doing it. God didn’t like all the lying and killed him for it. Sapphira submitted to her husband’s plan, and God killed her too. If only she hadn’t submitted to her husband. The story would have ended differently. (What would YOU have done?)

(Do you see the lack of love there?)

Some Guys Don’t Submit to Human Institutions and God Approves…of the Guys.

Acts 5 (again) –

“And the high priest questioned them, saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.”

(Do you see the love there?)

A Daughter Doesn’t Submit to Her Mother, and God Gives her a Place in the Lineage of Jesus Christ.

Book of Ruth – Naomi told her daughter-in-law, Ruth, to go back home. Ruth refused, and the rest is history.

(Do you see the love there?)

Christian Wife Submission: Should wives submit no matter what?

A Woman Doesn’t Submit to Some Important “One Another’s” and Blesses Their Socks Off

Acts 16 – Lydia (a business owner), after being converted, asked Paul and Co. if they would come and stay with her. The Bible says she “urged” them. Then it says “she prevailed upon us.” It sounds like she had to ask more than once. She wouldn’t take “no” for an answer. If she had been more submissive, she would have backed off, already.

(But, do you see the love there?)

So let’s sum it up. According to the Bible…

  1. Submission is for everyone.  
  2. Submission is voluntary.
  3. Submission is rooted in love.
  4. Submission to God trumps submission to humans, which means that…
  5. There are times when it is wrong to submit to humans, but…
  6. It is always safe and right and to our benefit to submit to God.

Exposing Covert Religious Lies About Submission

The reason submission is so unpalatable to people, especially women, is because of all the covert religious lies that swirl around it. In a healthy relationship, submission itself is a loving thing that enhances human relationships. But here are some examples of how people take it, twist it into a lie, and fling it around like a weapon that can (and does) encourage and perpetuate abuse of women and children. In these examples, the person in “authority” is not asking the “underling” to disobey God or to sin, but they are using the concept of submission to manipulate women while catering to their own selfish desires.

When you are reading these examples, have in the back of your mind these words from Scripture while asking yourself, “Who is sinning in this example?” Many would point to the woman placed in the underling position and say she was sinning for refusing to say “Yes Maam” or “Yes Sir” to the one who has placed themselves in the authority position. When we see the examples juxtaposed to Scripture, the truth becomes a little more clear.

“And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant,and whoever would be first among you must be slaveof all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:42-45)

“Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:3-5)

“Love is patient, love is kind, love is not jealous, it does not boast, it does not become conceited, it does not behave dishonorably, it is not selfish, it does not become angry, it does not keep a record of wrongs, it does not rejoice at unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth, bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (I Cor. 13)

A Hairy Armpit Loving Man

1. A man likes his women with hairy armpits and long fingernails painted pink. He tells his wife she must refrain from shaving while making sure to keep her nails long. And remember. Pink. If she fails to do this, he has a fit and tells her she’s a loser (and some other things).

The “Submit Lie” tells her she is a rebel practicing witchcraft (rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, remember) if she doesn’t do all her persnickety, pink-loving husband desires. As she fearfully paints her nails pink, she feels guilty, unloved, and unseen.

Is this man obeying the Word of God?

A Very Important and Concerned Pastor’s Wife

2. A young woman blogs about why she does or doesn’t let her kids watch Disney movies. (It doesn’t really matter which way she goes on this one, the story is the same.) The pastor’s wife sits down with her and tells her she shouldn’t be blogging. She’s too young to have any kind of influence on anyone. She might say something that dishonors their church, er, God. She might write about something that the pastor’s wife disagrees with.

“Basically, just quit blogging, already. You are an insignificant blot on the face of the planet with nothing to say to anyone, unlike me, a Very Important Pastor Wife Person. Plus, I’m jealous because my pastor husband won’t let me blog.”

The Submit Lie tells her that since the Pastor Wife Person is older (automatically makes you wiser, duh), and also married to a Pastor Person, she is an automatic authority. Especially if the Pastor Person gave his wife orders to gag the Blogger Woman.

Therefore it’s a no-brainer. Time to close down the blog and take up rock painting. She feels a loss of joy and purpose.

Is this Pastor-Wife-Person exhibiting the love and grace of Jesus?

A Principal Who Always Believes the Best

3. A teen-aged girl goes to her private school’s principal to report that she thinks one of the teachers might be sexually involved with one of the girls in her class. The principal firmly warns her about gossip and slander as well as dirty thinking. She has no proof. Only something she’s heard that is now being denied and covered up. Is she trying to bring down an entire ministry to families in her community? To sully the good name of a godly teacher? He tells her she is to quit thinking—and most certainly talking—about such depraved things and focus on whatsoever things are pure and holy, as all nice girls who want to please God do.

The Submit Lie tells her she needs to go to class and shut up. She feels guilty and dirty, for some odd reason.

Is this principle demonstrating love and compassion for the young women attending his school?

What Submission is Not

Submission is not hiding the sins of others in authority. Submission is not catering to the selfish whims of selfish spouses. Submission is not doing everything any Very Important Person tells you to do. If that were the case, then yes, submission would definitely be a weak, spineless, disgusting, degrading, demeaning thing.

But it isn’t submission. It’s cowardice and confusion; the result of abuse and shaming.

Do you see that the only one being unsubmissive in the above examples is the authority figure? They are refusing to submit to God. But many women put in those situations would automatically feel like they were the sinful one.

What Submission Can Look Like

Let’s look at those examples again and see how the women could relate to the fools and Pharisees in their lives while still showing love for the controlling person in their life, themselves, and God.

1. The wife with the hairy-armpit, pink-fingernail loving man could say, “Honey, I know you like those things, but I don’t. I prefer to shave and keep my nails short so I can change diapers and mix meatloaf without getting poop and raw beef stuck in them. I trust you married me for me. Not for my hairy armpits and long nails. I so appreciate your understanding why I can’t do that right now. I would be fine with painting my nails pink though whenever you’d like to plan a date night for us. How about that?”

If the husband proceeds to give her a black eye for that OR calls her names OR tells her she is a rebellious, unsubmissive woman wearing the pants of the family, then she needs to wonder if she is in an abusive relationship. He’s obviously not doing his part to love her the way Christ loves the Church. If these kinds of behaviors are his habit, she needs to get help. Sometimes her church will help, and sometimes, incredibly, they’ll side with the abuser and tell her that a good wife submits. Now she’s got an abusive husband AND an abusive church to deal with.

In cases of physical abuse, she can (and should) call 911 or go to the nearest woman’s shelter and report her husband. This may be seen as “unsubmissive” to some, but it’s the most loving thing she can do for herself, her children, and yes, for her abuser who needs psychological help. If we love one another, we will be truthful about sin instead of covering it up and pretending it isn’t there. If a husband sows hate and violence, he ought to reap jail time and therapy. Period.

2. The blogger could say to the Concerned Pastor Person’s Wife, “I appreciate your concern about these things, but this is how I’m choosing to develop my writing skills. I want to honor God by becoming all that God wants me to be in this area. If you find out that someone in our church is uncomfortable with something I’ve written, feel free to have them talk to me directly. I’d love to get feedback and help in honing my skills!

And then the blogger needs to live her adult life before God. Not before the humans who like to get all up in other folks’ business.

3. The student could say, “I realize how this appears on the outside, but I’m only trying to help both the teacher and this girl. I do not take pleasure in bringing this to your attention, and I would not have spoken up if I didn’t believe there was something to what I heard and what I’ve observed in class between the two of them. I trust that you will take me seriously, but if you will not investigate this, I will involve other adults who will. I certainly hope I’m wrong about all of this, but please remember that if I’m right, and it comes out some other way while you had prior warning but refused to investigate, that will create even more problems for this ministry and this community.”

Sometimes we need to be courageous and submit to God instead of humans. But in order to have courage, we have to be able to see the situation clearly from God’s perspective. And we have to know that God is bigger than people.

What if you are a wife, and your husband is not asking you to sin; he just doesn’t agree with you on things. How do you come to a final decision on something when you’ve reached an impasse?

Common Sense and Mutuality

I want to first come at this from a common sense standpoint. Let’s set aside the husband/wife thing for a minute and just pretend we are talking about two human beings. They can be two girls or two boys or a boy and a girl. They can be a variety of human colors. They can be roommates, siblings, co-workers, board members, or two Sneetches, one with a star on his belly and one without.

Let’s say that the two humans (or Sneetches, as the case may be) don’t agree, but a decision must be made. There are only two of them, so a majority vote cannot be taken. They are equals, so there is no “bigger or better” human that gets to make the decision.

Oh. My. Word. There is no simplistic, clear-cut, quick answer to this. It is a Conundrum. Is there a wringing of hands? Are we in a panic yet? What to do?!

A positive outcome is almost always a possibility when you have mutuality. Mutual respect. Mutual interest. Mutual goals. Mutual honor. Mutual concern. Will there be compromise? Most likely. Maybe after talking it out, thinking about it over time, and coming together to talk again, there will be a meeting of minds. But if not, compromises can be made, and things can move forward. Sometimes one party will defer to the other. But which party will that be? It won’t be the same party every time. Why? Because of love. Because of mutuality.

Here’s a great definition of mutuality:

“Mutuality is a way of being with another person which promotes the growth and well-being of one’s self and the other person by means of clear communication and empathetic understanding.

Christian Wife Submission: Should wives submit no matter what?

In my opinion, that should (but sadly, doesn’t) describe every single Christian marriage if it is a healthy relationship. If Christians can’t get that right, who can? We’ve got the perfect model for this in the Triune, Relational God Who is unified in all decisions. God the Father doesn’t override God the Son or God the Spirit. They are One.

In a similar way, a husband and wife are One Flesh. Heirs Together. The ideal situation is to discuss major decisions using “clear communication and empathetic understanding” and make them together. When one person takes on the burden of making all the decisions unilaterally, they miss out on opportunities to truly know and love another human life. To give and take. To capitalize on one another’s strengths and knowledge and experience. To experience real intimacy and oneness.

(By the way, when I first wrote this post, I was still married to an abusive spouse under complementarian rules and regulations. Now I’m remarried to a man who treats me as his adult equal, and our relationship is healthy. There is no one-sided submission and one-sided power-over dynamic. I finally get to experience the truths I taught before I ever met my current husband. They work. You know why? Because THAT’S what the Bible teaches.)

Some Verses are Not More True than Other Verses

Verses about marriage do not trump the rest of the Word of God. All the verses about relationships apply to marriage as well. The verses on marriage ADD to the picture. They don’t make a SEPARATE picture. So when you read this:

If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. (James 2:8-9)

That doesn’t just apply in all human relationships outside of marriage. It applies in marriage too. Partiality is a sin. Period. Or what about this one:

Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.  For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.  But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. (James 3:13-18)

I don’t read any qualifiers here. It doesn’t read, “open to reason (unless you are a husband dealing with your wife), full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” I could make this post very, very long if I just copied all the passages in the New Testament alone that spoke about human relationships. They far outnumber the ones that just focus on marriage.

When we read verses like Ephesians 5:22-24, we ADD that to the wealth of wisdom already given in the rest of Scripture.

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

And we read this in context, of course. These verses precede, presuppose, and dovetail with the following:

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. (Ephesians 5: 25-30)

A Christian couple will strive for mutual respect for the interests of one another. Neither one trying to change the other into their own image – but appreciating the differences. Respecting boundaries. Honoring the other person. Being One and also enjoying the uniqueness of one another.

Trouble in Paradise

Rigid ideas about how things “ought to be done” can create all kinds of trouble in a marriage relationship. Let’s say a wife’s friends all homeschool and wear skirts. Plus all the blogs she reads say you aren’t godly unless you do. But the wife’s husband doesn’t want her to wear skirts and wants the kids to go to school. In homes like this, it often goes one of two ways:

1. The wife, decked out in her skirt with long hair up in a bun, nags, blames, shames, whines, complains, rages, and morphs into a martyr. The husband, feeling like a louse, succumbs to her toddler tantrums and lets her have her way.

2. The wife wants to talk. She nervously brings up the subject and timidly asks if there’s a possibility she could be allowed to homeschool their kids because the wife believes it is best for them. She is met with silence. So she ventures forward with more information about the benefits of home education. The husband coldly says, “Why do you always make such a big deal out of everything? What is your problem? Why can’t you just let me lead our family? You always want to make all the decisions. You want to wear the pants. Are you being obedient to God’s Word? Why do you have to nag me about this? I’ve made the decision, as I should. It’s final. Why can’t you just trust God?

The submissive wife, shame-faced, slinks into her corner wondering why she even brought it up.

A Healthy Christian Marriage

Neither of the above scenarios is healthy. I wonder if God intended for a marriage relationship to look more like this:

3. A husband and wife who set aside time together every week to discuss life, the kids, how they are doing as a family and as a couple, etc. have a mutual discussion about home education. The husband would like to put his kids in public school. The Christian wife would like to try homeschooling them. They hash things out together, respecting one another’s input and ideas. Over the course of a few weeks, after talking together and thinking through everything separately, they decide to try homeschooling for a year with the option to change course the following year if either one doesn’t feel it is working out.

In this last scenario, there was mutual care and concern for the other person. There was an interest in what the other person was thinking and feeling. Both parties honored one another as precious human beings, made in the image of God. Both parties showed love toward one another by listening, sharing openly, being vulnerable, and being willing to bend, if necessary. They both desired to make a decision that was mutually satisfying to each one, knowing they could always revisit the issue the following year and make changes, if necessary.

Compare this last example to what one blogger believes is the only proper way of dealing with decision making in a marriage relationship. She says…

He is to make these decisions, not us.  This does not matter if he is saved, actively attending church, etc.  Unless he is asking you to do something that is morally wrong, you need to honor his decisions.  He is responsible for determining your children’s education and training your children at home.  He is responsible for whether you are a keeper at home or not.

While this idea is a simple formula to apply and measure, it leaves out the application of wisdom because it dismisses so much of Scripture. It also puts women in the child/slave position. That’s not where adult women belong. That’s not good for them or their adult husbands. Or the kids, for that matter. Neutralizing adult women with biblical submission is an act of evil – not good.

But What if My Husband and I Can’t Even TALK?

I’m going to wrap this up by saying that we don’t want to be like the wife in scenario #1 above. That’s not God’s plan for women. We also don’t want to be the frightened woman in scenario #2. That’s not God’s plan for women either.

So the question that I think might be still swimming around in some heads is this:

I’ve tried having mutual conversations with my spouse, but we never get anywhere. He’s always right. My opinions matter little to him. He tends to dismiss and minimize any of my concerns. Every attempt on my part to engage in a meeting of the minds is met with either hostility or laughter. I often leave conversations feeling guilty. Like I did something wrong to even bring up an issue. I often feel confused and stuck. What do I do?

And that, my courageous friends, is why this blog exists in the first place. Because there are so many of you who have this question. This problem. I recommend you get my book, Is It Me? Making Sense of Your Confusing Marriage: A Christian Woman’s Guide to Hidden Emotional and Spiritual Abuse. (You can get the first chapter FREE along with the first chapter of the companion workbook by hopping on my mailing list.)

That book will take your breath away. And it just may set you free in ways you never dreamed possible.

Fly Free,

Natalie Hoffman

Flying Free Sisterhood

An online coaching, education, and support community for women of faith in destructive relationships.

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The Comments

  • Avatar
    Susan Perricone
    March 13, 2024

    all those rules aimed at women that have grown out of the false teaching of submission!!!! All those rules that try to explain and operate within those verses came from somewhere, some person, most likely a man made a rule to to explain and apply those bible verses about women submit obey be silent

    what if slavery were still legal? Can you imagine the rules governing the slave master relationship?

    Just imagine the list of church rules governing how a master and slave should interact—Should a slave ever teach sunday school in which masters might attend? Could a slave be a pastor or deacon or write a book the master might read or hear? Can the master sell the slave? Does the master have the final say? Can a master decide what the slave wears or what jobs can be assigned to the slave….does the master always have the final say? how shoduld the slave approach the master with a problem, can the slave disagree with the master?———–lour modern minds and sensibilities recoil at the very idea….

    But Paul addressed the problem by simply reiterating what he said in Eph 5-21—that masters and slaves should treat each other as brothers in Christ.

    Paul never spoke against slavery or patriarchy, both part of the culture of the times he lived in. He gave simple advice on how to navigate within its parameters as a christian. We no longer have slavery yet the church has adopted patriarchy as its modus operandi. And the fruit resulting from it is bad, very bad.

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    Susan Barackman
    March 13, 2024

    the problem with verses about women submitting, etc is there is no end or limit to the way they can be interpreted and applied. Churches vary in the intensity and stringency in how they are applied. A woman can be following exactly how they are interpreted at one chucrh, then go to another church and be sinning by doing the exact same behavior. It can be so confusing and we know who the author of confusion is.

    As to submitting, when can a woman say no? How far does the submission go? To what degree? Again the answers vary from church to church.

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    October 20, 2022

    Did you get a divorce because of a sexual offense or did your 1st wife pass? I am remarried now and my 1st husband has died. I recently found out about this very clear scripture concerning divorce and remarrying. It is an intense hard to wrap your head around scripture that is never mentioned.
    I am in no way trying to offend you.

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    December 24, 2021

    My sister had her will crushed by oversimplifying the problems in her marriage and following Biblical teachings blindly, while her husband relied on verses to reinforce his authority and role. As a result, she suffers greatly with both physical and mental ailments. I don’t believe that a God worth anyone’s worship prescribes unnecessary long-term suffering, when people can move further along in their spiritual journey when they are free from this ongoing type of destructive distraction. All is not perfect. Therefore, an imperfect choice in an imperfect world is not only viable, but a responsible choice in circumstances where one’s spirit is being CRUSHED instead of nurtured. That’s not to say ANY life is going to be all roses, but a “relationship thermometer” that constantly points toward a sick “patent” means change or quit, for the sake of self-respect of God’s creation. Gender makes NO difference and men who “rule” and point to patriarchal models and verses written by men are cowards instead of spiritual leaders. The leadership is natural and NOT forced where it’s warranted. If it’s forced, it’s false. And this is from a male perspective. Bullying is not a Christian characteristic, and bullies will leverage anything they can to stay in control.

  • You Have Ten Strengths That Will Help You Find Freedom from Emotional Abuse -
    December 4, 2020

    […] been brainwashed by her religious community and her emotionally abusive partner to believe that THEIR needs are paramount to hers (so convenient for them), when she finally sees herself as also having needs and also being beloved […]

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    August 20, 2020

    Hi, I just want to know your thoughts about waiting on God to change an abusive husband. Our God is all powerful ,isn’t He? I deeply acknowledge the pain, sorrow and shame spouses of abusive men have to endure. Do we wait on God for a while, pray, do the right things on our part and then give up on Him and leave? I have read testimonies of women who separated from their unrepentant husbands, but still kept praying for them. And they came home. Is this something that we can have faith for?

    • Natalie Hoffman
      Natalie Hoffman
      → Sasha
      August 20, 2020

      Hi Sasha, you can believe God for anything! But remember that God doesn’t make all things turn out awesome for all people. If He did that – all of our lives would be coming up roses, and they aren’t. God also doesn’t control human beings. He gifts them with a brain and a body and a life – and He sets them free to live the life they choose for themselves. Many people choose lives that hurt others – and God doesn’t control them like puppets. Our greatest life discovery will be that we cannot force people to change or try to control their choices. This is crossing into their boundaries and their responsibility. We can only take responsibility for our own choices and how our lives align with our own values. When we take control of ourselves (and refuse to let others control us) – and let go of control of others, we will be set free to live the life God gave to US. Your job is to accept your husband as he is instead of wishing he would change. Your next job is to decide how you want to show up in the world under those circumstances – with your husband being exactly who he has chosen to be. People never change because they are forced to change or held accountable to change. They change only because they WANT to change. Change comes from within. The women I work with change – not because I’m making them change. They change because they sought me out – they do the work – and they are choosing of their own free will to change because they WANT to change. If your husband gets to that place – terrific. But that’s his business. Not anyone else’s. In the meantime – what about you? How do you want to change?

    • Avatar
      Laoch Bansagart
      → Sasha
      September 2, 2020

      How I wish I could get my (former) friends to read this! One is in a horribly abusive marriage (e. abuse) and has dealt with it by going with him to nouthetic counseling which, as you can imagine, has turned her into a shadow of her former self, literally killing herself to please him. While scolding me for even having a difference of opinion (not even an argument) with my husband about a non-event — simply he and I musing over something; he commented about something he wished we could do when it came to a family member — which would be illegal and a horrible breach of trust — and me saying, “Yeah, I can see your point, but obviously, we couldn’t just go and do something like that, even if it seems to be for her own good.” To which he agreed.

      I had related that conversation to my friend, and she was horrified — not that my husband wished we could do this thing that seemed right to him but was illegal — but that I had the gall to politely point out that in the real world, we couldn’t just take it upon ourselves to do that. I had DISAGREED. FOR SHAME. I was being an un-submissive, rebellious wife, and I should immediately repent.


      The other friend had put up with an emotionally abusive, cheating husband for over 30 years, but she told me, he’d finally had that come-to-Jesus moment, that epiphany, that set him free and miraculously changed him. And because this happened for her (because if we hang in there long enough, God WILL work that miracle we’ve prayed for for decades), and because “God hates divorce,” I absolutely must stay with my abusive spouse.

      That’s how I lost my only two close friends. Thanks, Patriarchy and Complementarianism, and your filthy lies from the Pit. I will never again believe that rotted bat guano you pitch to people.

      • Natalie Hoffman
        Natalie Hoffman
        → Laoch Bansagart
        September 2, 2020

        Augh. I’m so sorry. There is so much anguish in your words, and I feel them. In the survivor community you will find friends who get it. We are a bunch of empaths who care – and who are learning how to care for ourselves as well.

        God doesn’t hate divorce. He hates the abuse that causes divorce. I pray one day those who say they love God will see and understand that loving truth.

        • Avatar
          Laoch Bansagart (Gaelic - "Warrior Priestess")
          → Natalie Hoffman
          September 4, 2020

          Thanks, Natalie, for your kind words, and for this wonderful post. I’m on the waiting list for the group and can hardly wait until October! 🙂

          • Natalie Hoffman
            Natalie Hoffman
            → Laoch Bansagart (Gaelic – “Warrior Priestess”)
            September 4, 2020

            Yay!! Can’t wait to see you on the inside!

  • Avatar
    August 26, 2017

    Something interesting I found in my research for an article on christian unity a week ago: the original greek for “submit” in relation to husbands and “submit” in relation to parents is a different word. The “submit” for husband has voluntary, reciprocal meaning/connotations, more like “respect”, while the “submit” used for children to parents is more absolute, like “obey”. I’m sure a linguist or scholar of biblical greek could explain it better, but that is the gist of what I read in a commentary this week, and I thought you might find it interesting as it relates to this article. Not all words translated to the english “submit” have the same original greek word, let alone the same connotations. 🙂

    • Avatar
      → Sarah
      August 26, 2017

      The original:
      “In fact, O’Brien notes two important differences between Paul’s exhortations that a wife submit to her husband and that a child obey the same person. First is the change of the verbal idea from submission (hypotasso), which only sometimes means obedience, to the more explicit word for obedience (hypakouo). Second is the change of verbal voice from middle, which implies that the wife’s submission is voluntary, to an active imperative, which implies the child’s unquestioning obedience (O’Brien 1982:224).”


    • Natalie
      → Sarah
      August 27, 2017

      It’s actually like that for so many misunderstood passages in the Bible. Thank you for sharing.

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    March 5, 2017

    Your work sharing this important message is CRUCIAL! Keep going! I have been set free from a lot of emotional abuse from my family because of your work!

    God bless you Natalie!

  • Avatar
    March 4, 2017

    Wow this gave me some new food for thought. Very clearly written thanks!

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    July 22, 2014

    Well done!

  • Avatar
    tereza crump aka mytreasuredcreations
    July 21, 2014

    Very good Bible study. 🙂